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Tools

Apart from the usual assortment of wood working tools, you will need some tools and jigs which are used specifically in violin making.

1. Planes

Block plane
A flat sole block plane is used for finer work, ie. reducing the rib or fingerboard height. Any steep angle Stanley no. 18 or no. 9 1/2 or Record no. 9. block plane will do. For denser woods /ebony/ and when you need to work across the grain, ie. to trim the ends of corner blocks, types with lower blade angle are usually recommended, ie. Stanley 60 or 60 1/2 as depicted on the left right.

In the shaping of the ribs, the block plane is used as a scraper, with its blade ground to a steeper angle. Keep this in mind and if you think you may use it this way, get a spare "scraper" blade.

Jack plane
A jack plane, ie. Stanley no. 5, is an all purpose plane and is long enough to be used in the joining the plate halves.

Thumb plane
These are used almost exclusively with violin plates. Two or three sizes, round sole, should have you covered, see the image on the right.

2. Saws

Coping saw
Used for the cutting of the outline, a type with sufficient depth is recommended, if you can, get a light one, made of aluminum. The saw should be also equipped with screws allowing you to adjust the tension of the blade. The tension should be enough to allow for precision work.

Blades for this saw should be of sufficient thickness, ie. about 1.5mm. You may find that blades with a round profile are more suited for this type of work. When fixed in the saw, the teeth on the blade should always point towards the handle.

Gyokucho saw
A great Japanese razor saw with many uses around the workshop. Highly recommended all purpose saw. Two sides with finer and coarser teeth, used with denser and softer woods.

3. Gouges

Long handle gouges
One or two with long handles to ease the tedious carving of the plates. The depth of the blade should be around this  (image: http://www.makingtheviolin.com/Building/Tools and materials/gouge_shape.svg) ie. Pfeil 6/20. Anything deeper and bigger will make the carving more tedious.

Narrow chisel
Good for chopping off the block when carving the pegbox and scroll.

1.5 mm mortice chisel
This chisel is only about 1.5 mm wide at the end of the blade and serves to cut the mortices in the corner blocks for the lining.

Scroll gouges
Used to carve the various stages of the volutes of the scroll.

4. Spool clamp

A set of 30 of these is used when gluing the upper and lower plates to the rib structure. They can be easily made, for dimensions look at the image on the right side.

To make a set yourself, get a round stick of wood, 25 mm in diameter, cut 60 pieces, 25 mm high out of it.

Get 30, 10cm long screws, with as many nuts and 25 mm wide washers.

Cut 60 pieces of leather matching the radius of 25 mm, with holes in them. Glue these onto the wooden parts.

In each of these parts drill a hole the width of the screw.

Assemble as in the fig on the right.

5. Clamps

Lining clamp
The lining clamps, 40 of them, are used in the gluing of the linings. Again, these are usual wooden clothes pins, reinforced with standard rubber band and the tips removed, for a tighter, more precise grip.

Bass bar clamp
This wooden clamp is used to fix the bas bar in position while it is being glued onto the top plate. You can buy a set of metal bass bar clamps or you can make a set of five, as depicted in the fig in the middle.

C clamp
A set of about 5 of these is a must. You will use them in various tasks, ie. gluing the fingerboard, the neck, the plates, etc. Make sure these are quality stuff.

6. Measuring tools

Steel ruler
A 30 cm steel ruler serves as a all purpose tool.

Vernier caliper

Dividers
These are used along with the compass, to transfer some of the measurements onto the wood. I usually use the compass for this, but you may find that good dividers mark a spot more precisely and the marks don't wear off so easily.

Compass
The locked type with adjustable radius via a screw is preferable.

7. Thicknessing caliper

Used to measure the thickness of the plates during their graduation. On the right side, you have got the standard thicknessing caliper which you can buy or you can make one yourself, buying just the measuring unit. 1/10 mm precision is sufficient.

To make the thicknessing caliper yourself, attach the measuring unit to a wooden construction, positioning its tip against an adjustable screw. The base is 27 x 16 x 2 cm. The "arm" is 5 cm wide, 2 cm thick and 23 cm long and is positioned in the middle of the base, see Fig.

8. Reamers and shapers

Peg hole reamer
Reams the peg holes to an exact angle.

Peg shaper
Serves to create the exact conical shape on the peg which must match the one reamed in the peg box using the peg hole reamer, see above.

It should have adjustable blades, and a fine adjustment is necessary to make sure the resulting peg, when inserted into the peg hole has maximum contact with it. Also, well adjusted blades prevent the tearing of the ebony wood while shaving the peg.

