The Chimneys Violin Shop

Violin Makers Workshops
Violin Making BOOKS

Welcome to our
Violin Making
Apprenticeship Program


          Founder (1929 - 2015)                               Instructor                      
                Master Violin Maker                       Master Violin Maker              
                Edward C. Campbell                         Nelson P. Steffy                      



(Non Citizens: Our program does not meet US Government standards for an Educational Visa)

traditional method

Starting with just a few hand tools, you will begin the exciting craft of violin making. This craft has been practiced for many centuries, but the mysteries of violin making were known by only a select few.   Even today the art of this craft is enjoyed by only a select group of skilled craftsmen. You too could be a part of this exciting and rewarding career by joining us at "The Chimneys Violin Making Apprenticeship Program." Here you will begin handcrafting your first violin in the traditional method.

stringed instrument restoration

You will learn how to properly sharpen carving tools and how to create a mold for the ribs of the instrument. You will delve into the theory of the instrument and learn to work within tolerances of less than one millimeter, while carving and tuning the top and back plates. After all of this, there is much more. You will study varnish and actually make your own varnish and begin applying it when the warm sun of spring breaks through. This begins the final steps in completing a beautiful instrument.

During the time you are enrolled here, you will make 18 instruments, including 1 viola and 1 cello. You will learn the technique of rehairing and maintaining bows and the art of instrument restoration and other violin shop skills to make you an even better craftsman by the time you graduate.

traditional method

If you think you would like to become a part of this select group of special craftsmen, please let us know. We will set up a personal interview for you and show you the shop and introduce you to Nelson, and the other apprentices.


Care and patience is important:

traditional method

The art of violin making is not limited to men. Across the country we are seeing more and more women taking an interest in violin making. Women handle the tools with the same care, patience, and concentration as men and make excellent violin makers.

So, if you have a desire to enter this exciting profession, contact us and we will answer your questions, give you a tour, and help you get started in our Violin Making Apprentice Program.

varnish making at Chimneys Violin Shop

Varnish Making

Displayed here is a varnish making session; it's an all day affair. When the varnish is applied to an instrument it takes the ultra violet rays of the summer sun to dry the varnish. More than 12 coats of varnish are usually necessary to complete the process. Hand rubbing between each coat gives us the most beautiful varnish attainable.