Preparing the ribs
  1. Choose good maple, which will satisfy you both visually and physically.

    The wood should probably be flamed and flexible and the flame should match that of your back. Remember though, that more flame means the maple will be more difficult to work with because its structure is more complicated with some parts denser than others. This may prove problematic especially if you have no previous experience in wood bending. So if this is your first violin, use plainer, less figured wood.

    Look at the cross section in Fig. 1. The growth rings should run as parallel to the sides of the ribs as possible, to ensure greatest stability. Also, the height "b" should be sufficient for the violin you are building, plus about 4 mm. (36 mm for the Messiah)
  2. Decide whether you are going to make the ribs for the upper and lower bouts in one or two pieces and cut the ribstock accordingly. See Gluing the top and bottom ribs if you don't know how long the upper and lower bout should be.
  3. Fix a jack plane upside down in your vice, carefully hold the ribstock in your hands, and plane the "a" side of each of the ribs so that its level and straight. Alternatively, you can use a shooting board for this.
  4. Draw the maximum height "x" line parallel to the "a" side you have just planed. This line denotes the maximum height of the ribs, usually in the back of the violin, ie. 32 mm + add 4 mm as safety margin.
  5. Cut through the line using a knife and a steel ruler, or use the mounted plane again to remove material to the line.

  1. Now that you have all the ribs trued and cut to the correct height you need to adjust their thickness to approximately 1.5 mm.

    It is best to use a rectangle scraper to remove most of the thickness. To make the surface even it is advised to use a block plane with a blade reground for scraping as in Fig. 2. Blade "a" is the normal block plane blade, which doesn't work well with the dense, flamed ribstock. On the other hand the "b" blade, which when reground works as a scraper, is perfect for the job.

    You can, of course, instead of the scraping plane, use your regular scraper, but in that case you will need to keep a keener eye on the evenness of the thicknessing and the whole process may prove more cumbersome. It all depends on the initial thickness of the ribstock.

    The thickness and its even distribution may be checked with a thicknessing caliper or more efficiently, the target thickness can be punched into the ribstock using a graduation punch. Set the punch to the final thickness and make a network of holes covering the whole ribstock. Working with the plane scraper, when all the holes are gone, you have arrived at the correct thickness. See the dots in Fig. 3. for reference.
  2. Clamp the rib down to your workbench and start scraping away from the clamp, as in Fig. 3. To remove wood as evenly as possible, tilting the scraper a little may help, as the flamed pattern consists of patches of softer and harder wood.
  3. As mentioned previously, during this stage, also employ the scraper plane to remove any unevenness.
  4. After you have reduced the thickness to 1.5 mm, continue removing material down to 1.2 mm. Again, make sure the thickness is evenly distributed along the whole length of the rib.

Category: Ribs
[Comment deleted]
Comment by
2018-04-10 23:30:49
What is the total length of material used for the ribs?
Comment by
2018-06-25 15:16:41
It is about 100cm.