"This is my workshop diary
Here you can follow the making of my second cello."



To read from the beginning, scroll down to the bottom of the side.

You can also follow on Facebook Ida Johanne Kühn Riegels
or on Instagram Ida Riegels

15. January - Computer day

It seems like it went well and the glue is holding.
I started planing out the flat side, that is going to be inside the cello.

Apart from that I had to catch up with all the computer work I haven't done for a while. So many emails. 
There was 1.138 unread emails in my inbox... Now I'm down to 1.122.

It's never ending I guess.












I'm using my long plane as a straight edge reference.

The surface is still hollow as you can see.
The wood is so figured it is chipping very easily. So the tooth plane once again was very useful.










14. January - I have never done this before

In the morning I found out the side was not 90 degrees, so I had to correct that.













It is all about calibrating the jointer plane. My table is completely flat and even, the side of the plane is square, but the angle of the blade is tricky! - Just a little bit of an odd angle makes a big difference.

I found out that the easiest way is to feel it, rather than to see it. - quite interesting that our feeling is more accurate than our seeing.








I kept trying, but all the time a new twist or hump or something occured. At some point I looked up 'power jointer' on my computer, to see if I could buy one nearby.
Fortunately I couldn't, and my invisible teacher behindt my ear kept whispering "work on it a little bit more - then it will be fine."









I tried using a little scaper to even out every little unevenness. It looked perfect , but for some reason the two pieces didn't meet closely. There was some rounding apparently.
Well I thought about it. I'm willing to do almost anything to make it work. I don't think I'm lacking patience or concentrated effort or ability to be accurate in my movements - it kept being a problem with my ability to adjust the blade angle.

Sometimes you are lucky, and after a walk in the afternoon I tried to calibrate the jointer plane again - and suddenly it was there. Perfectly lined up!













I asked my boyfrined to make the last shaving because he is much stronger. Look at this wonderfull shaving he made. Full lenght and with both edgedes.











I made several rehersals of all the steps in the process of gluing. I have never done it before and it really helps to rehears.
I heated up the glue, turned on the heater and warmed the edges with a hair drier. Then I took three long, deep breaths and did it calmly and promt.















Now it is drying with the clamps over night.

















Look at this nice jointing!

The edges meet so tight.

















13. January - how much is 1/10 of a mm?

Even though the mashine helped a lot there was still quite a lot of work left to make the gluing edge ready.

I finally found out that this set up is the best way to plane the vertical edge. Awkward position to work in though.















I sharpened the plane on my Sheppach. Getting ready to cut with precision of 1/10 of a mm.












Cheking if it is sharp and biting on the nails.














The shavings are telling you if the jointing surface i perfectly flat and straight. The one closest here in the photo is good because it has straight edges on both sides. 

I somehow got one side straight. I had to take off my socks so my feet could grip the floor, and to push my back against the door frame to have enough power to do this job in an awkward position because my work bench is too small.













So it was really nice to have a helper who is both strong and very accurate.

















Getting closer, but this is probably more than 1/10 of a mm - will continue tomorrow.

















Resting my arms and drawing some baroque inspired design for a tuning peg.

















12. January - this is not what they did in Cremona

All morning I worked on planing the inside of one of the back pieces. It got better, but the wood is very crooked after drying for 10 years.

You get warm from this...!

My father in law, who is a wood work teacher, lives in the same house as us, and when he heard about my challenges with the dense wood, he said that I could come to his workshop at the school to use his band saw and 'afretter'.

I couldn't resist that offer.












Feels different to use public transportation these days - especially with half a cello under your arm.

On my way to Taastrup Realskole.











It took me about 20 min on the band saw. I still think, if I had the right kind of saw, I would have done it by hand.

















What a workshop!

And a sanding wheel is lots of fun.












Imagine having this kind of workshop.
- Imagine sharing this kind of workshop with other wood workers. I miss the meetings in 'Foreningen til Violinbygningens Fremme' - 'Association for promotion of violin building'.














Gert helping me with the 'afretter'.

So kind of him. It is probably around one week of work done in one afternoon.











11. January - How?!

It is not so easy to find a way to clamp the backpiece so that you can plane a perfect jointing surface that is perpendicular to the inside surface.

