Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sylvia's Fiddle: Scroll Repair

Sylvia's fiddle got accidentally stepped on several weeks ago and the scroll was broken off. This is actually a fairly common repair on fiddles, but usually due to the scroll being hit on something. The break was clean and it went straight through two of the pegholes. Just glueing the scroll back on is not an option in this type of repair because the tension on the scroll from the strings, and also the pressure from the pegs on the pegholes will not stand up over time. A cheek patch is required in this situation. Here are some photos of the repair. You can click on the pictures to make them larger.

This first picture is the scroll immediately following the accident.

The first step in the repair process is to glue the scroll back together again.

After the glue dries overnight, the cheeks of the pegbox are carved out to approximately half the thickness. The carved part should be concave in shape and should be large enough to go beyond the crack by about 1/2 to 3/4".

A patch is then prepared using a piece of maple. It is good to try to match the patch to the grain of the peghead. For example, if the peghead is made of highly flamed maple, try to cut a patch from highly flamed maple that closely matches. The edges of the patch will be feathered so that they are the least noticeable when the repair is completed. If an interior repair can be made, this will be the least noticeable. This was not possible in this case.

You can use carbon paper to match the patch to the scroll carving that you created. This will allow you to see high spots so these can be trimmed to make a perfectly matching patch.

Before you glue the patch in, put a very thin layer of glue on both the patch and the peghead carving and let this dry. This will keep the glue from soaking into the new wood, which will give you optimal adhesion. After the thin layer of glue dries, then you can glue the patches into place. Make sure that you use several small clamps so that the middle and both of the edges of the patch are glued firmly.

Use a file and sandpaper (150 grit to start with) to reshape the patch. Use fine sandpaper and steel wool to take all of file marks and scratches out of the peghead and the patch.

The holes can be redrilled into the peghead after the final fitting and sanding has been done. All that's left now is restaining/varnishing the peghead.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

oh, my poor fiddle! It looks good as new now. Thanks for posting these pictures.