Spot-gluing the Fingerboard
So, after you’ve got your scroll done, you get to move onto the fingerboard. It’s pretty simple in concept. First you flatten the underside of the fingerboard where it’s going to meet the neck. Then you make the sides square and bring the width down to the right dimensions; the sides aren’t straight though, there is a half-millimeter deep curve along the length. Next, you flatten the front of the fingerboard to the right height, while creating another half-millimeter scoop along the length. Last of all, you position the fingerboard in place on the scroll, dry-clamp, double-check that everything is aligned right, and then spot-glue the fingerboard to the neck.
I have to say, ebony is a dream to work with, but the black sawdust makes your hands all gross and dirty.
Also, have a picture of my workbench. When I took this picture, I was working on flattening that fingerboard. Normally, I don’t have the chalk-plate out.
So, I guess I should update you guys on my progress. These are old photos showing some of the steps of carving the scroll.
The next step is to draw on the pegbox and scroll. It’s harder than it looks and sounds. After that, you bandsaw the area just outside of the lines on the pegbox and use fingerplanes and files to bring it down to the line.
My First Scroll
The very first thing you need to do when making the scroll is make sure you have a finished template that matches the scroll of whatever violin you’re using as your model. If you can, you want to use a 1:1 scale photocopy of a picture of the scroll, otherwise you have to do what I did, trace the picture and glue it to the aluminum piece. After that, it’s a simple—but tedious and finicky—matter of filing down to the line. You have to be extra careful to match the bumps and flat spots of the original, and make sure the finished product is the exact same size by laying it down over the original photo.
When you’ve finished filing, you then use an extremely tiny drill bit to drill holes along the spiral line. I actually made about twice as many holes as I needed here, but that’s not going to hurt anything. The holes are so that when you’re transferring the template to the scroll block, you can use a scratch awl to mark where the windings are going to be.
When the template is all done, you’re going to need to trace it onto the scroll block, but before you can do that you need to shim the sides of the block with spruce so you have a flat surface to draw on. That step is actually pretty quick and easy. It takes maybe fifteen minutes plus glue time if you’re going slow.
Next is clamping the template and tracing it! First you have to position the template properly. The front end of the scroll needs to be 1.5mm off the face of the block, and the inside of the step at the bottom end of the pegbox needs to be 0.5mm away. You do it that way so future people doing repairs will be able to re-flatten the neck if they need to, and do so without hitting the scroll with their plane. After everything is all clamped up, you trace the template lightly with a scratch awl, and then go over the lines with pencil. You also need to lightly poke the awl through the holes on the spiral.
After you’ve got that all done, you remove the template, and use a square and pencil to extend guidelines to the other side of the block and then you clamp the template in place and repeat the tracing on that side. Your placement has to be perfect, otherwise your scroll is going to be hideously lopsided when you carve it.
The last step is just a simple matter of making sure the bandsaw blade is square to the table, is sharp enough to not burn the wood when you cut across the endgrain, and then you get to cut the scroll blank out, staying as close to the line as you can comfortably get.
Violin Bridge Blank Drawn at x2 Scale
Sorry about the cruddiness. I couldn’t get the scanner settings right and had to really mess around with the contrast and brightness just to make the drawing easily visible.
And here we’ve got a drawing of the rib structure with the mold, blocks, and linings.
The first step for making the neck and scroll is to flatten the side of your block of wood that will eventually hold the fingerboard. I did this with a combination of joiner plane for the initial flattening and a block plane and chalk plate for the fine flattening. It actually has to be very accurate even though the final product will warp and need re-flattening, because you use that side to lay out everything else, and it’s going to screw things up if it’s not perfectly flat.
It’s all glued up and only now starting to sink in. Up until this point, it’s been one small task building on top of another from the mold to the blocks to the ribs and then the front and the back. Now though, I’m starting on something completely different. I’m going to start on the scroll.
Hello! I just have a quick question about your violin form. I noticed compared to my forms, your form has two extra holes located in the upper and lower bouts. I was wondering the reasoning behind this as I only have 8 holes in my form, with only one in the upper and one in the lower by the end blocks.
Yeah, those holes are so you can clamp a counter-block to the boughts when gluing the ribs to the blocks. It holds the rib tight to the mold, which helps ensure that the outline stays what you want it to be.