Initial steps

Choose a piece of maple, sufficiently flamed but not too much as that kind of wood is hard to carve.

The grain should run parallel with the top and bottom plane. If you need to reorient the wood grain along the longest axis, you can use a simple template 50 x 42 mm in size, made of plastic, as in fig. 8.1.
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.1.png) 8.1


True the block of wood to the minimal measurements of 30 x 5 x 6cm.

Use the neck template to scribe the neck outline on both sides of the block and a coping saw or a belt saw to cut out the rough form of the neck. Also, mark a line denoting the extreme top end of the fingerboard. Avoid undercutting constantly checking the both outlines.

Remove excessive material with a knife close to the line and make the rest flat using a gouge or a rasp or a file.

The back wall of the neck root must now be made flat. From its top, the gluing surface for the fingerboard, to the nut, must be 136mm. The wall must of course be at right angle to the sides of the neck block. When finished size the neck root with thin hide glue.

Using a scribe make a centerline along the whole circumference of the neck blank.

Mark a line positioned 6mm away from the fingerboard line in the direction of the volute, and which will determine the end of the nut and the beginning of the slopping wall of the pegbox.

Set your compass to 12mm and on each side, from the centerline make a mark which will denote the width of both the fingerboard end and the nut, in total 24mm.

Use the same method, setting your compas to 10mm, to mark the width of the begbox at it lowermost side, under the volute.

Now you can create a template. For that you need two pieces of cardboard, about 1mm thick. Mark the outline of the volute and the outline of the pegbox on them. Wet the paper and impregnate it with thin hide glue, leaving the templates in their spiral-like positions around the volute to dry.
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.2.png) 8.2


Correctly align the paper templates and mark the outlines of both the pegbox and the volute on the neck blank.

From the fingerboard line in the direction of the volute, start making incisions with your saw, about 1cm apart, stopping 1mm short of the marked lines. End in the area of the throat.

The resulting pieces of wood can be removed with a chisel. Be careful to read the wood grain, do not try to chip away the whole height, work gradually in layers.

Saw off the little pieces forming the basic contour of the heel. To avoid undercutting angle the saw away from the heel.

Mark the first part of the volute as depicted in fig. 8.2.
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.3.png) 8.3


Make the incisions along the lines and remove the resulting pieces of wood using a shallow gouge.

Reduce the width of the pegbox up to the lines, make the heel round.

Mark the second part of the volute as depicted in fig. 8.3.

Now it remains to finish the volute leading to the eye. Start from the eye using a suitable gouge.

Correct the volute so that it flows naturally and gracefully.

Using a file, create a bevel on both edges of the volute and the heel.

Use small gouges to give the volute an increasing depth, as it approaches the eye.

The pegbox

Mark the inner wall of the pegbox by drawing parallel lines to the outter walls offset by 5.5mm inwards as in fig.8.4
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.4.png) 8.4


The topmost wall is positioned parallel with the radius of the volute. Fig. 8.4

Start removing wood knowing that the walls are getting thicker towards the bottom of the pegbox. The front wall, forming the extension of the nut, runs at the angle of approximately 105. Make sure you are not removing too much wood - the pegbox sidewalls should not be thinner than 5mm at the top.

Great care should be taken when carving the uppermost pegbox wall to achieve a clean cut.

To maintain structural integrity, the bottom wall of the pegbox must be of sufficient consistent thickness, see dashed line defining the bottom in fig. 8.5
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.5.png) 8.5


Using the template and considering the thickness of the bottom and the flow of the volute, mark the four peg holes with a scribe. The drill used should be 6mm wide and great care must be taken not to tear the edges. A good technique is to clamp a hand drill in a vice with the left hand turning it and the right holding the neck. Another approach is to drill the holes right after the outline has been transferred onto the wooden block and for that a precise drill press is needed.

Before the outter volute is cut, make sure the general outline is correct.

If necessary remark the center-line from the heel to the end of the volute. Start at the top of the volute with a small no. 7 gouge, going down the slope soon doubling its path. Using a wider, shallower gouge, unite the two paths. At this point, it is great to have a variety of gouges to choose the exact depth of the volute. The gouges should be ground in the shape shown in fig.8.6
 (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/images/8.6.png) 8.6


Shaping the neck root

First, you need to mark the angle of the root as well as its height. To do that, you need to measure the height of the whole violin body /ribs+top+bottom plates/ where the neck root is inserted on the violin copied. With Messiah, it is 37mm. To that number add the overstand height /the height of the fingerboard above the top plate/, which is about 6.5 with the Messiah. You get the number of 43.5mm.

