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OK Collin, I'm doing a crude test with borax


David Burgess
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quote:


Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar

Um,,,, are we just assuming that we need heat to make the

borax treatment effective?


Don't know. Heat will accelerate many chemical reactions, and a bridge won't absorb enough water to sink in 60 minutes with cold water. Maybe it's not necessary.

This may have been brought up before, but what if fresh wet maple was first soaked in a borax solution so it could then be dried easily without mold stains forming?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Darren Molnar

 If heat is an important element, could someone explain why

that is?


I have no idea if/what is important... but I would think heat may also have something to do with how much Borax can be disolved in the water (how strong the solution is)...???

Don't worry David & Collin... I haven't started treating my bridges yet. If this all proves to be something worthwhile, I'm still a potential client for the Burgess-Arneson Company.

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The reason I included heat in this treatment is that heat makes

wood expand, which allows it to take in more solution, and for it

to penetrate deeper and faster.

quote:


Don't worry David & Collin... I haven't started treating my

bridges yet. If this all proves to be something worthwhile, I'm

still a potential client for the Burgess-Arneson Company.
p

"i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif" border="0">

Thanks - I really like the momentum that this is

gaining.

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David wrote "but what if fresh wet maple was first soaked in a borax solution so it could then be dried easily without mold stains forming?"

That's interesting David... but then the process was not in the hands of violin makers, since the wood came from Bosnia and I think that in those times it would take about 2 months at least to transport the wood from Bosnia to Venice, then from Venice to Cremona. Hence such method should be applied when the wood was quite fresh, in 2 months we could have already mold in the wood...

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Manfio, I'm not too invested in giving the violin makers the credit. What if some specialty wood cutters discovered a way to speed profits by sending wood off to its destination while still dripping wet by applying a mildewcide?

It would weigh more wet, but shipping methods of the time (wagon? ship?) may have been more constrained by volume than by weight. With wet, tightly packed wood, even borax powder sprinkled on the wood surface might dissolve and penetrate pretty well over two months time.

Maple can be extremely hard to dry anyway without getting stain. I got a fresh batch cut in northern Michigan which arrived during the humid summer. I spaced it so air could circulate, and blew on it using fans, but I still lost a good amount to mold.

I've talked to small wood dealers who have used chlorine bleach, and even toxic mildewcides containing mercury. I guess most use a kiln or some form of vacuum drying.

Oded, I agree that the mechanism would be nice to know. My first step was to see if borax does anything at all. Your suggestion sounds good for step two.

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Is it possible the interest in borax is that it has properties similar to alkalis in that it can saponify certain resinous components that are in the wood. Sodium Borate can be used to make soaps in place of much stronger alkalis Being milder that other alkalis, it has much less effect on the internal network of wood compounds. Really, it is an excellent emulsifier which means that cleanses the resinous, waxes and oils making the water soluable.

Mike

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Oded Kishony

......if it can saponify resins in the wood then it can saponify resins in the varnish. whoppee!

~OK

Oded, borax is used to make a water-borne shellac, yet it seems to be stable and non water soluble when dry. Haven't used it myself, but have seen it on a fiddle.

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First off I want to say that this is a very interesting thread.

 I am not trying to squash it.  

Perhaps Borax will be an advantage that Stradivarius never had.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Harken, a voice cries in the wilderness,--- " The Secret of

Stradivarius is Borax ! "

So if you want to know,  then all you have to do is see if

Borax is present.  Easy enough isn't it.

I will tell you what you will not hear, harken and you will *not*

hear a voice crying in the wilderness, ---" Eureka, I was right, I

found it ! See I told you so ! "

 

Which is exactly what we should be hearing, isn't it.  A

vindicated soul crying out. ..........Why?

Perhaps there is no vindication?

Nor should you wait to hear a voice crying---- "Oppps I am Sorry, I

was WRONG .....again ! "

As easy as it is to test for Borax, this test has not been

published.  Do you think that is because it was not done? Or

do you think that it was done, and the results were negative?

Should that not tell you something?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The weight gain of the sample that started out at 4.25 grams and

finished at 4.75 grams is 11.76 %.

 

A maple violin plate at 110 grams, if this holds true for it, would

end-up at 122.94 grams.

David do you think you could soak the sample to remove any

unnecessary/excess  Borax?

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I probably should not have used the term saponify, I did edit that right after I wrote it and used the better term "emulsify". So the borax can potentially wash out oily, waxy resinous stuff and it too can be washed out of the wood with fresh water making it borax treated not borax laden wood.

