Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 14 Hollowing

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 hollows out the back plate of the violin.

The final arching was done on the outside of the plate in the previous stage. Now a similar process of removing excess wood is carried out on the inside of the plate.

First Derek checks the back to make sure that the final arching has been accurately completed. Excess wood on the inside of the back will be carved out with gouges. Derek marks a pencil line around the edge. Wood inside this line will be hollowed out, leaving a flat area around the edge for glueing onto the rib structure when the instrument is assembled.


The back is put in a holding jig and a large gouge is used to remove wood quickly.

Initially the work is done by eye. As the hollowing progresses, the thickness of the plate must be checked.


The hollowing takes place while the area around the edge remains flat. The gouge marks visible on the plate will be removed later.

Derek uses the pencil gauge as a quick way of judging where wood still needs to be removed during the initial stages of gouging.


The dial gauge is used to check the thickness of the plate more precisely. There is a complicated pattern of thicknesses varying from around 4.5mm at the centre to 2.6mm at the edges of the top and bottom bouts.

In the next stage Derek hollows out the front and completes the thicknessing of the plates.

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