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Michael Doran

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Everything posted by Michael Doran

  1. I've done a bit of importing and exporting of my instruments from the US to Canada and I'm well versed in the particulars of that situation. Exporting/Importing between Canada and the U.S. is somewhat simpler because of NAFTA. I'm not sure how much of my knowledge would apply to exporting to a country in the EU, or somewhere else, for instance. If you would like to private message me I'm happy to discuss what I've found in my research. Best regards, Michael Doran
  2. That's the one. I have tried some of their other products and this was the best. The carbide ones are too expensive and start to feel more like the Arbortech- too aggressive. The 'aggressive disc' they offer wasn't very different from the original- the slots are slightly raised. In the end the original is what I prefereerd. I use it with a 4" Makita angle grinder, it was about $50. I like the smaller angle grinders because what's tiring is holding the tool while you work. I originally bought a larger one (4 1/2") with adjustable speed, but I found the extra power was not worth the extra weight. The adjustable speed was very handy when using the rasp type wheels, but I haven't used those since I got the hoof trimmer. If you're already using something like the Lancellot, spend $25 and try the hoof trimmer. I don't think you'll be dissapointed. Let me also say that this tool is dangerous, like any power tool, but I think it's much less dangerous than the Lancellot, both for fingers and wood.
  3. I make a lot of cellos and I think that it's not faster to rough arch a top with power tools, but much faster for the maple. I use a small angle grinder with a hoof-trimming disc. It's made by a company called Roto-Clip. Here's a link- http://www.rotoclipinc.com/products.php?cat=2 The original disc is what I use. It is a round metal disc with slots cut in it that have a burr turned up on them. It's sort of like an aggressive power scraper. It makes shavings instead of dust, which is a huge advantage. It's very controllable. Things like the Lancelot and Arbortech attachments are more aggressive, but much harder to control. The Roto-Clip is inexpensive and lasts a long time, maybe 6 cellos or so before I start to notice a dip in performance. It's also resharpenable. I also use it for my rough graduations, which was the start of this thread. The disc shape is a little too flat for violin arches, and really it's not necessary for smaller instruments anyway. Here's my take on power tools in rough arching. I'm still doing it by hand. I still have to control the tool and carve a good arch. I'm just saving time and wear and tear on my body. I'd rather spend my excersize time at Crossfit. -Michael
  4. Why would you put quotation marks around varnish rubbed in as a ground. Do you feel it's not a viable ground in some way? M
  5. Puns may be the lowest form of humor, but plateaus are the hignest form of flattery. :)oo
  6. What a great idea! I've wanted to try this for years. We had a big box full of beautiful old pegs at my old shop. I always thought something like this would be a great way to salvage them. What did you use the lathe for? Drilling the holes in the ebony? (Those old Logan's are nice lathes by the way. I have an Atlas 618, but sometimes I want something bigger.) What glue did you use? Epoxy? M
  7. Hello Paul, I've seen a few Testores and for the most part the varnish has been highly(over) polished. I think the original varnish was very thin and delicate which lent itself to that kind of 'protection' by shops. I do remember one spot in particular on a Testore violin that had been mostly left in original condition; it had a very fine lattice of crackle. I also remember some gritty, 'orange peel' texture on the ribs of a Testore cello, though my memory is not as clear on that as the violin, it could have just been gunk. -Michael
  8. I have two thoughts- I think it would be much easier to look at something and say "This will not sound good." So many things have to be 'right' to get a great sound that it's pretty obvious if a lot of things are out of whack. Saying "This will sound good" is harder, but I think saying "This will sound amazing" without any playing feedback is almost impossible. I'm fairly confident I could look at an instrument, say in an auction setting, and say "I think I could make this sound good, if it doesn't already." Statistically speaking, there are vastly more bad/mediocre sounding violins than truly excellent violins, so if you just assume all violins sound bad/mediocre you'd be right more often than not. M
  9. I'm not an oil stone guy either, but I've akways heard that you can go from water to oil but not back. I wouldn't attempt it. M
