Making a Cello

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Blog series by PhiltheLuthier updated 07-10-2015 06:20 AM 11 parts 48028 reads 37 comments total

Part 1: The Beginning

05-18-2012 02:51 AM by PhiltheLuthier | 4 comments »

Hello, and welcome to my first blog entry on Lumberjocks! I’m starting a cello from scratch so I thought I’d share the process. For the time being I’m only working on this two days a week, if it takes a few months or half a year, so be it. So first things’ first. You have to pick a design, or a model. In my case is it 100+ year old instrument that my colleague and I recently restored. For a few months it was attributed to my colleagues great uncle Charles Quenoil, b...

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Part 2: Day 2, the blocks.

05-18-2012 11:37 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 5 comments »

Thank you for the kind words, I hope you all enjoy this blogging of mine. So today I spent 5/8ths of my work day making a huge shooting board (2’x4’) which is still missing some pieces, I’ll show it when I use it in a later installment, or maybe post it as a project. The other 3/8ths was spent working on the cello. I split a large piece off a willow log and turned it into block wood. The log is from a tree that was cut down many years ago and has been slowly aging in m...

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Part 3: Working on flattening the plates.

05-25-2012 03:33 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 7 comments »

So I haven’t gotten to the ribs yet because I need a bending strap and they seem to be harder to get than they should be. First I tried ordering the sheet metal to make one from McMaster-Carr, but apparently I’m no longer considered an “established customer” so they canceled my order. It seems they don’t like to send stuff to Canada, go figure. Next I decided to order a ready made one from International Violin, but they’re back ordered, so I’ll just ...

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Part 4: Finally a Joint!

06-08-2012 04:18 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 1 comment »

It has been a little longer than expected but here I am. I won’t bore you with my excuses, rather I’ll show you the little progress I’ve made over that time. Yesterday I set up to do the back joint. This joint is roughly a meter long, by 32mm wide, and is vital because in the end, after all the carving, it’ll lose about 98% percent of it’s glued area while still required to hold two boards each about 23 cm wide, together ad that under about 200lbs (oops where&...

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Part 5: The 'C' Ribs

07-21-2012 03:12 AM by PhiltheLuthier | 3 comments »

A lot can happen in 42 days, but when we’re talking about my cello it’s probably safer to say, little happens in 42 days! I have plenty of excuses but let’s forget about those and just get to the good news, I finally got a bending strap! So today I bent some ‘C’ ribs! (And glued one of them too). First up, in keeping with my light industry time is of the essence (wait? Didn’t I just slack for 42 days doing no work at all…) approach towards this ins...

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Part 6: Back at it

10-25-2012 03:38 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 3 comments »

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 instru...

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Part 7: Linings

11-02-2012 07:44 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 3 comments »

Yesterday I finished fixing my thickness sander. The ball bearings made a big difference, it did not over heat at all. If I had been thinking straight when I made the thing I would have made a much larger drum, in which case it could spin slower for the same SFM and the bushes would have been fine, oh well live and learn! Dimensions of the linings are 22mm high, 2.2mm thick. After thicknessing I planed one edge smooth with this great set up: Action shot: Then trimmed them to ...

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Part 8: Flattening the Rib Assembly

11-15-2012 09:42 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 1 comment »

Before the major work of today there was some minor repair to do. One of the joints between a C rib and lining was not up to snuff. Exhibit A: To fix this I soaked some paper towel in water and laid it on the offensive joint in order to soften the glue. After a long while soaking I squeezed it a few time with my fingers to get it moving, then clamped it up again; the result being something much more acceptable. Once dry the flattening begins. First with a block plane to bring...

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Part 9: Corners and fixing a joint!

12-05-2012 06:51 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 2 comments »

Hello again, only 19 days later! I must be on a roll, though not a whole lot has happened. Thank you for all the kind words, I am very glad that this series is being well enjoyed! Okay, so first up I cut some corners! Not to save time, but to make them even (ish). So they’re cut to length with a really big chisel. The angle of the flat surface (if you lay a ruler flat) crosses the centerline of the instrument at the inside of the furthest away non-corner block. I should hav...

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Part 10: A real work out!

12-07-2012 05:06 PM by PhiltheLuthier | 7 comments »

What!! 2 days later!!! Well maybe I want to finish before the Aztec calendar runs out so that I don’t have to switch to a new time keeping system in the middle of a cello build. What a billing disaster that would be! I joined the Spruce plate without a single bit of trouble shortly after writing the last blog post. Next came re-flattening the back side of the plates. The set up: I sanded out the plane marks with a random orbit sander, 60, 120 and 220 grit to finish. giving ...

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Part 11: In two days it will have been 3 years!

07-10-2015 06:20 AM by PhiltheLuthier | 1 comment »

I must apologize profusely for the fact that I just sort of disappeared. I even had a part 11 with photos and all ready to go, only a few months after that last post. I’ve lost that now unfortunately. But be not afraid! The cello is gasp not even finished yet!! But I think I warned that it might remain unfinished for a very long time. I’ve been working full time at my repair job and frankly I’ve just wanted to spend my so called free time with my family. There is a distinct ...

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