MURRAY Wills has always considered himself handy.
The Kaniva resident’s latest creative project saw him build an authentic cello from scratch.
“I’m not a musician, I’m what you would call a hobbyist; I like building model airplanes and things like that,” he said.
“I used to make underwater camera housings to waterproof film cameras. That sort of fizzled out because of a lack of machinery, so I retired.”
He said the inspiration to build the cello came from a childhood memory.
“Years ago back, in my school days, I was impressed with a local fisherman who used to build things,” he said.
“He had built a viola for one of the school teachers. She was a professional musician and loved his work.
“So I thought if a fisherman could make an instrument, then I could too in the future. And the future was when I started building the cello.”
It took Mr Wills nearly two years to complete the instrument, finishing in August.
He said the task wasn’t as complicated as he thought it would be.
“Every difficult stage, once it was mastered, I’d say to myself ‘what was all that fuss about?’,” he said.
“The wood was imported from Europe, and it’s maple and spruce. I have a blueprint with all the plans and measurements that I was able to follow.”
Mr Wills said he was already in the process of making another cello.
“It won’t take as long this time because I’ve got past all the indecision stages,” he said.
“I actually started a violin years ago and was quite convinced that it was never going to be finished because of how I’d gone about it.
“The prototype has been useful for me to how I go about making the neck and the scroll of the cello.
“It’s still in the raw, white timber at the moment, but I do plan to varnish it with great care. Apparently the varnish can compromise the tone.
“The procedure would be to make a mix of really strong coffee and paint the whole instrument with coffee water. Then you use gelatin as an undercoat, then apply an appropriate varnish.
“That’s the stumbling point at the moment – I don’t know what to use.”
He has no plans to sell the cello and will continue to have it on display in his Kaniva home.
“I’ve had a few people play it. The first one was wrapped with it, she said the tone was terrific,” he said.
“She had loaned me her own cello for me to copy and get ideas about the shape.
“The youngest person who has played it was a teenager who played it on Christmas Day. Then I took it to the people I bought all the material from, Whitehorse Music in Box Hill, and they had a good play.”
Although he has a very unique and interesting hobby, Mr Wills isn’t the only Wimmera resident who makes instruments.
“There’s a chap at Rupanyup (Glenn Wilson) who is a school teacher and makes his own violins and guitars,” Mr Wills said.
“I haven’t met him yet, but I plan to visit.”