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Jan 11, 2019 - 9:48:48 AM
73 posts since 9/27/2011

Here's 3 pics of a nasty corner break I would like to repair. Most of the broken corners I've seen are more of less broken straight across and don't go into the purfling and are thus fairly easy to fix. This one, however has me stumped and I don't even know whereto begin. I'm not looking for perfection, just something that will reasonably good, prevent further splintering and keep my occasional wayward bow from shredding hair on it.
Any ideas how to approach this (apart from giving it to my luthier)?
Thanks for your input.

Jan 11, 2019 - 11:43:46 AM

1517 posts since 8/27/2008

I would cut along the top grain to make a straight edge as far as I could, then it looks like you'll have to angle out to the edge. Use very sharp knife and make very straight lines. Cutting along the grain will help hide the patch. Find suitable spruce and carefully shape it so it joins as perfectly as you can, leaving very slightly oversized in thickness and outside edge, then glue in place with hide glue.

You will have to repair the purfling, which means carefully cutting a new channel with sharp knife and matching the existing purfling, making a corner that complements the other corners. Then level the top and trim the sides for final fit.

After that you'll have to match color. I often use furniture touch up pens. Start with light color first and rub it in with your finger. Once you're satisfied with that, touch up finish with shellac, and buff to blend sheen with original.

There's no magic solution. It will always show to some degree unless you're a master restorer. Go slow for best results.

Jan 11, 2019 - 2:37:01 PM

73 posts since 9/27/2011

Thanks Brian, sounds like a plan. Re-doing the purfling sounds challenging.
This will take some time!

Jan 11, 2019 - 3:31:14 PM

1517 posts since 8/27/2008

Originally posted by jon bowman

Thanks Brian, sounds like a plan. Re-doing the purfling sounds challenging.
This will take some time!

Purfling is fussy, but with care it isn't too bad. You only need a couple inches. Use an Xacto knife or something, and wear magnifying glasses if you need, and cut very shallow lines slightly narrower than the actual purfling, then deepen with repeated passes. Once you have a little depth you can use the point of the knife or a very narrow chisel, if you have one, to lift out a layer of wood. Keep working very slowly and keep the channel narrow until the very end. Finish so the purfling will be a hair high, to finish down later. Making the point on the corner of the purfling (sometimes called a "bee stinger") requires cutting a sharper than 45° angle on the pieces. Cut that end first and get the pieces to fit together. Use your sharp knife and make the cuts perpendicular. Joining into the old purfling will require some thought. Probably you'll have a better result if you cut the existing purfling at a 45° angle, then match the new piece to it. A square cut never looks good, and with the angle the channel will serve to wedge the pieces together. Make gradual repeated cuts with your knife, fine tuning the angle and working closer to a perfect fit.

Listen to other's advice too. There are people here with more experience than I have. I'm a hobby builder, and have done repairs. I am presently working on my 9th fiddle.

Jan 11, 2019 - 5:17:29 PM

1517 posts since 8/27/2008

PS It might be hard to match the purfling. You could take a picture of it and enlarge it and try to match it with pictures online. Some pre-made purfling has a wider white center and narrower black outsides, or the other way around. It's very possible the purfling on your violin won't match anything you can find online in which case you'll have to compromise, or make your own.

But that's another thing. Since the purfling you need is very short you might be able to make it yourself if you have any tools for producing very narrow strips to glue together. You could do it with your Xacto knife, perhaps. It'd probably be fussier than you want. If you take a close up picture maybe somebody here on the Hangout will have some short piece they can send you that looks similar. I'd be happy to send some pieces if they'd work.

Jan 11, 2019 - 5:37:43 PM

Dave Churm


18 posts since 8/26/2007

Totally amazed!!! at the expertize here.

Jan 15, 2019 - 5:18:18 AM

806 posts since 1/9/2009

- make a straight cut on the violin top

- choose the best grain match of a piece of spruce

- align the grain and glue in place (properly clamped)

- after the glue dries, carefully sand to shape

- when color matching, I build the color to match AFTER the initial clear coat.

I am not a school trained luthier.   But that is what I have done.  I have images somewhere.   I'll look.


Jan 15, 2019 - 6:31:28 AM

3605 posts since 6/24/2007

Can make short purfling sections from scraped down veneer. Don't need to glue the sections together, just get the 3 strips to slide in firmly, then paint with hot glue.

Jan 15, 2019 - 7:24:53 AM



634 posts since 6/8/2013

purfling pretty cheap if you decide to go that route

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