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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 9:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 5:51 pm
Posts: 583
Location: Mundelein, IL
Hello all-

After a few years of hiatus, I'm back :)

I've been quite busy since I was around here last; I got my BFA in ethnomusicology with a minor in Irish Language, began working full time as a luthier for a small, high-end violin shop in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and even found time to marry my best friend, the best gal a guy could ask for.

A little about me, I've played violin/viola for 18 years now, and mandolin family instruments, tenor banjo, tin whistle(s), assorted folk instruments like harmonica, ocarina, etc. for 10, and started my journey with Uilleann Pipes in 2007. Besides repairing, restoring and making violins, I've also made tin whistles, repaired and restored anyique typewriters and bicycles, and made replica movie props and functional and outlandish steampunk gadgets. I also maintain and collect unique, rare, and antique wood and hand tools, restoring them and putting them back into service in my lutheir work. I've always been drawn to the history of objects and how they were used in the past, and count myself very blessed to be able to work on historical violins with historical tools on a daily basis, and make a steady living from it none the less.

If you're in the market for a violin, I have several in my personal collection I'd discuss selling or better yet, trading. I'm working on fueling my uilleann pipe obsession :P I'm always happy to offer an opinon based on my almost a decade of work appraising and restoring string instruments, and am happy to perform work on personal instruments. I'm always looking for ways to give back to the music community.

Anyway, I promised some pics. Here are a few shots of my workshop, some of my tools, and a recent bridge I cut. Enjoy :)

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I'll be around, likely weighing in from time to time. It's great to see some familliar names around here, and so many new ones as well :)

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Actually, I hate music. I'm only doing this for the money.


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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:59 pm
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Location: Southwestern Ontario
Thanks for the eye candy.

My experience with making and maintaining instruments has been on a much smaller scale, and lately has drifted from strings to woodwinds, but I still admire those who make a living at it. Best of luck.


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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 1:35 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
lordofthestrings wrote:
I'll be around, likely weighing in from time to time. It's great to see some familliar names around here, and so many new ones as well :)

Welcome back, Spence. Great photos!

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Dr. Mierzwiak: Well, technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:17 pm 
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Location: Clifton Park, NY
Welcome back, and thanks for the pics. Keep 'em coming.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:17 am 
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Location: kanawha county, west virginia
That is the most orderly, cleanest, and decorated luthier shop that I have ever seen. The ones that I have seen look a step above a car mechanic's shop.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 5:51 pm
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Location: Mundelein, IL
Thanks all!

I have seen many shops and work areas, and I take a lot of pride in keeping mine clean and orderly. This is largely in part out of the reverence I have for the craft, and the pride I take in my work. But I also take great pride in my tools, having spent years and lots of effort collecting, maintaining, and in many cases restoring the tools that I use. I love bringing antique tools back to functionality, and it's exciting to me to think about the fact that generations ago, someone else may have been using this same tool to make their living. I get the same 'shivers' when I get to handle or work on a great old instrument. The fact that I'm doing my part to help preserve a physical piece of history that is also a work of art and a musical instrument... amazing. And bringing the joy of music to someone, be it a young child holding the instrument for the first time or an internationally-acclaimed professional, well, that's what it's all about to me.

Here are a few more photos for those who are interested :)

One of my specialties is cosmetic restoration and work. The following are a few 'before and after' shots from my archive of instruments I've worked on.
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This cello came in with a large part of the corner broken off, and somehow the owners had 'lost the piece'. To fit their budget, I re-built the missing piece using epoxy wood filler, sculpted it, and then carefully colored it to blend in.
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A lengthy and complex restoration of a century old violin.
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A gaggle of instruments in construction
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Two of my hand planes- a Veritas NX-60 circa 2013, and a Stanley #19 circa 1928
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Ever seen the inside of a violin?
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A little autobiography, including pictures, Here
Actually, I hate music. I'm only doing this for the money.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:11 pm 
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Location: The Emerald Isle
Great pics and story, thanks for sharing.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:48 pm 
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Location: Green Valley, AZ
Very, very nice pictures and congratulations on marrying your best friend! :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:36 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:44 pm
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Lovely photos !

Is that a Gerstner toolbox ?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:18 pm 
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Location: Mundelein, IL
Thank you all for the kind words!

Trill, it's not a 'real' Gerstner, but maybe someday I'll be able to pick one up :) The wood toolbox with sliding trays, I've heard them called 'machinist tool chests' is phenomenal for organization and keeping tools from smacking in to each other. I've made several partitions and slots, some with magnets, etc, to hold things separate and organize it all. The wood chest also offers the benefit of holding moisture away from the tools themselves, so my metal tools and knife, chisel and plane blades don't oxidize. I keep a hygrometer in the lid to keep track of everything as well. Also, I've tried to put together a collection of the finest tools I can that can also cover nearly any job in string instrument work all housed in the chest, and since it all closes and locks up and has a handle, I can be very mobile and have the equipment for nearly any job wherever I need it.

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A little autobiography, including pictures, Here
Actually, I hate music. I'm only doing this for the money.


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