Mike

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Oded writes

"I make a cesein glue from milk and borax. although it is not the strongest base, super saturated wood will have enough borax to react with any oil, vegetable dye and possibly some pH sensitive resins.

If the question is: does borax react with wood and change it's properties? Then the way I would structure the experiment is to soak the wood in borax solution, take it out solution and allow it to dry, then soak the sample in distilled (rain) water. What is left in the wood should be only the borax that's cross linked with the lignin and all free borax should be washed out.

My .02.

Thanks David for undertaking this experiment and sharing it with all of us!"

Oded this is definitely worth more than .02 cents. even simple little experiments open the door to many more possibilities. As can be expected any single simple compound added to GOOD wood can have a multitude of effects, mostly bad. Wood is way to complicated for any average person or any average chemist to understand from a luthier's perspective.

my .02

Mike

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quote:


Originally posted by:
mcarufe
Oded this is

definitely worth more than .02 cents. even simple little

experiments open the door to many more possibilities. As can be

expected any single simple compound added to GOOD wood can have a

multitude of effects, mostly bad. Wood is way to complicated for

any average person or any average chemist to understand from a

luthier's perspective. my .02 Mike

Most things are worth more than 2 hundreths of a cent!

Seriously, though, with all the great questions being asked

and all the light-bulb moments (with each worth $.02) - there

would be a total of $.54 worth of ideas here. Almost enough to fund

research for Burgess-Arneson, inc. Or buy 1/30th of a

bridge....

My $.02

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I boiled a back and a belly in borax water for about an hour. A few days later I finished them off (drying that is, I hope)in the oven @200 degrees for about 30 minutes. They both lost about 5% in weight, and the back especially left a waxy residue on the surface of the water. I only notice that the back seems any different in look or feel afterwords. Needless to say the frequency of the plates went up some but since I don't have a control instrument that is exactly the same I can't say if it makes a difference. When I finish it up I'll let you know if I had any problems related to the borax, I'm sure to have some just from inexperience.

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Thanks - let us know about the results!

Could you tell us more about the waxy residue? I have never gotten

this - from spruce or maple.

FYI, borax is a relatively strong base - so use a ground that

won't react with bases (the experts here can tell you

much more about varnishes that will or won't react with a

base).

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quote:


Originally posted by:
David Burgess
Here's a link

to a short discussion on how borax interacts with cell membranes.

It might be junk, I'm not a chemist. Could this have any

relationship to wood degradation that Ferbose spoke about?


According to the link, borax soap kills yeast by dissolving its

cell membrane.

I guess it is reasonable, but the best way to find out is probably

to ask scientists at the Rio Tinto Borax Company.

It is well known that boron compound can act as woo

preservatives.

Parts of the lumber industry use borax, to kill insects and fungi.

 

However, I could not find out how boron kills insects and

fungi on the internet.

So I went to the library and glanced through 10 boron chemistry

books and 10 pest control books.

Still no answer.

The closest thing to an answer I have found is here:"http://www.borax.com/wood/pdfs/Biostats.pdf">

http://www.borax.com/wood/pdfs/Biostats.pdf

If finding out how boron kills pests is hard, predicting how it

interacts with wood is harder.  

This is definitely not something one can predict from basic

chemical principles.

A short trip to the university library or random Google searches

will not answer it either.

Supposedly borax can cause some cross-linking in wood fibers.

To what extent I am not sure.  

Borax is also leachable from wood when wetted, which is well known

to the lumber/building industry.  

As far as I know, there is no evidence for boron found in violin

wood, nor any evidence against it.

If tone wood was treated with borax solution and soaked again in

something else to remove most of it, it would be hard to detect.

 In this case, borax still would have caused some

cross-linking and provided some pest protection.  

Borax wood treatment in Italian violins is a pretty clever theory

(was Nagyvary the first to propose it?), but right now it is still

a hypothesis that needs to be tested.  

Borax has been used extensively in lumber industry for us to

know that it won't weaken the wood in the long run, unlike

sodium hydroxide or nitric acid treatments used by some.  

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Ferbose
quote:


 According to the link, borax soap kills yeast by dissolving

its cell membrane. .... Parts of the lumber industry use borax, to

kill insects and fungi.   However, I could not find

out how boron kills insects and fungi on the internet. So I

went to the library and glanced through 10 boron chemistry books

and 10 pest control books. Still no answer.  

