Let’s put aside the question of doing some thicknessing of the top plate and actually get something done on this fiddle! Anyone else think a project to death?

Purfling is the inlaid border around the edges of a fiddle, front and back, and it is generally made of three very thin strips of wood: a lighter colored wood in the middle with a strip of darker wood on each side forming a triple stripe around the edge. Traditional violins always have dark-light-dark stripes, and this one will be no different, as traditional came with the kit.

Purfling serves as more than decoration, it helps to stop cracks that start at the edges (where most cracks originate) from continuing into the back or belly of the fiddle.

Strobel recommends heating the purfling to help with the dry fitting and shows a picture of his heating setup. Not wanting to purchase anything that I don’t have to necessitates being a little creative –

That’s right, it’s a hair curling iron. Modern curling irons get a lot hotter than the irons of 20 years ago, and many of them (like this one) have temperature controls. The barrel on this particular model is 1.5″ in diameter – a larger one might do a better job. Works like a charm – wipe the purfling strip with a damp cloth, bend to shape, move on to the next piece. I hadn’t counted on the purfling strips being quite so brittle, and that was really the only problem.

The channels needed a bit of cleaning out with 220 grit sandpaper and a sharp knife to remove tiny slivers of wood, but otherwise the job was pretty straight forward. For those who land here searching for information about the Stew-Mac fiddle kits (this kit is a no-name model) and how long it takes to build them, this part of the project took about 1.5 hours. Bear in mind that the purfling needs to be glued in yet and is just dry fitted at this point.

As I was working on the purfling my eyes kept straying to the neck assembly laying nearby.

Overall it looks pretty good. The holes are nicely drilled with a slight cant as called for and the pegs fit well. My main issue is this –

The black color of the fingerboard is some kind of heavy, gloppy stuff that is not really smooth. (Note the Asian stamp on the neck) Since I want a blonde fiddle, that crap has to go. Is there any reason I can’t use paint stripper? I’ll take the fingerboard off the neck, of course, and scrape and sand the surface down to smooth wood (it’s a bit rough at the moment.)

There’s more goopy stuff all around the nut, too, but I plan to replace that with a bone nut anyway.

The scroll is nicely carved, just a bit of sanding/scraping will be needed before finishing –

The grain is lovely but doesn’t show up well in these shots.

Not bad for a short evening’s work. Time to go play some tunes!

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