Posts Tagged ‘pegbox’

More Scroll Progress

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More Scroll Progress

Final carving tasks

I had removed most of the rough wood, in the last post, and had smoothed the outside of the turns of the scroll.

Now it is time to undercut the turns of the scroll so that they have a more delicate look, and are physically a little lighter.

Carving the volutes.

Carving the volute and neck.

 

Completing the volute and pegbox.

Completing the volute and pegbox.

 

So, at this point the one scroll is essentially done, and the other will soon be done as well. I will complete the purfling on the two instruments before setting the necks, so that is next.

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Back Plates and Scrolls

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Back Plates and Scrolls

Progress

Here are the back plates: the arching is complete, but the graduations are not begun…inside surface is still flat. The two scrolls have only been cut out, for the rough profile. I did lay out and drill pilot holes for the tuning pegs. That will make it easier than trying to drill them after the outer shape is completed. At this point the sides are relatively flat.

Two back plates, nearly complete: two scrolls, just begun.

Two back plates, nearly complete: two scrolls, just begun.

 

Then I began cutting out all the rough outlines of the two scrolls, using a saw:

Beginning to cut out the neck/scroll combination, using a saw.

Beginning to cut out the neck/scroll combination, using a saw.

 

Removing the excess wood from the sides.

Removing the excess wood from the sides.

 

Cutting to the layout lines, all around the scroll, from both sides.

Cutting to the layout lines, all around the scroll, from both sides.

 

Continuing around the first turn of the scroll.

Continuing around the first turn of the scroll.

 

Cuts completed around the first turn.

Cuts completed around the first turn of both scrolls.

 

Excess wood removed from first turn on both scrolls.

Excess wood removed from first turn on both scrolls.

 

Back view with first turn wood removed.

Back view with first turn wood removed.

 

 

Completing the scond turn of the scroll, using a fine-toothed pull-saw.

Completing the scond turn of the scroll, using a fine-toothed pull-saw.

 

Second turn cuts completed.

Second turn cuts completed.

 

The remaining wood will be removed using gouges, planes and scrapers, There is still a long way to go, but it does look more encouraging, this way.

Next time we will be carving the pegboxes and scrolls.

 

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Scroll, pegbox and Neck-set

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Scroll and Pegbox completion: and Neck-set

Scroll and Pegbox Completion:

When I last posted, I had just temporarily attached the fingerboard to the neck, but had not carved the pegbox, nor the fluting on the back and top of the scroll. In the past I have completed those before attaching the fingerboard, but this time I was anxious to get going, and it seemed a good idea at the time….

So…I first shaved the fingerboard sides to fairly closely match the handle portion of the neck, and then began carving the pegbox.

Carving the pegbox.

Carving the pegbox.

 

Carving complete: scraping and filing to follow.

Carving complete: scraping and filing to follow.

 

Then I could complete the outside of the pegbox, finish tapering and scraping the handle portion of the neck, and carve the fluting on the scroll. I still had the centerline I had scribed when I first cut out the scroll, so I worked from there, and tried to “color inside the lines.”

Nearing completion.

Neck is nearing completion, outside and inside of Pegbox are pretty much complete. No fluting yet.

 

Fluting nearing completion...back view.

Fluting nearing completion…back view.

 

Fluting nearing completion: front view.

Fluting nearing completion: front view. Lots of scraping left to do.

 

Neck Mortise

Before I can set the neck, I have to lay out the exact footprint of the neck heel on the centerline of the corpus, where I will cut the mortise through the ribs and into the neck-block. I have deliberately left the heel long, so that I can set it through the neck-block, and not have to worry about fitting against the back button, because I haven’t installed the back plate yet. I will trim the heel afterward, and, when I level the back of the corpus, just before installing the back plate, I will level the heel right along with the linings and blocks.

So here is how the neck mortise went:

Mortise layout

The mortise is laid out off the centerline, which you can barely see in this photo, because one top rib nearly obscured it.

 

mortise beginning

First, I removed the rib ends, and double-checked my layout lines.

