Darnton Violins Blog

My Observations (Large and Small) About Violin Making and Restoration

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Power Graft

A friend of mine whipped up some jigs to permit him to make quick neck grafts in blocks of rough, uncarved wood that he could then carve so that his new “antique” instruments would have authentic neck grafts in them. When he came to visit me, he brought this dummy graft test made of a couple of pieces of construction…

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Maybe you’ve heard violin makers talk about violins with “integral” bassbars (cut from the top, not separate) and carving straight from the gouge. This is one of those. It doesn’t get much worse than this. Usually they might smooth a bit around where the post would go, but not this time! A violin like this can be perfectly finished on…

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For No Other Reason…

… than that it’s so pretty. This is a Brothers Amati violin from around 1615 seen from the top end. The red line is a laser line from a carpenter’s level, to show how the arching is shaped in that area. If you’re one of those people who just can’t get enough of this stuff, try this movie of the…

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Glued Strips, or Not?

Some makers theorize that the early Cremonese makers inlaid purfling in three separate, unglued strips, the way French makers of the 1800s did. That has never appeared to me to be the case, and here’s one Cremonese violin, a Brothers Amati from 1605, where there’s obvious proof that the purfling was glued together before it was bent and glued in…

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Gemunder shipping case

Gemunder Shipping Case

Violin shop guys all like cool old cases. This one has a little name plate, just below the middle hinge, from the George Gemunder shop, so it’s at least 100+ years old.
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old linseed oil

Old Linseed Oil

Linseed oil doesn’t dry very hard no matter how long you wait. That’s why it’s a bad idea to put too much on the wood before varnishing. One day in 1995 I decided to experiment.
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no varnish under the fingerboard

No Varnish Under the Board

Many people have heard that the early makers glued their fingerboards on before varnishing the instruments, and that there’s no varnish under the boards, but it’s not something you get to see very often.
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Setting a post in a viola that had come into the shop, I couldn’t believe what I saw through the endpin hole.
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