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  1. @MikeC well that depends on what I'm trying to achieve. If I'm adding it to a linseed oil based varnish as a coloring agent, then I will add it when the linseed oil based varnish is ready in its cook to have it added. But the copal will have been cooked down already and cooled. I keep a collection of resins that I have cooked down for this purpose. I have also been known to use walnut oil as a base for varnishes. It takes a good bit of practice to use it, because walnut oil has a much smaller margin of error than linseed oil as far as cooking goes, but with certain coloring resins, I much prefer it.
  2. @James M. Jones I mean, it's crappy work but somebody has to do it
  3. @JacksonMaberry Let me know if you'll be in Cleveland
  4. @lpr5184 Once I'm comfortable selling it, I will let you know immediately. I don't feel too comfortable talking about that on the forums...kinda feel like it's a shameless plug and complete thread hijack. However, I will be in Cleveland and I will have some stuff with me so let me know if you'll be there. as far as pore sealing goes....oh man.....that is a topic. There are sooooo many things. I swear that I have used most of them at this point. It's one of my favorite things to toy with. My favorite pore filler at the moment is chalk. To be more specific, fancy Italian violin maker chalk, because of course. The finer the chalk dust the better for me. (and if the government is monitoring this thread, I promise the nitrates and the bags of fine white powder in my workshop are indeed for violin making) I have also used cooked down resins as pore fillers. The resin in the purest state after cooking is awesome for this. It is thick and gooey. Take a thin layer, put on some gloves and really work it into the wood making sure it gets into those pores. It's kind of an expensive way to do it, because 98% of what you put on the instrument is coming off again, but man does it add some great sparkle to the depths of a fine varnish. I think I won't get into any more options, that's a big topic. That said, if you have questions about any other methods of pore filling, just ask...I've probably tried it. Again, not saying I'm an expert. More of a conversationalist with experience Let's move the craft together as a whole. Better to learn from each other than to chaste and scoff.
  5. @MikeC Pretty simple stuff, I just cook at a low temperature for a long time. I use Manila Copal. Which pot I cook it in depends on the effect I'm after. I have a heating mantle but I only use it for some things. For copal, I either use a stainless pot or, more regularly, a cast iron pot. The cast iron will have some microscopic oxidation in it (rust) which will add some red hues to the overall cook. When I'm using the copal resin as a coloring agent for my overall varnish, this is what I'm after. It's basically a pigment for me. So low and slow is the key. I read it a hundred times and was taught it a hundred more, but until it actually cost me a couple of cooks it didn't sink in. I heat the resin until it melts down and I watch it carefully. Once it's in liquid form, I'm looking for the material to just begin swirling. That's where I want it to live for the life of the cook. Nothing more, nothing less. Then, like a good caramel cook, just take it to where you want the color. The longer the cook the darker the color. Everything else is feel, really with an eye towards the overall effect that you're after. Not just this layer, but all layers of the varnish on a given instrument. I keep the lid on the pot and disturb it as little as possible. I do stir it every now and again. But I prefer to keep the moisture in there for the cook. I think that's it. Happy cooking! an aside....resins are expensive. One way to get a feel for the idea of this is, as I referred to earlier, messing around with making caramel out of sugar on your stove in the kitchen. Much cheaper and it really does give you kind of an idea of the process at a fraction of the cost. And it's delicious. Cook some sugar down and watch it move out of crystalized form into liquid. The longer it cooks the darker it gets. It is just as easy to burn, so it gets your mind into being aware of that moment. also, you will see the different coloring effects of a stainless steel pot versus an iron pot as well- to a smaller degree but it's there.
  6. I am pretty new to the forums here, so forgive me for some things, and feel free to help me along with other things I was reading this thread and because of it's current nature, I figured I would chime in and offer any words that I can. I am a professional violin maker, having gone through NBSS. I also just happen to own a twelve stall equine facility in western MA where my workshop is located. I also heat my home primarily through wood stove and open fireplace. That said, I can now tell you that I make tons of this stuff. I have been working/experimenting with primers/treatments/whatever you'd like to call them for about five years now. I'm pretty open about my process/processes. I do have an eye on offering them -full disclosure- but we'll see how that goes if there's any interest. I don't mind being open about ingredients/processes because I know full well that not everyone has an inclination fo this work, even if it has potential profits. It's a lot of effort and like everything worthwhile in varnishing processes, it requires more time than most have to give. I have several batches right now in various states so I can answer a lot of the questions I've read through. At least answer them to my ability, knowledge and experience I don't know a lot about these things but I have experience now that most do not with these experiments. Hopefully that was enough disclaimers. I use Horse manure that is collected and has some kiln dried pine shavings left in it to kind of keep it a little porous if that makes sense. This stuff gets really heavy and mud/clay like after repeated saturation, so in order to keep the liquids' ability to move through it, I've found that leaving some shaving in there helps. I pour horse urine over the top periodically once it shows signs of drying to keep things working and I collect the runoff and repair that as well. I use the horse urine because I'm just not cool with giving someone my own pee. I know some people have urinated on these things themselves. I'm not R. Kelly. The important thing to remember here is that this rotting process takes months. I mean months. It's not going to really happen in the deep winter, either. However, a large enough pile will generate plenty of heat to keep decomposing. The problem is that getting the liquids through the mound in freezing temperatures just doesn't work as well. The batches I have going now have all been going for almost two years so far. I let the rotting happen for a year and then start my filtration/purification process.In This shot, you can see some treatment I have. This is straight treatment on raw wood scraps. you can see the un treated sections of the two pieces on the left. Also, I didn't pore seal the spruce before applying.just for giggles, I took a small amount of one of my one hundred hour or so long low and slow cooks of copal and applied it over this piece so this one is a rough and ready pure 'extract' that I like to call it. its a bit dark and still reacts well to UV exposure. It works well with some varnish styles, recipes and not so well with others. Depends on what you use. It's not a chemical problem, just a color one. Now, for the Magister fans in the house, I got my hands on as much of Koen's stuff as I could focusing on the primers. I'm hesitant to say anything because I am a huge fan of his work and experiments. In fact, it was Koen's work and Joe's balsam grounds that first got me into all of this stuff. I digress. I take this 'extract' and I cut it down and purify it. Grain alcohol has actually worked the best for me so far. I am not a lab chemist here. This may seem a little insane to some, but I am actually after some impurities in the formula from the get-go. You can buy lab quality saltpeter. You can buy lab quality potassium nitrate and bichromate. You can use the absolute purest quality alcohol available industrially. I know because I have. I've spent a lot of time and money chasing this particular dragon. The truth is, the stuff made from organic, natural, freely available materials is just plain better. It looks better, it is muuuuuch more colorfast and the overall effect is more in line with my desired goal. So, grain alcohol it is for the cutting down. I have batches of this stuff that is purely cut down from the original extract. I also have batches that have been cooked and had hardwood ash added. Both of these things are closer to Koen's work. Just for visual representation: pure extract finished treatment Anyway, sorry for the book. I'm obviously pretty passionate about this subject so I figured it time to come out of the woodwork so to speak. Thanks for coming to my TEDtalk.