Construction - Carving 1
Top & Back
It probably goes without saying that when it comes to the quality of an instrument, fabricating the top and back is critical. For better or worse, I do not own a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machine. The home-made, round bottom plane shown here has been used on every instrument built since 1975.

Carving spruce is like carving butter. Carving figured maple is like carving rock. When carving the top, I would never consider handing over the process to a machine. When carving the back, I think about it all the time!

The various holes drilled in the blank provide guidance as to thickness and contour. The various patterns shown help finish off the contours.

Ideally, the top would be mounted on a solid pedestal that one could walk around and sculpt the plate from any angle. The set up shown above is a reasonable alternative.


The bulk of material is removed simply by approaching the bottom of the guide holes. No need for contour patterns at this point. Marking the bottom of the holes with a pencil helps control the possibility of carving too deep.


Using the contour patterns as guides (not shown), additional material is removed. The low angle light helps highlight the surface.


Scrapers help clean up the surface. Spruce is so soft that heavy grit sandpaper may suffice.