Violin Making from Beginning to End

A slide show demonstrating the basic process of violin making.
It is chronological, however the are instances where steps overlap and some back-tracking is done to further refine an assembly. For instance, before hollowing, I  tack glue the back and belly to the ribs while still in the mold to refine the outline. When that is done, they are removed and I continue on. Also, many sub-steps have been left out in the interest of brevity and the limited ability of still photography to capture the technique.
There are almost as many ways to make a violin as there are violin makers (different methods leave clues that appraisers use to identify a particular antique violin's maker). Additionally, makers often change their methods over time as they learn different techniques or improve older ones. Several of the pictures shown here are of methods I no longer use, although the methods shown are hardly original to me and are standard procedure for many violin makers.

For the most part, violin making has changed little over the past 300 years. The choice to use these methods today is not merely aesthetic. Three hundred years of artisans perfecting their craft have left us with skills and procedures that give successful results in the most efficient amount of time. They had families to feed and so do I! However, violins for the mass market have increasingly been made with the aid of machines for over 150 years (the exception being 100% handmade instruments from places where skilled labor is very, very cheap).
I often find that by the time I set up a power tool and the work-piece, I could have been nearly done with a method that uses solely hand tools on the bench. Of course, one must have developed the skill to use the tool and practice continually. One reason to use a knife when another tool requiring less skill might do is it keeps my skills honed for a later step when the knife may be the best tool to use. If I only used my gouges and knife every couple of months for scrolls, they would not look very good at all!