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Thread: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

    I may venture that you buy a bridge, and get it fit to your mandolin, so you can start playing. After that I would start learning the skill of making your own, it seems that is what you really want to do. Why wait to start playing while you learn to make and fit a bridge. Fitting, as you have found out, is hard enough and time consuming the first time. You can always swap out the one you bought for one you made down the road. I say have your cake and eat it too.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  2. #27

    Default Re: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    Sorry if my posts offended your skills. From your few posts I jus assumed you are novice just like many others who ask queastions here so I wrot from that perspective (and expecting that few more folks will read this in the future and may help them too).
    But even if you are experienced woodworker which is really good start, luthiery has lots of fine skills of it's own as you already found out without which even the best cabinetmaker would not be able to get good results as luthier. The best strategy to learn it is first to study methods of other luthiers , which is easy these days with all the information on internet (do not work with just one source, especially the Siminoff book), and then select few that might work best for you (given your own set of skills, tools etc) and just plainly do it. General rule is that among students of violin making first instruments is expected to be just VSO, and perhaps after five or ten they will start showing some professionality.
    Some of the finer points of luthiery are better left to time after that stage.
    No offense taken! I didn't provide any details on my background, so you wouldn't have known. I am absolutely a novice instrument builder, but not a novice woodworker.
    Your references re: violin making are really helpful. Thank you. I also was not expecting to have a professional instrument until ten or so attempts. My target is within twelve years from now (when I can officially retire from my current "day job") to be capable of creating an instrument that is professional quality--i.e. a professional musician would be happy to own and play.
    It truly is amazing how much one can learn on the Internet these days, thanks in large part to forums like this one.

  3. #28
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

    I guess my take on this is that if bridge-making sounds fun and rewarding, then go for it. One of these days soon I'll be making bridges to last me for the next few years, and that's always a day I look forward to. My whole reason for being a builder is that it's enjoyable (obviously it's not for the money ), and if one can focus on the aspects that are fun and pare away those that aren't (or at least make them more efficient), then it improves the overall experience. If making bridges sounds boring or tedious, then I certainly see no good reason to make them, as the ones you buy can be modified to make them work. It's my understanding that the vast majority of violinmakers buy their bridge blanks, which is basically what we're doing when we buy a mandolin bridge.

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  5. #29
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

    Quote Originally Posted by amowry View Post
    I guess my take on this is that if bridge-making sounds fun and rewarding, then go for it. One of these days soon I'll be making bridges to last me for the next few years, and that's always a day I look forward to. My whole reason for being a builder is that it's enjoyable (obviously it's not for the money ), and if one can focus on the aspects that are fun and pare away those that aren't (or at least make them more efficient), then it improves the overall experience. If making bridges sounds boring or tedious, then I certainly see no good reason to make them, as the ones you buy can be modified to make them work. It's my understanding that the vast majority of violinmakers buy their bridge blanks, which is basically what we're doing when we buy a mandolin bridge.
    That's similar to my reasoning. I have enough scrap ebony to make them and otherwise it would just sit there an dcollect dust. Aand buying them from US is rather expensive for us in EU these days. So I did like Andrew and prepared a batch from all my scrap. Some parts of the making the bridges are rather mechanic so making them in batch makes sense.
    You can carve them one at a time but splitting it into smaller tasks and use whatever tooling you have will be more effective. Here I will post few pics from my process...
    FIrst I prepare the flatblanks and glue paper templates on. I roughly cut the outline with scrollsaw and drill holes. Drilling is critical especially if you don't have nay special jig. I usually glue the saddle to the base with just two drops of CA and drill both holes with drill press (I don't have one but for this I visit my friend who does) while the blank is held in vice so they are guaranteed parallel. I typically drill the larger hole first (use an awl to mark the holes first) just into saddle and stop short of coming through the saddle and then switch to smaller diameter drill and drill the rest of hole through the base (it is relatively easy to center the drill in the upper part of hole). Then break the two parts apart and tap the base and cut the steps on the bottom of saddle (that reveals the larger diameter hole on the bottom of saddle). Since I don't have jig for exact distnce of holes I always mark the saddle and base with code so I know that they belong together. After that I shape the saddle with files and scrapers. I used to cut the rounded chamfer on base with plane (@45 degrees) and round file (pretty time consuming and not easy to cut smoothly along grain) but recently I discovered a rotary file (approximately 8mm diameter) in my old box of drillbits and I came with a way to use it for doing the chamfers perfect without special jig. Like many of my solutions it involves some scrap wood and handdrill held by machinist vise. I do the final height adjustment, fitting and cutting compensation to the moment the instrument is first strung up.
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    Adrian

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  7. #30

    Default Re: Should I learn to make bridges while I'm at it?

    Here are the net results of my bridge building exercise. It has been several weeks of part time work building jigs and templates and trying things. These pictures do not show several scrap bottoms and tops. I have the jigs now and future ones should be more straightforward if I make any more.

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