Finally got the box (half) closed. As with the Six Foot Fiddle, half of the box is being closed at a time to facilitate lining up the ribs, which aren’t perfectly vertical in relation to the back* and clamping/gluing half at a time is an easy way to push and prod things into shape without having to worry about getting all the way around before the glue starts to set. Also, I don’t have that many spool clamps.

First fairly weak hide glue** is brushed sparingly on both surfaces and allowed to dry. If you’re impatient to move to the next step, at least wait until the glue is no longer tacky before dry fitting.

Squeezy clamps on the two end blocks are easy to apply first to hold everything in place for adjustments. 1/4″ thick cork pieces under the jaws protect the plates. One more was needed to hold down that darned weird corner. A dry fitting is helpful – then you know where the ribs need to be pushed into place to make nice, even margins.

When everything is lined up to your satisfaction, loosen the clamps, two or three at a time (don’t let them fall off!) and dribble a bit of hot water into the gap, pushing the ribs into place if needed, and then tighten them down again. With this method there is minimal glue squeeze-out to clean up later and the only thing that might dribble down into the inside is a bit of water that will soon evaporate. Let the glue dry overnight and do the other half the next day.

I’ll repeat myself and quote Henry Strobel, “if in spite of every effort the margins don’t align absolutely, remain philosophical. Remember we are aiming for excellence, not absolutes.” The Red Fiddle is closer to “perfect” (whatever that truly is) than the SFF, at least visually. It remains to be seen how well she plays.

* Really, how could they be? This kit has been assembled and shipped to a distributor (maybe many different people) and then shipped to me with no form to support the ribs and no special care taken with wrapping (bubble wrap and plain paper were all the padding in the box) traveling through who knows how many time and climate zones. It’s a miracle it arrived in one piece if you think about it.

** Use nothing but REAL hide glue – the top may need to come off sometime in the future (maybe you will take it off yourself, who knows?) and it will be impossible if you use any other glue. These kits are assembled with something permanent so the bottom will never come off, which is a no-no in violin building.

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