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 inlays the
purfling in the plates, whose outline was finished in the previous stage. Purfling is
a delicate sandwich of different coloured woods which is inlaid
in a channel cut around the margins of the instrument.
Pictured right are the purfling marker, purfling
pick and two strips of purfling.
||Left, Derek uses the blades of the purfling
marker to score two parallel lines a short way in from the edge
of the plate. Then, right, he deepens each line with a knife.
||The wood between each knife cut
is removed with the purfling pick. This is a very small narrow-bladed
chisel. Using this method, a purfling channel is cut around each
plate, ready to receive the inlay.
|This picture shows the difference between the
pair of parallel lines marking out the purfling channel in the plate
on the left, and the purfling channel in the plate on the right
which has been fully cut out.
Cutting the channel in the corners is particularly
delicate work. At this point two strips of purfling will meet
in a mitred joint.
||A strip of purfling is heated and bent to shape
on the bending iron. This is the same iron that was used to bend the ribs.
|The curved purfling is fitted into the channel.
Small adjustments are made to the depth and width of the channel
with a knife and a purfling pick, to ensure a comfortable fit.
||The most difficult stage in inlaying the purfling
is forming the mitre where two strips of purfling join at the corners
of the instrument.
|The mitre terminates in a very delicate point
which is called the "bee-sting".
The neatness of the purfling, and especially
the bee-sting, are important elements in the aesthetic design
of a violin.
||A very sharp chisel is required
to shape the ends of the purfling strips to form the bee-sting.
This is a test of the violin maker's skill.
|To fix the purfling in the channel, Derek applies
hot animal glue with a brush and presses the purfling down into
||Finally Derek gently taps the purfling with
a light hammer, to ensure a positive fit and to squeeze out surplus
|The purfling has now been inlaid in both the
front and back plates, which begin to take on their final appearance.
However, you can see that further work is needed to remove the tool
marks which are still visible.
||In the next stage Derek completes the final arching on 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.
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Derek Roberts, Leamington Spa 1999, 2000, 2001, 2014