9. Bending tools

Bending iron
An iron heated to ca 300C, helps you bend ribs, the purfling and the linings. A type with a thermostat may be helpful, but with practice, you will recognize the correct temperature by yourself. The self-made bending irons are of great variety. You can go as basic as a 25-28mm diameter pipe, heated up by a heat gun or a welding iron.

Building a bending iron yourself, the resulting device should meet some minimum requirement. Should be able to get to the desired temperature relatively quickly, and should be able to stay there for reasonable time. The surface of the iron should be of optimal radius and it should not stain the wood.

Bending strap
Basically a strip of thin metal with handles at each end, helps you hold the piece of wood bended in place, wrapped around part of the radius of the bending iron.

10. Scrapers

Also one of the basic tools, it is used especially when finishing the rib stock, the plates, the neck and fingerboard.

The shapes on the right are considered basic and you may find other shapes suit your working style better. The rectangle one is used for anything flat, ie. finishing the rib stock.

You can get the material for these at your local hardware store, and cut the shapes out yourself, or you can order these finished.

Also see the sharpening section for the how-to on how to sharpen these.

11. Purfling & F-hole tools

Purfling marker
The purfling maker serves to mark the purfling channel, which goes parallel with the contour of the plates. As its name suggests, although it has one or two blades, it serves just to mark the channel, not to cut it. The cutting itself is done with your regular, or specially beveled knife.

Purfling pick
When the walls of the purfling channel are cut deep enough, you use the purfling pick to remove the waste wood between them. This is a rather simple tool which can be relatively easy made in the shop.

F-hole cutters
Some makers use it, some don't. I prefer the clean holes they produce, but if you decide to use them, you should have a range of diameters, for this to be flexible.

12. Graduation punch

This tool is used to punch holes in the plate. These holes serve as guides during the hollowing out of the plates.

13. Plate holder

A variety of jigs used to hold the plate while it is being carved hollow are used. Here you can find the plans for an universal holder, which can hold plates of any violin sizes.

14. Soundpost tools

Soundpost setter**
Used to put the sound post in position. Various types are available.

Inspection mirror
May assist you in the process of sound post setting, but also in the general inspection of the insides of the instrument.

Soundpost retriever
When the soundpost falls down and keeps rolling on the bottom plate, you can either try to get it out the same way you put it in, using the sharp end of the setter, or you can use this handy device.

Soundpost gauge
Used to measure the height of the area where the sound post is supposed to be installed, so that you know how long you cut it. Keep in mind, the ends of the soundpost are slightly angled.

15. UV cabinet

A UV cabinet can be used both for tanning of the wood and curing of the oil varnish.

Category: Tools and materials
Comment by 70.160.39.195
2016-04-12 21:54:19
Do the plane blades need to be toothed?
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2016-04-14 01:40:58
If you mean for the scraper plane, then no, they don't.
Comment by 70.160.39.195
2016-04-14 02:20:10
No, I mean the thumb and block planes.
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2016-04-14 09:13:27
No teeth needed on any of the blades.
Comment by 80.2.114.250
2016-06-14 20:54:02
Any advice on suitable knives? Sizes and handle types. By the way, many thanks for all your efforts.
Comment by 194.228.13.111
2016-06-25 11:54:53
Hello, I find that just one, well sharpened, knife serves me well throughout the building. It is the Pfeil 12 swiss made, but any knife that does not get blunt easily and has the right shape will do the job. Mostly it is in the hands so get one and stick to it to learn it.
[Comment deleted]
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2017-08-24 14:34:39
Thats something that has crossed my mind too - but there are so many places and ways to get these because people come to the site from all over the world...
Comment by 51.254.238.67
2017-10-03 21:31:12
Can a section to the form be added for people from around the world to put add their sources? One for north america, one for Europe, etc. There are so many very specialized tools here. As a beginner, I don't even know if what I'm looking at in a store is what your are describing or not. Especially, for me, when it comes to the planes, chisels, and gouges.
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2017-10-05 12:04:53
Admittedly, this whole section needs an overhaul, so I will keep this in mind when I`m at it. Thank you :)
Comment by 51.254.238.67
2018-03-06 19:43:34
Can you pls tell me an other way to call the fig #12. I cant find te tool as "graduation punch"
[Comment deleted]
Comment by 51.254.238.67
2018-03-09 17:56:10
plans for the punch https://imgur.com/a/l1v1K