It erodes insects' stomach linings, so they can't eat & soon

die. Same goes for killing ants & roaches around the house.

Probably similar to dissolving the yeast cell

membranes. However, Boric Acid

(powder) is far more effective than Borax.  Any salt, by

definition, is fairly stable.

Borax is Na2B4O7-10H2O, Hydrated sodium borate

Boric acid is H3BO3

The only insects not killed by a Boric acid / sugar solution are

scorpions & crooked Ebay Violin Sellers.

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I'm no chemist, so I'm adding this just for any info it might offer. About a year ago, on a lark after reading some of Nagyvary's stuff, I took a cheap Strad copy, stripped the finish to bare wood, and removed the top. I made a saturated solution of borax by raising water to just under boiling and adding borax until no more would dissolve. I rubbed this hot into the wood on both sides (top, back, ribs) and waited for it to dry (which happened surprisingly fast with no warping of the wood. I bypassed any glue joints. I didn't expect any fantastic results, but only wanted to see if there were any detectable aural change in the overall tone of the instrument. Once dry, the surfaces were lightly coated with a white crust (probably oversaturation of the solution) which I removed with fine steel wool (was pretty hard to get off). I then reglued the top, and finished the instrument with my usual varnish schedual. I had no way to tell how deeply the solution had penatrated the wood (although after drying, the wood seemed slightly darker).

Of course, this was a very loose and ragged test with a lot of holes in the method, and no indication of what might have happened if I had boiled better wood in such a solution before use. The resulting instrument had a dull timber then before, with what seemed like a lack of overtones. Any brilliance the fiddle might have had before was gone. Response also seemed slower. I don't know if this was the result of the borax, or perhaps just the refinishing, but I was unimpressed.

I read somewhere that borax forms tiny crystals in the wood that the woodworm cannot eat, so it dies or leaves the source. Borax also apparently creates long strands in the wood cells that strengthen and harden the wood, but don't quote me on this.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
NewNewbie

The weight gain of the sample that started out at 4.25 grams and

finished at 4.75 grams is 11.76 %.

David do you think you could soak the sample to remove any

unnecessary/excess Borax?

I'll do that, but right now the samples are still drying and going up in frequency. I'm drying naturally to minimize the variables. And if I dried with heat, the samples would be excessively dry and I'd need to wait until they reabsorbed moisture from the air for meaningful measurements .

Current frequencies (too lazy to get out the scale this morning):

Spruce strip #1 (borax treatment): start, 102.2; day after borax treatment, 110.35, about a half step increase in frequency; following day, 115.37 , about a whole step increase from untreated.

Spruce strip #2 (boiled, but removed before borax was added): start was 91.41; day after boiling, 89.26; following day, 90.78. Still not up to original frequency.

Bridge: start, 2206.77; day after treatment, 1993.53; following day, 2093. Again, the way I'm measuring the bridge is very sensitive to mass. The bridge may be stiffer, but still have a lower frequency from the mass of absorbed borax. Probably should have measured the lowest bending mode which corresponds to the "plink" frequency. Used the "rocking mode" instead because it's what the people who measure bridges seem to think is most relevant and responsible for a large audible peak in the spectral graph (although this is debated). Oded, was it Woodhouse who found that the "bridge hill" exists even with a modified bridge which won't produce it?

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Oded, it's a violin blank. The base has been thicknessed to 4.5. The top hasn't been touched, so there is a lot of mass at the top resulting in a low frequency. I didn't use a finished, used bridge because I thought any rosin present might skew the results. Measuring with piezo film because the side-to-side mode doesn't emit very well when not attached to a violin.

Just checked, it can be picked up fine with a mic as long as you already know where to look. Not as clean a peak though, and not very big compared to others.

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"As far as I know, there is no evidence for boron found in violin

wood, nor any evidence against it.

If tone wood was treated with borax solution and soaked again in

something else to remove most of it, it would be hard to detect.

 In this case, borax still would have caused some

cross-linking and provided some pest protection.  

Borax wood treatment in Italian violins is a pretty clever theory

(was Nagyvary the first to propose it?), but right now it is still

a hypothesis that needs to be tested." - Ferbose

================================================================================

==

I would think that the fact that we live in the 21st Century, and

we still have no evidence for Borax, is itself evidence that

Stradivari or any other old master, that Dr. Nagyvary has gotten

his hands on, does not contain Borax.

Unless you are suggesting that the Borax played the role of a

Catalyst, which is not what Dr. Nagyvary's clever theory was, there

should be Borax present and detectable.

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