 

Front plate cut out.

Then I removed the waste wood from the edge of the front plate.

 

Mortise carving

Then I began chiseling away the block wood, to open the mortise.

 

Neck-set

The mortise has to fit the neck in every respect: It has to be the right width and shape, so that the neck goes to the correct depth. (I wanted a 6mm overstand at the edge of the front plate.) It has to be the right depth so that the distance from the front edge of the nut, to the top of the front plate will be exactly 130mm. The sole of the mortise has to be flat, so as to fit tightly against the end of the neck, but at the correct angles, both laterally and fore-and-aft, so that the neck is not twisted in relation to the corpus, the centerline of the neck is in line with the centerline of the corpus, and the projection angle is either exactly right or just a shade high. I have had instruments change fairly rapidly after they have been strung at tension for a while, due to the top bulging a little as it is compressed by the string pressure, so, I deliberately set the projection angle just a tiny bit high, anticipating that it will change a bit under string tension.

Dry-fit neck-set.

Dry-fit neck-set. No glue, yet. Just the final check of all measurements and angles.

 

Dry-fit check of overstand mark and neck length mark.

Dry-fit check of overstand mark and neck length mark. Both are correct.

 

When I am finally satisfied that all is correct, I remove the neck one last time, slather the hot hide glue into the mortise, and shove the neck home for good. I quickly check all measurements, to make sure I got it in correctly. I only have a few seconds before that glue sets up permanently. Fortunately, all was still good, and I applied a single clamp to hold it until the glue dries.

Neck-set, glued, and clamped.

Neck-set, glued, and clamped.

 

What’s Next?

You can see that I have about 10mm of extra heel hanging out behind the back of the neck block. I will saw that off, nearly flush, plane it as close to flush as I dare, then, after removing the mold, installing the back linings, and trimming the linings and blocks, I will level the entire back of the corpus, including the heel, on a “sanding board.” When all is perfectly flat, I will install the back plate, and the violin will begin to take on a life of its own.

For some reason, after I close the corpus, or thereabouts, I cease to see the instruments I make as a “project I am building”, and simply see them as an instrument I am working on. I am working on a violin, at that point, not just something that will become a violin. It is a strange feeling, but it has happened on every instrument.  A student, who built his first instrument under my guidance, put it another way: as the instrument came together, he suddenly said, “This is getting real!” I knew exactly what he meant.

Next time I will remove the mold, install the back linings, shape the blocks, and maybe get this thing closed up!

 

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Neck and Scroll Carving Procedure

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Two Hand-carved Five String Fiddle Scrolls in Progress

First: Lay out the Side Profile

I created a template for a five-string fiddle neck and scroll when I made my first 5 string blue-grass fiddle. The template is fairly crude; just a cutout of thin plywood (door-skin material). I have other templates I have made of aluminum, and still others of plexiglass plastic. But that is the starting place, regardless of template materials. I know how thick the billet needs to be, and how long, so I simply place the template on the billet of curly maple, and trace around it with a ball-point pen. (I used to use a pencil, but the ink is easier to see against the wood.)

Violin neck billet laid out for cutting.

Violin neck billet with profile laid out. Notice that the pegbox is a little shorter, because it only has to accommodate four strings.

 Next: Cut out the Profile

I use a band-saw to cut out the profile of plates and necks. I do have a bow-saw that I made for such work, and I can use it if need be. but I find the bandsaw so much easier to control and so much faster, and the results are so much better, that I quit using the bow-saw after about two instruments. It looks nice, hanging on the wall.

Power Tools vs. Hand Tools?

Some people are insistent that the “only right way” to make a hand-made instrument is to use nothing but hand-powered tools. I have built one instrument using only hand tools. I will probably never do so again. There is a reason that bandsaws, drill presses, etc were developed: they not only save wear and tear on your body, they do better work, as a rule. Can they cause damage? Absolutely. So can any tool.

I use a practiced eye and steady hand to guide the billets through a bandsaw. I complete all the carving of each hand-carved instrument using gouges, planes, chisels, and scrapers.

