We’ve arrived at a milestone, this kit fiddle and I – the sound box is closed!

This step was delayed numerous times because the ribs refused to line up with a uniform margin around the top. The treble side was fine –

But the bass side was decidedly out of whack –

Top and bottom margins matched, as did the upper and lower bouts. The trouble seemed to be at the C bout and the curve just above and below. Over and over the question was asked, “can I live with this crooked-ness? It’s not like it would be visible when playing…”

And then the other day a chance perusal of the Fiddle and Alternative Strings Forum brought up this topic, in which another beginner builder is making a fiddle from a kit and his ribs don’t line up either. Stephen Perry of Gianna’s Acoustical Instruments replied:

“Coat joining surface of top and ribs with light fresh hot glue.  Not too strong.  Let dry.  Clamp top to rib/back combination lightly.  Push and prod ribs into proper position.  Loosen a couple of clamps at a time and add 180 degree water from a brush, just a little, and clamp.  Move around the whole body.  Should glue it fine.  Might want to get the blocks glued first.  Make blocks to ensure that the whole block is pushed together with the top…Your instrument is the shape it is and needs to end up the shape it should be…The situation you describe is not unusual.”

Eureka! Logically, this makes sense – one wouldn’t expect the ribs to hold their shape on an old violin after removing the top for repairs, so why should a new fiddle that has been carved on and laid around in a less than perfectly dry work room? I set to immediately, brushing on thin hot glue and letting it dry over night –

The next day I glued it up, one side at a time (what a great idea!) using spring clamps and DIY spool clamps.* The hide glue re-liquefied and the joint sealed perfectly with no glue squeeze-out to clean up later.

It’s not perfect, but as Strobel says, “If in spite of every effort the margins don’t align absolutely, remain philosophical. Remember we are aiming for excellence, not absolutes.” I suspect that this is as good as this kit fiddle can be.

* Post about making spool clamps cheaply and easily coming up.