The Grand Rose

The Concert Grand and Baby Grand models receive carved rose soundholes. The construction begins with creating the surround inlay. This is an exacting multi-step process involving some precision and dexterity. The surround is laid in three segments of custom-made four-part purfling, with a miniature diamond at each interruption.

The top first receives an single 2-pound-cut shellac finish, to protect the top from discoloration during the fitting and gluing of the rose segments.

A jig is made to receive and shape each segment of the surround. This enables us to cut the segment accurately, and trim its ends to fit the diamond finials. The purfling consists of 4 layers of commercial dyed pear veneer, lightly glued together and sliced into strips .050" thick. The strips are trimmed to approximate length, laid into the jig, and lightly coated with a cyano-acrylic (CA) glue, to fix it into shape. Then it is trimmed as shown at left.

The segments and diamonds are then laid into a ring routed into the top. The ring is about .050" deep, and .100" wide. (The diamonds are made of four fine strips of boxwood, glued together with blackened glue. Then slices are taken off to create miniature diamonds.) The process shown here depicts the segments laid and glued individually, but the current practice is to lay all segments and diamonds in dry, then wick in either cyanoacrilic (CA, "crazy glue") or diluted hot hide glue.

After cleaning the rose is at this state, ready for a full finish before carving. (The ruler is included to give you a sense of scale. It is distorted by the camera's el cheapo closeup lens.)

Next a paper pattern of the design is glued on with rubber cement, and trimmed. The negative spaces will be routed with miniature bits, so we want the pattern to be an edge to be followed by the router. The paper used is free of clay (a common paper component that helps fix printing ink), because we will be carving right through it. Carving through the paper is a trick with two benefits. First, it gives a very high contrast boundary so you can hold a line with the knife, and even go back and re-enter a cut (a fancy trick indeed at this scale!). Secondly, the paper, being homogeneous, stabilizes the knife during cutting, helping to keep it from following the grain during the cut. So cutting through the paper gives much more accurate results.

Now carving can proceed. We start by routing out the negative space, then settle in with a good sharp knife for a few hours of very exciting carving.

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