Mark this height, from the end of the fingerboard down, on the neck root wall, using a scribe.

Using a compass, mark the width of the button +1mm on the previously scribed bottom line. /18mm Messiah/

Scribe two lines on both sides of the neck root wall, at the top denoting the width of the fingerboard, at the bottom going through the width of the button. See fig.

Prolong these lines on the bottom side of the neck root as well and along the whole underside of the neck, up to the heel.

Start making incisions at both sides of the neck, about 1cm apart, starting with the neck root on up to the heel. Make sure you shop 1mm short of the fingerboard.

With a chisel chop off the resulting blocks of wood. Gradually, not whole blocks at once, but rather in slices to keep splitting under control.

Using a block plane, finish the sides of the neck root up to the scribed lines. Also roughly finish the underside of the neck with a file.

Creating the underside neck profile

First, scribe marks on the underside of the neck, 25mm from the nut and 50mm from the neck root, see fig. The normal thicknesses in these places are 18.5mm and 20.5mm.

Mark these measurements in their places and connect them with a line on both sides, see fig.

Measure 110mm from the heel and make a mark on the neck root, as in fig. Using a template transfer the contour so that it is aligned with the mark on the root. see fig.

Use the other end of the template to transfer the contour of the heel on the unfinished heel.

Repeat on the other side.

Make incisions 1cm apart ending 1mm clear of the two lines you just created. Chop off the wood blocks.

Along the length of the underside of the neck, scribe a parallel line at about 1/3 distance from the fingerboard, see fig.

Repeat on the other side.

Between these two lines the wood can be safely removed using a rasp.

Level the underside of the neck and get to the final numbers, check with the template often.

Using a suitable gouge, create the final shape of the heel, make sure its contour flows smoothly into the pegbox sidewalls.

With a rasp, start defining the final curvature of the neck, check often with the template.

The final shaping is done with the neck glued on.

Starting the fingerboard from a block of wood

True the block of ebony.

Take a suitable fingerboard blank, align with the block and mark its outline with a scribe. Highlight the line with chalk.

Mark the hollow area, starting 142mm from the top end of the fingerboard, allowing 3mm for the sides. Highlight again with chalk.

Saw off the sides, staying about 1mm outside the lines.

Plane the sides down to the lines making sure the top 24mm and bottom 42mm measurements are met and that both sides are perpendicular to the bottom.

You may now, using a block plane, create a small concavity along the length of each side of max. 1mm at the center of the fingerboard. Check with steel ruler.

Trim the length of the fingerboard to its final 270mm, first with a saw, but finally with a small shooting board made for this purpose, see fig.

Make sure the top /24mm/ and bottom /42mm/ measurements still apply.

You may now remove the thickness on the underside of the fingerboard, gradually, starting at the 139th mm, removing up to 1mm at the very end of the fingerboard, see the dashed line in fig. This way, because the top of the fingerboard will later be planed a little concave as well, the final thickness of the sides of 4.5mm can be retained.

Making the fingerboard from a blank

Using a fingerboard holder, see fig., place the fingerboard blank into the holder and clamp the holder in the vice. With the blank in place, plane the whole underside of the fingerboard down so that the sides will be about 5 mm thick along along the whole length of the fingerboard.

You may now remove the thickness on the underside of the fingerboard, gradually, starting at the 139th mm, removing up to 1mm at the very end of the fingerboard, see the dashed line in fig. This way, because the top of the fingerboard will later be planed a little concave as well, the final thickness of the sides of 4.5mm can be retained.

Plane the sides down to the lines making sure the top 24mm and bottom 42mm measurements are met and that both sides are perpendicular to the bottom.

You may now, using a block plane, create a small concavity along the length of each side of max. 1mm at the center of the fingerboard. Check with steel ruler.

Mark the hollow area, starting 136mm /6mm from the neck root/ from the top end of the fingerboard, allowing 3mm for the sides. Highlight again with chalk.

