More Work on the Double Bass Plates

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Front Plate Inside Carving

Rough carving the inside of the Front plate

As I said in the post regarding tools, I built the little curved-sole scrub-plane with the specific intent of using it to carve out the inside of the Sitka Spruce front plate for this Five-string Double Bass.

Rough-carving the interior of the Five-string Double Bass front plate.
Rough-carving the interior, using the scrub plane.

 

Carving Dots

As the depth approached the correct value, I began switching over to the palm plane, there in the foreground. But as it turned out, I actually had a long way to go before I was anywhere near too thin.

I used the bass caliper to register thicknesses all over the plate, and then began carving “dots” at each location, to the desired thickness.

Carving
Carving “dots” of correct thicknesses all over the plate.

 

As I found (or created) spots that were at the correct thickness, I wrote in the thickness, and highlighted them in yellow, to warn myself against going any deeper. Eventually, I had mapped out the entire plate at least approximately according to this diagram from Peter Chandler’s book “So you want to build a Double Bass”:

Graduation map from Peter Chandler.
Graduation map from Peter Chandler.

 

He had derived these measurements from a fine old master bass by Domenico Busan, which conveniently happened to be disassembled for repairs and restoration. He said that he had subsequently used these values on all his basses, and it always worked well. (Sounds good to me!)

I kept carving until I had “dots” all over the plate.

Thicknessing Dots completed.
Thicknessing Dots completed.

 

Connecting the Dots

Then I began “Connecting the Dots”:

Connecting the dots on the five-string Double Bass.
Connecting the dots.

 

As I planed away the excess wood, the “dots” got smaller and smaller, and, in some areas disappeared. By that point I had switched over to the palm plane which is less aggressive and makes a  smoother surface.

Planing with the Palm Plane.
Planing with the Palm Plane.

But eventually, it was pretty much all done, and time to cut out the f-holes. However, I decided to install the purfling first, and then cut out the f-holes.

 

Purfling installed:

I did not take pictures while this step was in progress: I just got going and pressed on until the job was finished, then took a few pictures. Sorry. I don’t always think about pictures.

I used this old purfling marker to trace my lines, then a thin-bladed knife to slice along the lines to make a slot…then picked out the waste wood and inlaid the purfling.

Old purfling tool: missing part replaced with maple.
Old purfling tool: missing part replaced with maple.

 

Upper bouts of five-string double bass with purfling installed.
Upper bouts with purfling installed.

 

Bass F-hole incised and center bout with purfling on five-string double bass.
Bass F-hole incised and center-bout with purfling.

Cutting the F-holes

I used a coping saw to cut out the f-holes. It was slow and laborious but it worked, and there was little chance of any catastrophic errors. The result was two f-holes cut within a millimeter of the line and no errors. It is starting to look like a double bass!

f-holes in five-string double bass cut out.
F-holes cut out.

 

Rough cut f-hole on 5-string double bass ready for refinement.
Rough-cut f-hole ready for refinement.

 

Using a knife to refine the f-holes on a five-string double bass.
Using a knife to refine the f-holes. ( I will finish them with a file.)

 

Bass-bar fitting

Fitting fixtures for fitting the bass-bar on a five-string double bass.
Fitting fixtures for fitting the Sitka Spruce bass-bar.

 

I use a very thin paper gauze tape for chalk-fitting bass-bars.

Chalk-fitting tape
This is the tape I use, along with sidewalk chalk.

 

Paper tape with chalk applied
Paper tape with chalk applied.

 

The trick is to press the bar into the chalked tape, and “wiggle it” slightly, to pick up chalk on the high spots. then plane off just the chalked places and do it again, until all of the bass-bar comes up with chalk on it. That achieves a perfect fit. When the tape is finally removed, it takes all the chalk with it.

Then I warm the wood using a heat gun, apply a liberal coating of hot hide glue to both surfaces and clamp the bar in place. I leave it overnight to dry, just to make certain it will not pop back off (I have had it happen.)

Bass bar for the five-string double bass, fitted, glued and clamped.
Bass bar fitted, glued and clamped.

 

Fitted bass-bar for five-string double bass, ready to carve to shape.
Installed bass-bar, ready to carve to shape.

The properly-installed bass-bar still has to be carved to the appropriate shape. I use planes to accomplish the carving.

Beginning to carve the bass-bar on a five-string double bass.
Beginning to carve the bass-bar.

 

Bass bar nearly complete for a five-string double bass.
Bass bar nearly complete.

 

bass bar complete
Bass bar complete

 

Interior of completed Front plate sitting on the garland of a five-string double bass.
Interior of completed Front plate sitting on the garland.

 

Completed front plate resting on the garland of a five-string double bass.
Completed front plate resting on the garland. (Starting to look like a double bass!)

 

Back Plate Vision

There is still a good deal to be done, before I can install the Front plate, so I am stopping there for the time being.

But I really wanted to get a foretaste of what the Big Leaf maple of the back is going to look like; so I planed the inside and outside of the back plate flat, just to have a look at it:

Back plate inside surface for a five-string double bass.
Back plate inside surface.

 

Back plate outside surface, for a five-string double bass.
Back plate outside surface.

 

It is pretty stuff! I am really looking forward to seeing it completed.

 

Thanks for looking.

 

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