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Sandpaper


tango
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i think its pretty obvious if you compare a sandpapered to a scraped surface, that the sandpapered one looks duller and less reflective, ps just because wikepedia says they had sandpaper in china in the 1600s doesnt mean the cremonese were using it,, in fact all evidence points to their surfaces not looking sandpapered, you can tell the difference by looking at them

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im a retired clavichord maker, not a violin maker, do you have a problem with that ern, i wasnt talking about the edges but the main part of the body, when i did make instruments i used no sandpaper on the soundboards, and left them as the plane leaves them, i tried hand scraping and planing the instruments cases, but some customers insisted on sandpaper, as i couldnt see it affecting the tone, i did use sandpaper, but never on the soundboard.

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just because wikepedia says they had sandpaper in china in the 1600s doesnt mean the cremonese were using it

It also doesn't mean they weren't using it. It just means they could have if they wanted to because it was in existence at the time, or some form of it. they weren't limited to just ray skin or grass it seems.

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MikeC,

One of the materials that has been used to imporve the "sparkle" of the varnish is glass beads.

I know a number of contemporary French makers who use them.

on we go,

Joe

hey Joe I thought of that but didn't pursue the idea.

There is an old varnish recipe from the 1500s where it says that the varnish will glitter and has a golden color. Maybe I'll try that next but first I'm going to make some copal varnish which is described as durable and brilliant. Whatever all that means.

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since when was everything the chinese were using in 1600 also available in europe, hell even seedlac(shellac) hadnt made it from china then, this is only three hundred years after marco polo, the idea of this huge trade with china opening up overnight is a fantasy IMO, by the time something had journied by caravan from china, the price was quite high, but as i said before if the italians were using sandpaper wed see evidence in the form of obviously sandpapered surfaces, experts?? when do we first see evidence of sandpaper on violins?

heres a link that gives some key dates in sandpapers introduction, it appears to be mostly 1800-1900, and the finest grades might date only to the 20th century

http://www.beautifulwood.net/html/sandpaper.html

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for the third time if you LOOK at cremonese violins from the 1700s they obviously werent sandpapered, even though marco polo was telling everyone to use sandpaper, maybe the italian makers thought sandpaper was bad for the tone, until some real experts come up with some evidence to the contrary, i think it safe to say the easiest way to copy the sound and appearance of old cremonese is to use the same tools, methods, and materials, etc., and if that means scrapers, so be it

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I use sandpaper all the time, even on plates. I try to finish with 1500 (or even 2000 when I can find it), but then I learned violin making in the mountains of VA so what can I say? I finish with a fine hair brush with a small vacuum tube attached. Works nicely. Wrong to use it? Probably, but then no one has ever accused me of using it after looking at my fiddles.

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A piece of cloth or leather will also carry abrasive powders well. with a bit of glue or varnish a very suitable sand cloth could probability have been made. I see no reason why if varnish layers could be rubbed out between coats, then why not the wood surface? at least the edges....I also notice a distinct change in the surface quality after ground preparations are rubbed out.....I do question sandpaper on the top, less because of any pore filling and sound quality link ,as much as from a craftsman point of view, sanding the plate surface introduces just one more step and these guys were acting as efficiently as they possibly could...Also as I was taught sandpaper only smooths thing but won't fix anything, so the arching and lumps better be gone via the scraper or they will never disappear. only get smooth.....

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i imagine the problem with sandpaper throughout its introduction in the 1800s would be the grading of the particle sizes, it just takes one large particle mixed in with smaller ones to ruin a finish as the one big particle will leave gouge scratches all over the finish, in fact ive seen several examples of this on violins sanded down for refinish about 100 yrs ago, ugly noticeable scratches that leave unsightly stains as they take the varnish darker than the smooth areas. once again i see very little evidence of many violins being finished with sandpaper till the 20th century, and then usually on the cheapest factory output. even a survey of the top builders today on maestronet, i think will find a good number still hand scraping and not using sandpaper.

now sandpapering the edges is not such a big deal, but i know for critical glue joins like soundpost patches, weishaar reccomends scraping not sandpaper for fitting because sandpaper fills the pores and lessens the ability of the hide glue to soak in and make a good join, a weak join like the ribs to the top, it may not matter, but for many other glue joins on a violin, sanding one or both surfaces is going to contribute to a weaker join, and no i dont think youd be able to vacuum all the dust particles out of the pores as they could be really jammed in there by the force of sandpapering.

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"Completely forbidden"?

From the "My Opinion" dept. :

Rest assured that anyone who "completely forbids" the use of sandpaper, is doing so from the comfort of their cozy armchair, and, most likely is reading a romance novel.

Realize that a scraped surface is different from a sanded surface, in particular when a finish is being put directly over it - and be prepared to reckon with the effects of sandpaper, when and where you use it. It may be a very good thing or not-so-good.

I, personally, am giving you permission to use sandpaper if you like.

If you want more clarification, ask about specific examples regarding it's use, and I'll give more opinions.

And I'll stand by my first reply (providing you can find it) in this post - which, obviously was worded the way it was, for a very specific reason...

Just yesterday (with Carlo & violin # 1) I was going to town with the rasp and 60 grit sandpaper mounted to a wooden block (used directly across the grain!) to correct the basic long arch profile shape, which was between gouge/toothed fingerplane time - and scraper time...

It is such a perfect medium for some operations that I could really care less who chooses to use sandpaper and who warns using against it, with the zeal of a "true believer".

'Nough said, befor this discussion degenerates (for whatever usual reasion) into the typical mess.

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I don't really think it makes that much difference what you make violins with, it is the finished result that counts. Lyndon is certainly right that the classical makers didn't use it, since one can often see the scraper marks, sometimes to an extent that would not be acceptable for many workshops today.

Another thought is that useing a scraper is much faster than sandpaper. Sandpaper has, perhaps undeservedly, got a bad name through inept use, blending off any sharp edges etc., although this is more the fault of the respective maker than the equipment.

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I'm curious enough to ask:

Did you use any modern tools (post 17th century) or conveniences when you were building clavichords? This would include power, central heating, modern hand tools, compressed air, background radio, etc.

Do you refrigerate your food and cook with gas or electricity, use an automobile? Not to put the Amish down for their way of life, but you seem to portray their profile.

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as far as i know only one famous clavichord maker, kukelka? in switzerland, took it that far and only used hand tools even doing hand resawing of the wood, i used only hand tools for the soundboard, bridge and sbd bracing, on a clavichord thats the main part thats contributing to the sound, on a violin, the whole body is contributing to the sound, if theres any part that doesnt contribute as much maybe the neck and fingerboard.

i dont see any problem with a band saw as we know they had similar hand or foot operated tools even in the 1700s, the difference in vibration between a good hand drill and an electric drill are not that great, however i draw the line at sawsalls and routers, because basically everyone wants to be as good as stradivari, and i dont see any way your going to do that with a whole bunch of power tools, several passes with a power planer or router can destroy the tap tones of a top, for instance, or clavichord soundboard, if youre going to go the power tool route, what do you have to offer that the chinese arent already offering for 1/4 the price.

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Classical makers did not use sandpaper, indeed.

FWIW...

In fact, I believe that the evidence is not conclusive that "they" did not use various sanding devices or methods, such as glass paper, dogfish skin, reeds or grasses, rasps or files, powdered abrasives - and all of the various other possible etc's., when needed.

There are many photographs that show evidence of a sanding or abrasive type surface preperation under the varnish on antique violins, out there also. (find them or don't - it's up to you)

Obviously they knew about scraping, and they, as we do today, made extensive use of it.

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