The strong hands of John Hoerster were tanned and rough with scarred fingers, but those hands were made for fine violins.
Hoerster had worked as a cowboy, farmer, woodsman, welder and mechanic, but he had always loved fiddles and wanted to make violins like his brother did. Hoerster learned to play when he was only five on a cigar-box fiddle he had made.
Once when he was playing a new square-box fiddle for a crowd, the bow kept hitting the edge of the box. To the amusement of the audience, he stopped, got out his pocket-knife and whittled away the offending part, then began playing where he had left off.
In 1976, Hoerster was recognized for his violin-making at the Music Crafts Festival at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D. C. He described it as a “mighty big doin’.”
Hoerster experimented with many woods, but settled on spruce for the top-piece and curly maple for the back. With these woods, a chisel, gouge, skew and hand drill, he made fine violins, violas, cellos, and yes, scarred fingers.
Source: King, Tammy. "Wimer violin maker remains fond memory." Rogue Review 29 Jan. 1979 [Rogue River Oregon]. Print.