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Michael Seery

Violin Making - The Very Beginning

February 16, 2011 at 7:04 PM

 I would like to chronicle the adventure of making my first violin. I have been considering making my own for some time but was inspired by a visit to a prominent violin maker's shop in New York City to begin in earnest. Along with years experience repairing and restoring violins and their relatives, I added to my library "The Art of Violin Making" by Chris Johnson and Roy Courtnall to further aid in my journey. This book goes into more detail about the finer points regarding violin making that other texts lack. So far I have spent about 6 hours making the mould and fitting the blocks. I chose MDF as the material to make the mould and am following plans for a Stradivari. It took the most time to cut out the outline of the mould as I went very slowly using the scroll saw so that I would have as little clean up as possible and so that I could use the outer cut off piece as a jig to hold the top and back in place while carving. Yesterday I received the wood I am to use including the back, top and purfling. They were supposed to send me sides as well but they forgot and are sending them along. I should have them by Friday. I already have a nice neck block and I will make my own linings out of spruce. I am waiting for some tools; namely a rib bending iron, finger planes, and a incannel gouge to carve the blocks into shape. I will try to post something after each session of violin creation and will try to keep up with photos as well. I couldn't get the photos to paste in the blog, but the links will take you there. The first is a picture of the mould with the square blocks glued in. The second is the mould with the blocks rough cut.

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 12:08 AM

That's nice! I made two tutorials that may be of your interest, one about carving the scroll and the other about shaping the corners, here:

Good luck with your project!


From CarmenMaria Nestor
Posted on February 17, 2011 at 12:53 AM

How wonderful!  Building a violin is something I'd like to do someday....I'll be following along

From Viran Vuu
Posted on February 18, 2011 at 4:19 AM

Awesome. I have been comtemplating this skills for a self-interest. I am weary of starting because it is my understanding that it is a very expensive hobby between wood, tools, and time. I always like tinkering with things to make it better and would love to do one from scratch myself. Out of curiousity, how does one learn to make an instrument such as the violin that requires high skills?

From Michael Seery
Posted on February 18, 2011 at 1:29 PM

 Learning to build a violin does require a relatively expensive array of tools even if you are planning to do everything by hand. Saws, chisels, gouges, knives, clamps, bending iron, peg reamers, peg shapers, planes, graduating caliper, scrapers, soundpost setting tools,brushes, drill and bits, and scales (rulers) are just some of the required tools. One of the most expensive parts though that many folks don't think of is the wood. I used high quality wood for mine and spent over $300. This is a skill that can be learned with books as long as one already has basic woodworking skills and a eye for detail, but there are also various schools that offer violin making classes.

From Wendy Evenden Loney
Posted on February 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM

 I have built my own violin and viola and am now working on a cello, and along with a friend, a double bass.  It is thrilling to play an instrument you've made yourself. Have fun.

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