Fred Sandoval, a long-time member of
WWCH, gave a talk to club members about the precision craft of
He addressed sources of wood,
plans, instructional books, tools,
and went into detail on many of
the techniques involved in hand-crafting a violin.
first item Fred talked about is the wood.
Where do you get it?
Fred named several reputable
sources but he said that the best place and most honest place is
Orcas Island Tonewoods, situated in Olga, Washington.
The owner, Bruce Harvie (who has a
PhD in wood), has wood that has been air dried for many years, is
really good and is, although still not cheap, less expensive than
Ideally you want tight rings, not
for your fingers, but in the wood itself.
Fred talked about making the F-holes, the
opening in the top of the violin, and how it influences the tone of
Fred said that the details of how
the F-hole is made speaks to the maker of the violin and
professionals can recognize who made the violin by the uniqueness of
The top of the violin affects the tone as
Thinner tops project more sound
whereas thicker tops are for more intimate surroundings such as a
Fred showed numerous molds that he uses
to craft the violins and explained how he uses them.
Fred demonstrated a hot iron
(vertical and clamped down) that he uses to soften the thin side
woods for bending.
Using a damp piece of denim jean
fabric and the strip of wood, Fred demonstrated how the iron would
create steam from the fabric which helps to soften the wood for
Fred went into some detail with the peg
holes and how to properly drill them.
Although Ebony looks good, the
best pegs are made of Boxwood. Fred showed the tools he uses to
straighten out holes that have loosed over time.
Fred explained how he uses the myriad
collection of tools and planes of various sizes, from hand size down
Precise gauges help Fred determine
the progress of thicknesses on the neck as well as the top.
An interesting tool is one that Fred uses
to measure the precise length required for the sound post, a small
piece of dowel inside the violin spanning the space between the back
piece and the top and held in place by friction.
It is referred to as the “soul” of