Making a violin case

In 2017, I spent a good deal of time making a violin presentation case for my AS-level Product-Design coursework. I wanted to design & create something which combined fine woodworking, traditional design, trying things completely new to me, and functionality. This led me to ultimately choose a design that would be able to protect a violin (within reason) and show it off well.

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Above is my finished product. The exterior draws influence from the famous “Apostle” cases by the W.E. Hill firm, and the interior draws influence from the cases made by M.A Gordge and Desmond Timms; both of whom’s cases wonderfully demonstrate the traditional English style of case-making.

A bit of context… The Apostle Cases (12 to be exact) by Hills were elaborately made and for a very good reason; they were used to house several fine Stradivari instruments… in fact, these are considered to be the Stradivari of the case world. They display intricate marquetry, exotic veneering, and all round sophistication & elegance. As my product was intended to solely be a presentation case (not for travelling), I felt that these cases would be an exemplar figure to follow from.

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One of the 12 Hill Apostle Cases c.1880 – Courtesy of Sean Bishop

IMG_9635My case involves use of quilted maple veneer (The Apostle cases made use of Satinwood) ;it’s flaming, refraction, & colour help to give a great sense of elegance to it. The use of a brass swan-neck handle bears inspiration from the Hills cases, however you may note that I placed my handle on the front of the case, for easier carrying.

IMG_9693There are some fundamentals in the design of cases that should never change; this includes the shape of a case’s lid which in the instance of any wooden product, should generally be arched or domed as this will always give the greatest strength to the top of a case. Originally I was heading in the direction of making a flat lid but Desmond Timms assured me this would be bad idea for many reasons… weak bearing strength…. too simplistic… my case would look like a coffin… that I had the ability to make an arched lid and that I shouldn’t shy away from it.

I wanted to include more fine details to the exterior such as inlays and more discrete latches, but due to the nature of this project (school coursework) I was time-constrained and didn’t want to make too many risks- especially considering that this was my first time making anything of the kind.

As for the interior, I had already set my mind on styling it like an English case, it just so happened to be a great coincidence that Mr. Timms messaged me saying he’d be happy to offer any advice and answer any questions that I had; I certainly took this up.

IMG_9662Before this project, I was clueless as to how cases were furnished but from Mr. Timms, I learnt many valuable pieces of information. I also studied as many photos of his work as I could to understand how the general case interior should be presented. My thanks go out to Mr. Timms for his support.img_9671.jpg

Overall, this was a very valuable experience; I learnt and tried many new things, I faced many difficulties and problems, I enhanced skills I was already familiar with but ultimately I produced a case that I was happy with. I certainly wouldn’t mind making something like this again.

Check out Desmond Timm’s work here

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