The large outline template is used to mark out on the back and front; it’s also useful at this stage to have a centre line marked as reference, on both the stock and the template, and that the template marking of the back and front is in register can be checked by this and a small square.
I drilled out the waste wood with a brace and bit, then gouged to the line and cleaned up, as before. I started to establish the cylinder shapes at the body/neck joint
Returning to the large template, I mark and drill the holes for the six tuning pegs. A Forstner bit is used, giving a clean hole with minimum break out. Rather than harp wrest pins, I’ve decided I’m going to use violin peg technology – a tapered well fitting ebony tuning peg, where friction and smoothness can be addressed by suitable lubricants – dry soap, graphite and fine chalk being my preferred choice over proprietary peg pastes. So the hole diameters are chosen with this in mind.
And then there is some serious power tool cheating – I use an overhead router with the workpiece held rigidly in a jig to establish the flat area at the rear of the tuning pins.
Then the arms of the yoke are hollowed out – one of the most difficult operations, as the central neck prevents use of a drill – or even effective use of a gouge. Ultimately the only way I’ve found of achieving this is using some specially cut down gouges and chisels, and an old router plane acquired in some boatbuilding tools, the only time this tool ever sees any use in my workshop. Cleaning up this area is both fiddly and delicate, and range of abrasives glued to specially made counterforms of wood are a must.
At this point the neck too was finished, both the back, to the template prepared from the original, and the front, where a clean and accurate surface was planed to receive the fingerboard. The cylinder shapes where the body blends into the neck were also finally finished to template.
Then to brace and bit again, with the bit marked on the shank as a depth guide, and as much wood as possible is removed before gouges, thumb-plane, scrapers and a wonderful abrasive called Abranet are employed to give the back, ribs and cylinder areas their final thicknesses. A clock dial calliper was used, just as it would when thicknessing a violin or cello.
A crossgrain willow reinforcement was prepared for the endgrain wood at the base of the instrument, which was now only just over a couple of millimetres thick, both fragile and susceptible to seasonal movement. Endgrain wood was well glue sized, then the reinforcement glued in. I considered the cylindrical areas, being left thicker for structural reasons, were safe enough so they were left as carved.
Then a willow block to receive the endpin is glued in, finally willow linings bent and fitted.
The jig was employed again to hold the crwth rigidly as the area which would receive the table was cleaned up and flattened – using a router this is a very ticklish job. It is best performed with multiple passes, each taking off only a small amount of wood, and retaining an awareness of the possible effects of direction of blade rotation. The jig is held and slid along a fence enabling the step where the yoke, neck and table join to be cut cleanly and accurately. Although the crwth’s final outline has yet to be established, round internal corners prepare for this later operation.
At this point it’s a good idea to glue size all the surfaces which will take the table with dilute hide glue until they won’t absorb any more, otherwise when the table is glued on these surfaces, particularly endgrain, will suck glue in and the joint will be glue starved.
A brand and label are the final additions before closing.
The table is some very stiff spruce with some attractive hazel figuring. On the outward face only I tapered it a little towards the edges, giving the front a subtle dome. Holes were sawn, knife cut, sized with dilute hide glue, cut again, then gently trued with a cello endpin reamer turned the wrong way. At the same time little glue sizing to the under edge is a good idea, for the reasons already mentioned.
Many clamps – these are both violin and cello closing clamps. For those not familiar with the procedure, table is clamped to body dry but in final position, taking great care the centre line and orientation of soundholes to neck is correct, and that the joint to the yoke and neck is tight and closed – overlap on the edges doesn’t matter and will be cut away later. In gluing, a couple of clamps at a time are removed, and freshly made strong hide glue is slipped in with a thin palette knife, then the clamps replaced, the next two removed and so on, all the way round.
Some scrap wood is taped in place to protect the fingerboard joint from being compromised by handling etc.
Clamps removed, front now glued on, ready for the fingerboard.