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William Fulton's Varnish Book?


Jacob
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Although some tool/part suppliers may have copies, one good bet is:

www.montagnanabooks.com

Also, I assume you've already seen this:

http://www.scavm.com/Fulton.htm

The link to his web page is outdated, but there is a list of his books, and perhaps you can contact the SCAVM for contact information for him in case he still sells copies of his books himself.

Let us know how the search goes.

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You don't need to buy a book. Just visit the SCAVM website. Do a search for it on Yahoo, and you will come up with the Southern California Association of Violin Makers. Once you get there you can download Bill Fulton's terpene varnish recipe, and his propolis soap ground recipe.

Mike

p.s. Insure your house before you start making it! smile.gif

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Thanks Andres

Montagnana Books have it - I'll get it. I've had the article for two years, but I want more info. For instance, why not just use colophony, why must it be terpene resin? Also, to oxidize the turpentine, I was wondering whether one could not nitrify it by adding nitric acid instead of rigging up the "bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" gizmo.

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Colophony has a very bad reputation as a varnish-making material. That said, a lot of people use 'run' colophony varnishes-the resin is cooked down for awhile.

A lot of people are also using pine sap varnishes, same basic idea of cooking it down and then incorporating with oil, although not as long or as high temps. There was an article on it in _The_Strad_ awhile back.

Making oxidized turps the process goes by pretty fast. I think somewhere in the library at www.mimf.com Alan Carruth talks about the benefits of mild heat in the process (including speeding it up). I can't imagine what could make the use of nitric acid a good substitute for oxygenation; the chemistry is clearly different.

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Jacob--You're basically wanting to know why you can't buy a Mercedes from Honda. If it was colophony, it wouldn't be Fulton varnish anymore. If it was nitrified it wouldn't be Fulton varnish anymore. Those are other ways to make varnish, but Fulton doesn't deal with them. The Michelman and Fry varnish books deal with other methods (including nitrification) that you might be interested in.

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Why does colophony have such a bad reputation? Does the resultant varnish not wear well? Could this be the "rosin varnish" offered on the website http://www.violinvarnish.com?

The reason I asked about nitrification is this - if the Fulton "bubbling" process leads to oxidation of the tupentine, and if this oxidation is the required result, the addition of nitric acid also does this (oxidation). The by-products of nitrification (water and nitrogen) are easily disposed of. If the bubbling process also accomplishes something else over and above oxidation, that's different, and that is what I'm trying to find out. I've never seen the result of the bubbling process, but the description seems to match that of the oxidized turpentine obtained from nitrification.

I'm very thankful for all this feedback - I never expected it.

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-15-2001).]

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I think the process is more complex that just oxidation, even though it's called "oxidized turpentine". What you start with is the free-flowing solvent gum spirits of turpentine (not venice turpentine, which might be what you're thinking?), and what you end up with is similar to honey. I'm guessing that it's really polymerization or something that's going on. Chemcially the result is not rosin, though--it's a terpene resin, whatever that is.

Rosin varnishes have the reputation of shrinking and cracking (big ugly mud cracks--not the attractive kind) within a few months, if rosin is simply mixed with oil and that used as a varnish. All of the successful rosin-type varnishes involve some serious treatment of the rosin which will prevent this.

The site you gave doesn't really say enough to know what he's doing, but I'd be pretty sure that he's not just mixing raw rosin with oil.

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Thanks for the elucidation Michael. The polymerization bit is what I think I missed - this could very well happen during the bubbling process, but not with simple nitrification.

I am definitely talking about gum turpentine, not Venice turpentine.

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Why don't you go for the full monty and let it bubble for six months? I did this and it worked like a charm. I put it on my garage roof with a aquarium pump and it was 'like honey' after six months.

But the real benefit is all the curiosity that it generated from friends, family and total strangers. Everyone was fascinated by the 'witches brew' boiling away day and night for six months. The fact that I haven't used any of it yet on a real violin is not important, is it? laugh.gif

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I just read in my new VSA journal last night that some city laws once required the varnish makers to live on the edge of the city, and move if the edge moved. Start messing with this stuff (oxidized turpentine) and you'll find out why they required that. :-)

Fry and Michelman both had their own ideas about Cremonese varnish, based on complex modern chemistry. None of it sounds very plausible to me, in a historic context.

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Andres

My knowledge of nitrification derives from the Fry book. He argues that turpentine can be oxidized by adding appropriate amounts of nitric acid (HNO3). During the reaction some of the oxygen atoms combine with the turpentine, leaving nitrogen (N) which evaporates, and water (H2O)which can be drawn off. I've used this method to make the varnishes Fry describes in his book, but obviously this process (which can be accomplished in as little as a day, depending on the degree of oxidation required) does not involve polymerization. Anyone who has used various types of processed linseed oil which is not polymerized (cold-pressed, hot-pressed, boiled) as well as those which are polymerized (sun-thickenned and stand oil) will know how much a polymerized substance can alter the varnish.

I have therefore resigned myself to the idea of rigging up a bubbler, albeit not for six months long on my garage roof - I'm a low-profile kind of guy - if I had a kite, I'd fly it under a carpet.

