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What's currently happening on my workbench
In the following posts, you can learn and see what is currently happening in the workshop of Thomas Brenneur. Making of news instruments, exhibitions, the general news etc...

The viola is taking shape
Wednesday, November 04 2009 09:30

The viola is taking shape, as you can see in the following picture. I am now ready to take care of the purfling before completing the arches.


Viola plates ribs and neck


Viola plates rough carving
Wednesday, October 28 2009 10:22

I have done the rough carving of the viola plates. I am now going to smooth the arches with a thumbplane and flatten the contour to prepare the insertion of the purfling in the mortice. The final arching carving will be done after the purfling will have been glued in the plates.


Viola plates rough carving


varnish testing
Monday, September 14 2009 09:19

I am currently testing different kinds of wood preparation techniques and varnish recipes. In violin making, varnishing is always an ongoing process where you constantly try to find recipes and techniques that will give you results similar to what you can see in old instruments (especially the ones from the master Italian maker from the renaissance).

Varnish testing
Viola plates
Monday, July 13 2009 10:48

The viola plates (top and bottom) are ready to be carved as you can see on the pictures below. I am going to do a rough shaping with a roughing gouge before working on the purfling.


Viola plates


Making purfling
Monday, June 29 2009 17:17

I just made a batch of purfling. Instead of buying some ready made purfling, I prefer to make my own. This give a better handmade signature. This is subtle but will help in the overall feeling given by the finished instrument. I am following a traditional recipe using veneers of pear and maple or poplar. The pear veneer is dyed black with some logwood and ferrous sulphate. And then a sandwich of black pear, white maple, black pear is glued with hide glue. After drying I cut the purfling strips with a knife. It is now ready to be used in an instrument.

Making purfling
Making the ribs garland
Monday, June 29 2009 17:03

The viola ribs garland is completed. As you can see below, the ribs are glued on the corners. And the lining is glued. Not only am I inserting the lining in the c-bouts as traditionally done, but I am also inserting them (with a simpler joint) in all the corners and blocks to make sure that the whole structure is consistent.

Viola ribs garland

Viola ribs garland corner
Building the viola
Friday, June 12 2009 12:51

The building of the viola goes fine. I have carved the scroll, and I am about to make the rib garland now. I have been able to get some very interesting maple and spruce coming from Quebec that should give a very interesting viola sound. I have made the head slightly smaller than a standard head to reduce the weight and give a feeling of a light viola even if this is a 16 1/4 inches model. Below you can see some pictures of the scroll and the viola form with it spruce blocks glued to it before being carved. (Click on the image to zoom it).


Viola scroll and mold



Viola scroll


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