And here is the box and shots of the dowel-through.  It will be screwed closed, thus the screwing blocks along the sides.


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very nice work. I really like the fingerboard - rosewood? Is the neck dowel fitter into the neck and does it slot into the rear block? I'm awaiting the finished fiddle.

The fingerboard, nut and saddle are all commercially made.   The dowel goes about 1" into the heel, and about 1/2" into the tailblock.


It looks really nice now with a few coats of TruOil.  I"d had trouble with that product before, but I believe it was operator error and not the product.  However, it is hard to retouch, so you have to be sure your surface is as perfect as you can get it before you start.   I had two little glue smears I noticed during the first coat, and I was able to scrape them off while the finish was still wet and rub more into those spots, and they are now invisible.

Looks like it's progressing nicely.   That looks like the perfect box for a fiddle.
Thats looking good Diane!

Hi Diane in Chicago.

Your CBF builds intrigue me. When I return to the States this summer, I'll be shopping around for parts for CBG and similar instrument builds. Have you put together a parts list for the instruments you make? It seems you start with a very long, yet shallow cigar box. From the photos your cigar box looks to be about 12" long by 5.5" wide and maybe 2" tall. Is that about right? You mention buying some pre-made parts (the fingerboard, nut and saddle). Who is (are) your supplier(s)? What do you plan to do for the tail piece and chin rest? Will they be from a pre-made supplier as well? It seems the headstock with its scroll is a difficult item to carve/make. Do you use special electric tools to build it, or just hand tools? I'd like to begin my own CBF build this coming September when I return home from the States. Any assistance you can provide would be invaluable.



Shopping list:


a box no wider than 5.5" - if it is wider, it will need to be modified A LOT in the waist.  Otherwise you will clip the box when you play on the low and high string.  The box should also not be much taller than 1.5", otherwise a factory chin rest will not fit.  Length -- as long as you can get!  The box should be as thin as possible.  My first one was 1/4" plywood and sounds dead.  This second one is a cedar (?) 1/8" and is really loud!  As loud as a standard fiddle.  My next one will likely be on a Padron box - there are a few lines of Padron boxes (like the 2000) that are 5.5 x 10 x 1.5. made with very thin plywood and are a proven box in a guitar.


a block of wood for carving your neck - 3 x 3 x 15 is plenty big


1/2" dowel to run through the box

wood scraps for heel block and tail block

wood scraps for general support inside the box: kerfing, screwing blocks, bass bar

thin dowel for a soundpost


tuners - i am going to try standard fiddle pegs on the next build - the geared tuners add a lot of weight to the head and make for tiring play


The following parts I will always purchase, but you could make them if you have the time/skills/resources:

fingerboard - with a double radius, which must be pretty close to perfect so just buy it for now.


saddle (where the tailpiece cord rounds the end of the box - major stress point)

3/4 size tailpiece (you can purchase a Wittner with integrated fine tuners or add aftermarket fine tuners)

bridge (get two, you will certainly screw up the first one)

chinrest (many many shapes out there, but you'll likely want one that center mounts so the pressure is on the tailblock


So far I've gotten my parts from this ebay seller.  He will make you a custom set of just the parts you want/need.  That is good because you may or may not want all the parts in a standard setup, and you are mixing sizes.


Be sure your neck mounts at an 8 degree angle, and you'll be okay!  I cut that one off first on the chopsaw and then cut out the neck with a band saw, and then carved the scroll using only hand tools.  It was much easier than it looked, so don't be worried.  This book is very helpful:   It includes templates for the neck, which are a good starting point, plus lots of general advice on how a "real" violin goes together.  I went a completely different direction when I mounted the neck, but knowing how a real one goes together is still very good perspective.


Standard fiddle measurements are pretty important to fiddle players.  They are, roughly:


distance from tail to bridge: 6"

distance from bridge to nut: 13"

overall distance from tail to end of headstock - immaterial!


Thanks Diane.

That's a good start. I'll be starting to collect my parts and drawing up my plans for a Fall build. I can buy things off the Internet a lot easier in the States, and if I can't find the ideal cigar box I can always build my own. I'll check out those web sites you suggest and will buy / study the book "Violin Making, Second Edition Revised and Expanded: An Illustrated Guide for the Amateur" by Bruce Ossman. I should see if I can get some rudimentary violin or fiddle playing lessons as well. Thanks a lot for your help.



Rent a cheap violin from a music store while you are here.  It won't sound great, but you'll get a better idea of the ergonometrics - or lack thereof!  It is not a very comfortable instrument to play..

Sorry for bumping such an old thread but what are your measurements for the sound holes? Also what did you cut them out with? If it matters my cigar box measures 10 5/8" long by 5 5/8" wide by 2" deep.

Much appreciated,


I cut them with a coping saw and then sanded them with the Dremel sanding drum.  They need to be even bigger.  The problem with most cigar boxes is that they are too wide and the bow clips the box.  A "real" fiddle is only 4.5 inches across the center.  Plus it has an arched belly so you get a few mm of extra height, which helps.


This one needs to go back to the shop for a bit of tweaking when I get the time.  Also, the neck at the heel is too clunky and I can take off waaaay more wood to cut the weight.

Thanks for the reply. Since my box is 5 5/8" wide how big do they need to be? What's too big? Again thank you for your time. :)

Length of box is immaterial.  The important measurements are:


6" from tail to bridge

13" from bridge to nut

4.5" across at playing zone, or aggressive soundhole cutouts.

1.5" deep is all most human necks can accommodate, unless you are a chest player, in which case you might be able to up to 2" deep. Also, 1.5" is the standard height for chinrest hardware.


Post photos!


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