Violin top carving, part 2

I’m waiting for some stuff to arrive before I can install the purfling, but in the meantime I’ve made more progress on the carving.

I have a set of curve templates that I got off the internet and printed out.  Here’s the lengthwise template:


But before putting in the final curves, I have to remove the ledge that was formed when I made the purfling platform.



And here are the crosswise curve templates:


Here I’ve used them to take certain areas down to the shape they’re supposed to be:


Then the areas in between are blended together:





Next I need to install the purfling, then I’ll use scrapers to smooth it out and refine all the curves.







Guitar number 15

Hey all,
Here’s my latest. It’s one that I kind of just threw together. The back and sides are second grade osage, and the neck was a reject from another project. The top is some nice cedar that a customer gave me. So it was very inexpensive. bliss I also used some of my remaining Sherwin Williams lacquer, which will not be replaced when it runs out, and I didn’t put much effort into the finish. This is going to be my “beater” guitar, mainly used for strumming.

The bridge and fretboard are desert ironwood, and the binding is cocobolo.

Body shape is OM/OOO. The nut width is 1-11/16″ and the scale length is 25.5″  12 frets to the body.

It sounds pretty good. It has better bass response than any of my other OMs.











Thanks for looking,


An announcement.

Dear Friends,

After much consideration, I’ve decided to stop taking orders.  I’m not getting out of knifemaking, just changing the way I do it.  Here’s why:

1.  My waiting list is over 2 years.  That’s really longer than I can manage effectively.

2.  It’s been a long time since I’ve delivered a knife order on time.  The first year I was taking orders, every knife was delivered on time or early.  Then winter came, and because my shop at that time was an unheated shed, I didn’t get many knives made, and fell behind a few months.  I never recovered, and I keep falling behind.  It’s not a situation I’m comfortable with, and it’s not fair to my clients.

3.  I find I enjoy my work more and do a better job, and I’m more productive, when I’m making knives of my own design, as opposed to something someone has ordered.

4.  Having waiting customers is a lot like having a boss.  One of the reasons I’m in this business in the first place was to be my own boss, and have some freedom.  Of course, anyone who owns their own business will tell you that being your own boss entails much more work than working for someone else.  But there is still more freedom, so I’m not complaining.

.5.  Having a bunch of orders to fill means that I don’t have as much time to explore new ideas, designs, and techniques.

Now, I hope I don’t seem ungrateful.  I’m very thankful for the orders and customers I’ve had over the years.  You’re all the greatest, and you’ve helped make me successful, and you’ve helped me grow as a maker.  Thanks.  🙂
Really though, I think the changes I’m making are for the better, for everyone.  I expect production and quality to go up, both of which are good for collectors.

I also hope I don’t seem fickle.  I had stopped taking orders in July of 2010, but started again several months later because my dealer had written an article for Blade magazine about me, and I figured it didn’t make much sense to advertise when I’m not taking orders.  Also, I was thinking that a long backlog means job security, but now I think freedom is better than security.

Since I do have a 2+ year backlog, not much is going to change until those orders are filled.  At that point, I’m going to evaluate things, and decide whether to open up the order lines again.  If I decide not to, then I’ll be selling what I make on my own website, and various internet forums.  I may also have an email list, where I’ll send notices of new knives.  If you’d like to be on this list, please email me.
Until then, I’m going to work at communicating better with my waiting customers, and filling their orders quicker.

The cut off date for orders is January 27, 2012.  If you’ve been thinking about placing an order, now’s the time.  You don’t have to decide exactly what you want, just send me an email and say “Put me down for X number of knives”. We can figure out the details later.  You’ve got two years to think about it.  🙂

Thanks for reading,


New knife

Just finished this afternoon.

Steel: O1, ground, not forged 400 grit handrubbed finish

Hardness: 58 RC

Blade length: 10-1/4″

Total length: 16-3/4″

Blade thickness: 1/4″

Handle material: black paper micarta

Violin top carving, part 1

I’m using Lutz spruce for the top of this violin.  Lutz grows in Canada, and is highly regarded for guitar tops.  We’ll see how it does for violins.

First thing is to screw the top to a board, being very careful not to go too far.  You don’t want holes in the top, obviously.


Then the thickness is marked initially at 6mm thick:


Then material is removed down to the line.  First a plane is used at the ends:



Then a gouge is used for the rest:




Now the profile is refined (wasn’t much to remove on this one) and  the edge is further reduced to it’s final thickness of 4mm.



And that’s all for today.  My arm is tired. 😀

Violin rib assembly, part 2


Now the “c” ribs are trimmed flush with the blocks, and the upper and lower bout ribs are trimmed to length.  I also had to adjust the curve a bit on the upper ribs.



Then I made clamping cauls to fit all the places that will be glued:





The tail block joint slipped a little, so I had to re-do it.  It was very easy, thanks to the hide glue.  I’m starting to like that stuff…

I’ll let the glue cure overnight, and probably start carving the plates in the meantime.