  10. Varnish. Yes, I would have to say that varnish is the best finish for a cello.
  11. I think I'm a little confused by what you guys are referring to. See the pictures below. What I've always called the cap iron is the part that clamps the blade assembly to the frog. It's the part that says 'Bedrock.' I don't see any way to adjust that part any closer to the edge, nor do I see why you would want to; it does its job of holding everything together just fine. The second photo is of the blade assembly. The shorter part that is attached to the blade is what I've always called a chip breaker. It's purpose is to direct the chip upwards out of the throat and to support the leading edge of the blade. I was taught to adjust it about 1mm away from the edge for general work, and closer for taking fine cuts when joining plates. I think even with a thick blade it must help to support the leading edge of the blade. No matter how thick your plane iron is, it must be thiner at the edge and therefore more flexible. The shallower the bevel, the more support a chip breaker can offer. M
  12. Many cello tailpieces are too short for a proper afterlength. I would rather see an afterlength a bit longer than 1:6 rather than right on or shorter. You could try a more supportive post. Ted White, the tailpiece guy, has a theory that the length of the tailgut is actually more important than the distanve from the bridge to the tailpiece. I'm not sure. M
  13. One of my friends has a 16" Northfield jointer that he had a custom spiral carbide insert head made for. The table on the Northfield is 19.5" wide so when he had the cutter head made he had them make it the full width of the table. It can flatten a joined up cello back. I have occilating fans that are louder than his machine while it's running. I was completely blown away by the noise reduction and the quality of the cut. It's definitely on my wish list, after a bigger shop to put it in. M
  14. I love the Stamm bridges. I prefer a slightly harder bridge as well. I buy all of my bridges from Ulrich Holfter and he always brings over a suitcase full for me to pick through. That way I get to pick exactly the bridges I want. Amazing service! M
  15. IMHO people who don't appreciate texture in violin varnish are missing most of the fun. Don't make another bowling ball. M
  16. I use silkscreen material to strain my varnish. It works really well! I bought a package from an art store. It was a little expensive, as I recall, but I only use a small amount for each batch. It says in my notes that I've successfully filtered varnish through my stuff at 100C. It much easier to filter when the varnish is warm. M
  17. Those look exactly like what I call nits. I think it's dust. It's a chore, but it did work for me to pick them out after the varnish has cured with a scraper. Patting them down sort of works, but the dust particle is still there to draw the varnish back in. I never worry too much about the varnish creeping into the corners between the ribs and plates. It always does that, and dirt fills in there anyway. It's really hard to put a coat of thick highly colored varnish on evenly. That's why I use thin highly colored varnish. I want a varnish that is highly colored that looks thick, but actually is very thin. I think less varnish thickness is better for sound. (I don't know if that is true, just an idea I have.) It does look a little orange in the photos. Try one more colored coat, and then stop. I don't recommend clear coats. What would be the point, you're just adding more varnish thickness without color. I wouldn't be afraid of texture either. M
  18. I always have to stop myself when I think the violin is not quite dark enough. It's hard to judge. I keep looking at the pictures in the Brandmeir book of the Tuscan Medici violin and checking my color against that. You could probably add one more coat, or you could stop. I don't expect varnish to darken with age. What sort of surface finish are you going for on the varnish? M
  19. Can you show a picture of this seeding problem? I've had some similar problems, I think. I used to have problems with 'nits' in my varnish. I had to pick them off with a scraper after each coat. The problem was that I was using thick varnish with no solvent. This gave me unlimited working time, but it would take me about four hours to put a coat on a cello. I was using a stiff brush, my hands, and some prosthetic foam. The nits were small dust particles that attracted little pools of varnish around them. Once I went back to a thinner varnish with solvents my dust problem went away. Now it takes me about 30 minutes to apply a cello coat, and my varnish dries in about 3.5 hours in the light box. I think its just drying too fast to pick up dust. Once I added solvents again my varnish was clearer as well. I see a lot of people now following after the Magister varnishes and applying very thick varnish. It just didn't work for me. Unlimited open time sounds appealing, but the question I asked myself was how much open time do you actually need? If your varnish is thin enough to brush out a few minutes is plenty. -Michael
  20. My mold is similar to Connor's. I use two pieces of 12mm birch ply with pieces of basswood in-between at the block areas and small supports in the upper and lower bouts. I cut as much as I can out of the middle. It's really light, which was my main goal. M
  21. Absolutely. I use two cutters with single blades. I set the blade out to about 2mm then run the tool until it bottoms out on the edge. Pick out the middle and you're done. M
  22. I believe the VMSA has changed their curriculum slightly since I graduated. When I was there you had to complete 8 violins, a viola, and a cello to graduate. They expected that would take most students 4 years, but it was really dependent on the student. I had some basic woodworking skills when I showed up (I had attempted to build some instruments, and I had worked at a cabinet shop) and I was able to graduate in 3 years. Some students took 5. I like to think I had some natural ability and was prone to making mistakes from working too fast rather than being too cautious; I think that helped me finish expeditiously. I view violin making school as a primer. When you graduate you are ready to work for a shop and develop your skill. Graduating shows that you are committed to the work and the career. I like the idea that it takes ten-thousand hours of dedicated work at something to attain proficiency- "mastery". That felt about right for me personally. In the format that the schools are working now I don't think it's feasible to teach an adequate two year course, but I think it most depends on what the student brings to the table. M
  23. My experience has been the same, David. The company's research says that the UV output of these bulbs degrades pretty steeply after about 1000 hours of run time. That's not that long if you are using the bulbs for tanning wood as well as varnish. But I haven't really noticed a difference when I've bought new fresh bulbs. I don't know how to reconcile those two things, other than the UV output that is required to dry varnish is actually way below the initial output of the bulbs. M
  24. Hi Joe, Your samples look opaque to me. Particularly the one with 6 coats on the far right. The one in the middle is better, but I feel like it's headed in the same direction. I've been working on transparency for several years now. It's easy to fool yourself into thinking your varnish is transparent. With enough direct light almost any varnish will become adequately transparent. I used to varnish under 'color corrected' halogen lights and everything looks good under those. Try looking at your samples under diffuse natural light. Seattle is kind of good for that because we get 'north light' from the south for most of the year. Also look at them under crappy fluorescent light. Fluorescent light tends to make certain aspects of varnish fluoresce because of the UV component. If it looks good under those it will look amazing under direct light. Here are three photos to illustrate. The first is under natural light, the second is under incandescent, and the third is under compact fluorescent. The white rib is for comparason, the cello is one I'm in the middle of varnishing now- it has two coats of varnish and will get two more, the piece is a varnish test strip from years ago which I dubbed opaque.
  25. John- I have noticed the same neck stability on my violins as well, but it's just a smaller problem overall with violins in the first place. Chris- I kind of like that look too. The last violin I made there was barely a blush of varnish left on the heel anyway. Ben- I totally agree it's easier to varnish a cello scroll without having to wrangle the body all over the place.
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