Sign in to follow this  
Stanley5184

Varnishing on the Cheap

Recommended Posts

If I can share the perspective of an amateur with limited training... I took a few violin making classes at OCAD in toronto with Phil Davis over a decade ago. It would take the average person with some woodworking skill 2 years to finish a violin on a casual basis -- and even then Phil had to set the neck on many of these instruments (the class included two colleges who went on to Newark by the way so the class wasn't full of talentless folk). Because of the Herculean challenge of just constructing ones first instrument, we were advised to use Pratt and Lambert 38 varnish over a couple coats of diluted shellac for finishing.

Fast forward a decade, with new research, social media and generosity of industry professionals, the info to make your own is readily available. Great, but it isn't cheep. The cost of the materials, shipping and mistakes are far greater than the cost of a quart of P&L 38. While not authentic, this stuff isn't bad -- it is easy to work with, has a lovely amber colour and dries over night -- an inexpensive way of experimenting with varnish that will give one a good result the first time out. One could do a lot worse!

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep in mind that while the studies show resin from the pinaceae family was used, they don't specify which tree or how it's been processed. The properties of resins from the various trees in that family can be very different from each other, and vary further according to how they've been processed. For instance, common rosin is quite different from Larch resin, and also from resin made from oxidized or polymerized terpentine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been off the grid for the last week...fishing and playing cards with the grandkids....

Interesting thread. I scanned all and read some so forgive me if my initial comments missed something.

First: I ship my products all over the world without problem.

Second: It is important to like the instrument after you varnish it, as it is much easier to sell that way.

Third: What is expensive?

time

anxiety

disappointment

Fourth: [am I allowed to say this?!?] Using what I consider to be my best efforts the cost of materials for varnishing a violin is about 75 USD.

Fifth: there is no one way ...or even right way....to varnish a violin. Varnishing is a long learning curve. At some points in that curve certain products or methods will serve you well....and you learn from them that there are other and perhaps better ways to do the job. The hope is that one finds some satisfaction in the learning as it is never complete.

Sixth: I think learning to make a violin and learning to make varnish at the same time is a mistake.

Seven: Test everything and use your own judgement.

on we go,

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Third: What is expensive?

Good question. What's your time worth? For people who have a normal nine-to-five job, hobby time might be free. For a pro fiddlemaker who puts in a lot of hours, varnish experimenting time might take away from the number of completed fiddles.

If I amortized all my experimenting time and materials, my varnish is hideously expensive! :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the first message Stanley gave some shipping cost for simple Joha varnish being sent to him in Australia. And I can easily agree that it's quite prohibitive, and a real drawback when one wants to varnish a first instrument. I can understand his hesitations.

true it would be better to use a varnishing system that works well, with varnishing instructions. But this has a cost.

Stanley could also try M. Darnton's method, with a shellac sealer/ground application, and a mastic/turpentine/linseed oil cold mixed varnish with some pigments. these might be ingredients that he could find more easily around where he lives?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stanley could also try M. Darnton's method, with a shellac ssealer/ground application, and a mastic/turpentine/linseed oil cold mixed varnish with some pigments. this might be ingredients that he could find more easily around where he lives?

Thanks for the advise.....I have been contacted by another great friendly, extremely helpful member whho also suggests sealling with shellac so thats what i will do.....unless theres a better method. However i think i'll be getting a proven commercial varnsih like joes or hammerls.

Since contacted by the helpful member heres my plan so far....tell me what you think.

1. Wipe with denatured alcohol

2. Brown with tea and sun

3. Coats of Shellac mixed with alcohol

4. varnish

5. Glaze

6. sand with 1200 grit

7. Varnish

8. enjoy

Thanks again i really appreciate all the help your providing.

P.S If you reading joe, do you mind posting or PM the price of shipping to Australia. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That may not be my most favored plan, but I'd rather go with that than get into three pages of arguments with those who have the conviction of religion about their varnish beliefs.

If you do everything exactly right, it may come up to seventy-five percentile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply.....david, i've been told your very experienced and have great knowledge. Do you mind sharing what you would recommend for a beginner to perhaps reach 80-90% percentile.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply.....david, i've been told your very experienced and have great knowledge. Do you mind sharing what you would recommend for a beginner to perhaps reach 80-90% percentile.

Thanks

LOL, that's a reasonable question, but the answer is "I probably won't do that".

I have allegiances and symbiotic relationships, right or wrong.

Everything which is posted here will basically be read by commercial enterprises in China and elsewhere. Not that I didn't fall in love with the Chinese and post Soviet Union people when I was in some of those areas.

So maybe my greatest value here can be as a "crapbuster", not that a few people can't assemble all the fragmented pieces into basically knowing everything I do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since contacted by the helpful member heres my plan so far....tell me what you think.

