This top had a strange pattern in the varnish. I couldn't tell until I started cleaning it that it was from exposure to smoke. My whole shop smelled like a fireplace as I was removing the soot. Pictured below is the top with some of the mess removed. I will need to check every seem for the glue as heat will destroy its bonding strength. so far it seems ok except for the end block that needs to be replaced due to a crack caused by a poorly fitting end-pin.Below is one of the corners as I found it. The gray is all soot and has now been removed. The varnish is actually closer to a honey color. I will be posting after pictures as soon as the entire instrument is cleaned.
One of the most deceptive parts of setting up a newly repaired violin is how much material needs to be removed from blank fittings. The picture to the right shows the before and after on some parts. Pegs and endpins need to be shaved down to size, drilled through to accept the string, cut to length and lightly burnished. The bridge needs to be thinned and the feet fit exactly to the arching, and finally adjusted for tonality. Nuts need to be heavily thinned and groved for the strings and planed to fit in the notch above the fingerboard. the same goes for the saddle. Everything needs to be lubricated with either graphite or dry soap.
The worst part is this is the last step before you can first hear what a Fiddle is going to sound like, so you want to rush but this is one of the most finicky stages of set up and if you rush you will just have to do it again.