How to make a violin: the steps
Making a violin is an artistic process. That’s the reason why each instrument is unique. Each violin has its own birth and its own story to tell. It requires about 220 hours of work, from the wood choice to its assembling. It’s a patient and accurate working, arose by years of experience. Now, let’s try to describe it!
1. Choosing the proper wood is crucial for the future instrument acoustic and aesthetic quality. In this picture, a Balkans maple wood back with tangential cut.
2. Val di Fiemme spruce fir. The wood must be more than 10 years mature. It’s essential for the instrument acoustics.
4. Selection and marking of the pieces already planed by a model, which usually reproduces historical instruments by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati.
6. Arching roughing by gouge. We use the same procedure for the back and the belly. The shape of the arching is extremely important for the sound.
8. Channel cut for the inlay of purfling and its insertion. The purfling embellishes the instrument, in particular the beaks.
9. The purfling. Tips must fit together perfectly. Their aesthetics depends on violin maker’s style.
12. Arching finishing by using screeds. Screeds are thin steal sharp blades removing a thin layer of wood.
13. Placement and cut of the F-holes. They are crucial for the violin, for its acoustics and aesthetics. As a luthier looks at a violin, the first things he notices are the “F”.
14. Thickness profile carving by using chisels, wood planes and screeds. The thickness profiles of the belly and of the back are extremely important for the acoustics. Depending on flexibility and wood weight, the violin maker removes different parts of wood.
15. The bass bar, its pasting. The bass bar is a spruce wood small bar, set under the bass strings. It supports the board.
16. The ribs. They are made of spruce wood, possibly the same quality of the back. They are 1.2mm thick.
18. In this picture, the ribs are finished by pasting the linings and the blocks, and are now ready for the extraction of the body (here, the external profile of the body).
25. The scroll sculpture goes on till its finishing. Then, it’s time to cut the pegbox, the housing of pegs and strings.
26. After the violin maker pastes the fingerboard, the scroll is engaged at the board by a dovetail joint, perfectly made according to conventional standards.
28. Varnishing. In this step, a penetrating sealer coats the maple wood elements and gives them a coloured background.
29. The varnishing starts off with a transparent coat, till the instrument reaches the desired colour. The varnish I personally produce and I usually use is alcohol-based with different dissolved natural resins.
30. The belly during its varnishing. On the surface, it’s possible to highlight some wood grains by a proper procedure.
32. The assembling. It’s one of the crucial steps because it makes the violin sound. In this image, ebony pegs.