Uncle Bob

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  1. woodworm - how can I be sure it's inactive?

    Definitely go the full time on gas processing. When I was doing repairs in a lab, I had a cockroach in a vacuum system for eight hours. I didn't get it much past 10^-3 tor because the insect was out-gassing. When a professor came in and saw that I had the vaccum system working he told me to clear it because he needed to use it. I said, "It hasn't worked for three years and I am still testing to see if it stays stable. He said "You are torturing a bug. I have a use for it that will do for the test." The cockroach showed no signs of having been damaged from it's ordeal up until the moment the professor squashed it.
  2. Flood Damaged/Moldy Instruments

    +1 on the vinegar advice. Vinegar is a great mold killer, and apart from compounds made in reaction to it, vinegar evaporates entirely. You have to be a lot more careful with bleach. I am not sure I would use hydrogen peroxide but I would use dilute hydrogen peroxide in preference to bleach.
  3. For one thing the acoustics are not what you typically face. For another, salt water. Nuno Santos Surfing with a Violin
  4. The Purpose of Ground?

    The method I like uses milk paint. The bottom layer is low PH to dissolve the casein. Lime and/or Borax work well for that. The theory is that treated leather is acid and the base will join to it better. (Alchemists thought so at the very least) The top layer is acidic and has oil in it. When the bottom layer is nearly dry, the top layer is added. When casein is combined in and acid and a base layer with oil present, the casein will cross link and make a very tough substance that remains flexible. This recipe works well on a lot of woods. I think it looks horrid on cedar though.
  5. The Purpose of Ground?

    Gladly. One example would be the classic violin finish with a ground. Most grounds are white in tone. After the ground is on the violin is usually a flat dusty sort of white shade and does not look all that great. Before the varnish is added the ground appears opaque and lets very little of the wood's character through. The varnish used is usually quite dark when you look at it in a bottle. After it goes on, it is thinner so it is more transparent than dark. When you add the varnish, a lot of the ground tends to disappear. There is still a light and reflective coating though it is not as evident. The varnish is more refractive than reflective. The effect is that the light comes back from the wood and has a feeling of depth as it is glimpsed through the darker and richer varnish layer. This method is used by painters. Gesso in the background and a lake on the surface gives a feeling of depth. I first learned this method while studying old methods of treating leather.
  6. The Purpose of Ground?

    As far as I can tell, there are several reasons for a ground but only a few good ones. Preservation, sound, appearance and strength are the only good reasons I can come up with. Two of the bad reasons, mystique and marketing may win over the good ones. Preservation: Putting something like borax on the instrument may help. Sound: Preventing the pores of the wood from filling could make for a better sound. It is possible that some ingredient such as borax might make the transfer of sound from wood to air, work better. Since the ground is covered, this would be more likely with a distressed finish than a polished one. Appearance: The classic way to give an illusion of depth to a finish in wood or leather is to first coat with a bright or even somewhat white layer and then cover that with a transparent but darker layer. The materials used in most grounds would seem to support this as a motive. Strength: There are formulas that are said to strengthen wood. The formulas I have seen thus far don't look like things I would do to a violin. If the formula worked and continue working over time, it would still probably lower the speed of sound by adding mass.
  7. Colophony shelf life

    Apart from having the secret to immortality, you would have extremely low and slow cooked colophony.
  8. What kind of wood is this

    I think it is ash, but it could be oak. I would need to see cleanly cut end grain, that has been blown out to remove dust, to be more certain. Ash would be more evenly grained. White oak would have groups of pores that are filled. Red oak would have groups of open pores. Most folk go by color but then most folk think a drying oil is an oil that damages your skin. As far as hardness goes, this is only a vague help. Ash is normally between red and white oak for hardness, but it can vary hardness quite a bit.The hardest ash I have worked was harder than any oak that I have worked. Oak is weird too, it crossbreeds freely and a lot of woods will have ten or so varieties mixed in. We say red and white and think that defines oak, but there are huge variations in Quercus. We typically identify an oak by it's leaves when living and by it's wood when dead. Even the range of qualities that identify red and white are not always clear. My general guess is that it is ash and not hickory. I would not bet any money on my guess though. The scent could have been caused by treatment with turpentine, so again, this is not enough data. Appearance of resin might give a bit more data.
  9. Pseudonyms

    Shortly after my joining there was an event where a few members of Maestronet were being attacked. I took the opportunity to change my identification and conceal my identity. Luthery is a hobby to me, my reputation in the field is unimportant. My ear is good, better than most, but not good enough for me to ever become a great maker. I have good relative pitch and my ear does not lie to me as much as it does to most. Sadly, my ear it is not golden. Sadly an ear good enough to be a great maker is a rare thing. I should probably switch to making banjos. I enjoy sharing my thoughts, but my thoughts should be respected or despised on their own merit or lack of merit. Out of respect for the amazing members of this forum, I try to give my best observations. I would rather that my good ideas spread and outlive me, than have my name remembered. Anything that I say that is true, is simply a reflection of the universe and I cannot claim to own. Anything I say that is false is sadly mine. For me, there is no advantage to use my name and tell who I am. In general though, I respect those on the forums who identify themselves, more than the cowards that make up the group I belong to.
  10. Wood swimming

