Making a Violin


Gouges and Chisels

These tools are used for rough arching the top and back plate, working the channel around the plate edges, and for shaping the pegbox and scroll of the violin.

Scrapers and Clamps

Scrapers are for smoothing. Before there was sandpaper, violin makers used sharp scrapers to put a smooth finish on the wood. It is still traditional practice to use scrapers, as it gives the wood a crisper finish. I will occasionally use fine sandpaper around the plate edges.

There are different kinds of clamps I use:

  • Bass bar clamps can reach into the interior of a violin plate to hold the bass bar in place.

  • Spool clamps are used to join plates to the ribs and close up the box.

  • I use craft clothespins to clamp the linings to the ribs.

  • Bar and C-Clamps are general use clamps for setting the neck and attaching the fingerboard.

Calipers and Planes

Calipers are used to measure the thickness of the ribs, linings, purfling, and plate graduations.

Flat planes are used to join pieces for bookmatching a top or back, for creating a flat fingerboard bed, and for thicknessing ribs. The thumb planes have a rounded blade and sole, used for refining arching and graduations.

Peg hole reamer, knives, depth marker

The peg hole reamer is useful for cutting the final peg holes into the peg box, and for making the hole for the endpin.

Knives are used in pufling, setting the neck, and shaping the F-holes and plate edges.

The depth marker is used on the raw plates to indicate where to stop carving to get a uniform edge.

Purfling tools, rasps and files

The purfling channel cutter (top) cuts the inlay channel to set the purfling into. The purfling pick (bottom) is used to clean between the cuts made by the cutter.

Files and rasps are for honing in edges and shaping the neck.

Bow saw, fretsaw, glue pot and bending iron

The bow saw is useful for roughing out the top, back, and neck from their stock. The fretsaw is for fine work in the f-holes.

The glue pot is like an electric double-boiler for making hot hide glue, used everywhere in violin making. The bending iron heats the moistened ribs and purflings so that they can be easily bent to shape.

Peg shaper, plate holder

The peg shaper will produce the exact taper a peg needs to fit exactly into the tapered peg holes.

THe plate holder is handy for holding violin plates for roughing out arching and graduations.

Rib molds

Inside rib molds are used to attach the corner blocks. The bent ribs are assembled around this, and clamped in place.


Making the Blocks

Making the Ribs

Installing the Linings

Linings provide strength to the ribs as well as extra surface area to glue the plates on.

Preparing the Plates and Drawing the Outline

Platform, Purfling, and Arching


Cutting F-Holes

Making the Bass Bar

Carving the Neck

Closing up the Box

Setting the Neck

Saddle, Endpin, and Pegs