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( 1 )
Selecting and purchasing the wood

Old Italians have used the wood directly beneath the bark only to cut the neck of the instrument. This has a simple reason: The ingestion of nutrients of the trees happens through the capillaries of the cambium layer. From here the nutrients will be leaded to the crown where the wood grows. Layer by layer the tree gets a new coat every year. The cambium layer produces sapwood to the inside and bast and bark outside. Naturally more nutrients can be found in the younger annual rings. Older trees have less nutrition content and weight the further you get to the core. Wood with a lot of< nutrients is not suitable for making violins. Heavy parts of the wood should be avoided. It is possible to discern which part of the wood is unsuitable for the violin production…..

( 2 )
Selecting and purchasing the wood

........If one looks carefully at a piece of wood for the back of a violin, the change from younger, well-nourished wood ( under the bark of the tree ) to older wood ( from the core ) can be recognized by differences in color. The younger wood may be lighter or darker. In extreme cases, the difference can be seen only by turning the wood under light. The younger wood should not be used in the middle of the back. It is not flexible enough, witch hinders vibration and thereby the character of the sound.

( 3 )
Selecting and purchasing the wood

Before the dealer drops the wood off, make sure to ask him to cut the bottoms almost ( ! ) in half ( leave 2-3cm intact! )
You will find out later, why.

Necessary equipment: Carving knife, chopping knife, measuring tape, small saw, precision scale, and eventually a moisturizing knife.

Under no circumstances should you buy white wood, as it comes from young trees which have been nourished completely to the core. Acceptable inner colour of the wood: Yellowish, pink, reddish, and brownish ( The marrow rays must not be brighter than the wood itself ) Watch out! It happens that the wood will be exposed to the sunlight before selling -to give it a beautiful yellow colour and to vanish the annual rings. It is recommended to cut into the wood with a knife to check if it is white inside.

The moisture of the wood should not be above 23%

Calculate the weight of the wood. Maximum weight should be no more than 0.57g/cm³.

Wood measuring from the heart to the beginning of the sapwood (splint) has to be sufficient to cut out the bottom.

Annual rings: The closer the winter rings are, the less nutrients the wood contains ( Maple only grows in summer and deposits the nutrients between the winter lines )The annual rings need to run straight.

Pith rays: The more the better! The tree creates pith rays if it has trouble in nutrition. Darker pith rays show the nutrients are stiff and the tree is older. Brighter pith rays are found in young trees. Young trees are fully nourished, heavy in weight and not usable to build instruments.

Splitting direction: The course of the fibre is of great importance!! Wood with continuous fibre course is elastic, stable in form during moistening variations, breathes with the sound… Wood not cut in splitting direction is stiff, brittle, “works” during moistening variations, absorbs the sound…

How can we find out?

  1. Wood not cut along the splitting direction has the sever fibres stand up on the surface. If you pass your hand over the surface, the wood feels rougher in one direction.
  2. If you look from both front sides over the surface the colour of the wood needs to appear the same. If one side is darker than the other – the splitting direction has been ignored.
  3. Optimum pith rays are wide, straight and clearly visible. Not optimum pith rays ( cut out of the splitting direction ) are slightly bended, narrow and brighter in appearance.
  4. On the thicker part of the bottom you can detect clear signals of the actual course of the splitting direction.
  5. Take the bottom and break it along the cutting line into two parts. Now you can clearly see the course of the splitting direction.
  6. If the bottom had not yet been cut through, cut off 2cm of the front side. Split it in radial direction ( heart-bark direction ). The splitting direction is now clearly visible.
  7. Please do not go into your warehouse now and try this on your already bought wood! The year went great so far…

will be continued.....