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My dream cello (not that I can play... but I have one) has always been limba back/sides with a spruce top that's bursted at the edges with blue. I say go for it with the limba sides!!!

I plan to do a guitar in similar form but if you ignore the binding in this pic you'll get the idea :D

limbaandbluemockup.jpg

Rock on! (*violin sytle!*)

Chris

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180521_10150154406282425_623432424_7911846_8089589_n.jpg

3 down, 3 to go! (the front and back ones are done too... I didn't take a pic though)

The limba sides sound like an awesome idea!

I also received a nice piece of black walnut for a top. Rings nice D for 9 seconds! It'll probably be an F or G by the time I'm done carving it though.

Still looking for back and sides!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm looking for materials. At the moment, I have the entire month of march booked and budgeted for other activities. I found a furniature shop with a drum sander, and the ability to book match stuff, and I have some myrtle picked out for a belly. I haven't bought it yet though... and I haven't decided on what I'm going to use for ribs... probably the myrtle...

Holjer-hawsez! :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lots of responses off the top of my head, being interested in violin construction myself:

I've seen ash, black walnut, east Indian rosewood, poplar, red maple, bigleaf maple and cherry used in modern violins as alternatives to European maple back/sides. If you are trying to achieve a close-to-traditional-ish sound without the Acer pseudoplanatus, I would recommend red or bigleaf maple first, walnut second, cherry third, and none of the others at all (from an acoustic standpoint).

Myrtle: said to be easy to bend for sides (hooray!), but its stiffness-to-weight ratio is awful. It's rather less lively than maple, which won't help an instrument where the back plate is so involved in sound production (boo!). It is beautiful though (hooray!) so it might make good sides?

Joinery: Yes, your top/back/sides should fit perfectly without clamps. However, hide glue is water-based, and water can do funny things to wood. If you add a bunch of moisture to a perfect joint on wood that's only a few mm thick and don't clamp it, it probably won't remain perfect for very long. There's a reason almost every violin-making text recommends that you have about a bajillion spool clamps.

Ancient wood, re figure and chemicals: Most of this information comes from Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a chemist who has done much research in this area. Much of the wood supply in Stradavari's time was controlled by the navy. Trees were chopped down and then the un-sawn logs were floated downriver (which doubled as a sewage system back in those days), where they spent several weeks soaking in filth before being sorted out by the navy; the straightest-grained wood was reserved for their uses, and the figured (structurally poor) stuff was sent the way of private industry. The luthiers at the time didn't really have access to much straight-grained maple to use. Additionally, soaking your wood in various alchemical baths in order to enhance resistance to rotting/moulding was quite the fad among woodworkers at the time, though it is unclear whether luthiers partook in the practice.

Edited by B. Aaron
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That sounds disgusting...

But thank you for the info on the myrtle. I may end up going for mahogany, purple heart, bloodwood, or a harder alternative wood. Maple is a typical violin wood, and I want to make an atypical violin. I'm definitely considering making Myrtle for the sides though!

More research ahead :D

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Good myrtle is so beautiful. It's a pity that it's so flexible and not-light.

Just remember that whatever you end up using has to be something that you can carve pretty easily with hand tools. Woods like Purple Heart or Bloodwood could be a bit of a nightmare if you're working with the traditional tools (chisels, gouges, scrapers, finger planes).

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Recently, I've started to restore a violin that literally, went through a tornado. XD

The body has gaps where the top, bottom and sides were glued, and the body surfaces all need to be refinished. Also, it needs a new bridge, 3 tuning pegs, and the fingerboard needs to be refinished.

Ive started removing all the varnish with 320 grit sandpaper, and once all the varnish and damage is removed, Im going to reglue the sides. It has a rather serious gap on the back side bookmatch.

So, after I get the body reconnected and back to a wood base, do I stain it or just add varnish?

I would like to use a natural varnish, one that I could make myself, as most violin makers say "Don't put it on a violin if you wouldn't eat it". XD

I looked up recipes, and although most seem simple and straightforward, some of the materials such as various gums and ect may be difficult to find in my area. Things such as Egg whites, Candied sugar and Honey aren't difficult to find, but the coloring agents, such as the various gums, could be hard to find.

Does anyone have any simple and easy violin varnish recipes? Ive googled it and followed links, but I wasn't able to find an exact answer.

