Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 9 Carving the scroll

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 carves the scroll from the neck block which was prepared in the previous stage.

The back of the scroll and pegbox have been carefully marked out.


Derek uses the marked lines as guides for saw cuts across the sides of the pegbox and at the back and sides of the scroll head. These cuts must be made carefully, to avoid cutting away too much wood and leaving saw marks on the finished scroll.


The sawcuts enable the waste wood outside the marked lines to be removed more easily. First Derek saws out some wood on each side of the head of the scroll.


Then more of the wood is removed from the pegbox sides using a chisel.


After more work with a gouge the roughly carved shape of the scroll emerges. The outside of the pegbox has been shaped and only requires finishing. The first turn of the scroll head has been started.


Now the work on the second turn of the scroll starts. A further set of saw cuts is made in the volute. The excess wood is sawed out and the carving progresses towards the eye of the scroll. The shape of the eye is cut with a small gouge.


More work is done to carve the eye and the volutes of the scroll. There are two main techniques of cutting with a gouge.

The gouge is held upright by the handle, in order to make vertical cuts. These are used to shape the profile of the turns in the scroll.


The gouge is held by the blade near the cutting tip, to make angled cuts. The faces of the side of the scroll must all slope inwards towards the centre. This is called undercutting.


The basic shape of the scroll has now been carved. There is more work to do: the peg box must be hollowed out, all the edges have to be chamfered, and two flutes must be cut on the back. Then a fine finish is achieved with a scraper.

C lining mortice In the next stage, Derek finishes the scroll.

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