Michael, I actually do live on the edge of the city (I can see cows graze from my workshop window - seriously).

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-16-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-16-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-16-2001).]

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What are the physical characteristics of the nitrified turps? What are the benefits of the process supposed to be?

If one could be sure (and I don't have the chemistry to say jack about it) that the only action of the acid on the turps was to get oxygen into it asap, and since it is oxygen that causes the turps to 'turn', it would seem possible you could end up in the same place faster.

Any chemists in the house?

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Andres

"Nitrified" is perhaps a misleading term, as the nitrogen in nitric acid simply evaporates during this process and does not combine with the turpentine - "oxidized" is more accurate, because the turpentine has combined with some of the oxygen in the nitric acid. The end-product is a thick brown liquid. However, NO POLYMERIZATION has taken place, and the Fulton terpene varnish may very well depend on this factor. The process is very quick compared to the "bubbling" method.

quote:

Originally posted by Andres Sender:

What are the physical characteristics of the nitrified turps? What are the benefits of the process supposed to be?

If one could be sure (and I don't have the chemistry to say jack about it) that the only action of the acid on the turps was to get oxygen into it asap, and since it is oxygen that causes the turps to 'turn', it would seem possible you could end up in the same place faster.

Any chemists in the house?

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Don't confuse oxygen with oxidation. Oxygen is an element capable of many chemical reactions. It has a very complicated chemistry and exist in many varied states each capable of its own unique chemistry. Oxidation is a process also very complicated. Oxidation has to do with electron charge movement,e.g.neutral atom to cation or anion to neutral, and doesn't require the element oxygen.

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If the yield of resin from the oxidized turpentine is 50% (which is what I understand from the famous Fulton web page), if linseed oil is added at a ratio of 6/10, and it is diluted with turpentine at a ratio (to the resin) of 5/3, you would get .81 of a pint of varnish (I think?)from 1/2 pint of oxidized turpentine.

By the way, Fry did, in one of the experiments with nitrification which he describes in his book, managed to extract "resin of a fine quality" from nitrified pure gum turpentine. If this is not a terpene resin, what is it? He also seems to control the exothermic reaction more effectively by initiating the process over a waterbath, only moving the vessel containing the turpentine to a sand bath after the most violent part of the exothermic

reaction has run its course. I've often made the Fry varnishes, and the suddenness and violence of the process once the temperature approaches 100 deg.C never cease to amaze and alarm me.

quote:

Originally posted by fiddlefaddle:

how much varnish can be made from a 1/2 pint of "Honey"?

Thanks Bud

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Jacob (edited 08-20-2001).]

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making varnish takes a lot of time and effort with many dissapointments along the way. Joe Robson's varnish (www.violinvarnish.com cited above) makes a first rate varnish buy it and use it save yourself a lot of grief.

I've made the Fry and Michelman varnishes and found neither one very satisfactory. One crazed badly immidiately and the other never dried.

Oded K.

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Michael Darnton

"Fry and Michelman both had their own ideas about Cremonese varnish, based on complex modern chemistry. None of it sounds very plausible to me, in a historic context."

.

Oded Kishony

"I've made the Fry and Michelman varnishes and found neither one very satisfactory. One crazed badly immidiately and the other never dried."

Oded K.

Both books are good reads but I didn't find any answers in them.

I really liked the Michelman book intill I made some of his varnishes. What is left of his experiments can be seen around Cincinnati area in school orchestras. What is left of his varnish doesn't last well or look much like his discriptions ON HIS INSTRUMENTS NOR ON MINE.

(on Fry)Oded, I think we made the same Varnish. Not bad if you don't mind waiting a year and a half for it to dry between coats. Don't you love those raw linseed oil finishes!

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I have found that if you expose the Fry varnishes to sunlight or use a drying cabinet, 2-3 days is sufficient time for a coat of the Fry varnish to dry. However, using an instrument with this finish in even moderate heat causes shoulder rest feet to leave marks on the varnish.

(on Fry)Oded, I think we made the same Varnish. Not bad if you don't mind waiting a year and a half for it to dry between coats. Don't you love those raw linseed oil finishes! [/b]

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The year and a half was a bit of an exageration based on other commitments. I left the violin in the sun for over two weeks and the varnish had not hardened. I hung it in my attic for four more months and when I took it out it was still too soft to rub out with pumice. It was left there while I was away for another year. When I returned I was able work it easily and finish it. I saw it after many years and it looked good and sounded great. It did not look like Cremona varnish from 1700 but was in its own way quite nice. I really liked the sound which had greatly improved over the years. I feel Geary Baese's varnish is the most like that from Cremona. As good looking as his varnish is and as nice as it sounds, it doesn't make my instruments sound like Strads but it is the best I have found so far.

[This message has been edited by Favinger (edited 09-26-2001).]

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Tell us more about Gary Baese's varnish - any online info, website etc?

I feel Gary Baese's varnish is the most like that from Cremona. As good looking as his varnish is and as nice as it sounds, it doesn't make my instruments sound like Strads but it is the best I have found so far. [/b]

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