Conor Russell

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About Conor Russell

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  • Birthday 01/23/1965

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    Old Irish violins, and life in general

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  1. Conor Russell

    Switching glue brands...

    I've never seen hide glue, good or bad, separate into blobs, mold and water. That can't be ordinary glue! I really like the glue LMI sell, but I bought 3lb recently, and it cost a fortune in FedEx charges. I paid for the carriage, which was dear enough, but a month later got a bill for €37. There had been €3 import duty and €34 to pay for paying it! Ill ask them to post it in future.
  2. Conor Russell

    Oil varnish sweating

    So is it the already dry coat of varnish that's dissolving, or is it the the new coat that's simply beading up on the surface? I varnished a cello some years ago, where the second coat brushed out ok, but ten minutes later had gathered itself up into lines and islands, leaving perfectly bare patches several inches across. I've no idea what was wrong, but I concluded the ingredients, or the thinners, must have been adulterated with something like a non drying oil. I cleaned off the cello, washed it with acetone, dumped the varnish, and started again. If you rub down between coats you run the risk of contaminating the surface. And be careful with ingredients. Acetone sold as nail polish remover often has a moisturiser mixed in for example, and if you wiped off the surface, or rinced a brush with it, you could be in trouble. Likewise, isopropal alcohol can have castor oil added, I think to stop people from drinking it.
  3. Conor Russell

    Instrument finishes...the missing link?

    I think Roger's varnish is a very simple oil varnish. I'm not sure that he or Koen would claim to have developed it, other than tweaking the details to their own liking. When I was in school, we had the good fortune to have the chemist from the local paint factory teach us. He brought us on a tour of the plant. In the main factory was a kettle two stories high, in which they cooked huge batches for making oil paint. The process was very much the same but huge! And they used synthetic resins. Outside in the yard were six or eight smaller kettles, each set into a pit fitted with gas jets, and covered with a tent. They used these for small 1000L batches, for varnish. The process was exactly the same as ours, and they made varnish to order, including copal varnish for example, and yacht varnish. The varnishes were thinned just to make them brushable. For years I varnished in one heavy coat, but now I use three. Oil varnish is very easy to spread, with a long open time. But one heavy coat will tend to dry on the surface and remain soft underneath for a long time, and you must get the balance right or it will slump or run or craze or wrinkle. I've found three coats better. I use no solvent other than a little that I add to the pigment to help me mix it in. Several coats allow you to put more colour close to the wood and then make slight adjustments in the upper coats. And if you apply each coat as soon as the last is just set enough to paint over, the varnish will become a homogenous layer. For me, spirit varnish is so much more difficult to use, as the solvent always wants to dissolve the previous coat, and the whole thing goes to pot, so I gave up on it altogether years ago.
  4. Conor Russell

    Ground & Seals , The truth is out there...

    For my last few instruments, I've taken to grounding the spruce and maple differently. For the maple, I grind the plaster into the varnish and rub it in as a paste. It's hard work. I apply the plaster as a watery slurry to the spruce, dust it off the surface with a stiff brush and rag, and then burnish in varnish. I found that it was sometimes hard to get the stiff varnish deep enough to wet all the plaster in the maple pores and fissures. For some reason I'm convinced that applying the ground to the front with water is important for the sound, but not so much for the back.
  5. Conor Russell

    Del Gesu Kreisler: neck length

    I have a little English viola whose neck was just glued too, and it was fine for a couple of hundred years. When I put in the screw I use it to pull the joint tight too, which is handy.
  6. Conor Russell

    Del Gesu Kreisler: neck length

    I've used a screw instead of a nail in several baroque instruments. They work very well, and you can take them out without later if you want, without breaking anything. I don't think a nail or a screw makes a blind bit of difference to the sound. The only reason to use either is to make a more secure joint, when the neck is simply glued on to the surface of the rib, and a bit of the button.
  7. Conor Russell

    Frog- stick alignment: Is this a problem?

    I'd have it repaired. There must be wear in the eyelet and the stick. As the frog tips forward it puts pressure on the thumb extension. The ebony can bend and often crack on either side. It should be a simple matter to reseat the silver. I straigten the lining with a burnisher on a little sharp sided anvil, fit it to the stick, and reglue it.
  8. Conor Russell

    Time for hair to dry and reason for it?

    I often rehair bows while the customer waits. But occasionally they have to wait a bit longer than expected, if I mess the thing up and have to start again. That'll happen to any rehairer - from time to time, you'll misjudge things and make the hair too short or too sloppy. So some people prefer to have a bit more time, rather than work under pressure. And I wouldn't expect anyone to have a walk in service with having an appointment.
  9. Conor Russell

    Laser arching visualization

    For anyone on this side of the pond - there's one for sale in Lidl this week for €29. I'll be buying one for building work on my house.
  10. Conor Russell

    Laser arching visualization

    On the wood. For example when I'm making the long arch, which I finish first, I run a ruler and pencil down the middle. Then make adjustments and fill in the gaps till its done. I make notes of the arching when I'm finished, using the gauge.
  11. Conor Russell

    Laser arching visualization

    I have a 12 inch plastic pin gauge. It can be used on varnished instruments without scratching too. When carving , a simple pencil line is so useful. You can pick the thing up and look at it from every angle. The gunbarrel view of a line will show you a lot.
  12. Conor Russell

    Free Pianos

    Ebony for nuts and saddles, and look out for the best old cut screws you'll ever find.
  13. Conor Russell

    Scroll widths

    I make my violin heads a little under 40, because they look a bit too heavy at the 'standard' 42. I've just finished a viola whose head is about 43. I think viola heads should look light, wide enough that they don't look scrawny over the pegbox but no more.
  14. Conor Russell

    Pochette and unusual bow ID

    That's gorgeous. I'm really interested in the mechanism to tighten the bow hair. Does it take a pin through the hole in the stick to loop the hair on, or does the frog move? Also, can you see what tools were used to scoop out the inside of the boxy? What a fascinating find!
  15. Conor Russell

    Gouge sharpening

    Worth mentioning I think, that very often for our purposes, our gouges are best not hollow ground, but slightly rounded. I do hollow grind mine, becaure thats whatvmy grinder does, but hone off the edge quite round. Otherwise the gouge will chatter in a scooping cut, like scroll or edgework.