Sunday, August 29, 2010


So here I begin my very first blog and two days ago I began my journey into becoming a luthier. I am going to school now at the New World School of Violin-making. I wanted to start writing a blog because I thought it would be fun, help keep my sanity in the long winter months here in Wisconsin and of course so friends and family could keep up with what I am doing.
Day 1 and 2 at school went well. We had discussions on softwoods and hardwoods (which I am still in the process of committing to memory) and scientifically what the differences are which are that softwoods have and keep their needles and have cones and hardwoods are from decidous trees. Also there's this idea that hardwoods have a taproot and soft woods do not.

Something also interesting we learned about is something called bear claw figure found in spruce which is created when the tree tries to shoot out branches but is unsuccessful. Some say this wood has good acoustical properties and makes the wood stiffer. Also something I didn't realize is violas, cellos, and basses aren't necessarily made out of spruce and curly maple. They may be made out of poplar or willow instead of the maple.

We also discussed slab and quarter cut and how slab is more efficient. In the olden golden days they used slab, but we are using quarter cut wood to build our violins. It was said that curly maple is rare and how broad leaf maple is becoming good for making.

Oh, and I had no idea how many ways there are to sharpen a darn tool! There is hallow grind, flat bevel, round bevel, and micro bevel which is based on old traditions but becoming more popular. Then we familiarized ourselves with our block planes. The blade of this plane can either be found as O1 or A2. O1 being oil hardened, easier to sharpen, and traditionally used and the A2 being air hardened, a tougher steel making it harder to sharpen but making it less likely to get dull. Well after sharpening our blades we got started on planing down a piece of willow going to be used as the lining inside the violin. Once the willow was down to the right thickness all across we started a process called shooting and cut the willow into strips that would then be used as the lining. We were then told to cut the strips into 12, 14, and 18 cm strips. We only needed four of each. I ended up cutting all mine up.....whupps :) but that's okay. I will use it eventually. I had some problems with the lining marker which is what we used to cut the strips. We were told that sometimes the marker will move on you when it doesn't agree with the wood. I experienced that first hand and some of my lining is cut up a little.

That's about the extent of what I have been doing at school for the past two days. Tomorrow I will sharpen my card scraper :) all fun stuff.

And now a little about what's going on with me...... I am now employed at the Blue Bayou my first restaurant gig....unfortunately I don't play fiddle often but bus tables and am in charge of getting people their salads and pushing around the salad cart. One thing I don't like to do is fill out W-4 forms, kind of a pain because I don't really understand them. Ah just another part of life's lessons. I went to a music festival over the weekend which was refreshing. The Porcupine Mountain Festival in Michigan. It was right by lake superior and what a sight! It took place on a skii hill actually in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness state park.
For all those wondering, I am living in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin which is northern Wisconsin not more than ten miles from the Michigan border. The town is very small but right across the road is a park(also very small) and lake. Time to sign off for the night. Good-days everyone! Comments are always appreciated.