I have a fiddle I picked up in a Antique store. Cleaning it and getting my hands wet on repairing. This is the first one I have had that looks like a sound post crack on the top and and under side plate. Running the grain...
Without taking it to a Luthier...Can anyone suggest or give me links on experience in fixing these cracks...or is the top doomed .
My weird thinking is to cleat before the crack and after... I have to take the top off to reset it properly.
Take off top. Clean crack. Glue crack flush with very hot fresh strong hide glue.
Support top outside down in a fitted holder to avoid opening crack. Carve out hollow where soundpost goes, very smooth, almost to outside surface where post will it. Do not touch. About size of a quarter.
Carve spruce piece with grain angled from the top a bit to fit in hollow exactly. Almost sticks in when fitted well.
Prime both surfaces with dilute glue, then heat both surfaces, spread strong hide glue, and lightly clamp. Let cure for a few days.
The "fitted holder" that's mentioned usually means a plaster cast of the front (or back). The area to be patched gets carved down to about 1/2 mm thick, and if the area isn't totally supported it's real easy to push a tool right through the front (a bad thing). This repair is not considered a job for an amateur!
Carved, plaster, or whatever. I have used stiff foam to brace the area worked on, but that's just a field expedient.
This isn't an impossible job, but requires some tool skills. I wouldn't think of it as a starting out project. I prefer not to do it myself. Most folks seem to think I should be able to fix their violin with the soundpost crack in about 2 days. Isn't going to happen!
I was also reading my "An Encyclopedia of the Violin" Alberto Bachman... It's a turn of the century (20th)...but contains good information on making a violin ad has specific measurements.
but nothing about repairs.
I found the fiddle in n old case in Buckhannon, WV... I saw it 3 years ago...It was still there in Oct 5th. Still cleaning the dirt off... Finding a beautiful maple finish... The top plate is actually in good condition.
The only visible crack appears to be a crack starting at the sound post...
I can't think of a way to make these repairs without taking the top off. Repairing it is worth a try providing someone has not tried this repair before using something other than hide glue. Cleats should be enough support it but the soundpost may have to be moved slightly. My idea would be to work some glue into the crack from the underside and clamp 5 or 6 cleats the entire length of the crack. The upside to this is when repaired, the finish will match. Making a new top would be the safe answer.
I have seen an effective repair with a maple veneer on the outside, glued with what looked like epoxy and colored with a sharpie. That's on the tension side and supports the bridge well. But it was fairly hideous! That's the problem with cleats - the outside is under tension. I've also seen thicker maple patches on the inside that will probably work for quite a while. But it isn't really the way to do it. Cheaper.