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Melvin Goldsmith

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Everything posted by Melvin Goldsmith

  1. I think the seminal text on this issue is Ben Hebbert's essay here https://www.academia.edu/149100/The_Invention_of_Tradition_The_Values_of_Stradivari_Violins
  2. I take the B&G book with a big pinch of salt apart from the very informative UV photos. A resin ratio suggested there will scratch white in many cases and as Jackson has said time might not be kind on the analysis of resin ratio. My varnish is quite simple to make and not time consuming and I never cook anything for more than 3 hours. I don't use rosinates and I seldom use lakes. I only use historically verifiable ingredients. My colour coats are a mix of cooked resins and prepared oil cold compounded with turpenitine spirit in a resin oil ration of about 6/5. This is applied in thin fast drying coats allowing about two coats per day in good drying weather and easy application but drying fast enough to prevent insects sticking etc...The varnish is yellow in a thin layer, orange after more coats and red after that. I try to work fast and my varnish making reflects that...quite simple and fast. I won't go into more detail becaus I put a hell of a lot of work in finding a way to work for me...and there are a hell of a lot of ways to skin a cat anyway!
  3. Hi Mike. No lakes in this one. All colour from cooking. I don't generally use lakes or pigments for the main coloration these days although I might use small amounts as a 'tint' to push color in a certain direction
  4. I've tried washing linseed oil....not seen any difference for the finished result... I Use Kremer's cold pressed Swedish oil. To be honest I am more interested in incorporating flaws and fragility into my varnish than trying to make a yacht varnish so I don't bother washing the above described oil and actually like a bit of muck in the ingredients...I just thought I'd throw an alternative view in here
  5. There is ammonia fuming and ammonia fuming. Some top end peg and fittings makers stain box wood simply by strong ammonia fuming. Likely this wood is proven to withstand nitric acid and ammonia attack To accentuate sun tanning the weakest ammonia will do. Piss into a barrel and let the urine go stale and fume in that or find a cattle or horse stable in winter and hang there. If you want to use 50% proof ammonia on maple or spruce please be expecting the wood to go crazy...
  6. Always use the front outline if you wish to make a copy. Front and back outlines differ on old instruments both from the process of the original making and the stresses over 300 years. The front of a violin is it's main personality...It's face..if you try to fit the F holes to an outline derived from the back it works less well. Ideally if going to great length to make a copy one might use the outlines of back and front separately using a 3 part mold or something similar but even so have to factor in the fact that the copy will distort quite soon under string tension to a different shape...
  7. The Veritas PMV11 sharpens real easy...just feels like the real deal when honing and keeps cutting for longer than anything I have on really cranky ebony. It was quite a revelation for me. I get your feeling re Diamond Sharpening stones. I doubt anyone would give them a harder workout than you. I hit them pretty hard too and regard them as expendable items and budget for that...They proclaim to last a lifetime which I don't find to be true but the top end cabinet makers who share my workshop complex tell me that theirs last forever because they use anti corrosion hohning additive to lubricate their diamond stones and I got t wrong to just use water. I seem to remember David that you use Shapton? I have never tried these. I must admit that I only use diamond plates for flat blades...for knives and gouges I use India, Washita. Arkansas. The biggest revelation I can give is using CBN high speed grinders to re set primary bevels...these cut fast and cool
  8. The best modern plane blades are Veritas PMV11...you can retrofit them to other makes of plane
  9. To get work done sharpening must be perfect but take minimal time. I found a Tormek too slow costing me time and money making violins. I use a high speed Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN) Grinder for primary bevels and DMT diamond stones to sharpen the cutting bevel finished by stropping on the leather wheel on a Tormek. A craftsman should instinctively know the angles used to use a sharpened chisel and to grind and hone one and the same with plane blades. I have never used honing guides but know top pro's that do. What ever works fast is good and must be done perfect but if you are making your living as a craftsman you don't get paid for taking time to sharpen your tools and nor should your clients be paying for that time...gotta be done perfect and FAST!
  10. It's SO hygroscopic!...It's use will define the character of many violins made over the last 30 years or so and not in a good way.
