Matthew M. Hannafin

Violin Maker in Glasgow, Scotland

 Notes on violin making

Many of the methods I use are those that I learned at Red Wing College, under master luthier John Reed.  The method I learned is a very traditional one, and has been passed down from teacher to student for hundreds of years.  For an in-depth look at how I make violins, take a look below.

 My violins start by selecting pieces of well seasoned spruce and maple.  I work with spruce that is strong, but lightweight.  The wood is also nicely split on the quarter.  

My violins start by selecting pieces of well seasoned spruce and maple.  I work with spruce that is strong, but lightweight.  The wood is also nicely split on the quarter.  

 I make the body of the instrument with a mold inside the rib structure during construction.  The small notches in the form will hold the split blocks of willow.

I make the body of the instrument with a mold inside the rib structure during construction.  The small notches in the form will hold the split blocks of willow.

 After I shape the blocks to the desired contour, I start gluing the maple ribs to the blocks.

After I shape the blocks to the desired contour, I start gluing the maple ribs to the blocks.

 I bend the 1.0mm thick ribs over a bending iron, and after contouring the last parts of the willow blocks, I'm ready to glue my rib structure together.

I bend the 1.0mm thick ribs over a bending iron, and after contouring the last parts of the willow blocks, I'm ready to glue my rib structure together.

 After the top and back have been roughed in, I spot glue the whole thing together.  This is when I drill the pin holes to locate things back together later, as well as establish the 2.7mm margins, and cut the corners out.

After the top and back have been roughed in, I spot glue the whole thing together.  This is when I drill the pin holes to locate things back together later, as well as establish the 2.7mm margins, and cut the corners out.

 Now the plates are taken to their final edge thickness, and I start to cut the purfling channel.  

Now the plates are taken to their final edge thickness, and I start to cut the purfling channel.  

 After the purfling channel is done, I fit my purfling, and glue it in.  Now I establish the lowest part of the recurve of the violin.

After the purfling channel is done, I fit my purfling, and glue it in.  Now I establish the lowest part of the recurve of the violin.

 The curves of the violin get blended together, and the final arch is established.  The inside begins to be hollowed out, and the ff-holes are roughed in.

The curves of the violin get blended together, and the final arch is established.  The inside begins to be hollowed out, and the ff-holes are roughed in.

 The varying thicknesses of the plates are crucial to proper sound.  I reference measurements from Italian master instruments, and then spend more time flexing, tapping, and trying to give the instrument its best voice.  My tops tend to weigh around 62 grams, and the backs around 110.  Light and strong helps to make for that immediate response that a good violin should have.

The varying thicknesses of the plates are crucial to proper sound.  I reference measurements from Italian master instruments, and then spend more time flexing, tapping, and trying to give the instrument its best voice.  My tops tend to weigh around 62 grams, and the backs around 110.  Light and strong helps to make for that immediate response that a good violin should have.

 After the plates are finished, I cut out the ff holes to their final shape, and glue in the bass-bar.  Then it's time to close up the box.

After the plates are finished, I cut out the ff holes to their final shape, and glue in the bass-bar.  Then it's time to close up the box.

 Now I lay out the cuts to make the scroll and neck for the violin.

Now I lay out the cuts to make the scroll and neck for the violin.

 I make the cuts and refinements to start making the turns of the scroll.

I make the cuts and refinements to start making the turns of the scroll.

 Carving out the pegbox.

Carving out the pegbox.

 After the final scraping and bevel, the scroll is ready.

After the final scraping and bevel, the scroll is ready.

 After making the ebony fingerboard, setting the neck into the body, shaping the neck, and a final scraping, the violin is ready for varnishing...which is a whole other story!

After making the ebony fingerboard, setting the neck into the body, shaping the neck, and a final scraping, the violin is ready for varnishing...which is a whole other story!