I sense an undercurrent that many of you feel you lack the
knowledge, skills, and abilities to make your own tools.
Tool making starts when you grab
some materials and start making a tool. Your first one probably
won't be pretty but you make another one and another one until
you get it right. My post today is yet another one of my stories
about tools and their uses.
Back in 1987 I had an apprentice
under the Missouri Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. He
told me he wanted to learn how to make violins. I had never made
one but was confident that I could so we set off on a trajectory
that paid off in the end. Bernard Allen became a Missouri Master
fiddle maker and has made dozens of fine instruments.
We started with some violin wood
and some scrap wood and metal and first made a set of tools for
each of us. The photos tonight show four finger planes I made.
The one on the left was cast with the lost wax process from
melted brass gas fittings. The wedge is made of ebony and and
the blade is fashioned from an old Sears Crsftsman planer blade.
I carved the other three planes out
of ebony and their soles are convex both ways. That is a nickel
in the photos for scale. We proceeded to make a violin and it
turned out just fine.
The point is, if I had said that I
had never made a fiddle and that I couldn't do it, Bernard Allen
would never have become a master fiddle maker. If I had said
that violin makers's tools were beyond our budget and we can'
make them, Bernard Allen would never have become a master.
By the way, Bernard says that
the difference between a violin and a fiddle is about $4,000.
You can search for him on the
Internet and read more about him. Here is a photo of the Bernard
Allen playing and a link to Missouri fiddle makers
that mentions him.
And here's a link to a video of The
Buzzard Run Bluegrass Band made recently. Bernard Allen is the
fellow in the center playing, what else, a fiddle: