top of page
  • davesuth6

Starting from the middle

I've been in the workshop today working on my latest violin.

Purfling marks the half way point in the making process. I've already carved the scroll with a Lions head design, roughed out the arching of the plates (top and back) and gotten rid of most of the bits that don't look like a fiddle.

I've been procrastinating and putting this bit off for a few weeks, getting tied up clearing out the house so that I've got more space to show my instruments and get a bit more room to use in the house. With that out of the way, I managed to get some actual work done today! Sometimes it's a bit of a battle between my thought process and motivation. How much is procrastination, avoidance and what is sheer laziness I'm not sure, it's a sliding scale I guess.

The purfling round the edge of the instrument is partly decorative but does serve a purpose. Due to the nature of wood, it sometimes likes to split up the grain, so the purfling acts as a barrier, containing any splitting contained to the very edge and protects from shrinkage and knocks which can ultimately come apart creating a host of problems during the long lifetime of an instrument.

I started using a Dremmel router to cut the majority of the channel to save time and create a neat channel a while ago. Purfling is one of the things which can suggest the skill of a maker and can be an indicator of the quality of an instrument. A painted or inscribed purfling would be at one end of the spectrum and a neat, tidy purfling with nice joints and a good "bee-sting" in the corners being at the other. The router is good but has the potential for a few disasters along the way and using it always gives me the fear, as do most power tools. It can be too deep, too shallow and if you're not careful it can take off through the edge and spoil all your work up to this stage, never mind do some damage to your fingers and other horrible scenarios if things go badly wrong! I was shaking today as it's the first time I've done it for a while but the end result was great despite all my fears. I'm not sure how a traditionalist would see the work of a machine for any part of the process but I know several makers who opt to go in this direction to save a few days painstaking work.

I've done some pretty intricate designs with purfling in the past as a way to decorate instruments. It's not to everyone's taste but it can add a nice bit of flair to the back and edges of an instrument for some folk.

Maggini has some nice examples and a Fleur De Lis design is quite traditional for the French Courts.

I've left fitting the purfling strips until tomorrow to force myself to take more time over it, I want to take my time and get things right with this instrument.

More to come in the future. It's taken me a while to start a blog and whether I'll manage to keep regular updates remains to be seen but starting is half the battle, even if you do start in the middle.


12 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page