Here I tried using a long piece of wood to fasten in each end of the table with a spacer between the table and the maple. It didn't work ...
The thing is that I don't have the right workbench or the right clamps - or the strenght to work in odd positions.

The surface has to be so exact. Otherweise you will have a gap down the middle of the instrument. I can't imagine that is beneficial for the resonance. 













I read that you can also plane the two pieces together because if you are not making a 90 degree angle it will still fit.
I just wonder if it only works for the smaller violin pieces.















10. January - Waking up before the sun

Since I started building this cello I have been waking up early every morning, even when I worked till late.
The first days of the project, in December, I couldn't really sleep. At 4 I woke up because I dreamt a solution to something about the construction of the mould.











Today I trimmed the ribs a bit - careful not to take too much.

Soon I will make it perfectly flat on a sanding board.

In the meantime I'll leave it here at my parents and go home to Copenhagen to joint the front and back.










9. January - The ribs are finished!

It starts to look like a cello to me.

















My assistant checking the rib joint at the lower block.













I think it is fascinating that such a big instrument as a cello is partly made of veneer that is only 1,5 mm thick.

When you hold it up to a lamp, you can see both the flames and the yearrings.
















To have a wide enough surface when you glue on the front and back you have to make linings around the edge. 
I bought lime wood for this purpose. It is very light and flixible.

In danish 'lime tree' is 'lindetræ'.
In the old days they were the center tree of small villages. There was a circle of big stones around the trees, one for each house, and here people met to make decisions together.

Lime trees blossom in the beginnig of July and you can make a tasty tea from the flowers.












Gathered under the lime tree back in the days in Davinde at Fyn.











My dad helped me use the 'stregmål'. (I can't find the english word for this tool.) He had one from my great grand father that still works perfectly.













There was quite a lot of wood to remove.













Ready to bend.
15 mm wide and 3 mm thick.













23.30 all linings are bent!













8. January - joining the bottom ribs

On my way to the cello making workshop. Happy and looking forward!













My cello posing in the white landscape.













The challenging jointing for today. The bottom ribs.













I think this is ok.

















7. January - is this cheating?

I'm enjoying my cello making retreat here at my parents.
It is so lovely to be outside the big city. There are so many birds and other animals like this squirrel eating nuts in the snow.
















First time I made a cello I had to finish it for a concert tour by bike along the Rhine River. The deadline definitely became a 'live line' for the cello. I wanded to make shure I would finish it.

The lock down right now is of course an undesirable situation in many ways, but it allows me to work undisturbed on the cello and enjoy every step with no rush. I'm hoping to have it ready for a concert tour by tandem bike in august though.

Today I'm half finished with the ribs. Tomorrow I will make the last two. It is so satisfying, because they actually fit quite well.


I'm not sure if this is cheating. I really want the end of the ribs to meet nicely at the corners. So I made a lot of small wedges to press them together. It worked perfectly!
















6. January - this and that and snow

I woke up to this!

Snow  (:












the scroll posing in the snow.


















I like big corners that are sticking out, but I see that I went a bit too far with the lower corners. They were the widest point on the cello, meaning that when you would lay down the cello, it would only touch with the fragile corner.
So I corrected that by trimming the corners a bit.










Used my favorite litte brass plane that I bought in Cambridge at the summer scool in 2017. 

















5. January - Changing plans

Today I planned to compose some music for a radio teater called Akt1. We planned to meet in the weekend to record it.

BUT... at 3 PM our prime minister broardcasted a press confrence, telling that from tomorrow it is not allowed to meet more than 5 people, and gave a strong appeal to everybody in Denmark to cancel everything you can.

Therefore our recording of course also has to be postponed.







I went for a walk thinking about the coming months that seems to be a long lock down with very little, or no, opportunities to perform and make music with other musicians.

It is actually ok with me. I have performed so much for some years (100 + concerts pr year), it is nice to get a chance to renew my approach - how to live a balanced life as an independent musician.







Instead of composing in the evening, I glued in the second C-bout.

I prepared by adding wax to the mould, where the glue should not bind.
















Even though I carefully made some blocks for gluing, the way I could make it fit the tightest was just using the clamps directly on the wood.












A nice fit I would say.













4. January - Sunny Monday

Sunshine and minus 2 C for the first time in a long time! And the day has gained 14 min of light.

















