With the violin apart I realised that I only had half enough spool clamps – so before proceeding with the repair I made another 15 clamps bringing the total to 30 – which should be more than enough to reassemble the violin.

I know I’ve shown you before, but I thought a step by step view might be useful. Here’s how I made them

First get some threaded rod – I used 3/16″ whitworth – as that was standard at Bunnings®. I also bought nyloc® nuts, washers (double the quantity of the nuts) and wingnuts. I also had some 1″ dowel – like the sort used for broom handles.

Tools
hacksaw
saw
grinder (or file)
vice
8mm wrench (for the nyloc nuts)

I used nyloc® nuts as they have a nylon insert that grips the thread so it won’t unwind with vibration – you can use normal nuts but it’s best to imobilise it on the thread eg by using Loctite®

First cut the threaded rod to length – in this case about 100mm/4″ with a hacksaw

spool clamp

spool clamp

Next I smoothed the ends on the grinder – you can use a file – this will take the sharp edges off the ends. Just rotate so you have a light chamfer on the ends.

spool clamp

spool clamp

Next I cut the dowel into approximately 1.5-2.0 cm (about 1/2″) slices – two per clamp.

spool clamp

spool clamp

Now drill a centred hole through each pair of dowel rounds to fit as a close but sliding fit over teh threaded rod sections.

spool clamp

spool clamp

Now take the threaded rod and add one nyloc nut to one end. Using the wrench, make sure the nyloc nut is on tight so that the ed of the threaded rod just emerges through the nut. Then add a washer.

Luthier's spool clamp

Luthier's spool clamp

Now add the two dowel rounds

Luthier's spool clamp

Luthier's spool clamp

The washer will keep the pressure even across the dowel so it won’t break when you tension the clamp – of course you don’t want to over-tighten either. Now add another washer and the wingnut and the clamp is complete

Luthier's spool clamp

Luthier's spool clamp

And you can add that clamp to all the ones you made earlier!

Luthier's spool clamp

Luthier's spool clamp

Total cost was about AU$16.00 – making them actually less than AU$1.00 per clamp because I have enough material left over to make several more.

The main violin school in Switzerland – some nice work here :-)

The International violin making school in Cremona has a great website with a large gallery of images from every stage of making a violin.

There is a long course and a shorter course depending on prior education and experience. Studies include Italian, English and history, as well as history of art and technical studies of the instrument, violin making, acoustic physics, varnishing and much more. Foreign students must demonstrate a good command of Italian language, sound workshop practice and violin playing skills.

Well worth checking out!

Cheers
Jerry

This a a great video taking you through the steps of making a violin – starting with the tree…

Cheers
Jerry

Looks like a great exhibition coming up for anyone heading to California… Violin making in America – a celebration of the luthier’s craft and technological innovation – including electric violins from the 1930s, and all the different shapes that violin makers have tried  in their quest to improve on the centuries-old design.

And violins are nothing without a bow – so the exhibition also includes a large selection of bows too!

Cheers
Jerry

Was it the special varnish? Was it the precision of his carving? What gave Stradivarius violins their special timbre? His varnish has been extensively analysed and although the exact recipe remains unknown, it was basically an oil-based varnish with sandarak (resin), madder root and colorants. But it wasn’t the varnish. Many strads have been badly worn over the past three centuries and most have been revarnished – apparently without adversely affecting their tone.

Stradivarius experimented with several different woods for his violins, but mostly went for spruce and maple – as used today. But his wood was different. At the time Stradivarius was alive, Europe was experiencing a mini ice age with long winters, short summers producing dense annular rings in the trees as they grew more slowly. That is why today the best violin wood comes from cold and semi-arid places – the lack of water makes the trees grow slowly and produce a denser structure. So it is likely we will never see the same timber again – our atmosphere has different pollutants, and our world is getting warmer, rather than cooler.

Drying time – long thought to be a factor, doesn’t appear to be the case. Antonio dated his instruments on completion. The annular ring pattern provides the date the trees were cut down – the difference is the drying time – usually less than 20 years.

But above all, what has struck those who have analysed Antonio’s methods, find that his violins are quite rough inside with varying thicknesses in the top and bottom plates – and perhaps that after all is the secret – by having an infinitely varied fibre length in the timber, every frequency has a chance to ring, along with its respective overtones.

Here is a fascinating insight into the structure of a strad

Cheers
Jerry

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