The next step in the building process is to fit the neck into the body of the fiddle. Sigh. Let me just say that the instructions (from Stew-Mac) are long-winded and complicated. If you (like me) try to understand the logic behind a process that you’ve never done before, be warned that you will end up confused and irritated. If you like to dive right in, following the instructions to the letter without giving a thought to where you may end up, well, you’ll be just fine.Let’s take a look at the instructions (click to enlarge) –

Clear as mud? Yeah, me, too.

Strobel says almost nothing about actually cutting the mortise, merely supplying a list of requirements to be met and a redirection to another of his books (which I have, and is very helpful, just not in this case.)

Derek Roberts gives a detailed and very helpful photo essay on fitting the neck after the box is closed, which is the traditional method, as far as I can find. Since I was starting with a carved neck (not much room for adjustment) his method does not exactly apply in this case.

I followed the Stew-Mac directions and marked where the heel needed to be shortened and the angle changed, marked where the mortise would be cut on the body, and prepared to set to with a borrowed chisel (thanks, Brandon!)

And then [name deleted] came upon the scene took one look at what I was doing, declared, “that’s not going to work,” and took the fiddle out of my hands.

What followed was a couple of hours of [name deleted] doing what he does – taking over a project so he can take credit for the whole thing. I can’t take credit for setting the neck, and still hold a lot of resentment towards [name deleted] for taking over and messing up a project of mine. Again 😦

After some research, I’ve decided that the next fiddle neck will be inset a little differently. Ossman advises cutting the slot for the neck into the top plate before gluing the top to the ribs, and he advocates gluing the top on first, and I don’t see why the form couldn’t be inside to lend support and contribute to the perfect shape. After being glued to the rib assembly, the neck mortise is cut, the neck fitted and the heel cut off almost even with the ribs – leaving just a tiny overhang to adjust for a perfect fit with the back plate. Inspired, really. Assembling it this way allows for a screw or nail to be driven through the block and into the neck heel for an even stronger joint. I can’t think of a better way or a reason not to assemble my next fiddle using Ossman’s method.

What say you? Any experienced makers want to chime in with their method or an argument for the “traditional” method?

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