My first violin

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Project by RonPeters posted 07-08-2010 05:21 AM 3856 views 4 times favorited 42 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first violin.

I also made the amber varnish in a similar manner as Strad. circa 1700’s.

In time (100 years) it should be a nice dark tan.

The drawing is the layout for the instrument using only geometry, a compass and ruler.

I learned the craft from Juan Mijares in town.
He learned from The Violin School of America in Salt Lake
twenty+ years ago.

I’ve been learning bits and pieces for the last 15 years on my own. Juan helped me put the concepts together.

The wood top is 1/4 sawn spruce and was given to me by a local violin maker who has since died. I held on to it for 10 years before cutting it. It has very tight grain – almost like viewing the side of a ream of paper. Not sure if the detail will show in these pics, but there is some really nice flame in it.

The back, sides, & neck are 1/4 sawn maple. Ebony is commercially available, so no need to do anything but cut to fit and shape.

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

42 comments so far

View TungOilTim's profile


83 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 07-08-2010 05:30 AM

WOW! That is really cool. Instrument making is another realm of woodworking in itself

-- Tim, Plant City FL

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3682 days

#2 posted 07-08-2010 05:30 AM

Well it is incredible, thanks for the tidbits of history on the piece. Thanks for sharing.

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3878 days

#3 posted 07-08-2010 05:36 AM

That is nice.


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 3653 days

#4 posted 07-08-2010 06:03 AM

The words amazing, awesome and beautiful all pale in comparison to your creation.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 3777 days

#5 posted 07-08-2010 06:07 AM

Awesome project, you definitely know what your doing. Thanks for sharing.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View a1Jim's profile


117955 posts in 4217 days

#6 posted 07-08-2010 06:16 AM

Welcome to LJs Ron
This is a spectacular an wonderful violin I’m sure there will be more wonderful instruments to come.


View patron's profile


13696 posts in 3981 days

#7 posted 07-08-2010 06:31 AM

well done there , my friend .

looks like you are well on your way too !

welcome to LJ’s .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1594 posts in 3892 days

#8 posted 07-08-2010 06:49 AM

Awesome job on your beautiful violin. Fantastic work. I love colorado springs one of my favorite places. Super workmanship.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3658 days

#9 posted 07-08-2010 07:47 AM

This is absolutely gorgeous! Most violins I see are much darker in color so this must be a rarity. How does it sound?

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3562 days

#10 posted 07-08-2010 10:09 AM

Excellent.. This is the real thing. Working on thin wood (1/4”) needs accuracy and ultimate skill. How I wish I could do this too. I have a violin restored. Thanks for posting.

-- Bert

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3699 days

#11 posted 07-08-2010 12:12 PM

Wow. That’s very nice. I like the fact that you used a historically acurate finishing technique. I imagine that most modern violins are probably stained in an attempt to mimic the patina of the really old, classic instuments. Better to let that patina come about naturally I think. Thanks for posting your project.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3717 days

#12 posted 07-08-2010 02:06 PM

Truly stunning piece of work and art. Looks to me that you have learned very well. I agree with Docholladay on how cool it is you kept with historically accurate finish. Outstanding work Ron!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4858 days

#13 posted 07-08-2010 04:22 PM

Beautiful craftsmanship!!!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3520 days

#14 posted 07-08-2010 04:36 PM

Thanks for the welcomes and kind words.

I’m told it sounds “focused” when I play it. Before I applied the varnish, it sounded ‘wild’ and very loud. It seems the varnish toned it down a bit. The top is 2mm thick. Sides 1mm. Back, from @2mm to 4.5mm in the center.

The ‘darker’ violins you see are ‘painted’ using dyes layered over a clear base. You guys probably know that if you stain the wood directly, color absorbs into the wood pores, but if you clear coat the surface and then apply color it raises depth of the wood? I hope I’m explaining correctly? There’s a whole industry built around transparency of the dyes. I suppose it’s like looking into a black paint job on a car?

The varnish Strad had available was oil based and very durable. In one of his letters he criticized the time it took to dry. He didn’t use shoe polish for color. Spirit varnish only came along in the 1800’s when mass production required a fast drying product. They couldn’t wait 3 months to have product sitting on a shelf when there’s money to be made.

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

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4167 days

#15 posted 07-08-2010 04:38 PM

That’s really cool and amazing. Fantastic craftsmanship, beautiful.


-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

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