Trade Secrets: Preparing a two-piece violin top


An accurate method for sawing and preparing tonewood before the main process of carving the plate

By Rudolf Pilsel

Luthier based in Crewe, UK

The finest tonewoods are expensive and increasingly rare. To get the maximum usable billets out of a tonewood log (and to maximise profit), suppliers trim the individual billets so there is as little wastage as possible for them, but which leaves little wiggle room for the luthier as they prepare the billet for use. Usually coming as a wedge, the billet will require further processing or conversion that calls for considerable accuracy. In this article, I demonstrate the method I use for converting the billet from a wedge into the form required for working a back or front. It reduces the process of conversion to a speedy but accurate exercise, making maximum use of the material available…

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.