Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 6 The back

This is one page in a series about violin making by hand in the traditional way. Please see the introduction for more, and our violin making courses if you are inspired to make a violin yourself.

Mark outline
Today the back plates are marked and sawn out and the rough arching of the back is done. The plates of maple wood have already been flattened and jointed.

Mark outline with washer
Violin maker Derek Roberts marks the outline of the rib structure (completed in the previous stage onto the plates. First the line of the ribs is followed. Then Derek uses a washer to mark a second line outside the ribs. This is the outline of the plates, as they must overhang the ribs. The inner line will be used to position the ribs exactly on the plates.

Sawing the back plates out Roughly sawn back
Derek uses a bow saw to saw round the outer line.

The roughly sawn back emerges from the plates.

Mark the edge thickness Trimming the edge
A marking gauge is used to mark the edge thickness of the back, and a knife to trim the roughly sawn edge down to the marked lines.

Rough arching with gouge
The rough arching of the back is done with a large gouge. A skilled maker works quickly, removing large amounts of wood with each sweep of the tool.
The back is held in a holding jig while Derek works on it. The same jig will be used to hold the front when that is rough arched.

Rough arching complete

Filing the outline
This is an exciting and dynamic stage of the making. The glorious curves of a violin back take shape very rapidly under the gouge.

The marks of the gouge remain to be smoothed off in a later stage.

Now that the rough arching is complete, the final outline and the corners are worked with a file.

C lining mortice In the next stage, Derek will mark and saw out the front plates, complete the rough arching and begin the final arching.

Are you interested in learning to make a violin, or developing your violin making skills? See our Violin Making Courses. Our resources page has recommendations for books and suppliers for violin making.

All material on this site copyright Derek Roberts, Leamington Spa 1999, 2000, 2001, 2014