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catnip

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  1. It has been a few weeks since I varnished the violin. I have just finished my polishing routine before doing the final setup. This spruce top has an extraordinary grain pattern that is not so common that I would like to share.
  2. Just a follow up: It is time to varnish the violin. After a general clean up I applied a 4% solution of NaNO3 (sodium nitrite) to darken the spruce top without grain reversal. After that I sealed the top with a couple of coats of diluted shellac. I decided that best color to highlight the maple grain would be a golden amber brown. I applied a weak FxColor Amber plus a drop or two of Raw Sienna water stain to the back and ribs followed by clear oil varnish ground coat. Here is the violin after 2 coats of amber oil varnish.
  3. I use something similar to the wolverine grinding jig. Mine has a height adjustable V-arm support end and an adjustable rod length. My grinder has a soft "green" stone wheel and a rubber polishing wheel. Lee Valley discontinued these rubber wheels for safety issues. The gouge sits in the V support and the length is adjusted to the angle of the gouge. Just rotate the gouge in the support and check the progression towards the tip with the help of a black magic marker.
  4. Just an update: I tried all the non invasive suggestions and none of them worked. Alcohol (using a buffing pad ) was my last attempt but I noticed it started to soften the varnish so I stopped. It had no effect on the 'blushing". Jezzupe was right. The moisture was trapped under the varnish. This particular back has typical cherry figure (flame) which occurs in patches and has a nice chatoyance. I suspect some of these patches are more permeable than others. This is common when you lay a first or second coat of varnish on a back you will see that certain areas absorb more than others. I believe that the moisture entered through these "permeable" patches but from the inside so it indeed was trapped under the varnish.
  5. Thanks for the detailed explanation, Jezzupe. I have a few spare varnished plates to experiment with and I am trying to introduce a similar blush "water" stain.
  6. I have a violin that been over humidified and has suffered the usual problems which are repairable such as open seams and a lowered fingerboard projection. But it has some cloudy foggy patches randomly distributed on the back and ribs which is typical of what one sees on varnished coffee tables where a coaster was not used. I have searched MN but this issue has not been addressed specifically. There are many solutions (methods) that seem to work for varnished furniture but may not be specific to violin oil varnish. I would be interested in some suggestions before I proceed.
  7. These are tools I use for fitting a soundpost. From left to right: soundpost pliers with small soldered brass semi cylinders dipped liquid plastic, standard soundpost setter, soundpost length gauge with a wire position indicator, thin brass (0.06mm) gap checker, one of several soundpost blocks cut to various angles from 5 degrees to 9 degrees. ( most common are 6 and 7 degrees). The maple wedge is used to help insert the sp then it is removed and the top of the soundpost is cut with very sharp flat chisel. I use a thin strip of green masking tape to represent the bridge position and a pencil line to mark the right foot of the bridge. Profiling the inside cross arch at the soundpost location makes fitting the soundpost easier. Here the top has a 7 degree angle (higher arch) and the bottom has a 6 degree angle (lower arch).
  8. I like to cut the outer f-hole marks after I glue the top because the lower wing has much more support and it is easier to hold the violin. I used to do this with a compass arc from lower corner of the wing but I was shown this alternative method which works quite well. An extended line drawn from the opposite lower f-hole corner through the inner notch locates pretty much the same position. To round the saddle I use a sanding stick (80 - 120 grit) and a sheet of paper for contrast. It is then finished with a small 220 grit sanding stick and polished with 400 grit followed by clean up from the ebony dust. There are a couple major things left: the soundpost and bridge. A few minor things left to do : rounding the top and back outside edges, chamfering the button, rounding the peg shafts, cutting the string grooves for the nut and general cleanup and review of all the details.
  9. I like to set the pegs in a white violin to ~12-13 mm to the peg collar or around 38-39 mm to the top of the peghead. Because the peg walls are tapered these are only approximate measurements since it depends how it is measured. After varnishing the pegs will be set in a bit further. To cut the excess peg protrusion I use a small wooden peg holder (various diameters) while I cut around the pencil line. It is best to rotate the peg while cutting to avoid a small split which may occur at the end of the cut. To drill the peg holes I use a small dremel drill press dedicated to this task. I set it to the lowest speed.
  10. I use a small drill (5/32") for the peg holes because it allows any alignment errors to be corrected early. A 4/4 reamer can correct a small alignment error but can lead to problems if the misalignment is large. The holes end up being a bit elliptical and then bushings are required. The first check is done with a small wooden skewer. Any small adjustments are marked with a pencil arrow and fixed with a small circular rasp on both sides of the pegbox. After that I use my 1/2 size reamer to fit small test pegs to check the alignment both horizontally and vertically. Because the pegbox is slightly tapered it is easy to be slightly off. A (window) grid system is also useful.
  11. The nut is squared to fit tightly and then trimmed to fit the neck width. The final shaping is done after it is temporarily glued with an 80 grit sanding stick until the approximate string heights are reached. I protect the scroll with plastic and use a white sheet of paper for background contrast during the shaping. The final finishing will be done using progressively finer sandpaper up to 800 grit... etc
  12. I use the same method as used on the neck mortise. Mark the inner cut dot and outer reference dot. Cut a straight line across just above the purfling. Remove half of the edge, deepen the cut and remove the rest of the edge then clean everything with a scraper. I also leave a small expansion gap between the ebony and spruce to avoid a future saddle crack.
  13. To carve the neck root I first trim the button carefully with a flat chisel. Then I draw a 22 mm circle centered 6 mm above the purfling which allows me to pencil in an area which can be easily removed with a small saw. Next I use a rasp and a knife the begin shaping the root. The masking tape is there to protect the neck from errant knife marks. The circular shape is approximated using a flat chisel and the upper part is shaped with a fine cut rasp.
  14. After several dry runs checking both the alignment and projection for consistency I use a custom cork caul at the bottom, a narrow tapered contoured cork caul for the fingerboard and one C clamp to glue the neck in place. It is also advisable to clean out any glue squeeze out before it hardens or has a chance to soak into the neck. This can cause some "ghosting" when varnishing.
  15. When you cut the mortise you lose your center dot and the inner dots. The outer dots act as reference so that you can widen the mortise evenly. I use the same technique when fitting the saddle. It is useful to mark a pencil line 130 mm from end of the fingerboard and the overstand ( 7mm in my case). This letter "L" is a quick visible reference and it will disappear as the neck is lowered. On the left the neck still has a small gap (paper thin) at the heel root. On the right the fit is much better with an overstand just under 7 mm. I seal the neck end grain a few times with hide glue. I use a bridge to check the neck (side to side) alignment as the neck is lowered into place.
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