How to Unglue the Top of a Violin

Written by carl hose
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How to Unglue the Top of a Violin
Violin with top plate (facing) intact. (violin image by Kkatka from Fotolia.com)

Although it isn't recommended if you aren't sure of what you're doing, you can remove the front of your violin. This procedure might be necessary if you want a closer look at a label inside the body of your violin, or if you want to replace a damaged violin facing. While the best method for doing this is to take it to a violin dealer with qualified repair staff, you can save yourself money by performing this task on your own.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Separation knife

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place your violin on a steady work surface. Get comfortable and be sure you have a firm grip on the separation knife and the other hand firmly on the neck of your violin. You can purchase a separation knife from a music store or from an online luthier. The knife resembles a putty knife (thin steel blade with flexibility) and is designed for just this purpose.

  2. 2

    Examine the edge of the violin facing for any separation you can use to begin the process. It's easier to begin the removal task if you can find somewhere to slip a corner of your separation knife. If no spot is available, choose an area to begin and gently press the edge of the separation knife against the seal. Work the edge of the separation knife inward until you feel the glued seal begin to give way. Do not lift up on the facing at this point. You may cause damage to the body.

  3. 3

    Gradually work your way in both directions, working the separation knife against the glue. You may need to shift the knife side to side as you work, but continue to avoid any upward or downward pressure. As you near each of the four corners, push your knife in about halfway and turn it to the right, then work from the inside out. This will help you break through the glue joints. Newer violins are going to be more difficult to work with. The weakening glue joints in older instruments often easily break loose.

  4. 4

    Apply a slight downward pressure on the handle of your separation knife after you've made a pass of the entire instrument. At this point, the glue bond should be coming away from the body of the violin and you should be able to lift the facing away.

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