Making a Violin #1: Making a Violin

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Blog entry by RonPeters posted 10-05-2010 04:02 AM 6717 reads 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Making a Violin series Part 2: End Blocks and The Middle Bout »

Now that the bench is finished, it’s time to start using it for its intended purpose! I thought I’d document my progress along the way. I hope that’s ok with everyone?

What to do first (besides building a bench)? Got to have a plan!

Well, actually, you need a mold to shape the ribs (sides) of the violin to. A good book to start learning is ”The Art and Method of the Violin Maker” by Henry Strobel.

Here’s a plan. Though I won’t follow this one exactly, it’s for reference.

What we have here are two molds with corner and end blocks in place. Notice the shape of the ‘points’ to be carved? The one on the right is a Stradivari pattern circa 1705. It’s 346.5 mm long from top to bottom. The other is a Vuillaume pattern of a Strad. It’s 345.0 mm and is the pattern I used to make my first violin.

This one is of a Buck Bros. inside gouge I acquired. I use it to cut the corners on the blocks.

Here’s a closeup of the business end.

Another view…

I have a question on sharpening this tool. I used a dremel tool to shape the inside lip as best I could. It’s sharp, but not as sharp as I would like it.

If anyone has a trick, or tip on sharpening an inside gouge, sharp enough to shave my arm. Please let me know.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

13 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3818 days

#1 posted 10-05-2010 04:44 AM

Ron, I do wood carving among other things and I would suggest a leather strop wheel you can find at Woodcraft. I would use a polishing rouge on the leather to aid in polishing/sharpening. I would also make the angle of the cutting edge a bit shallower meaning longer so it glides through wood instead of plowing like yours looks to be doing. Putting a mirror finish on the edge also helps the chisel to glide through wood. I also use a buffing wheel with the rouge after the leather strop and it helps with the polishing action.

Hope this helps.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3924 days

#2 posted 10-05-2010 04:58 AM

This should be exciting for sure!


View Bill729's profile


241 posts in 3881 days

#3 posted 10-05-2010 05:12 AM

I’m really looking forward to following your work. I read Henry Strobel’s book too. You’re way ahead of me—I’m still working on the workbench part. From what I see you look quite prepared for the challenge!


View a1Jim's profile


118079 posts in 4377 days

#4 posted 10-05-2010 05:18 AM

I can’t wait. How about a dowel with finer and finer grits of sand paper. I think Fww has a video on it.


View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3722 days

#5 posted 10-05-2010 05:57 AM

Here you are now doing the my most awaited violin making. This will surely give us another lesson.
I’m also following on your work and students…. how I wish I could catchup..
For the others,
Maybe I have to budget my time for the 4 of you: Ron, Jordan, and Martyn.. and so with Larry… The real experts now doing all the tutorials.. Live..
Thanks for all and Keep it up. God bless.

-- Bert

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3722 days

#6 posted 10-05-2010 07:11 AM

In sharpening my gouges, I used wood rods.. I use my gouge to shape the wood accordingly with the inner side of gouge. Then I make it a bit smaller (the gouge inner side is bigger than the shape of the wood) by sanding. Like a round file, I sharpen my gouges by sliding my gouges to the rod wrapped with sandpaper. Honing is the secret to really make it sharp. This is possible by using a 1600 grit sandpaper. Ensure that the sandpaper will take the sanding surface evenly with the wooden rod. I am not sure if it will work for you. But it worked with me. Sometimes, I use the round file and just wrapped it with sandpaper.

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3720 days

#7 posted 10-05-2010 12:05 PM

Wow, Ron:
I was very happy to see this blog this morning. I am anxious to see how you do this and I am looking forward to following your progress through your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your skill with us all.

I agree with Bert! It is just one great lesson after another here at LJ’s! We certainly do have the best of the best, as well as the kindest and most sharing people in the industry (as well as the most talented!)

I have reserved my seat for this series and will be here watching with interest.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3680 days

#8 posted 10-06-2010 03:41 AM

Thanks guys n gals! I’ll do my best to document the process.

As for the dowels…why didn’t I think of that!? I also heard from a friend about woodcraft having a metal tool shaped like a double horn (not sure I’m explaining it correctly?) that might just work for the sharpening as well. It’s diamond encrusted. I like the dowel idea though and to make the edge steeper. I’ll do that.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4586 days

#9 posted 10-08-2010 04:20 AM

This is great! I am very interested in seeing this process and learning lots. Thanks

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View roy's profile


134 posts in 4594 days

#10 posted 10-16-2010 05:30 AM

chain saw files work great
they come in different sizes

if you use a power tool it heats the metal (which is NOT good )
work them by hand slowly and you will be amazed

also the inside part of a high pressure sodium or similar bulb is incredible for the final touch

-- tn hillbilly.." tryin to do the best i can with what i got "

View ottobre's profile


2 posts in 1535 days

#11 posted 05-21-2016 06:35 PM

newbie here, can you please provide the web link for the violin molds (counterform), thank you very much.

View ottobre's profile


2 posts in 1535 days

#12 posted 05-21-2016 06:40 PM

newbie here, can some one please provide the website for the violin molds (counterform), where can i order it?
thank you very much.

View a1Jim's profile


118079 posts in 4377 days

#13 posted 05-21-2016 07:48 PM

Hi ottobe Welcome to Ljs
I did a little searching online,I don’t know how good their products are.


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