Making a Violin #3: Sides, or 'Ribs' ~ Bending & Gluing

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Blog entry by RonPeters posted 11-12-2010 01:24 AM 11279 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: End Blocks and The Middle Bout Part 3 of Making a Violin series Part 4: Cutting the 4mm edge to size »

Ok, I’m back…

Had a bit of an issue with the bending iron. It seems it is rather delicate and putting it on high (10) is a no no. It’s a Watlow ‘Firerod’ embedded in the aluminum tower. The current flow at 10 apparently burns out the element? It requires about an hour to get to bending temperature – and had I read the sheet that it came with…

It was repaired free of charge and henceforth I will be careful to mind the dial! Nothing past 5 from now on.

Progress! I have both rib sets in place, though only one is ready to build. It takes about 24 hrs to set the hide glue properly and tomorrow I should be able to work the 2nd violin.

First, a pic of the resharpened inside gouges from #1 in this series. Instead of a blunt edge, it’s swept back which helped with sharpening the edge. It’s not as ‘fine’ (smooth) an edge as my chisels, but it cuts the hair on my arm just fine.

Here is the final glue up of the bottom rib. It is one piece of 1.2mm maple. Typically, this would be two pieces butt joined at the bottom block (top block here) where the end pin is. This is a known weak spot with regards to cracks, even more so when you drill a hole in the middle of it! Stradivarius used one piece – he was the master!

Next I show the detail of the corner block which is ‘unfinished’. I still have to trim the extra wings off the ribs and sand down the edges to 30mm at the heel block and 32mm at the end pin block. You can see the extra width of the ribs here.

Here is the finished corner. Note the inside rib fits nicely up to the outer rib? Then I square off the outer rib just to the line of the inside rib edge.

Here is a ‘top down’ detailed view of one of the corner joints.

After centering, I’ve placed the mold on the spruce top. The washers are 3mm and 4mm thick and will be used to define the outside edges of both the top and the back. I don’t know if Stradivarius had washers like this, but I do.

Tracing the outside edge of the ribs with a sharp pencil inside the washer yields the following outline.

Here is the final shape of the back. Next is band sawing the rough shape – don’t cut that line! Afterwords, I’ll use finger planes to get it to the edge of the line.

Thanks for watching!

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

7 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3720 days

#1 posted 11-12-2010 01:31 AM

I love watching how you work and I really do appreciate your taking the time to show us. It is fascinating to see. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.


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

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3996 days

#2 posted 11-12-2010 01:53 AM

That is going to turn out beautiful.

I like your washer idea. It has never occurred to me to try that.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View DrSawdust's profile


323 posts in 4898 days

#3 posted 11-12-2010 02:51 AM

WOW !!! That is some great enginuity. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Thanks for sharing.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

View Karson's profile


35224 posts in 5201 days

#4 posted 11-12-2010 02:56 AM

A great looking story. Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3818 days

#5 posted 11-12-2010 03:19 AM

Wow, I just learned what those holes are for, Clamping and this knowledge will aid me in a project that I am having a bit of problem cause I don’t have a big enough clamp. By utilizing the holes and a large dowel I will be able to use the clamps that I have. The washers are another fantastic tip. The things we learn here is incredible. Thanks.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3722 days

#6 posted 11-12-2010 06:20 AM

Thanks for posting and I’m really watching everymove you do on this. I know how it looks easy but in reality it is so delicate dealing with 2-3mm thick sides. You are using longitudinal grain for sides. My violin uses the other way around. The endgrains are on the top and not on the joints. The advantage is that it is easy to bend (using a pliable wood species.. mahogany or amboyna). Here in the Philippines, I haven’t seen anyone using a dry heating process… Most of us soak it with hotwater then bend and dry. Well, I learned the right way from you now. Keep us posted and thanks again.

-- Bert

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 5066 days

#7 posted 12-29-2010 05:00 PM

Ron- learn something new every day- especially when it comes to wood working. Your trick with the washers is amazing- simple yet effective. Now I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
It reminds me about making the working wooden lock many years ago. How to make the bird’s eye maple shackle a continuous diameter all the way around was a problem my hubby solved in a similar way. He found a large washer with a 3/4” ID and I just had to carve away whatever didn’t fit through the washer. Sweet solution.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

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