Work techniques



work techniques

Historical work techniques

I am using historical work techniques from the 17th and 18th century.
These techniques have their own rules, and as long as you follow them , they improve the quality of the instrument.

For example the soundboard. When you glue the soundboard while humidity is high it will split when humidity decreases.
This natural way of crafting has an influence on the delivery period.

Due to the fact that I use natural resources, i have to adjust my work into the rythm of nature. This takes effect particularly when i use hot glue on my lumbers. One of the requirements for a successful result is a steady hand. To ensure this, my work should be stress-free, calmly, concentrated and things have to be done with deliberation and passion. time pressure would exacerbate or prevent a successful result.
I do not use poisonous substances. On the one hand because I do not want to come in contact with them when I work on the instruments and equally on the other hand i do not want my customers to be afraid that poisonous residues could be in my instruments.

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What do you get?

In order to build historical I have to emphathize with particular epoch. The work techniques alway match those of Ruckers, Hemsch or Hubert. It is my aim that my customers get an instrument crafted like one of the original builders would have done it ages ago. You will not get a Ruckers or a Hubert as you can see it in todays museums, you will get the instrument like it was crafted at their ateliers in those days.

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I do not just copy their work, i try to feel what they felt while crafting and do the same. This way i can shape the instrument outwardly free and creative. It may look different to the original instrument but it is throughout a historical instrument.

It is not about producing something in most proper style,with a machine or modern working techniques (e.g. computer-controled CNC-machine),
to purport it to be historical. It is rather a question of understanding the character and the spirit of the builder and to use this insight in every working step.

Through this a lively instrument comes into being and it is up to the perspective of the customer if you see the little inequalitys as a macule or if you cherish them.

It is like a handmade clavier where no key is like the other, but besides proper functionality there is a asthetic overall picture. I conceive this like leaves of a tree. The tree is beautiful even if no leave is like another.
Many wish that all key are exactly the same. This can be done with machines pretty easy, but it appears to me just like cloned. The personality and uniqueness disappears in benefit of equality.

Nothing is more cruel than if everything sounds the same, without inspiration. It seems to be the right thing to give my instruments a character to reveal their personality.

Just as well as you identify the greatest musicans in their personality, something you cannot copy or transfer, is it my aim that each of my instruments is unique.
I craft unicum only!

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Characteristics of these instruments

Due to the construction and the materials do these instruments react different to those who were crafted not historical.
The instrument passes through a ripening process after it is completed.
It alters and develops!

You will get it in an impeccable condition as it leaves my atelier.
But it is not really complete actually.
The sound continoues to develop as well as the playstyle. You will adjust to the instrument increasingly.

This development of the instrument leads to some fine adjustment, for e.g. cutting the quills (adjust the sound development),
correcting the damping of the jacks, every once in a while you may have to replace the strings or have to do vernier adjustment of a jack.

Therfore i recommend that you make a little time for the harpsichord maker that he can teach how you can do these minor work easily by yourself.

There are instrument types that get a little "torsion". That is normal and not a macule.

Furthermore you have to take care of the temprature and humidity (60%). Heavy and sudden variation will detune the instruments.

Full particulars in the terms & conditions.

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Work techniques in detail


In my my ateliers are machines. I need those machines to saw planks and boards out of logs and to produce firewood for the winter.
As soon as the planks and boards are planed th the right thickness i continue with hand tools.

I use wood planes, japanese saws and chisels. These are my main tools to craft instruments.

For profiles i have a collection of antique profile planes. But this takes a very long time, so i use a cutter for simpel profiles.


I produce all parts that are made out of wood by myself. Even claviatures and jack guides.

For time reasons i sometimes buy jacks at Swainson or Vogel. If i have enough time,I produve them by myself. I use historical clamp strap only.

I produce several metalwork and wood threads sometimes. Usually I buy hinges, pegs, felt and leather.

I work the wood of the legs for the foot stand by myself or I obtain them from an art woodturner.

Wooden surfaces get plastered with a hand plane and substracted with a scraper.

I produce the paints by myself expect by some designated varnish.
Most of the time I use casein paint and gesso in the subsurface. It is a chalk mixture like it was use by carvers on the subsurface of their sculpturs
in the renaissance when they wanted to paint or gild them.
The paints are applied with a brush.

I often produce my waxes with beeswax and some additional ingredients. (resins or tung oil that was used to preservech the Great Wall of China)

Abrasives are depending on the use horse tail, triple, viennese chalk or glass paper.



When i glue i use some special sorts of hot glue that i have to produce by myself.
They consist of bones and skin from rabbits and they have an unlimited stability. In the Egyptian pyramids were things found that were glued with hot glue
and they hold until these days.

If I want to use a not self-made glue i use Titebond.


I always veneer with a particular customized veneer hammer with a historical model.
At that I use hot glue exclusively.

I am equipped with various veneers and saw veneers. With them i can create a appropriate design for the instrument.


I use exclusiveley solid wood. I have stocks of wood that are good seasoned.
My resonance wood is often up to 200 years old.

I use only boards with standing annual rings when i craft my instruments. I always use lime with lying years for my claviatures.


A craftsman should be a local person and I do not shun to say a pious person. Since many things he is doing will stay undetected.
You can be cheated by craftsmen just because it is possible.

That said it is important to have in addition to solid vocational skills virtues like honesty. The one who is shun, works faithful and honest, because
eyes not from these world are watching.


Company information  
Atelier Joe Rácz

Hatzfelder Str. 6
35116 Hatzfeld
Telefon: 0049 64 67 / 91 59 930
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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