Front and back plates fully arched, f-holes incised

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Final arching is complete

Low-angle light and Scrapers

Today I used low-angle light to reveal all the humps and hollows, and used scrapers to bring all of them to a smooth continuum of curving wood.

“Flat F-holes”

Once I had the front plate fairly smooth, I laid out the f-holes, and incised them deeply. My reason for doing this is that every single instrument I have made, the arching proved to need correction, as revealed when I laid out the f-holes. Invariably the arching was too “puffy” around the lower ends of the f-holes, so I had to re-carve that area. Finally it occurred to me that if I cut the lines in, they would remain visible as I carved, and I would not have to lay them out over again. That turned out to work pretty well, so now I routinely assume I will have to correct the arching, and I incise the f-holes, then view the plate from the side: what I am aiming for is that the general shape of the f-hole will seem to lie in a plane parallel to that of the ribs when the instrument is assembled, rather than describing a lazy “S” from the side.

Here is an example from an unfinished viola, from several years ago:

Flat F-hole
Flat f-hole

It is not something “exact”, but more of a general impression. One way or another, it allows me to see when my arching is not right, and correct it.

So, here is the top plate with the f-holes incised. I will finish cutting them out after the inside carving (graduation) is nearly complete.

Cello Front Plate with f-holes incised
Cello Front plate with f-holes incised

Here’s an end-view…doesn’t show much:

End View of Cello Front Plate
End view of Cello Front Plate

And a sort-of  “3/4” side-view…trying to show the curves:

3/4 view of cello front plate
3/4 view of Cello Front plate

Here’s a close-up of the c-bout with the f-hole incision (I used a special f-hole cutting tool to incise the circular parts):

Cello C-bout with incised f-hole
C-bout with incised f-hole

Annnd the back plate: (still may be a bit puffy in spots…I will work on it more later. Right now my hands are hurting from all the scraping) That’s all for today! I’m worn out.

Side view one-piece Cello back plate
Side view one-piece Cello Back plate
End-view of one-piece cello back-plate
End view of one-piece cello back plate
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More progress on the back plate– beginning the front plate

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One-piece Cello Back progress; Cello top beginning

Low-angle Light Reveals Lumps

Remember I said that the cello back was ready for scrapers and low-angle light? Well, here is what low-angle light reveals:

low angle light & lumps
Low-angle light, illuminating lots of lumps. (Fun to say, but a pain to smooth out.)

Pretty rough-looking, huh? But that low-angle light is what reveals the lumps so that they can be planed or scraped away. Some of those lumps are big enough that I intend to use a small plane to reduce them before scraping again.

Saturday, I joined the top plate halves. The notches in the ends and center were to accommodate clamps. I had worked the mating edges as smooth and flat as I could get them (it seemed perfect, but looks can be deceiving), and then heated the two surfaces with my heat gun until they were uncomfortably warm, slathered on the hot hide glue, and presented one half to the other, rubbing them under pressure, to get the glue to run out the edges. Then I clamped each end firmly, and finally applied two bar clamps in the center notches.

I was fearful that the joint might not have been good, but today I took the clamps off and had a look. All is well! Here are the two plates (front and back) together. Notice how much nicer the back plate looks in normal light? That is why you never trust the looks of the arching until you have checked under low-angle light.

One-piece back with front billet
One-piece back with front billet
Front and back plates, inside to inside
Front and back plates, inside to inside

I was curious how close the front and back of the garland might be, in terms of shape (they almost never are exactly the same), so I traced around the back plate in blue ink, and then checked it against the actual garland. (Oops. No, that will not be good enough… see the blue line in the photo below?)

Using a slice of aluminum pipe and a ball-point pen to trace the shape of the cello front plate from the garland.
Using a slice of aluminum pipe and a ball-point pen to trace the shape of the front plate from the garland.

So I re-traced in black ink, directly off the front side of the garland, using the section of aluminum pipe to maintain the overhang distance. See the difference?

Front and back are not exactly the same.
Blue line is traced from the back–black is from the front of the garland.

So, I cut the plate out on the black line, leaving the corners just a little long, so I could work on them more carefully, later. Here is the result.

Front plate cut out with saber-saw
Front plate cut out with saber-saw
Front plate ready for arching
Front plate ready for arching
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