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What do you think of the walnut I'm using for a belly?

I think you'll find that it's too hard and heavy for the strings to drive it efficiently. It will work, but it certainly won't work as well as Spruce.

...the fingerboard needs to be refinished.

...So, after I get the body reconnected and back to a wood base, do I stain it or just add varnish?

...I would like to use a natural varnish, one that I could make myself, as most violin makers say "Don't put it on a violin if you wouldn't eat it". XD

Does anyone have any simple and easy violin varnish recipes? Ive googled it and followed links, but I wasn't able to find an exact answer.

- If the fingerboard is ebony (as it should be), it need not be refinished as it would not have been finished in the first place. It should probably just be cleaned up with fine abrasives. (Typically the back of the neck is unvarnished as well, though it may be stained/dyed and lightly sealed with a coat of drying oil.) If the fingerboard is some non-ebony wood that has simply been coloured black, well...

- RE stains or varnish: colour the wood if you want to. Some people believe the colour is important, while others consider it mostly aesthetic.

- RE natural varnishes: I wouldn't eat most violin varnishes, as the oil-based ones usually contain turpentine, and if you use "boiled" linseed oil it'll also have heavy metal chemical driers. That said, I do understand where you're coming from, which brings me to my next point:

- Varnish recipes/ingrediments: Look here: http://violins.ca/varnish/index.html They sell varnish ingredients for both oil varnishes as well as spirit varnishes (aka shellac finishes). Personally, I would go with the latter, as the oil-based violin varnishes take a LONG time to dry. Shellac finishes are nice and quick and pretty forgiving/repairable. (Sure, you might make mistakes while you use it, but you can always fix a shellac finish almost as easily as applying it in the first place. The same cannot be said for oil varnishes.)

Edited by B. Aaron
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When I meant refinishing the fingeboard, I meant restaining it, as it seems much of the stain has been lifted off from either use, or water damage. So I was going to hit it with some Ebony Stain.

Perhaps all natural stain/varnish would be too difficult to do, so I suppose Ill be forced into buying some...

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Then yup, go ahead and hit the fingerboard with some fresh ebony stain.

The tricky part about making your own oil varnish for violins is that you usually have to cook it, which can be... highly hazardous. It also dries so slowly that most makers end up having to build UV cabinets to help it cure faster.

Making shellac-based varnishes (spirit varnish) isn't nearly as scary, though. Most of them are basically just shellac flakes dissolved in alcohol (same as French Polish recipes) with the addition of a few extra gums for a) extra gloss without all the polishing (gum sandarac), or :D to soften it up/improve adhesion between coats (gum mastic), and some lavender spike oil to extend the drying time because otherwise it's not very brush-able. The violin varnish site I linked to actually sells a "kit" that has all the dry ingredients you need to make a batch of spirit varnish, and it's pretty straight-forward. All you'd need to get locally is some denatured alcohol, which your local hardware store should probably carry if you live in the US.

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I think I'll buy some of the red Joha Spirit varnish after I get it all sanded and patched up. Thanks for the link!

Also the back of the neck is unstained, although If I'm staining the rest a different color, I need to change the color thats on the scroll and neck base. So Im planning on staining the entire instrument except the fingerboard and inside. I hope staining the whole neck isn't against some violin voodoo, but I feel it needs to be done in this case. XD

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I've never seen mahogany used, though that doesn't mean it hasn't been done. The thinnest spots on a violin's top are still a little thicker than the sides on an acoustic guitar, so I don't think mahogany would necessarily be structurally inadequate... however, its stiffness-to-weight ratio is lousy compared to the spruces and maples used for building violins, which makes it a less efficient wood to use for any part of the violin.

I recently posted links to some .pdf files I made regarding wood stiffness/strength/hardness/weight in the Acoustic subforum. The data in those files would be a good starting point for exploring questions like "I wonder how wood X would perform in a role usually filled by wood Y?" because you can see what the principle differences are between common luthiery woods. That thread is here: http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/index.php?showtopic=45005

Building a violin from mahogany would be a little like building a sports car with a cast iron body: no matter how you try justify building it ("I thought it would be unique" or "those are the materials I had"), the violin/car won't perform as well as it would if you'd built it with more appropriate materials.

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