First try of sawing out the scroll with a jig saw. - Still daylight.
The blade was totally bunt and too short. The wood started burning.

All the shops are closed until January 17th due to the hight covid infection rate, but fortunately I found out that a near by tool seller had a klick and collect system.














A rought cutting out in the dark with a new long and sharp blade.

















Later I glued in the first C-bout using special blocks that i made yesterday.













Even though I checked before gluing, one corner didn't fit perfectly as I did it for real.
It might be hard to see, but it is on the lower right side of the thin veneer.
I hope it will be ok anyway. Maybe some exstra glue or a little fitted piece of wood will fix it.











3. January - Radio interview and correcting an error

Why does this happen? 
One of the thin maple ribs made strange foldings while I was bending it.

Fortunately I had a spare piece for a second try.











Bending a new rib in my mom's ceramic workshop while she was preparing a new glace.

















Also today there was an interview with me in the radio about the 'Fiery Soul' award that I won.

If you read Danish here is an article: DR.dk article










2. January - My assistant and a charismatic scroll

My parent's cat seems to be equally interested in cello making as I am. It is always good with assistance.

I never thought I would spend 3 days making my own design for the scroll. I have made so many paper versions with tiny differences that changes the expression of the shape a lot! - If you ask me.









...But I keep coming back to this one by Guadagnini. Telling my self that it does look really nice, and at the same time thinking - should I really make such a curvy, dramatic one instead of my own design?

I just love how much character it has. It looks strong and swan-like. 

I have tried to make modifyed versions of it, with less bending curves and more balanced appearance, but I have realised that I'm simply in love with it. Wich makes me find every odd detail beautiful.

It is truly a piece made by a master's hand. So complete.

And since I'm planning to make a 'power cello', it will fit perfectly with a charismatic scroll.

I can't wait to cut it!


1. January - a rival to Stradivarius

Soon I have been looking at all the photos of scrolls you can possibly find on the internet.

I'm really fascinated with the odd ones. Especially the Italian maker, Guaneri del Gesu.

In the photo you can see two of his scrolls from 1744 and 1743. (Leduc and Il Canone)

Guarneri was a rival to Stradivarius and built his instruments in a completely different and more improvised way - some say downright inaccurate and rough. He was unbelivably productive and fast working. Probably produced a lot of cheaper instruments to be able to compete with Stadivarius who had his workshop around the corner.

The story even goes that Guarneri was imprisoned for the murder of another violin maker, but kept building even in prison.

The interesting thing is, that despite his lack of accuracy and finish, his instruments are some of the highest valued instruments, and often preferred over Stradivarius's instruments. For example, Paganini's favorite violin was the famous 'Il Cannone' by Guarnerius. Many other great violinists have also leaned towards Guarneri's instruments that can go for a price of 18 million Dollars.

31. December - Do you have an oppinion?

My first scroll.

I got the template at the summer school in Cambridge.

I remember the teacher asked what type of scroll I would like, and that I answered, that I had no opinion on the shape - whatever he would suggest.

That has changed since 2017. Now I have so many opinions about each little detail of this curl.
I like the shape of this scroll, but I think for my new cello, it has to be different to match the shape of the body of the instrument.











While working on a new template, I discovered the symmetry of the curve on the back of the peg box.

Somehow similar to an infinity sign or maybe just a cinnamon roll.

- Scroll spooning.










30. December - Nature's universal shapes

I'm going to design the scroll, and looking for inspiration in a book called 'Urformen der kunst' - 'archetypes of art'.

I think ferns and cello scrolls have very similar proportions.
















This summer I met a very interesting woman in Assistens Kirkekegård in Copenhagen. I was sitting outside with my cello waiting to play as part of a performance.

She came to me and said the instrument had caught her attention. She said a lot of insightful things about nature and philosophy, and told me that the spiral shape is used very much in ancient celtic culture as a symbol of the evolution and creative power. I think it makes sense. It is somehow an unfolding shape.

She said "isn't it interesting why they have put that form on the top of all the instruments in the violin family?" - It is.
Why is it there? 
It has no function. Simply a mystic decoration.

Unfortunately I never found out who she was, this wise woman. Because suddenly the the group for my performance arrived and afterwards she was gone.







29. December - a letter

Yesterday evening I wrote a letter for my nephew on a long shaving. He lives at 1st floor in the same house as me.

