Monday, July 04, 2011

This Weekend's Project: 1:6 Scale Violin

This weekend's side project is severely lacking in the explosives department.

Tried my hand at #2 in Stringed Instruments Series, a Violin. The guitar was a fast project, and quite fun to do. This project however, was anything but quick, and mildly annoying to develop.

A quick search for violins yielded a blurry resized image of professional violin plans. The image was about the size I needed, and mildly blurry that I could still read it. After some resizing and quick drafting of some plans, I formed the basis of my violin body, in the same way I built the guitar.

This looks nice and simple, with tape holding the frame to the template, but the image lies! Taping a 5mm wide strip of Magic card and trying to get those pointed parts right was painful. Took a lot of time to get the laminations to stay in place while the rest of the frame dried.
Making the two faces was interesting as well. A violin has a contoured front and back, whereas the guitar I could slap on a solid face and call it a day. I took the contour map, made a model of it, then used it to form the pattern for my violin. Both sides differed in curvature, so I got to do this twice. Went through a good amount of cards trying to get the shape right.

After forming the sheet for the face, it was a good time to start cutting out the F-holes. Cutting them after being fully assembled would prevent me from cleaning up the other side of the holes. Unfortunately, the size of a violin prevents me from strategically placing the card back in interesting ways on the sides. What you see now will be obscured by clutter and will look less interesting.


Building the neck was much more difficult than the guitar. Here's a side view of how the inside was constructed. A hollow curve for the scroll, and lots of cobbled together laminations for the neck support. Peg holes were made using a 1/16" bit on a hand drill, same as with the guitar.

The main issue was trying to get the scroll shape, while keeping the side profile as a single card.I chose the more elegant route than the quick and dirty route of rolling up paper or shaving down the face to achieve the effect. It's a barely noticeable effect, especially at a distance, but I like knowing that it's there.

Stringing the violin was the same as the guitar. Stick white sewing thread into holes, stretch, wrap around pegs, repeat multiple times. I toyed with the idea of making the pegs capable of tightening the strings, then decided that was the stupidest idea ever. I jammed some knots into the pegbox and retained them with paper clips, then called it a night.

I have never played the violin. I can only guess that the chin rest is there to prevent your facial acne from creating a circular spot on the violin from contacting it for hours. Decided to try to make it removable for the sake of being able to. Worked out fine by using a bent paper clip anchored to a 4-card stack. The chin rest gets held in place as well by the spike I rammed into the tailpiece to hold it in place. I figured since there's some metal thing holding it in a real violin, I can jam one in mine to prevent mine from flying off after a slight nudge.

The bow used a large paper clip to provide support. I had underestimated the size of a violin bow. I always thought they'd be shorter than the violin. Seems like some are longer than the violin themselves. I opted for a 4/4 size violin and bow, so it's quite monstrous. The bow just uses paper to thicken the paper clip, and to provide an attachment point for the two bits that hold the string. Gluing them directly to a metal paper clip would have been ineffective and utterly silly. I ended up painting it with gloss black enamel and spraying it with a coat of clear gloss coat. Will that hold up against rough use? No idea!

I ended up using about six cards worth of material for this project, but ate up about 4 cards in development. Most of the parts were leftovers from the horse. This project helped deal with the pile of small scrap cards sitting on my desk, which is always nice as large projects yield a lot of semi-usable scrap.

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