Making a Cello #6: Back at it

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Blog entry by PhiltheLuthier posted 10-25-2012 03:38 PM 2258 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The 'C' Ribs Part 6 of Making a Cello series Part 7: Linings »

After gluing the C ribs it’s time to glue the upper and lower ribs. The preparation process is pretty much the same as with the Cs except that there is a butt joint where the two ribs come together. This joint is crucial!! Not for strength, but rather for reference and beauty. The latter because once the varnish is on the joint if it’s not perfect there will be a black line, some people put purfling to hide a bad joint. For reference, this joint marks the center line of the instrument, which is why I make the joint top and bottom even though the top one will be cut away with the neck mortise. Some pictures:

Bending the tight bend in the corners

The long bend

Checking the fit


All bent up

Preparing the joint

Ready for glue

Joint glued


Viola!... I mean cello!

So I didn’t take a picture of an amazing butt joint because frankly I didn’t make one! ha! We can discuss ways of hiding a less than perfect joint when it come time to prepare for varnishing.

Now just as you figured I was ignoring the fact that you all waited three months for an update I will tell you that all this rib assembly work was done two months ago! What? Why so cruel?! Making people wait… horrendous. I don’t really have an excuse; but the poor cello sat untouched for so long. It’s a lonely life when you’re trying to become something great.

So after all that time I finally started making some linings. For those who don’t know, linings are a doubling of the ribs where the back and top of the instrument are glued. Generally they are about 25mm tall and 2.2mm thick. Once glued they are profiled or tapered to remove some weight. Their main purpose is to provide support where the plates are their weakest, at the purfling. Their thickness, plus that of the ribs, provides support either side of the purfling channel, they also provide a larger glue surface, but the utility of that is debatable.

Speaking of debates, I lost at least of week of work because I couldn’t decide on the material to use for the linings. Normally, what I was taught, was that the linings are the same material as the blocks. Unfortunately I haven’t any willow long enough to make linings from, and it would be pretty bad practice to make a joint in the middle of a length of lining. So I thought maybe poplar is similar, or Japanese lilac which I have some branches of, but requires I make a sled to mill properly (and by the way smells kind of citrusy when cut). So finally I asked a fellow maker about it and he just always uses spruce since that’s what he’s got a lot of. So there you go, I’m using spruce, because that’s what I have and it’s easy to resaw.

Stacks of lining wood and a billet

After each strip was cut off on the bandsaw, I planed the billet so I would have a good side on each piece. It’s easier to do with a thicker piece.

Then planing area

And the mess on the floor, because I know lots of you get a kick out of this sort of thing

My next plan is to bring the linings to final thickness with my mini thickness sander, but since it was made with oilite bushings, it got extremely hot the last time I used it.


So I took it apart to hopefully swap the bushings for ball races, but of course I need to enlarge the mounting hole to 1 1/8” from 3/4” which means I must go out and buy a drill bit and figure a good way to counter bore.

One more photo of the sanding apparatus

That’s it for now I hope not to take such a long break again.

3 comments so far

View SirFatty's profile


542 posts in 2235 days

#1 posted 10-25-2012 06:03 PM

Nice work as always… suprised that you are not using regular bearings in place of oilite.

-- Visit my blog at

View PhiltheLuthier's profile


57 posts in 2792 days

#2 posted 10-25-2012 06:51 PM

Thank you! The bushes are just what I had on hand when I built it. I’m about to go put in some ball races now, it should work much better soon.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3550 days

#3 posted 10-27-2012 01:24 AM

I am glued to your progess! Thank you!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

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