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Michael Richwine

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    Shawnee, KS
  • Interests
    Making music, Chinese internal martial arts, Taoism, cooking, my dog Clyde, learning stuff.

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  1. What part of Chicago are you in? Big town.
  2. The scroll and edges look a lot like instruments I've seen from the Dolling family. I've never seen a "Made to look old" from them yet, but I'm still young and inexperienced.
  3. FWIW, I just make up my own spirit varnish from scratch, using blonde dewaxed shellac, mastic, and sandarac and 190 proof grain alcohol, and thin that varnish down for French polish. I French polish using paraffin oil for a lubricant, and that has worked well for me for decades I went to furniture retouching classes and school with Mohawk, Guardsman, and Behlen and Furniture Medic back in the 90s, and made really good money fixing people's furniture on location, but while many of the furniture skills "sort of" transfer, very little of the materials or techniques I learned in antique restoration and furniture repair have much application in violin family instrument repair. I never did have any use at all for Qualasole.
  4. The one fellow I know who varnishes good violins all day, every day with oil varnish just uses one inch sponge brushes from a big box store. Been doing it for a very long time and tried just about everything else. Works for me, as well, following his example. For my own restoration and repair work using spirit varnish I use the best red sable brushes I can find. They last for years with care, so when I do buy replacements, as I need to now, I can't find the brand I bought last time.
  5. If you want to incorporate violin and guitar, Alex Svistunov makes cellos all day long, and on the side makes perhaps the best archtop guitars I have ever played, according to players reactions. Clapton bought one, as did Zack Brown, and George Gruhn would love to get more. I can't say why Alex doesn't make more. Cobbler's kids, maybe. Arching and wood are important on an archtop, but Alex has done some interesting things with the bracing, too, and this guitar works in a large group (jazz orchestra) like no other.
  6. Well last night, I was working on the same violin that had the stubborn top. (I had been making occasional attempts at getting the top loose and hanging it back up for over a year.) I went to repair the rib crack that was the reason for taking the top off, and found the crack had been glued out of line, wasn't a just loose crack. The steamer was ideal, for "un-gluing" and re-gluing the crack, and it is now a lot better than it was, and I can get on with selling the fiddle. I used the same rig to undo some slivers from a violin that had been repaired with Titebond. Steam has to be used judiciously, but IME it works in a minute or two, and if you work in an even slightly organized manner, and pick the condensate up quickly, the water doesn't have enough time to penetrate. You always have to be conscious of things like that. Steam condenses as it gives up its heat, so condensate has to be dealt with. So far, no detectable damage, since it's just warm water by the time it gets anywhere, and I don'[t give it any time to penetrate anywhere except where I'm working. I posted a photo in the other thread, if anyone is curious. $15 for a thrift shop pressure cooker. $27 for auto parts fuel hose. $7 for assorted copper and brass tube. $5 for assorted spring hose clamps. Scrap wood. The nice thing is, the default run time is 15 minutes, about right to get the system hot enough so it's not spitting, do the job, and shut off and cool down.
  7. Just from cooking experience, you hardly need any perceptible pressure at all to make a pot lid dance, and that wouldn't push enough steam through a hose to keep it hot enough not to condense. You have to have enough volume to keep steam live up to the point of application. That's one reason I was thinking about shortening up the hose. One alternative would be a teakettle and stopper with fitted nipple or any similar chemistry setup. As I wrote earlier, I just went with what was convenient, fast and cheap. The newer pressure cookers are self-contained, adjustable, portable, semi-automatic. I only wish this one weren't so bulky.
  8. The diameter of the pressure cooker lid is 10 inches, surface area about 78 square inches. Minimum pressure setting on the pressure cooker is 20 kPa, about 3 psi, and produces adequate steam at the point of application. 3 psi would translate to roughly 234 lb of lifting force on the lid. 1 psi of steam pressure wouldn't be enough. You could use a small pressure cooker on a hotplate, which is what I set out to do, but the newer ones are self contained with timers and other features, so I just went with what was readily available. "Improvise, adapt, overcome." along with "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without. Virtues of a military/ redneck upbringing.
  9. The pressure cooker had a roughly 1/4" tube sticking out on top for the usual pressure cooker weight, so I just used 1/4" fuel line and a spring hose clamp to secure the hose. On the other end of the hose I used an old sound post as a plug, drilled for a tight friction fit with the 3/32" copper tube. Secured the wooden plug/ sound post in the hose with a tighter spring clamp. Made a hand piece out of wood thick enough for insulation. That was the most time consuming; had to use chalk for a lube to get the tube through the hand piece, and by the time the plug was in the hose, it wasn't going anywhere. The only thing that gets hot is the hose itself, the copper tube, and the steam coming out. If I were to do it again I could improve it, but it's probably not worth the time, considering my schedule. It works fine now.
  10. The steam worked great! I made it with a steam tube that extends 11" -28cm from my hand piece, so I could put steam exactly where I wanted it. I propped the top open about 1 cm, shined a light in with my left hand, and played steam along the joint for a minute or two, then tried a knife. The steam condenses as it gives up its heat, but the whole process took about four minutes, with no distortion to the top, and I was able to pick up the excess moisture quickly. While the steam generator was hot, I used it to pick some slivers off another open violin that had been repaired with Titebond. I can't tell yet what kind of glue was giving me so much trouble earlier. The glue line was very thin, and it was still a little tacky after it came apart. I'll take a closer look tomorrow. Doesn't look like I did any damage on my earlier attempts, which is gratifying. Even though it's just a $2500 Neuner violin, I try to treat them all with respect. I may shorten the hose a bit, but all in all, the rig works fine. There's always room for improvement, but I have customers who want stuff done, too.
  11. Found a like-new pressure cooker for $15 at the thrift shop. It lets me adjust the steam pressure from 20 to 80 kpa. Also found brass tubing in 1.6 and 2.4mm OD, so don't need the Stew-Mac stuff. Only expensive thing was some 1/4" fuel line. Got plenty of cork and stuff and can get chemistry stoppers as needed but should have something to test in the morning. May have to make a more durable connection for the hose to the steam pot, and I'll need to maybe craft an insulated handle after the concept proves out. so far, everything is testing out just fine. Total budget under $50 US. Most expensive item, 8 feet of 1/4 inch fuel line at $3.79 per foot. Have to have the hose pretty hot so that steam doesn't condense in the hose, and you need a needle in the hose to build up enough back pressure to get live, wet steam to the point you're interested in. I think 1000 watts should be plenty. Just need to be double careful to keep everything tight if there's any kind of pressure. I've been scalded before, and don't care to repeat.
  12. Off to the thrift shop to buy a pressure cooker. Ordered a neck steamer from Stew-Mac. The needle's long enough to put steam where I need it. I'll need to be a bit judicious, but I'll report results. Thanks again to all who contributed!
  13. I have a hotplate and could probably come up with a cannula and some tubing that would work. It would be handy for other things, too, and worth the effort. Less potential for damage than impact, and I've got a couple of other bodies with slivers that need soaking and re-gluing after following a tite-bond job. Most, but by no means all, synthetic glues yield to heat. I was just about to go out to the shop and try a rod and hammer on the back of my opening knife, but I believe I'll make a steam generator first!
  14. Everything else is loose; it's just the neck block that's a problem. The place where I first worked made their own fish glue from sturgeon swim bladders, and this stuff was Strong and tough, especially when not aged, so I thought I had learned quite a bit about undoing glue joints. I'll try impact in various degrees. Hadn't thought of it yet, so thanks for that idea, and the techniques.
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