With spool clamps made the next job was to begin the process of gluing the cracks ready for the reinforcing cleats. First I had to mix up some fresh glue. Elsewhere I noted that I had converted an old coffee drip machine as a double heater for the glue.
The glue granules were dissolved in water for about an hour, then heated by immersion in the coffee pot which held plain water on the hotplate. The glue was mixed to the consistency of honey – and that is when it is ready to use.
A further examination of the back revealed a separation between the lower bout and the back. The best tool for this is a thin palette knife.
The knife both found the gap and was used as the means to convey the glue into the gap.
The excess was quickly wiped off with a damp rag and the gap was held closed by a few spool clamps. Four hours later and the back-ribs seal is complete.
With that job done, I set aside the body on its cushioned surface and set to work on the top.
There were several issues to address which had to be handled quickly, so photos are sparse.
The first one was the F-hole crack that would otherwise prevent proper clamping of the other cracks. I made a temporary cleat from a popsicle stick and glued and clamped this one with a spring clamp.
At that point I went off and had some lunch and a coffee and came back to find it had held well and was nicely aligned.
Using the palette knife for the most open part of the first major plate crack I worked quickly under a warm lamp to get glue into the join as far as possible. But to avoid opening the crack further, I then pained glue on the rest of the crack and tapped it into the crack with my forefinger.
Then I used the edge-closing clamp to hold the edge and applied a full top-plate clamp to close the rest of the crack.
You can see both clamps here – they are specialist luthier clamps bought from Pilgrims Projects online.
Having sealed the bass-bar crack I did the same with the upper plate crack and glued that up too.
After several hours the top plate is almost solid again. But the top plate will be weak. And the F-hole repair is only temporary as I really need to do a full ‘eyebrow’ cleat – which entails removing some of the original wood to about half the thickness of the plate, and inserting a spruce cleat to match it and then shape it to fit so that no timber stands proud when it comes to rejoining the top to the ribs.
At this point I will have to put the repair on hold as I need to order some spruce material for the cleats online – it should be about a week or ten days coming from the USA.
In the meantime I hope to make some detailed drawings traced from the violin so that I can use the measurements on a new one.