I wrote that he was invited to come and see my new 4 kg jointer plane.











This morning even before I got up and dressed, he was nocking on the door, very interested in trying out my planes... (:









28. December - getting exercise

I started to work on the wood for the scroll.

There was video on Youtube that explained how you make it square. 
I got to use my big jointer plane and produced a lot of big shavings.















Thinking about it... each one of these shavings represent a movement. I was sweating a lot and got the exercise of the day.

















27. December - More bending

The unfinished ribs lined up.

I found out that I can bend them more precise and slowly when the bending iron is less hot.

Very often it is as if I have an invisible teacher sitting behind my ear.
I ask my self. "Is this ok now? Why is it so hard to bend this wood? Is this the right way to do it? 
And the teacher says "You are almost there. Work on it a little longer. Make sure you hold that rib horizontal, and try turning down the temperature a bit."
And then suddenly after 'a little longer' it starts to look ok.












Bending iron on less stressfull heat.

















24. December - The Christmas calendar

Today I had no time in the workshop at all, but I made the last post of my 'Cello Cristmas Calendar' on Facebook. All of December you could follow the progress and challenges day by day.

You can see it on my profile if you like:
Facebook Christmas Calendar

Of course I couldn't make a cello in 24 days - it probably takes 4 - 5 months.

This is a photo of my first cello, that I play, and this new one so far.









23. December - Christmas heart

I didn't have much time in the workshop today, but I enjoyed making some more curly shavings that turned into a christmas heart.

















22. December - All days should be like this

A rainy morning. But after a run down to The little Mermaid, I started in the workshop.


















This is how nice and strait my corners finally are. But.... 
















... they are not square to the table.
I decided to see if it will work anyway. It is not that much, and it would be so much work to adjust it + it would change the shape from the template.
















I straightened one side of all the ribs with my new jointer plane and an improvised shootingboad.

















Very nice result. Straight and sharp.

















Time to try my new bending iron. 

It's hot!

You have to be focused when bending the ribs.

It took 4 days to prepare them, a lapse in concentration could be costly.

You neither want them to burn nor to break.













The C-bouts are bent.













Since everything went so well, I also started preparing the back for the jointing.

The wood is so dense. It was really hard work.











Finally a collection of todays shavings.













21. December - Christmas concert and cello making - What a combination

With visor, Corona test, masks and 5 m distance...

Kæthe Kristiansen and I played Christmas music in the atrium and the residents were listening through their windows.

It was worth all the effort, to see the Christmas smiles spread.

Actually woodworking is good for your bow technique because you buils lots of muscles. I have found out though, that you must protect your left hand finger tips when you rasp. Otherwise they become too rough for the strings.





I prepared all the blocks for tomorrow when I'll bend the ribs.
- Nice and square end block!












I used this wonderfull japanese saw for cutting the long ribs into pieces. 

Before this, I did of course measure carefully how long each pice should be. Leaving around 6 cm because you can't bend all the way to the edge on the bending iron.









I decided that the flames will point slightly upwards towards the front. I also managed to have all the nicest surfaces being on the outside.











20. December - Tired hands

Tired hands.

But concentrated work on adjusting fractions of a millimeter for hours, gives a special peace of body and mind.

Now the ribs are really ready for next step.












19. December - Workshop hygge

Still working on rib thickness and trimming the corners. - And again trying to sharpen that scraper...!













It was as if a cloud had fallen down over Copenhagen today.













18. December  - Scaper dust...


Spent all day trying to sharpen my scaper.

It's a mystery to me how it is done. As explained in an earlier post, I have tried my best since the first cello.
I ended up ordering a Veritas Scraper sharpener from a Czech website. I hope it comes soon!














Nyhavn by night - aound the corner where I live.

Usually it is so busy here at this time of the year.
Now its almost totally empty.












17. December - Travel and gouging

That's how it looks when you travel with a finished and a half finished cello...

I woke up with a sore throat and decided to leave my parents's house, so that I would not infect them. It is probably nothing, but better safe than sorry these days.















I spent all day restoring this inside bevel gouge.

And it was woth it.

All people shoud know the joy of cutting soft spruce with a sharp gouge.

- The sound and the feeling like going through butter.

