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FiddleDoug

Varnish question for the experts

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Still working on my "in the white" "transition instrument". The body is closed, and I'm figuring out exactly how I want to go about varnishing it.

After working with some test blocks, I'm thinking about a vernice bianca ground with some yellow transparent iron oxide and silica. Red/brown trans. iron oxides will be used in a glaze type mode in the first oil varnish coats, followed by clear coats. My big question is neck finishing. I know that varnish is not used to finish the neck, but do any of you use ground on the neck? Courtnall & Johnson says to use pigments or stains to color the neck, but I'd like to hear from the makers out there.

Thanks!

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Still working on my "in the white" "transition instrument". The body is closed, and I'm figuring out exactly how I want to go about varnishing it.

After working with some test blocks, I'm thinking about a vernice bianca ground with some yellow transparent iron oxide and silica. Red/brown trans. iron oxides will be used in a glaze type mode in the first oil varnish coats, followed by clear coats. My big question is neck finishing. I know that varnish is not used to finish the neck, but do any of you use ground on the neck? Courtnall & Johnson says to use pigments or stains to color the neck, but I'd like to hear from the makers out there.

Thanks!

Doug,

I have my best luck using the DVMH method....dirty varnish maker's hands...followed by a dry buff with China clay.

Joe

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If the purpose of the ground is to prevent oil or varnish to penetrate the plate and dampen the sound then it might not be that important for the neck .

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Whatever you put on the neck, you don't want anything with resin. The resin will make it difficult for the hand to slide freely on the neck when shifting positions because of the tendency for the resin to soften up from heat and perspiration on the hands. A light stain and rub with linseed or tung oil is sufficient.

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Doug

Where did you buy the transparent yellow iron oxide from?...I would like to try this myself...I remember reading about it and that someone here on the board was selling it...I think <_<

Is this the same stuff you're using?

-Ernie

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Ernie,

I managed to get some small samples from one of the companies that make the stuff. After I got them, I inquired about buying pound size quantities. They informed me that they really only sell 50 lb. quantities. It was kind of like pulling teeth to get the samples. John Schmidt (Violins88 on this forum} has some that I think he is selling.

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I like vernice bianca and use it exclusively on my fiddles. I don't finish or ground the neck, but simply rub it with linseed oil on my fingers and dry it well. I like a neck that's glass smooth and haven't found that when using finishes or grounds on the neck...but that's just me.

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I finish the neck with oil. I also use oil to seal top and back based on the French research result with no ill effect. This has to be done carefully not to let oil penetrate more than one to two cell depth.

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I've never varnished any string instruments yet but I have done some furniture varnishing (I know, it's not the same :rolleyes: ). When I just wanted to finish the wood but not wanted to varnish it I applied a mixture composed of red vinegar, turpentine and linseed oil on 1 to 1 to 1 proportions. You must rub that mixture and allow for a well drying. I think it's better than just linseed oil alone.

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For me, how I will address the neck depends on what my final topcoat base will be. But, in general I use spirit varnish. I at one time used Tripoli and or rotten-stone to do my final rub down with a wet rubbing oil. But I found it was so very messy and was a pain getting it out of the nooks and crannies. So I moved to using 600/1500 grit wet/dry sand paper with the rubbing oil instead. So the neck gets super polished with 1500 and just a wee bit of oil {parrifin rubbing oil} This and hand goo seems to do a nice job, I am not an "expert" like many of the financial "experts" are "experts"...So its just my opinion and what I do. Around here ya just take what you can get :lol:

Parrafin rubbing oil can be substituted with just plan mineral oil, or water even, but if you use water you will never get the "white haze" out of the pits and pores. If rubbing oils are used sparingly they will not effect your "finish system" sonically. It is basically a very thin layer of oil left behind that wears of and gets replaced by "monkey shine" ie. human oils from handling

Edit: the water would be for the finished body parts, not the neck, no water on raw neck

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Well there is one very critical part overlooked by most that is the key to having success when doing necks and that is .... :o

Oh! What's that? "Varnish question for the experts" you say. :blink:

Sorry I see that your question is 'for the experts', sorry about that one! I will now have to eschew myself. :rolleyes:

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The finish and feel of the neck are really defining aspects of quality and of how a player feels. For playing a neck should not be French Polished because a shiny finish will grab the hand. Varnishers' dirty hands effect is not the way to go on this most important area and the neck finish should be a very well thought out part of the varnishing strategy. A subtle blend to fade of the varnish from the scroll to neck and heel to neck is desirable

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The finish and feel of the neck are really defining aspects of quality and of how a player feels. For playing a neck should not be French Polished because a shiny finish will grab the hand. Varnishers' dirty hands effect is not the way to go on this most important area and the neck finish should be a very well thought out part of the varnishing strategy. A subtle blend to fade of the varnish from the scroll to neck and heel to neck is desirable

In terms of what I wish to put out of the shop, I'm in agreement. The "dirty" look doesn't do much for me... and I'm not a fan of a halo of (bright) ground showing at the edge of the varnish leading into a colored neck...

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The finish and feel of the neck are really defining aspects of quality and of how a player feels. For playing a neck should not be French Polished because a shiny finish will grab the hand. Varnishers' dirty hands effect is not the way to go on this most important area and the neck finish should be a very well thought out part of the varnishing strategy. A subtle blend to fade of the varnish from the scroll to neck and heel to neck is desirable

Melvin,

A small correction...DVMH...dirty varnish makers' hands....not varnishers' hands. Nothing sticky or potentially reactive ever goes on the neck as far as I am concerned. My work keeps my hands in good linseed oil almost every day. Washing my hands with borax takes most of that off. But I find the combination of rough skin, a hint of linseed oil and a bit of random dirt rubbed into the neck with china clay burnishes the wood and sufficiently seals it in a believable color and a very playable surface which is easy to maintain.

Forgive the off-hand remark.

Joe

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The neck is very important so it is good to have a strategy for finishing it according to what your customers prefer. I finish the neck to my desired effect before varnishing and then blend the varnish to the neck as subtly as possible.

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