Violin rib assembly, part 1

In some recent posts, I’d given some previews, but this is the real thing.  My oscillating spindle sander came yesterday, so I was able to shape the corner blocks.  So yesterday and today I bent the ribs.  That was work!  I’m starting to understand why the pros charge $15,000 or more for these things….

The sander.  The drum moves up and down as it spins, hence, “oscillating”.

The shaped corner blocks:

Starting to bend the ribs:

All done:

The “c” ribs are glued in first.  Here I’m doing a dry run:

With glue.  Hide glue gels quickly, so you have to keep moving…

To be continued…

Happy New Year too!


Last knife for 2011

I actually started this one about a year ago, and I’ve been working on it off and on (mostly off) since then.

The blade is 7″ long, Gordians Knot damascus.  The guard is opposing twist damascus.  The spacer is bronze, the handle is desert ironwood.









I’ll be working on the sheath for it today.

A holiday treat, bladesmith style.

Hey all,

Hope your holidays are going well, and you don’t get sick….

Around here, we don’t really celebrate Christmas.  For several reasons, which I won’t go into unless someone wants me to. 😉

But, I do use it as an excuse to eat junk food.  😀  The following recipe is one of the gooiest, sugariest treats I know of.

First, you’ll need a baking dish.  To do this right, you’ll need a silicon carbide smelting crucible.  I didn’t have one, so I used a Corningware cassarole dish.  About 8″ by 8″ will work. Spray with something non-stick.  WD- 40 will work, but again, I used cooking spray because it was convenient…


Now measure in 6 ounces each of chocolate bits (dark, semi-sweet, and milk all work) and caramel bits.  The original recipe called for butterscotch bits, but I try to avoid hydrogenated oils, hence the caramel bits.  White chocolate bits is good too.



Now add a can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk.  I was going to use some heavy machinery to open it, just to demonstrate proper bladesmith technique, but it came with a pull tab thing on top…




Now add a package of graham crackers made into crumbs.  The way I make the crumbs is to gently cold work with a 3 pound hammer.  Poke a hole in the package first to keep it from bursting…  A hydraulic press should do a fine job also.




Now stir it all up:



And put it into your heat treat oven, which has been preheated to 353 degrees F.  My oven will go up to 2400 degrees, but this kitchen duty cooking pan will not handle that heat.




Close the door:



Soak at temperature for 30 minutes.  Cooking much longer than this will result in excess carbon formation.  Not a good thing.



Then remove from oven and air quench until hand warm.  If higher hardness is desired, you can follow up the air quench with a refrigeration treatment.



Now eat it!  Your dentist will thank me.



40 years ago today

my parents got married.  It’s such a rare thing for couples to stick it out this long, so I thought I’d mention it in their honor.  🙂  I’d post some photos of them, but it would be my last post, since my mom would kill me.   LOL

It’s also my dads 61st birthday today.

Been awhile

since I posted anything.  I have been busy though, I promise.   In addition to making some knives, I’ve been tooling up to make violins.  I needed a bunch of gouges, three of which are tempering in the oven as I type this.  (I decided to make as many as I can.  Not just to save money; I’ve read that some of the newer ones aren’t heat treated very well and so don’t hold an edge very long.  If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it yourself…)

I also needed some hot hide glue and a pot to keep it in.  Purists say that HHG is the only glue to use for violins.  (I’ll probably make one someday using Titebond just to prove them wrong.  🙂  )

Also got a bending iron, and some wood.  I’ll need some more stuff before I can finish a violin, but I have enough to get me started.  I’ll acquire more tools as funds allow.

So, here’s a couple pics of the first thing I’ve carved.  It’s a practice top of cedar.  I probably won’t use it, but I’ll keep it just in case.




It’s just rough carved, and only on the outside.  I’ll use it for scraper practice too.

Here’s a couple templates and a mold.  The template on the left is for the top and back, the one on the right is for the ribs.  You’ll see how they’re both used as things progress.



Here I’m about to glue the end and corner blocks to the mold, using hide glue:



Here’s the glue itself in the pot.  When this batch is used up, I’m going to switch to a double boiler setup.



Here are all the blocks glued on:


Some of the advantages of HHG is that it cleans up easily with warm water, joints made with it can easily be taken apart for repairs, and some claim it has better acoustic properties.


Now the second template mentioned above is used to mark where the blocks need to be trimmed, and I cut close to the line with a bandsaw:



Here are the ribs cut and sanded to .050″ thick.  I’m not sure what wood it is, since I salvaged it from last years firewood pile.  I think it may be hickory. But look at that curl!  About broke my heart to see so much of it go up in smoke.  😦



It may be awhile before I have more to share on this project.  Hopefully have some knives to show before too long.  And I’ll be posting a recipe soon.   😀



Guitar number 14

Just strung this one up this past week. It was an experimental guitar, in that, the body size is very small (it’s the same as my baritone uke body) and it has a Virzi plate in it. I wanted to make myself a small guitar for traveling, so this is it. It has a surprisingly big voice for such a small instrument. I’ll try to post a sound clip.

The back and sides are osage orange. Top is Lutz spruce. Neck is mahogany. Rosette is osage. So is bridge and bridge plate. Binding is curly maple. Bracing is standard X, but with another X below instead of the usual two diagonal bars. Scale length is 19-3/4″. 14 frets to the body, 19 frets total. I used a 28′ radius on the entire top. Nut width is 1-3/4″. String spacing at saddle is 2-1/8″.

When I first strung it up, I used medium gauge strings, and tuned it EADGBE, but I built it to be tuned ADGCEA, but I had to switch to extra light strings for that.  It sounded good either way.




Finished the gouge…

For the handle, I decided to use some curly ash that I salvaged from the firewood pile last winter:











Now the blade is etched to bring out the damascus pattern.  😉





Seems to work just fine:





Making a gouge.

Hey all,

A while back I started building a violin, but stopped because I didn’t have all the tools and supplies I needed.   I’m wrapping up some guitar projects, and am going to take a break from those for a while, so decided to pick up where I left off with the violin.

So I placed an order with International Violin for some stuff I needed.  But I suffered some sticker shock when I saw how much they want for gouges.  😮 (Gouges are needed for carving the front, back, and neck scroll)  So, since I am, after all, an edged tool maker, as well as cheap, I decided to make some myself.

I don’t feel like typing a lot, so I’ll just let the pictures tell the story.  If anyone has any questions, please ask.































It’s tempering now, so should get it finished tomorrow…