Derek Roberts Violins

Violin Making
Day 22 The neck joint

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 makes the neck joint and fits the neck to the body. The neck and fingerboard were assembled in the previous stage.

The joint is in two parts, at the heel of the neck and at the top block of the body of the instrument. The measurements of the joint must be marked out before the joint can be made. Derek marks out the heel of the neck.

The measurements are transferred to the body of the instrument. This should ensure a perfect fit: it is critical that the neck is set very accurately into the body. Derek makes a series of saw cuts in the side of the neck where the wood is overlapping the fingerboard.

These saw cuts make it easier to remove the waste wood with a chisel. The neck is finished flush with the sides of the fingerboard.

Derek planes a taper on the heel of the neck, using the lines previously marked out. Once he has planed down to the lines he will make no more adjustments to this part of the joint.

Next Derek turns his attention to the other part of the joint, in the body of the instrument.

He cuts into the spruce front to start the back edge of the joint. This must be perfectly square with the centre joint of the plates, to ensure that the neck is set into the body perfectly straight.

Derek uses a fine tooth saw to cut the sides of the joint through the spruce front and the maple ribs.

He cuts carefully through the spruce and into the top block.

He removes the maple ribs, exposing the top block. This part of the joint can then be cut in the top block. It is a complex operation because there are four faces of the joint which have to fit together perfectly.

Just the right amount of wood must be taken away, so that the neck runs straight down the body and itis set deep enough and at the right elevation. Each cut can change each of these settings.

To achieve a perfect joint, Derek uses the method of chalk fitting, also used in fitting the bass bar.

Derek tests the fit of the neck in the body, making small modifications as indicated by the chalk. This process is repeated several times over.

The neck is not set deeply enough yet. More wood must be taken from the sides of the joint in the top block.

An elevation stick is used to test whether the neck is set in at the correct angle yet.

Finally the fit is judged to be correct and the joint is glued and cramped.

In the next stage Derek completes the shaping of the neck and the back button.

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