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This is what 6 thin coats of varnish looks like.....


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For those lucky souls who have never had to strip a partly varnished violin down, this is what 6 thin coats looks like. It probably looks more than it is, this lot is too light to weight on a kitchen scale, probably just a gram or three.

This photo also illustrates how important it is to seal the wood before applying colour. If this violin was not sealed it would have been impossible to save it. As it is, it took a week-end to strip it down using scrapers and acetone.

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Hello Amori,

Maybe it's going faster if you use alcohol to remove alcohol

varnishes or a commercial chemical product in a gel form if you

need to remove oil varnish.  I don't really know how I can

call the product in english.  Maybe it's a commercial

STRIPER...  It's working really fast but it's not really good

for your health... It's made to remove paints or varnishes on

furniture.  You can find that in a regular store for


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Hi Joe, it's been 46 years since we metricated but according to Google, 1/2 ounce is around 13 grams.

That means, if these 6 coats are only (say) 4 ounces, I could have gone to about 18 coats to achieve the colour I wanted. Thats interesting when one considers my last post about the number of coats permissable.

RB. Paint stripper is probably not the best option for stripping a delicate violin, acetone is less likely to damage the wood. Acetone works quite fast actually, just getting into the corners takes time.

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I know that's it's not the purest solution or technique to use

a paint stripper to remove oil varnish on a violin, but it's going

faster I think.  You don't need a complete weekend to do the

job with this kind of product.  I know that a renowned violin

maker remove varnish like that when he is not happy with the result

or to make new varnish tests on a violin.  Instead of using

steel scrapers, I use wooden scrapers to remove the disolved

varnish.  I may try with Acetone the next time to see how it's

working and if the results are better, but I hope I won't have to

strip another violin down.


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One trick I learned in cabinet making days was to use planer shavings as the "abrasive" when stripping. They not only remove the softened varnish but also absorb the varnish and stripper and are easily disposed of. They neither abrade the wood nor remove any ground coat or color that may be in the wood from age or whatever. But they are very difficult to remove if they get inside the Fs.

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