When it comes to specialized woodworking, I’d be hard pressed to find a more exacting field that instrument making. Not only do the woods have to look beautiful and the instruments strong enough for vigorous handling, the dimensions have to be extremely precise, otherwise the instrument simply won’t sound right.
I saw a show about the Chicago School of Violin Making on the DIY channel, and I was stunned at the quality of the craftsmanship being demonstrated.
Using mostly hand tools and hide glue, absolutely gorgeous pieces of tiger maple and spruce were being turned from simple blanks into the sinuous curves of a quality instrument.
I was especially amazed by just how precise the instructors were while shaping the top and bottom sound boards with just a simple fishtail gouge. Much of the work is done totally by eye, with calipers used to ensure the final dimensions have been reached.
Students learn the same violin building techniques used since well before masters such as Antonio Stradivari created his masterpieces.