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A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: March 2021 issue
I have repaired a great many instrument top plates with cracks starting at the edges of the saddle. I wonder why, over the centuries, violin makers have cut out a rectangular pocket for the saddle and cut through the purfling. This makes the stress at the sharp corners several times higher than the average plate stress. The windows of aeroplanes are never rectangular with sharp corners for this reason. I was taught by luthier Edward Campbell in his workshops to put a radius at the corners of the pocket, drill a 10mm-diameter hole at each end, and cut the pocket tangent to the holes. This relieves the stress concentration at these corners and the purfling will reinforce the plate. Violinists and restorers in the next century will thank you if you do the same!
Ridgecrest, CA, US
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