Still a fair bit if work here – new sound-post, new end button, new pegs – shaped and fitted – nut shimmed and re-glued, saddle refitted, new bridge cut, and new strings fitted.

Here is nut being shimmed and refitted

Now for the soundpost. itting the soundpost. By tying two threads to the soundpost, with one leading out through each F-hole, the soundpost can be guided into position and nudged into place with the soundpost setting tool. The threads allow for rapid retrieval when the post falls out of place. The end-button was not yet fitted, enabling a good visual sighting to ensure the sound post was vertical in length and breadth.

The soundpost was cut to length after using a soundpost gauge to determine the length, and was shaped at each end to fit the curvature of the instrument.

Then the peg holes were lightly reamed to the correct taper, the pegs were tapered in a shaper – which is like a large pencil sharpener, then the pegs were cut to length and fitted to the peg box. Then with a pencil I marked the position of the string holes, then removed the pegs and drilled them with a 1.5mm drill and countersunk each end of the hole with a round file.

reaming the peg holes

reaming the peg holes

shaping the pegs

shaping the pegs

cutting the pegs to size

cutting the pegs to size

fitting the pegs

fitting the pegs

I’m now happy that the top is solid and there are no remaining structural issues. So it’s time to reunite the top with the rest of the violin. I prepared a fresh pot of hide glue and lined up the clamps, pre-setting the width so the a half turn would attach them firmly. Hide glue takes no prisoners and begins to gel off in about 2-3 minutes so it must be fully assembled by then with clamps in place.

With brush at the ready, I gently warmed the top and ribs with the heat gun, and quickly applied the glue to the top of the ribs, before carefully and quickly re-seating the top ensuring an even overhang on both sides and all round.

Then I applied the clamps on opposite sides, starting with the C bout corners and the end-block and shoulders then filled in around the sides to ensure an even pressure.

violin top under clamps

violin top under clamps

I waited 24 hours before releasing the clamps and the result is a firmly attached top

Still a fair bit of work in fitting up but we’re over the worst of it

violin Top firmly attached

violin Top firmly attached

After touching up the repairs where the varnish had been damaged, and re-matching after  scraping back over where a previous poorly-done repair had damaged teh finish, I set about getting a good sheen on the violin top. I’m fairly happy with the result, but the colour was difficult to match evenly. Here is the result.

Violin top

Violin top

In anticipation of the full reassembly I decided to make a whole lot more spool clamps – I now have bout 30 – mostly remaking the original ones as I skimped a bit on the wood and they were prone to breaking. Method same as before – this time using 28mm dowel and making each piece about 2cm thick, before drilling the central hole and fitting with threaded rod, washers a nyloc lock nut and a wing-nut.

spool clamps

spool clamps

Then it was back to repairing more cracks – this time near the shoulder at the neck end. I used a double clamp which attaches to either side of teh crack, then the two edges are drawn together across the lateral axis of the clamp – it is such a useful tool for this kind of work!

double clamp

double clamp

Then the whole length of the crack was clamped using the luthier body clamps. These are curved to fit over the violin body.

violin body clamps

violin body clamps

Soon it will be time for reassembly

I’ve been asked a number of times about how much one should practice – especially in the early stages.

I’ve heard lots of people try to compete on numbers – 2-3 hours a day being set as the challenge. I personally think that’s hogwash.

At the risk of sounding a bit controversial, I would say practice little but often – don’t do 2 hour marathons, better to do three lots of ten-fifteen minutes a day – that adds up to 30-40 minutes a day, but it spreads the load and gives much better reinforcement of learning by concentrating in short bursts and doing something completely different in between.

Happy new year 🙂

It occurred to me that once the top is on the violin, I will need to make a new sound post as the repair will have slightly changed the profile of the interior. There are two ways to ensure the correct length of sound post: firstly, you can guess and risk wasting precious sound-post timber, or you can measure the space and cut to size.

My book on violin repairing – which has precious little on repairing cracks! – recommends buying a sound post gauge. Luckily Atria’s book illustrates the principle quite well. And just recently I replaced the windscreen wiper blades on my car…

violin sound post gauge

You see, the spine of the old wiper blades consisted of two thin strips of mild steel about 1 mm thick and 3 mm wide and about 300mm long. I decided to get dangerous with a pair of pliers.

Once I bent the two pieces so they would nestle into each other with opposing ends (already rounded so they won’t scratch the violin timber) I found a piece of clear plastic tubing (fuel line) – although you could use a drinking straw – and bound the two strips together with the tube, and then bent the ends over so they would be easy to grasp and slide the two pieces against each other to make the measurement. I also inserted a small timber wedge from an offcut so as to provide a good friction fit that would retain the measurement while extracting the tool from the F-hole.

And here is the result – a functional sound-post gauge.

violin sound post gauge

And it works well. Happy luthiering 🙂

I ordered and received some spruce 3mm sheets – perfect for making repair cleats. There is probably enough to last me for a lifetime of violin repairs!

The extensive cracks on the violin top certainly required reinforcement. I cut a series of 5mm squares and lightly sanded them to fit the curve of the inside top plate and glued them in place along the largest cracks with hide glue. Then I shaved each of them down to a low pyramid.

This process took a couple of hours as I needed to get each one in place and clamped and set, then when the glue was set, I began shaving them down with a very sharp chisel.

Here is the result

violin repair cleats

This last one is a little different, and is known as an ‘eyebrow patch’ which involves removing some of the original timber and inserting a piece of spruce and carefully shaving it down to be flush with the surrounding wood. This makes for a strong repair, and as it is still spruce – the same as the rest of the top, there should be little impact on the sound. It is the strongest way to repair an F-hole failure.

violin repair cleats