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  1. I have read that a damar based varnish can be good, and in the past was often used on furniture. It is a simple mixture of damar and alcohol. Could someone tell me which resins do what, such as which resins are used for hardening, softening, fast drying, slow drying etc etc. If I was to use wax to try to simulate the wax in shellac, what amount would I use to start of with? I am just after some guidelines on where to start experimenting!
  2. Hi, I want to try to prevent this thread turning into a philosophical debate on ethics etc etc... that isn’t the part that is important. The part for me that matters is just that I don’t want to use shellac, the only reason I gave a simple reason was just so everybody wasn’t thinking that it may be a reason that could be avoided for me. I am not trying to force or preach any beliefs on anyone, I just wanted some advice on what spirit varnishes I could use without shellac. I know about tung oil, I have used it on guitars and furniture in the past with great results, but I was after a more film finish without synthetic resins. Is there any direction anyone could give me even for experimenting? If it is the wax part of shellac that is important, could I include soy/carnauba or whatever wax into the mixture?
  3. I am wanting to make a spirit varnish. However, I do not want to use shellac due to ethical reasons etc etc etc..... What alternative resin could I use in the recipe? 1. 180gr ground Shellac2. 30gr ground Sandarac.3. 30gr Elemi.4. 15ml Spike lavender oil.5. Spirit Unfortunately, shellac is clearly the main ingredient here, so maybe I would need a totally different recipe, instead of a simple substitute? Yesterday I made a very simple spirit varnish of just alcohol of colophony. I applied it on a scrap piece of wood, and it was rather pretty, but I am sure there are better options for avoiding shellac. I did attempt to try out a french polishing technique with this though, and it stuck like glue after 3 seconds and ripped the finish off! Is there no substitute for shellac to use with the french polishing technique? If not, a standard shellac-free spirit varnish is fine, but just thought I would ask while I am at it!
  4. It isn’t that the finish affects my playing per say, just that I prefer the look/feel/vibe of traditional varnishes. Hard to explain really. I have seen malmsteens guitars on videos, what the hell does he do to them!? Does he use them in street fights or something? Hahaha!
  5. Shellac! thinking about it and after trying a simple solution of colophony and alcohol, which wasn’t bad, I think what I am after is a spirit varnish! However, even spirit varnishes seem to have shellac in them. I came across a varnish recipe called 1704 which looks good, but what plant based alternative to shellac could I use? And while I am asking, is there anything else other than shellac that I could use for the french polishing technique? I know fully plant based spirit varnishes can be achieved, because I just made one, primitive, but still a spirit varnish! My process was to mix colophony flakes and methylated spirits in a jar, then I put the jar in a pan of almost boiling water (was worried about a fire!) for two or three hours until everything was clear and dissolved. Then I waited for it to cool, then applied it to some scrap wood. Apparently this is what the Egyptians used. It is an ok finish, but I am sure there are better shellac free spirit varnish recipes out there. I tried the french polishing technique on this but it just stuck like glue and made a mess after 2 seconds. As you can tell, I am a beginner in this sort of thing, so maybe I was just doing the French polishing technique wrong, but after reading up on it and watching many videos, not that I am disrespecting the difficulty of such a technique, the initial reaction of my varnish appeared different from the shellac. I have had lots of experience refinishing guitars in tru oil and the like, with good results for what it is, but the spirit vanish is new to me and something I really want to try. So, I am basically looking for a spirit varnish recipe that does not include shellac. I am also wondering if there is a shellac alternative for french polish?
  6. Because I don’t like the feel of synthetic plastic. You have to admit, electric guitars aren’t exactly the epitome of a fine instrument are they! So The ‘traditional’ methods of how they was finished in the 20th century don’t really interest me much. I once had a les Paul with a nitro finish, and it was nice, but still no where close to a violin. Because a lot of pre made violin varnishes can contain animal stuff, which I definitely don’t want! Yes I know exactly what you mean. A lot of guitarist are like this. I have never really been interested in American 20th century stuff as ‘historically correct’. I have always preferred 19th and 18th century European, in pretty much everything. Guitars where originally built to be economical and durable, as for some reason back then people used to get their guitars damaged just from gigging. A lot of guitarist view gigging as going to war, and that it somehow stresses out the instrument, I have never understood this. You stand there, play, then go home. I don’t know how their equipment ends up looking so beaten. However, I personally don’t do knee slides, duck walks, and windmill action while playing the guitar, so that is why I think I could get away with a violin type varnish instead of one that belongs on a H.M.S ship hahaha!
  7. Hi Michael, thanks for the reply. I know what you mean about the wear of the finish for guitars, but I myself don’t really do any of the standard ‘electric guitar’ techniques myself. Not into metal or anything hahaha! It is a fender jaguar, so palm muting won’t be a problem as they have a device on the bridge which latches down to mute all 6 strings, which sounds better than palm muting too. I did hear somewhere that a damar varnish made up of damar and turps is actually rather hard wearing. I know that most people regarding guitars and furniture often do say that the more modern chemical based finishes are best, but I just don’t like the feel of them, especially polly! I just love the character of violin finishes.
  8. I am currently working on a project where I am after a nice varnish. I have read about many recipes that I would like to use in the future, but at this moment I have no access to a UV chamber. I do however, have access to colophony, damar, linseed oil, and alkyd (or other types) dryer. I understand the process of uv drying with the oils in varnishes, but could adding alkyd dryer instead save me from needed a uv chamber and boiling the linseed oil to dangerous temperatures? The boiling of the varnish in a pan worries me as I don’t have an outside stove, so it would be done in my kitchen! So is it possible to make a varnish from colophony, damar, linseed oil, and a dryer such as alkyd? If so, would anybody know good ratios to use for this? I understand that this isn’t traditional or ideal, but at this time I just don’t have access to any of the resources I would need to make a traditional uv dried varnish! Just to note, this won’t be going on my violin, it is for my electric guitar. So the acoustic problems that dryers may cause to a violin won’t be a problem for me with this project. Also, I am not doing any colour, just straight varnish.