Remove some material with a gouge. The final thickness at about 3cm down from the neck root should be 4mm but don`t finalize this yet as you will need to plane the top first.

Last, check whether the new underside of the fingerboard sits perfectly on the top of the neck. Sometimes the neck may twist a little as it dries and that must be corrected on the neck.

Fix a clamp in the vice and in it clamp down the neck with a perfectly aligned fingerboard.

The fingerboard ends

Set the shooting board to the right angle and start shooting the upper end first. Ebony is both very hard and prone to chipping. The block plane must be set to the thinnest shavings possible. It is advisable to create a small chamfer using a file, which will help reduce the danger of chipping. If chipping still occurs, you can always use a block of wood with sandpaper glued to it instead of a plane. Do the same with the other end. The final fingerboard length is 270mm.

Fixing blocks

The fixing blocks help fix the fingerboard in the correct position when you are gluing it. They are best made of maple and should be cca 1cm long and 3-4mm high and about the same wide.

With the neck and fingerboard fixed in the vice, first adjust the blocks so they fit perfectly at the same time not conflicting with the projected position of three clamps. Then glue one by one onto the top maple neck, holding each one for about 30 seconds. See fig.

Let dry for about 10 minutes and then carefully slide out the fingerboard. Let thoroughly dry.

Gluing the fingerboard

Reinsert the fingerboard between the fixing blocks and make sure it slides right up the marked line 6mm before the sloping pegbox wall.

Prepare thin hide glue, quickly apply to the underside of the fingerboard and slide in position. The move must be a precise one as there is usually no time for correction. It is handy to have a small hammer at hand so that if the fingerboard "bites" short of the marked line, you can tap it at the end lightly to get there.

Apply three clamps with padding and let dry overnight.

The whole fixing blocks can be removed either after 10-20 minutes, if the setup permits, or when completely dry, at which time you must be careful not to chip away the ebony fingerboard, removing the blocks in layers, gradually with a chisel.

Finishing the top of the fingerboard

On both sides, reduce the height of the fingerboard to the marked line of 4.5mm.

Continue removing wood from the top as well, occasionally checking the arching with the fingerboard template. See fig.

At the same time, try to create a slightly concave surface, with 1mm at the G side and 0.75mm at the E side at the center of the fingerboard. See fig.

Use a file to get a smoother surface already close to the final measurements.

Finish with a scraper.

The nut

Get a little block of ebony, 8mm high, 7mm wide and 26mm long. True gluing sides and see if it fits well.

First with a block plane, then with a file create the front wall, sloping flush with the pegbox wall.

Put in place and trace the shape of the fingerboard profile on the back wall of the nut. Trim the length of the nut so that it stays a little proud of the fingerboard width.

Remove wood from above the marked arc of the fingerboard, stay within 1mm above it.

Glue with thin hide glue, holding in place with your hands for about 30 seconds.

Finish the sides of the nut. Keep in mind that the sides are do not run parallel but rather form a smooth bridge between the sides of the fingerboard and the pegbox walls.

Using a file, finalize the arching contour of the nut to 1mm on the G side and 0.75 on the E side. See fig. The arching is also slopping a little. Finish with sandpaper, but be careful not to smooth out the defining sharp lines.

Set your compass to 16,5mm and on the top of the nut, mark the outter positions for the G and E strings, leaning a little to the G side so that the E string will have a little more fingerboard space. See fig.

Set your compass to 5,5 mm and repeat to mark the inner positions for the D and A strings.

Use these marks to cut guides for a keyhole file. The guides for D and A strings are straight, those for G and E are cut at a slight angle, see fig.

Using a four-sided keyhole file, create the final grooves for the strings. Do not make them too deep as the string should only be fixed in position by these grooves, not buried in them. Each groove should also reflect the thickness of the string it is to carry.

The last step here is to create a smooth shaped bezel, so that the sloping front wall of the nut assumes the shape of letter D, see fig.

Chamfering the fingerboard edges

In the 2/3?

The saddle

Prepare a block of ebony, about 8 x 7 x 35 mm.



The button

Look at the violin copied and measure the width and height of the button. Using a compass, mark these measurements on the button blank. Bear in mind that the vertical shape of the button will conform to that of the neck root / being conical in nature. Leave 1-2mm larger than the neck root, to have material to remove.



Category: Building