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The Making of a Bergonzi violin

1 preparing the mould and blocks | 2 The rib Garland

I thought it would be nice to cover the entire build of this violin - as the start of it co-incides with launching this website. I've no idea how soon I will be really getting into it - as I have the Guadagnini cello to complete - so bear with be. At least we have made a start !

The Tonewood is Scottish sycamore - which I aquired recently. It's from a 2001 felling and is all from the same tree - West Lothian 'acer pseudo platanus' - Eng sycamore is very similar to European maple. US Sycamore is very different. Its beautiful wood to work and is very similar to some of the old Bosnian maple I have - maybe not quite as hard.

The ribstock was quite short and in block form - so I've shot one face to finish, then bandsawed the rib to about 1.7mm. I then re-shoot that face and do it again. I'm still not 100% on using these ribs but its nice to use the same wood when you have it - | see here for some options | the 'same tree' ribs are immediate left of the Bergonzi poster rib image, so its a fair match.

Short ribs are a pain to plane to thickness so I've tried glueing some small strips one end to hook over my flat board - being that I already have one finished flat surface. Ribs rough cut both faces are a problem - in that until one side is flat you cannot get the other true. You gradually have to reduce both faces a little at a time. We are going down to 1mm thick here.

Planing the block face also gives you an idea of how the wood is working. This stuff is shooting sweetly - unlike most European maple.

The pattern is from the outline drawing - and is exact to the instrument. It's the mould size including the corner profiles. I use it for a pattern for a following cutter routing out the mould ply form - then pin it exactly square to the mould on both faces - its flipped for either side - as the outline deviates a good bit. I'm even copying the dropped rib at the button on this one - somewhat more of a copy than I usually do.

This though, is a pattern of the mould outline, not the plate. My attitude is that the mould 'is' the model. I never have an outline template of the full plate. However the ribs end up around the mould determines the final plate edges. This way, even though I am copying an existing drawing of a known instrument - the actual making with introduce variations. I'm happy with that. Keeps thing fluid and fresh.

Blocks and linings are willow - some of the English willow I still have. The newer batch I aquired a while ago was a bit heavy. The old stuff was super light - so I may have to buy it in form Europe - in a nation of cricket bat makers I have to buy willow from Italy or spain ! The European stock is generally very clean straight and light though.

The lower surface of the blocks are planed true and flat - then they are glued to the mould laid on a flat plate. Some use a granite slab - I use window glass. It's wood - it does not need such precision.

The tops of the blocks are cut just proud of the finished heights. Willow needs a fair bit of spare to plane flush - when sawn its very wooly, but planed its super smooth. Its a nice wood.

The ribs then will simply overlap the blocks - and be trimmed to the line of the blocks.

continued part 2

ps - the new cello is finished at last ! - see here