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Carving a scroll - step by step - part III

June 13, 2009 at 9:32 PM

Now I  trace the middle line all over the scroll. The remains of this line cut with this marking tool can be seen in the scroll of  many instruments of the Italian school.

With dividers I'll mark the centered  position of the fingerboard:

Now the fingerboard being glued, I used some of my bass bar clamps to do that.

With the same hot glue I used to glue the fingerboard I size the endgrain of the neck root. If you don't do that, when you glue the neck to the soundbox the glue will penetrate in the endgrain, resulting in a poor joint:

Now I'll cut the wood from the fingerboard's sides till its end, I'll cut it with my bandsaw, near the line, of course the fingerboard must not be damaged by the saw.

This is what I have now:

Now I'll make the sides of the neck flush with the fingerboard, I'll use a wide gouge to do that initially, a coarse rasp can do that too but, again, don't touch the finished fingerboard:

Here I'm working in the neck root part with a wide Japanese chisel (nomi)

Now I'll trace the circle lines to start removing the wood from the sides of the pegbox. Notice how the back of the soundbox starts with a relative parallel lines and then tapers. Some pegboxes are formed by a continuous tapering of the sides, making them a bit "triangular", I don't like this type of pegbox back, I prefer this type I'm making that is found in the best Italian School:

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 12:55 AM

Thanks again! And what do you do when you change the finger board? (the ebony part)  You can't redo a neck each time.  Do you unglue the old one and glue a new one?  That must be tricky! This glue has to be solid but not too much either because the finger board will be changed quite often in the life of an instrument, I imagine...  

Thanks!  Good luck!


Posted on June 14, 2009 at 1:39 AM

Yes, the fingerboard can be changed, it's lightly glued so that it will be removed in the case the instrument needs a new one.

It's a routine job in a violin shop. The neck remains the same, just the fingerboard is changed.

I keep the fingerboard because I find it easier to align the neck when I dovetail it to the soundbox, the glued fingerboard helps to make the necessary  adjustments in this part of the job (but some makers don't do that and get a good result too, it's just my way).


From Royce Faina
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 1:51 PM

What are the advantages of having the peg box tapered the way you prefer?  A stronger peg box?  Tone, tembre, etc.?

From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 2:36 PM

 Very interesting and informative - thank you for posting this!

Posted on June 14, 2009 at 2:40 PM


Royce, it's a question of style, there is no influence in the sound.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Absolutely fascinating - I'd no idea that the scroll wasn't completely carved until after the fingerboard had been attached.  Is this an instrument you are working on at the moment Manfio, or one that you've already finished and had photographed?

From Royce Faina
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 3:08 PM

I'm looking forwards to the sanding..... and in due time for shure.  There is a grass that grows here called, "Horse Tail" which has a fine, rough texture supposedly used in fine cabnet making. 

You glue the end of the Neck Root to seal the pores so that when you glue the neck root to the sound box there will be an even coating and adequate amount of glue to hold the two?

The carving out of the peg box and the whittling of the scroll is coming up!  This is Great!

Posted on June 14, 2009 at 9:18 PM


Rosalind, I made this scroll sometime ago, but the process is allways the same, last year I carved 7 viola scrolls.

Royce, I don't  use sandpaper or "horse tail" (called "Asprella in Italian) on my scrolls, they are refinished with scrapers.

Yes, if I don't seal the pores of the endgrain on the neck root, the porous endgrain will "suck" the glue and no glue will be left on the surface. That's why I glue size the neck root so that when I glue it to the soundbox it will not "suck" the glue.

From Jim Glasson
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Just fascinating!!!



From Rosalind Porter
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 11:04 PM

I can't wait til the next exciting episode.  I'm especially wondering how you make sure that you don't chisel out too much wood from the pegbox and avoid chiselling right through to the other side or having too weak a back to the scroll.  (You can tell I got thrown out of woodwork class at school...!)

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on June 14, 2009 at 11:27 PM

  Yes, I have always wondered how it was possible to change fingerboard without pulling out everything with it! 



Posted on June 15, 2009 at 11:25 AM


No Rosalind, I've never chiselled the pegbox "right through to the other side", but, yes, it may happen and would ruin the work perhaps....

From Royce Faina
Posted on June 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Do you chisell the peg box first, then the scroll, just in case the beg box is over chiselled?

why am I asking?  This will be addressed in the following steps Royce, Duh!

Posted on June 15, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Royce, I carve the pegbox when my scroll is already carved, but without the 2 channels around it.  The order of the operations may change from maker to maker, this is the process I use. We will see this part in the future. 

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 16, 2009 at 7:52 AM

This is fascinating, and the pictures help a lot.  Thanks for posting.

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