Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 2 The blocks

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 the blocks are glued to the mould and shaped.The blocks are cut from willow, a strong, light wood which is easily carved. There are six blocks, two end blocks and four corner blocks.

Violin maker Derek Roberts planes one of the corner blocks. You can see the five other blocks roughly positioned round the mould.

The corner blocks will form the corners between the C ribs and the top and bottom bouts. The top block will have the neck joint cut in it, and the bottom block will have a tapered hole reamed for the end pin.

Each block is worked with a small hand plane and checked with a square. It must be accurate to achieve a good fit with the mould.

The blocks are glued to the mould. Animal glue is heated and applied with a brush to the block surface. The joint is easy to break later on when the ribs are complete and the blocks need to be detached from the mould.

The mould itself forms the basis for building up the rib structure of the instrument. There are two types of mould, the inside or Italian mould, used here, and the outside or French mould. Each violin maker makes his or her own moulds based on patterns for different models of instrument.

Once the six blocks are glued to the mould, work starts on shaping each block. Derek shapes a corner block with a large gouge.

In the next stage Derek prepares the ribs and bends them to shape.

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