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Shop Talk

Making a violin or viola by hand from wood selection to varnish and final set up.

I am constantly adding to and refining my technique with the varnishes I make.

A viola in progress
don leister violins wood collection.jpg

Every string instrument begins from a hand-selected block of imported aged tonewood. 

Most of my wood is aged at least ten years, and some of it 30 or more before I make an instrument from it.

16 1/2 " viola in progress...

Copy of Don Leister Violins (6 of 20).jp

Working with templates and light

to shape the arching.

ed haley fiddle copy.jpg

My copy of Ed Haley’s fiddle,

with imitation cracks and schmutz.

don leister violin shop photos (2 of 12)

Applying my handmade varnish using spruce resin collected from the Maine woods.

don leister violin shop photos (7 of 12)

Using a black light to spot areas I may have missed on this violin.

don leister violin shop photos (1 of 12)