Here is a short video from Facebook: Gouge video












16. December  - The forbidden... (Ribs 3)

It takes lots of effort to make the ribs.

This is how they look after using the tooth plane.
















I wanted to use a scaper to smoothen out th surface, but I couldn't get it sharp. 

It has been my week spot since the first cello I made. I don't know why it doesnt work when I try to sharpen it with my burnisher. It looks very easy and I'm doing exactly as in the videos on Youtube, but they just make dust - the scapers.

So I ended up using sandpaper, even though I was taought that sandpaper is forbidden when you make a cello.
"You force innumerable small quartz crystals into the wood." They explained at the summer school in Cambridge.

It is far from finished here, but still improved.






I worked until midnight, thinking it must have an end with these ribs...

Today I also saw a press conference from the government. Now they are closing all malls from tomorrow and sending children home from scool because of the rising covid infection rate.








15. December - Santas beard (Ribs 2)

Surprising that just 1 mm of each rib turns into so many shavings.

I'm also surprised how long it takes to do this.
















It almost looks like a gigantic Santas beard... (:

















14. December - Tooth planes are wonderful! (Ribs 1)

In the morning I started out plaining the ribs.

They are 3 mm thick when you buy them, and has to be 1,5 mm before you can bend them. 

I was stunned how well my new litle toothed blade works. 

Whis a normal blade the wood kept chipping because it is so figured.

The figures are such a lovely detail especially after varnishing, but it makes it very challenging to cut.







I went to a DIY store to get a bigger tooth plane, and then I made this wonderful big pile of  shavings.

















13. December - Ups... (Corner blocks 4)

As I was cutting carefully yesterday, suddenly the wood split in the completely wrong direction. 

I considered gluing back the piece that chipped off, but decided to replace it instead, by using an exstra piece of spruce that I had.















New corner glued in.

















I also had time to cut a nex toothplane blade so that it can fit in my Lie Nielsen plane.

I used an angle grinder












12. December - corner blocks 3

Today I fitted the corner blocks.

I thought I would have been doing this already Wednesday. Maybe it won't be completely finished for Christmas... 

But Christmas last till easter right?


Here is a video from Facebook: Cutting blocks




After the rough fitting.


















Earlier in the afternoon I made a sanding board and made the ends of the corner blocks even height.

- Or actually the lower end of a cello is slightly deeper than the upper.
One end is 12,4 cm the other 11,9















11. December - Flat is good - Corner blocks 2

Today I had to gather all my courage before gluing the blocks on to the mould.

I took a walk in the forest. They had cut down a lot of beautiful beech trees. It seemed like they were more than 100 years old.

I thought it was a shame. I like when the forest gets to grow wild. When the trees grow old until one day they fall.

But that is not how they maneage this forest. - And I know the wood I'm using for the cello has also been a beautiful tree that was harvested back in 2007, while I was still studying at the academy of music.
And a tree that was probably a seed or a tiny tree in 1918 when my grandmother was born.


Finally I had ajusted everything I could think of and cheked with the plexiglass template several times. 

I found out that instead of clamps I could use rubber bands to hold the blocks in place while drying.

The package of rubber bands I found was from the 1980. How could they still be fresh and elastic?!















I put the mould on a plywood plate that is completely flat so that the corner blocks will be exactly the same height.

If they are not, you have to cut a lot of end grain. If you have ever planed end grain you know why you want to avoid it. It so hard, it takes forever.

Now it is drying over night.





10. December - Corner blocks 1

Today I fitted the cornerblocks and adjusted the cut out for them in the mould.

The yearrings have to be in the right angle. You can see how in the photo below.

















This is the right angle for the yearrings. When they go like this the tip is less likely to break off. Because you have a strong dark ring coming to the tip of the corner.










Interesting to compare the mould with my first cello.

This Opus 2, will be slightly bigger than Opus 1.
















9. December - The mould is finally ready!














It's very important to make all angles square and all surfaces totally plane, otherwise the glue can't bind.

It's not easy, but when an old drunk italian could do it in 1777, it must be possible for me too.















I'm woorking in the room next to my mom's cereamic workshop these days.
It is cold, wet and windy today. We had a cup of tea.












8. December - Sore arms

This is what i started out with today.
Even though I don't like to ruin the beautifully shaped pieces, I knew I had to cut them to make the mould.
This is after all not the real cello, but just plywood that the cello is build around.















