Steve Fields dumped an armload of broken fiddles in my truck bed in February. And one cello. His faith in my abilities far eclipsed my own. The fiddles were relatively easy, centenarian to mid-1950s vintage. The cello required more work. Someone had tried to repair two top cracks without removing the top. The first thing I did was pop it off with an 8″ Wüsthof and my Gerber folder.
Next, a minor top crack was glued up. A clamp to squeeze together plus lead weights to hold everything where it is supposed to be. I’m using Titebond for all top cracks (and hide glue to reattach the top, bottom, fingerboard, anything which may want to be disassembled).
Then I recracked the worse of the top cracks. This one was all to the f-hole, barely attached. There was wood missing before I got to it, and more wood damaged by separating the pieces. Doing the sensible thing, I trued up the mating edges with block and sandpaper until I had a tight fit, losing about an eighth of an inch.
Before I reassembled the top, a small lip crack was repaired with glue and 8 pound lead weight …
I going to need some cleats to help hold everything together. Out came Pat Graham’s slab of Appalachian Spruce to make them from scratch. Cleats were then glued to the underside of the top. Again the lead weight provided all the persuasion required. The cleats (“studs”, the Brits call them) were trimmed after the top was together. Over half a dozen total were installed.
We’re about ready to glue the top back together. Prepare yourself, it ain’t pretty . . .
. . . but it appears to work near perfectly well.
So there is our top. Whole again.
Edited in January 2022 • Wow. Caveman Luthier! So much has happened since August 2016 when a loving mother and reluctant father came to my house and bought this restoration for their daughter, a 9th grader orchestra student. (Heck, Little Pete’s at 17th and Chancellor Streets was still open!) As rough as it looks, the gal had the best-sounding, most reverberant cello in orchestra. Easily, the most rewarding $4 per hour I ever made.