    Show this to anyone that says that end grain isn't pretty. Then show it to anyone who says you can't put a nice surface on end grain. Thank you for sharing!
  11. The current "Golden Age" of making

    Thank you. I love it when someone explains something I have noticed but not really understood.
  12. The current "Golden Age" of making

    While disagreeing with you, I agree with all of your points. Sound is subjective and if a craftsman is good enough to aim and get the sound he is looking for, he will be able to make an instrument that probably sounds (to his ear) better than an instrument made by Antonio. A good luthier may have good reason to think that his instruments are the best made. I might not agree, but I don't buy a lot of instruments. The sacrifice of structure for sound is another big question and while I personally think we should aim for making instruments that will hold up to the test of time, that may not be as important a criteria to some musicians. Mandolin players for example are not giving up their mandolins. Mandolins have so much string tension, that their potential lifespan is substantially shorter than most violins. As we sacrifice one quality for another, and look for something to give so we can tweak an instrument a bit more, lifespan may be one of the easiest things to sacrifice. The charismatic personalities with their odd ideas make us question ourselves. They make us look and test things that we might ignore otherwise. I think these folk add something, even after we decide that sticking a plate in a violin or shaping ribs oddly or smearing something different on carefully damaged wood is not really helping us. I personally think that the first part of the quest for making a better violin is to become an outstanding woodworker and an outstanding designer. We have quite a few of those around. That combined with the sharing of data that we have happening today, in my opinion, makes this a golden age.
  13. The current "Golden Age" of making

    I think we are in a golden age with regards to Luthery in general and violins specifically. Maestronet, The Strad and the Guild of American Luthiers are just a few of the reasons we are having such a moment. I also think that individuals such as Dr. Nagyvary have made many of us examine our theories and results more closely and brought attention to the possibility of improvement and recapturing the magic of the past. I would continue this thought but I am busy this weekend. I need to go dissolve some bug shells.
  14. I am trying to make a Violin that can beat strads

    I'm still laughing. Truth is, we have Antonio's shoulders to stand on. Sometimes stomp on. The heights that he reached gives us examples. If someday in the future, someone takes the time to seriously study the weights, measures and materials I use to do something a few hundred years after I am gone, I think I would take that a good enough praise and wish them luck in their endeavors.
  15. I am trying to make a Violin that can beat strads

    I think it is possible to beat Antonio Stradivari. I wish you the best of luck in such an endeavor. To really beat Antonio, you should not count on luck. If you want to consistently beat him, there are a few things you will need. Before you find and use the best possible materials, you will need to be a pretty impressive human. You will need several important qualities. You will need shrewd logic so you can see past the nonsense and an open mind so you can evaluate all of the options. You will need an amazing memory to go with that. The minute list of details that you will have to understand goes on and on and on. One of the first thing you will need to do, is to become an outrageously good wood worker. No substitutions allowed. Even if you use cad, you will have to do hand work at points. The man you are trying to beat did amazing and lovely work. On top of that you will need is an outrageously good ear that does not lie to you. This exists, but it is rare. If you don't have this, you will never know if yours is better even though you may think it is better. This is a cruel requirement. Not many have it and obtaining it may or may not be possible. Without it though, you will only be fooling yourself. You will also need a great sense of artistry. The man you are trying to beat was top notch. His Little details were pretty amazing. I think some folk on this forum have done better. That is just my opinion though. If you are aiming for the best though you will have to be pretty amazing or you will have to copy someone else who is. You will also need to be able to play a violin well enough that you can tell whether it has the playing qualities that a great violin requires. There is no real substitute for this. You could perhaps get by with immediate access to a serious player, but that player will have to have most of the rare qualities listed here as well. Another thing you will need is a serious education. Math, Physics even Alchemy if you consider the finish or the ground important. Antonio almost certainly had access to the book, Harmonie Universelle. It has most of the physics detailed that we can use in a workshop today. We have a few things Antonio didn't have. Audacity, Helmholtz and Chladni are a few of them. Because of this, If you become Antonio's equal, you should be able to beat him. I think it is quite possible and I think it is a worthy goal. You could beat Antonio on a few qualities by luck if you make a lot of really good instruments. To do it consistently and beat him on everything, not just copy, but beat, you will have to be extraordinary. The sad part is that even after you beat him, the odds are that most people won't be able to tell. If you a decent person and share your discoveries though, you will always be loved here at Maestronet.