Campanella Strings

I make violins and mandolins by hand. When I'm not working on instruments, I play them, draw them, and write about them. Here are some of my recent works and work in progress. Enjoy! Joe C.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

essential tools of the trade, plus coffee!

Another trick John taught me. Your average everyday coffee-mug-heater-gizmo is a great glue pot heater. For the glue pot, that creamer server you never use...
I go to Jamba's Junktiques for all of my kitchen-utensil-lutherie needs. It's close and perfectly packed with stuff. This may be a bit off-topic, but the coffee mug shot made me think about a blog I saw about coffee (follow the title link).

Arched, Purfled, Rough graduated...

Things are starting to move quickly, and sometimes more quickly than I can think to reach for my camera, which is why the the profiling, edge thicknessing, purfling slot cutting and channeling were left out of this sequence.

There is nothing quite like cutting through spruce with an arching gouge during the rough arching. Though he know it well, I always tell John (Moroz) that it's my favorite part. You can model the arch rather quickly in the soft spruce, and the the tool makes a satisfying sound as it unzips another curl destined for the workshop floor rather than the mandolin top.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Inside the scroll

I like the foreground/background ambiguity here. Ok, light is important, and being able to see the bandsaw kerf marks means I can get rid of 'em--with an incannel gouge for the concave surface (below) and a regular outcannel gouge for the "eye" of the scroll.

All done. Don't underestimate the power of a sharp tool. some folks might use files and sanding sticks but I feel like the biggest sharpest tool you can get away with=efficiency and a clean look.

Rib Structure

The ribs are bent on a hot bending iron and glued to the shaped blocks. After gluing in the top linings, the ribs are flattened using a glass plate and chalk, which marks the high spots, which are then planed until the ribs resemble the glass (which is to say, flat). This is one of the coolest low tech techniques we use in the shop. The key is a very sharp plane (or you could break the rib) and a bit of patience. I've also shaped the inside of the scroll here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

a good day... a productive one.
I inlaid the carbon fiber reinforcement to the neck and added headstock "wings".
Joined the back. Bent ribs and glued linings.
And...I cleaned off my workbench.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My site is up!

Ok folks, it's here....
Check it out!
Extry Special Thanks to Mike Deutsch for making it happen!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Blocks Set and top Joined

I've gotten into the heavy woodworking stage of the grant instrument, such as it is. I've planed and joined the Englemann Spruce top and set the willow blocks onto the mold. I've already cut and thicknessed some rib stock and plan on scraping the toothed plane marks and bending ribs sometime today. Design-wise, I'm getting close but need to make the final decision on some major things: Tuners and Tailpiece. How far do I go? I'm hoping to test the feasibility of using planetary (geared) pegs for a traditional look but with a familiar ratio. On the tailpiece, can I use a violin-style gut (or Titanium cable) and floating tailpiece? It might take ball end strings and a wood/carbon/wood laminate TP for strength and feasibility. It's my chance to make these changes and see the results...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Fiddle in the Sun

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Varnish Makin' Time in Vermont

And y'all thought we just boil maple sap...I'm posting after a quick run to the shop to paint a bit of varnish on a violin I've been finishing. In the past 3 weeks, I've succeeded in making my own oil varnish. It's quite the process, involving cooking linseed (flax) oil with natural resins. The fiddle hangs to dry in the sun (it's been a sunny summer here in Vermont) or in a UV light cabinet. I've also made my own madder lake, a red pigment from the root of the madder plant. So far so good, but time consuming. The months of research are starting to pay off in a beautiful film of dried resin and oil.

Quote of the day: "Perfect painting is imperfectly transcendental."--James Elkins.