  11. You cant really tune wood unless like a player you have pegs and strings to enable perfect tuning at every turn of the weather and humidity etc for every occasion every few minutes...A luthier cant tune a violin accurately to account for wood's inclination to vary with the climate it is in...Something just out of tune often sounds worse than something completely out of tune in general terms so in real terms tilting at windmills comes to mind...etc
  12. I'd normally expect a cello to wolf around E to F# ....I would attribute weird notes on D and A to something loose and unglued
  13. Whilst I might cook resins to color them I make most of my varnishes by cold mixes guided by what century's old painting manuals recommend for glazes etc which always has a concern for permanence and I want fragility in most cases...We get these great resins and oils from nature designed over millions of years evolution to protect trees and seeds and then assume we can improve them by cooking the hell out of them or modifying with chemicals....
  14. I found Veritas PMV11 plane blades to be a real revelation for working ebony. They are easy to sharpen but hold an edge longer than anything else I have tried on difficult ebony and believe me I am a steel and tool freak! I use CBN grinding wheels for primary bevels and sharpen plane blades on DMT diamond stones with a final polish on a Tormek honing wheel. I use the Tormek for re grinding knives but it is too slow for heavy grinding and time=money. The CBN grinder I use is an Axminster tools trade item and the wheels are these...they generate very little heat and cut real fast https://www.axminstertools.com/axminster-evolution-series-cbn-wheel-200-x-40mm-180g-105026
  15. My approach would be to listen to recordings of the Rogeri. If you like it then follow the grad patterns ( which I have not seen) . I'd actually go a bit thicker than the original in most cases l keeping the gradations in proportion aiming at strength and longevity. It's very simple to pull a cello apart and thin it and seldom required.
  16. Depends on the job....Fitting a bar is quite simple and quick but it does take a bit of preparation work. For me it's the prep work that takes the time plus selecting and making the bar and setting everything out. On one of my own makes it could be quite fast but for something old and valuable with fragile varnish a very long time. The actual fitting is simple but figuring out how to get it right and making a plan could take much more time in some cases. ....I never time it to be honest but even if you are not working to a time sheet for a job you must do it as fast and efficiently as you can.
  17. It has been a while since I posted here. I am still alive and happy. Very busy but happy to be back here. I have some work to show. Currently I am working on a copy of a Turin Guadagnini. I applied the varnish as I imagined it to look on the original violin and here it is with the final color coats on...everything needs to cure and dry for a couple of weeks before the antiquing starts. For my own satisfaction and the curiosity of others I will make a brand new version of this some day
  18. Water contamination is the likely suspect...Alcohol will draw water in all ways it can. You can feel this happen if you make a small batch of retouch varnish that is exposed to the air...soon it goes wrong just drawing in water from the air
  19. Hello Jim. Did the Strad poster supply the grads for this cello? If so I would be tempted to be guided by them in the proportions.
  20. Yes I have. ...Not with a UV torch or anything but my eyes but my instinct told me it's the same stuff....for what that's worth!
  21. I use artists hog hair short flat bright brushes that makers like Windsor and Newton or Rowney sell for oil painters as well as other makers. I use these for both very thick and thin oil varnishes. Normally they need a bit of use to get working well and I start our by using them for making varnish samples untill they are work seasoned and proven. Some brushes from the same make turn out better than others so I have my favourites.
  22. It's ideal if a maker can make a varnish they would be proud of and these days with all the information available I think that should be possible. Personally I don't think Stradivari or del Gesu actually varnished their own instruments at all. I think this was done by a third party finishing shop to their orders. There is no historical evidence for this but it would explain why the pristine Lady Blunt Strad and Chardon Del Gesu pochette look like they were dipped in the same varnish pot
  23. All the great violins have a wolf around this area...It's part of the deal you sign with the devil to play a stringed instrument. The player has to learn to deal with it. It's a bit like buying a great race car or a race horse... and you don't know how to drive or ride....Not going to be a nice experience...of course we can put a weaker engine in the car or castrate the horse if that is what is ultimately required or you can put some hours in to learn to ride
  24. I am really glad to see that some of my input here was put to good use. A home made shaver is a great way to go and what better endorsement than Bruce Carlson!. It's very easy to do with a bit of planning and I am a fiend for prefect fitting pegs. I have home made shavers for all sorts of tapers and diameters and it only takes a few minutes to make them. Thankyou Charliemaine
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