All of the work on the “corpus” or body of the instrument is done. I will now glue the ribs onto the back and then glue the top on. To do this takes many specialized clamps called closing clamps. The closing clamps apply pressure directly above the rib surface.
This is when it actually starts to look like a cello, which is very exciting.
Once I am satisfied with the positioning of the ribs on the back and all the clamps are on, I begin glueing. I take off a few clamps at a time and, using a thin opening knife, I put hot hide glue in the joint. Then I clamp it all back up and clean off any excess glue.
After the glue is dry, I insert my label and repeat the process with the top.
I use thinner glue when I glue the top on so that the next person who needs to repair my cello (which might even be me) will be able to take it apart easily. This is the key to the longevity of the instrument. As humidity levels change in the environment, the wood shrinks and swells. If the top or back are too solidly glued to the ribs, they can crack in extreme situations. Open seams are very common for this reason, but they are also easily fixed with a little hot hide glue and a few closing clamps.