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The core of any great cigar box instrument is the box itself. I chose a flamboyant Graycliff cigar box featuring a deep blue finish and shiny gold lettering.
I used a Dremel with a router bit to cut out the Gibson-style F-holes. In the process, I was disappointed to discover that my Graycliff box was not solid wood after all, but a cheap fiberboard composite with wood veneers. Still, it seemed sturdy enough, so I marched onward. Notice the F-holes are only partially cut out, so it looks like the lettering and gold stars are floating on top of them. I used acrylic paint to simulate binding around the F-holes.
The traditional Hardanger fiddle scroll is boldly carved in the shape of a dragon. I tamed mine down just a titch, opting instead to carve my scroll in the shape of my loyal Chihuahua-Beagle mutt.
The neck and scroll were carved from a laminated block of hardware store variety Red Oak, using a coping saw, 1/4" chisel, needle files, and a Dremel with some engraving bits. The pegbox was carved out with 1/4" and 1/2" chisels. The pegs were made from scratch. I cut the rough peg shapes out of 3/4" Oak on a scroll saw, used a mallet and chisel to split each of those into two workable peg blanks, then fashioned a homemade peg shaver using a Pine block, a T-handle reamer, a wood screw and a razor blade. Several hours of twisting (and several blisters) later, I had shaved down a dozen or so decent pegs. I contoured the peg heads with files and selected the best candidates out of the bunch. The peg holes were started with an electric drill and reamed with the same T-handle reamer to match the taper of the pegs. I quickly learned that there is good reason to use a proper violin peg shaver and reamer; the hardware store reamer tapers much too drastically from one end to the other. Between a couple of my peg holes, only about 1/8" of wood remains! That ain't good.
The neck and scroll were sprayed with non-waxy shellac (tinted with Amber and Cherry liquid stains), painted with acrylic paints, and then finished with clear gloss Nitrocellulose lacquer. The pegs were sprayed with a mix of Cherry, Amber and Dark Green liquid stains diluted in Denatured Alcohol, then the peg heads were finished with clear gloss Nitrocellulose lacquer.
These nuts were cut from white bone (guitar) nut blanks using a coping saw with a fine-toothed (i.e. metal- or plastic-cutting) blade, shaped with large files and needle files, slotted with my first set of proper nut-slotting files and polished with 3M flexible polishing papers. You can see the horizontal glue line in the lower nut where I superglued two bone blanks together to make one deep nut. Gotta improvise!
Okay, they're not really fish hooks, but they are just made from run-of-the-mill steel wire. I bought a coil of it at the hardware store, but you can get the same (or maybe stronger) stuff by dissecting a wire clothes hanger.
The tailgut boasts similar steel-wire construction, rather than using the typical nylon tailgut on the modern violin. The tailgut wraps around the end pin, which I fashioned out of one of my spare tuning pegs. There is a wood block glued inside the cigar box which allowed me to ream a sturdy, tapered hole for the end pin. I also made a contoured saddle for the tailgut -- in order to prevent it from chafing the cigar box -- out of a piece of bone nut scrap.
Here you can see the tailpiece, bridge and channeled fingerboard working together in perfect harmony.