While the glue was drying I cut some rosewood to make a nut to guide the strings over the fingerboard, and then carefully measured and cut some dowel for the sound post. I didn’t bother with a bass bar as I figured the body was narrow enough to take the strain without the extra support of the bass bar.

I then shaped the bridge and soon it was time to remove the clamps and fit up the instrument. With such a narrow instrument (only four inches wide) I chose a chin rest that mounted over the tail-piece.

And quite suddenly the instrument was finished.

As I tightened the strings I could hear that at least some of my wild guesses were right, and I was rewarded with a warm sound almost as loud as a normal violin. In fact it is as loud as my Maggini copy. That was my first surprise. The second was that with the first tuning up the wood moved to accommodate the strain and the strings quickly went out of tune. But after a couple of hours it stabilised and I was rewarded with quite a reasonable sound at good volume. Not too bad for a first attempt!

Here is the instrument that inspired mine

And finally – what does it sound like? I’ll let you be the judge!



I’ve certainly made some progress this weekend – with the clamps sorted it was time for some finishing work on the back and top plates and then it was time to see if it all fitted.

I began by gluing the back to the ribs

And then I set the neck in place. As suggested in Ossman’s book I decided to secure it with a screw through the rear block, and a dowel through the tab on the back, then I hung it up to dry.

When dry I drilled the hole in the end block for the button and reamed it to a taper to fit a spare tuning peg – I cut the flat turn-plate off the peg leaving a round pin for the tail-gut.

In the meantime I varnished the top plate and set that to dry. I used a two-part alkyd finish (Rustins) which goes on thin and dries quickly to a nice deep lustre.

Now it was time to glue the top plate and suddenly it starts to look like a real fiddle is emerging!

There is still a bit of work to do – I need to cut a sound post and carve a nut for the end of the fingerboard, but I’m close enough to finishing that I went out to Davis Wheeler Music and bought a tail-piece, a bridge and a chin rest.

I have no idea what this thing will sound like, but it’s been a fun journey so far and I’ve learned a lot about how violins are made in the process.

I am amazed at how strong the box structure is – it is really a stressed skin construction in which every part of the instrument is designed to distribute the tension of the strings along the neck and around the body in dynamic repose.

So there’s still a few finishing details to do, and I have increased my respect for those who make instruments like violins and pochettes (like Don Rickert!)


Ok, here is a quick update of the latest progress – firstly, my acquisition of a tapered reamer has enabled me to fit the new pegs to the violin neck

Secondly, I realised that in order to glue the body together I was missing a key ingredient – fiddle clamps. I suppose I could have bought some for US$79.90 or even $430 for these plastic spool clamps, or US$16.85 for six spool clamps.

But instead I made them. Here’s how: I bought a pack of ten 75mm x 3/16″ bolts, a pack of washers to fit and a pack of wing nuts. I had an old broom handle, so I clamped a stop to my mitre saw and cut 20 rounds about one centimetre thick. Then I drilled a 3/16″ hole in the centre of each round and fitted each bolt in sequence with a washer, two rounds, then another washer and finally the wing-nut. Total price for ten clamps was about AUS$7.50 for the ten clamps (about US$5.00).

Tomorrow, with some final shaping I hope to attach the neck and glue up the main body.


I was giving some thought the other day to how best to put together an online course in fiddle playing. But I am easily distracted, and out of idle curiosity started searching for instructions for making a violin – preferably in as few steps as possible and in the simplest manner possible. But this is a violin we are talking about – they aren’t meant to be easy are they? Well, structurally we are just talking about a box with a handle on it… Anyhow, I encountered Derek Roberts’ site devoted to detailed instructions on making a violin in 24 days – or at least 24 episodes. It is beautifully structured and well illustrated. Even if you are not thinking of making a fiddle – the site will give great insight into what goes into making up a violin. He starts with selecting the wood, and goes from there. It has full marks from my point of view – and I’ll be adding a link from my band’s web site. After all, if you are thinking of doing an online course in fiddle playing, you’d better think about getting yourself a fiddle! Highly recommended 🙂

Shaping the violin neck