Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 18 Glue 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.


Today violin maker Derek Roberts glues the back to the rib structure.

First Derek cuts a small bevel all around the inside edge of the back plate. This will make final shaping of the edge easier. The back linings of the rib structure should also be shaped before glueing. They are bevelled with a knife and then rounded with abrasives.


Before cramping the back and ribs together, Derek applies a thin sizing coat of glue to both the edge of the plate and to the linings and blocks.

The end grain of the blocks is very absorbent and Derek gives them an extra coat of glue. The glue is then allowed to dry thoroughly before the next stage.


A small locating pin at each end of the plate and corresponding holes in the top and bottom blocks allow the plate to be positioned exactly on the rib structure.

Special cramps are used to secure the plate to the rib structure. These are fixed all round the edges of the instrument.

The glue must be allowed to dry thoroughly before this stage is done.


Derek heats up a small palette knife in a pan of boiling water and removes a few cramps. Then he uses the hot knife to melt the previously applied glue, so that the glue on the back and on the linings fuses together. The cramps are then replaced and the next section of edge is opened and glued.

When all the edge has been glued, the glue is left to dry with all the cramps back in place.

This method allows much more control and prevents a build-up of too much glue.

In the next stage Derek shapes the bass bar and fits it to the front plate.

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