The vast majority of my work is done using hand tools, but there are certain tasks for which I use the appropriate power tool, and make no apology for doing so. (By the way, I live eight miles outside a small town, and when I go to town, I drive…I don’t have a horse, and my time is too valuable (and limited) to walk that far just to satisfy some atavistic “back in time” quirk. I use electric lamps, etc., too, unless we have a power outage.) (sigh… OK, rant over…)

Violin neck billet with side profile cut out.

Here’s that same violin neck billet with the side profile cut out.

Lay out the Front and Back Shapes

I have a table of measurements I use, to lay out the front and back lines of the scroll and neck. The top of the neck is just over 24mm, the widest part of the pegbox front is 26mm, the distance from the leading edge of the nut to where the neck intersects the top plate is 130mm, and so forth.

I lay these out using a metric rule, a compass,  and a flexible straightedge. The main straightedge is just a stainless steel ruler with a cork backing that I bought from a fabric store. But I need a very flexible straightedge when I am laying out the curly portion of the scroll, so I cut a spiral strip out of a large soft-drink can (actually it was one of those oversized “energy drink” cans. Someone at work had it, and was going to throw it out, so I snagged it and made good use of the thin aluminum sides.) It is about 40mm wide, and long enough to wrap around the scroll, giving me a clean, smooth curve to scribe in with the pen. Aluminum flashing would work, too, but this was free. You can see the layout lines in the next step.

Cut off the Excess Wood from the Pegbox

I use the bandsaw, again, to trim all the waste wood from about two inches down the neck up to where the pegbox begins to disappear under the curve of the scroll. I leave the scroll and almost all of the neck full thickness, so that the billet will sit flat on the drill press table, and I can get the pilot holes for the pegs drilled parallel– perpendicular to the centerline of the neck.

Another nice thing about leaving the handle portion of the neck for last, is that it leaves me two parallel surfaces, so I can clamp the scroll in a vise, and use both hands to control the gouge, plane, saw, or other hand tool.

Front and back profiles laid out; excess wood trimmed from cheeks of pegbox.

Front and back profiles laid out– excess wood trimmed form cheeks. You can see, too, that I already began carving the heel (or chin) of the pegbox. Just a personal preference.

Layout and Drill the Peg Pilot Holes

Some people wait until the whole violin is completed, including varnishing, to drill the peg holes, but I find it too difficult to get them parallel with one another that way. If I can drill a 1/8″ pilot hole for each of them, using a drill press, so that they are exactly perpendicular to the center of the neck, I find it much easier to complete the neck later, than if I have to try to get them right with no flat surface from which to reference the perpendicularity of the holes. You’ll see these holes in the next blog post. So long as they get done before I cut the excess wood from the neck and scroll, I will be OK, because the neck will still sit squarely on the drill press table.

Carve the Pegbox

There are several ways to do this. A lot of makers use a drill to hog out the waste wood from the hole, and then use chisels and gouges to smooth and complete the work. I usually just use the chsels and gouges right from the beginning…one mistake with the drill, and the scroll becomes firewood.

I use a narrow, flat chisel to begin the work, and develop some depth, then use a wider, flat chisel to flatten the inside of the pegbox “cheeks,” and to deepen the box floor. I have to be careful to not go too deep. I have (once) cut so deep that, later, when I cut the fluting (volute) from the outside, I cut through into the interior of the pegbox. That is another good way to transform a nice scroll into firewood. Pretty sad when that happens.

I tend to begin by carving the outside of the pegbox heel… it makes me feel better about the scroll, if something about it is already starting to look like a finished scroll.

Four preliminary steps shown all together.

Here you can see all four of the preliminary steps, including the beginning of carving out the pegbox. You can see, too, the extra length in the five string fiddle pegboxes (on the right).

I will show photos of the succeeding steps in the next blog post. What you see above, though, is the beginning of all those nice violin, viola, cello, bass and five string fiddle scrolls you have enjoyed looking at.

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