Purfling experiments: Secrets of the strips

Newsletter1 (Blog Banner) (3)

Mike Dunham describes a purfling process proposed at the Oberlin workshop in 2022

The black lines around the edge of nearly all instruments in the violin family are called purfling. This decorative inlay also has a practical purpose – to minimise cracking of the thin top and back plates near their edges. What looks like a set of parallel black lines is usually the edge view of a black–white–black wood sandwich, placed in a carefully carved channel in the plate. While the ‘white’ layer is a naturally light-coloured wood, the black layers are usually dyed black to obtain the strong contrast between the light and dark layers. The sandwich can be pre-formed into a laminate strip, as shown in figure 1, or applied as three individual layers and glued into the channel…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.