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Violin Varnish


Jim
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Does anybody know what causes a "dimpling" effect on the later coats of oil varnish on a violin. This generally happens on the final clear coats when the earlier coats have been "flatted off" successfully to maintain a consistently smooth surface. This effect spoils the final finish.

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I'm not sure I'll be answereing your question correctly, but if you are referring to pin holes this may be cused by a combination of things.

If you are using abrasives with a vehicle (like oil) to even off the lower finish, the varnish may be "skating" on anything left over on the surface. Pin holes also occur if the varnish is thinned out too much.

As far as attempts to even off the varnish before the top coats goes; unfortunately, many of us are used to looking at older instruments which have been polished over and over again for many years. Most of the untouched classic (Italian) instruments I've examined appear to have had little mechanical manipulation between the coats of varnish. They look more like the varnish was allowed to settle (in the sun, etc.). The effect can sometimes look a little like the peel of an orange rather than a plate of glass.

Best to all.

Jeffrey

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: I'm not sure I'll be answereing your question correctly, but if you are referring to pin holes this may be cused by a combination of things.

: If you are using abrasives with a vehicle (like oil) to even off the lower finish, the varnish may be "skating" on anything left over on the surface. Pin holes also occur if the varnish is thinned out too much.

I agree with Jeffery, you can remedy this by either very carefully wiping off the surface with lots of paper towels perhaps using some flour to help absorb any excess oil. Another approach is to use a drying oil like raw walnut or raw linseed oil as the lubricant, you still need to wipe it all off but a little bit left on the surface wont wreak havok with it. There may be other causes having to do with electrostatic charges inherent in some varnishes but they tend to pimple rather than cavitate.

Oded Kishony

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: : I'm not sure I'll be answereing your question correctly, but if you are referring to pin holes this may be cused by a combination of things.

: : If you are using abrasives with a vehicle (like oil) to even off the lower finish, the varnish may be "skating" on anything left over on the surface. Pin holes also occur if the varnish is thinned out too much.

: I agree with Jeffery, you can remedy this by either very carefully wiping off the surface with lots of paper towels perhaps using some flour to help absorb any excess oil. Another approach is to use a drying oil like raw walnut or raw linseed oil as the lubricant, you still need to wipe it all off but a little bit left on the surface wont wreak havok with it. There may be other causes having to do with electrostatic charges inherent in some varnishes but they tend to pimple rather than cavitate.

: Oded Kishony

:Perhaps as an addition to my original comment I should say that although all of my coats of varnish are thinned down, the final clear coats tend to be thicker than the colour coats so that i have a reasonable thickness for final rubbing down. Perhaps this is the problem which causes the "orange-peel" effect. If i revert to very thin coats though I think I shall need five or six rather than two coats. Do Jeffrey and Oded agree?

Jim Williams

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:

: : : I'm not sure I'll be answereing your question correctly, but if you are referring to pin holes this may be cused by a combination of things.

: : : If you are using abrasives with a vehicle (like oil) to even off the lower finish, the varnish may be "skating" on anything left over on the surface. Pin holes also occur if the varnish is thinned out too much.

: : I agree with Jeffery, you can remedy this by either very carefully wiping off the surface with lots of paper towels perhaps using some flour to help absorb any excess oil. Another approach is to use a drying oil like raw walnut or raw linseed oil as the lubricant, you still need to wipe it all off but a little bit left on the surface wont wreak havok with it. There may be other causes having to do with electrostatic charges inherent in some varnishes but they tend to pimple rather than cavitate.

: : Oded Kishony

: :Perhaps as an addition to my original comment I should say that although all of my coats of varnish are thinned down, the final clear coats tend to be thicker than the colour coats so that i have a reasonable thickness for final rubbing down. Perhaps this is the problem which causes the "orange-peel" effect. If i revert to very thin coats though I think I shall need five or six rather than two coats. Do Jeffrey and Oded agree?

: Jim Williams

Hi Jim,

I don't normally rub down between coats except to help even out colors. I believe most of the surface texture that you get comes from the wood (especially spruce)swelling in response to the sealer or first coat. There are Non Grain Raising (NGR) stains on the market that will minimize this effect.(If you don't object to the high tech approach)I've also French polished (often using a "1704" type varnish instead of just shellac) the final coat with the addition of a bit of fine pumice to the polishing cloth so that I am both cutting and building the top surface. Be sure to start with a TINY amount of abrasive and as you gain confidence and experience add in tiny increments. Too much pumice with too much alcohol will totaly ruin your varnish :-(

Hope this is helpful.

Oded Kishony

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I actually rub down very little as well. Even after the last coat (as long as it is applied evenly), the effect of the settled out finish I rather like. Usually, after removing any "knits" I just give the instrument a light polish and stick it back in the drying box for a day or so.

Jeffrey

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