Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 17 Cutting the F holes

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 cuts the F holes which were marked out in the previous stage on the front plate of the violin.

These are specially designed tools, made by Derek himself, to cut the top and bottom holes. They are different sizes because the top hole is smaller than the bottom.

Derek inserts the guide pin through one of the pilot holes drilled in the previous stage. He twists the tool and the cutters remove a small plug of wood of the correct size.

The hole is started by cutting on the outside, and finished by cutting on the inside. This lessens the risk of splintering the wood.

The top and bottom holes of the F holes are now finished.

The next step is to saw out the F hole. This is a very delicate stage and care must be taken to work with the grain of the wood. There is a danger of splintering where the sawcut meets the previously cut hole.

The saw stays well within the marked line. The aim is to saw out waste wood, not to achieve the final shape. This will be done more carefully with a knife.

Derek uses a razor-sharp knife to pare the wood away to achieve the right design. The top and bottom holes should be joined by a series of complex flowing curves.

Derek checks that the F holes are wide enough to admit a soundpost.

Derek completes the F hole by cutting the nicks. The function of these is not only aesthetic: they also provide a guide for positioning the bridge when the instrument is set up.

In the next stage Derek glues the back to the rib structure.

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