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Best way to remove violin top?


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#1 wmeng

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Posted 01 June 2003 - 08:24 PM

What's the best way to remove a violin top? Usually on my own instruments (and I've only done this when they didn't have any varnish) I use a sharp blade coated in denatured alcohol to dissolve the hide glue. However, I'm going to start restoring an older violin soon and I was wondering if there's any better way to do this?

Incidentally, I'm sorry for the amateurish questions - I've only made 4 violins (viola coming soon-almost finished) and I'm 14 years old, so bear with me...

#2 Michael Darnton

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Posted 01 June 2003 - 08:30 PM

I think you've got the right idea--just be careful with the alcohol. I use a small palette knife with most of the end cut off, then sharpened. I put the knife in and turn the violin with the rib side of the knife up, and put a drop there, and let it run in, then give a little twist, and repeat. You're not dissolving the glue--what's happening is that the alcohol removes any humidity from the glue, which then becomes extremely brittle, and it breaks really easily, then. Removing the saddle makes getting the bottom block loose easier, because you can work from where the saddle was.

Go to a junk shop and buy an antique table knife (the older ones are very thin, and don't get thicker away from the edge) with absolutely the thinnest blade you can find, and use that to work the upper block loose, coming mostly from the inside, up, and just a little from the outside with the palette knife. Use the palette knife to cut the top loose from the side of the neck, too.

It sounds like you're on the right track.
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