It started raining...














Indoors I rasped the surfaces where the corner and end blocks will be glued on to.
It really has to be exactly square, otherweise the blocks will not stick properly.

The wooden 90 degrees tool I use, is made by my great grandfather who was a hobby carpenter 100 years ago.














This is the rough cut.

















Late evening.
The mould is assembled. It is hard to see in this photo, but the two layers are scewed togeter with 3,3 cm spacing blocks in between.

I have cut out a 1 cm slice on the back. I'll have to cut three more, but for now my arms are too sore from 4 hours of jig sawing, drilling, rasping, filing and cutting with the old hack saw.













7. December - A collapsible mould

Thinking takes a lot of time.

The only thing I got to do today was to figure out how to make the collapsible mould, and go to a DIY shop for special screws and metal plates.

Here is a video of the draft I made: Facebook video

The thing is, that as you build the cello tightly around the mould, it gets really difficult to get it out before gluing on the front to the ribs.

Collapsible boulds can be very advanced constructions, but now I will simply try to spilt it in the middle.




I really dont know what thery are called in english.

In danish it is either 'Iskruningsbøsninger' or 'Nippelskruer'. - Sounds kind of funny in english...

They have a thread both on the outside and the inside.

I'll use them to assemble the two parts of the mould, so that I can use it several times. If it turns out to be a good cello model, maybe for the rest of my life.






6. December - The mould

Today I cut out the mould with a jig saw.

Like shoes, cellos are made around a mould that determins the size and shape of the instrument.

I was lucky to find the plywood in a pile of construction waste yesterday evening.

A jig saw is very loud, so I had to wear hearing protection.

Here is a video of the cutting: Video from Facebook






I'm absolutely in love with this shape.
You can see it as a hourglass shape or an infinity sing with the four corners. 

I actually worked on the relation between the so called C-bout (the waist) and the upper and lower curves back in the summer. I wanted it to have a wide, almost chubby look, but still with elegance.

This is of course only the wood for the mould, so I thought it was ok to leave it on the wet lawn for a photo with the cut aways.





I finished the rough jig saw work right before dusk...













... and refined the edges indoors.

Hopefully I'll have it finished tomorrow evening.















5. December - And I thought...

... it would be a male cello

I'm curious what it will be like to cut in this piece of maple.
I think it looks like two big eyes in the corners of the plates.














4. December - A crucial moment


Today cut out the template in plexiglass.
- It is so important to make it exact because it determines the final shape of the cello.

Today cut out the template in plexiglass.

- It is so important to make it exact because it determines the final shape of the cello.















Plexiglass is tricky because it is so flexible, but I got through with a hacksaw, a rasp and a small plane.


















Working in my mom's ceramic workshop.















3. December - The template

Most people probably don't know that the making of a cello starts with two pieces of parchment paper on the kitchen table.



















I made a 7 different templates out of paper. And I thought they got better and better. Each time with more refined curves.

After lunch I had a look at them again and found out that the 3rd one was actually the best.
Number 7 was really perfect, but therefore also a bit uninteresting to look at.
Number 3 is the 3rd one from the left, and it just has more character.








Now I'm ready to cut out the form in plexiglass.












1. December - The model

The first time I saw this cello by Guagadnini I kind of fell in love. It is so compact and charming.

It is called 'The Simpson Cello' and it is made in Turin in Italy in 1777. Today it is played by the cellist Natalie Clein.

I was quite surprised as I found the drawings with measurements for this famous instrument.
It turns out that, without knowing, I made my first cello with the exact same measurements as this one - wich is not standard size at all.

My second cello will be inspired by this model, but also very much my own design.



30. November - The wood

During lock down in the spring I bought a lot of tonewoods from a german online seller.

Today I looked at it all morning, finding out wich pieces will suit each other the best.

I love the one in the middle because it looks like it is watching you. It also has beautiful figures almost like a feather. 

The wood I choose for this cello has wonderful taptones and is quite dense. It is harvested more than 10 years ago in Bohemia.

I'm tempted to go for a 'Power Cello' for this 2nd cello. With a strong, healthy, loud voice. 

I can't wait to play it and hear how it will sound. 
In my head it is already finished. I just have to cut it out.