Carving the Body Lines Fair

The body lines are carved fair, using knife, gouge, chisel, and scraper.

The tailblock is the least complex area and is usually addressed first. The photo above shows a few of the tools, and the end result. The ends of the block have already been sanded smooth.

Next the peghead area is taken up. Note that the fiddle edges in the neighborhood are also faired at this time. The peghead has many complex curves to fair into the ribs and fiddle edges, and takes the majority of the carving time and effort. This area usually takes a couple hours of steady work to get right.

Finally the fiddle edges are faired. This is done with a very sharp knife, so that the wood is pared with a minimum of effort. If the hand pulls too hard, a slip can cause a lot of problems to the instrument back (or the carver). And a reluctant knife is much more difficult to control. Special care is required at the turn of the waist to make sure the knife doesn't catch the grain and split the wood. This area is approached carefully from both directions alternatingly.

After carving, the body is scraped and sanded to fair the carving to final shape. We use 120 grit for the detail sanding. The fiddle-edge joint is finished with the corner of a small scraper fashioned from a length of old 1" bandsaw blade stock. The large areas of the ribs and back are finished with cabinet scrapers. Then the body gets 2 coats of 1-lb cut shellac as a sealer and primer for the varnish.

Carving the tailblock scroll-Click to see full size