1. Wipe with denatured alcohol

Not needed unless your working with a weird wood like Douglas Fir

2. Brown with tea and sun

I'm not a fan of the tea color but it could be worse. Sun is good though.

3. Coats of Shellac mixed with alcohol

Won't hurt the tone any.

4. varnish

5. Glaze

I do varnish and glaze as one step but that's a choice

6. sand with 1200 grit

Not much reason to at this point.

7. Varnish

8. enjoy

Definitely do this once you get there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good question. What's your time worth? For people who have a normal nine-to-five job, hobby time might be free. For a pro fiddlemaker who puts in a lot of hours, varnish experimenting time might take away from the number of completed fiddles.

If I amortized all my experimenting time and materials, my varnish is hideously expensive! :blink:

David,

I look at this a bit differently. As professionals, motivated by passion or profit [or both], experimentation feeds both the passion and the profit. For those whose time is very limited it is important to get results in a more direct way.

on we go,

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

do you have any recommendations on where i can get some commercial varnish that wont break the bank? I really am open to all options at the moment.....any companies you highly recommend? it doesn't have to come straight from the manufacturer.

Thanks again, really acknowledge the help your providing

For the Hammerl stuff, you might try:

Tymhour Pty Ltd

t/a F. Payton & Son

37-39 Whiting St

Artarmon, N.S.W

2064 Sydney, Australia

Phone: +61 2 9439 1822

Fax: +61 2 9439 1553

Email: fps@paytons.com.au

http://www.paytons.com.au

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its technically illegal to ship turpentine varnish from us to aus, at least with most carriers, i got around it by labeling it coloured linseed oil, which is passable, if you can source the varnish in australia that would be a plus, someone can ship you varnish from us that doesnt mean it wont be held up in customs though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the Hammerl stuff, you might try:

Tymhour Pty Ltd

t/a F. Payton & Son

37-39 Whiting St

Artarmon, N.S.W

2064 Sydney, Australia

Phone: +61 2 9439 1822

Fax: +61 2 9439 1553

Email: fps@paytons.com.au

http://www.paytons.com.au

Thanks for that....i live in melbourne, which is about 10 hours drive from sydney so i dont think i'll be going in store to get it. I emailed them the other day how much a bottle + shipping is and waiting for a reply so hopefully the price will be good.

Hey joe, will it me impossible for me to buy your varnish because you cant send it over? if its possible.....could you give me a quote for your varnish shipped to Aus.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I see it, when one of us beginners are going to make something imbecilic with all conviction, David steps in, when some "expert" proclaims a impetuous flawed certainty, David steps in, when there's sheep to be saved from their own excrement, David steps in....... biggrin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

David,

Perhaps you would like to explain what a "crapbuster" is, for the benefit of your British following?

Sounds pretty universal to me - an exponent of the art of busting crap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds pretty universal to me - an exponent of the art of busting crap.

Well, I have never heard of it, neither had the Microsoft spell check. Left me to having to use my imagination. I had this image of some superhero, with a shovel and a hammer, running after a heard of sheep

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

David,

Perhaps you would like to explain what a “crapbuster” is, for the benefit of your British following?

Hmmm, taken literally, it paints an odd picture, doesn’t it? :lol:

I thought I was already translating into British. American dialect would just be a series of grunts with inflections, and maybe a little screeching, punctuated by some arm waving and jumping up and down. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that....i live in melbourne, which is about 10 hours drive from sydney so i dont think i'll be going in store to get it. I emailed them the other day how much a bottle + shipping is and waiting for a reply so hopefully the price will be good.

Thanks

In the USA I live maybe 16 hours from Maryland, but by comparison, an internet order or phone call to my violin parts supplier for 2 oz clear varnish, 2 oz tinted varnish, some color extract, some pumice, and some balsam turpentine will cost $25 USD plus $10 shipping to my door, and these amounts are enough for me to make my favorite ground and at least 6 coats of varnish each for 4 separate violins. Keep in mind that my work has been on student violins under $1000 USD in value and I am a hobbyist who likes to build and experiment. If I was to produce a violin expected to appraise or sell for over $5000, I'd be studying Joe's Balsam Ground system and Greek Pitch varnishes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that....i live in melbourne, which is about 10 hours drive from sydney so i dont think i'll be going in store to get it. I emailed them the other day how much a bottle + shipping is and waiting for a reply so hopefully the price will be good.

Hey joe, will it me impossible for me to buy your varnish because you cant send it over? if its possible.....could you give me a quote for your varnish shipped to Aus.

Thanks

A couple of comments:

1. FWIW I have bought small quantities of varnish from the US with no problems.

2. Paytons are wholesale, I have bought direct from them years ago, but there was a minimum order - I don't remember what it was.

Tim

"PS - Stanley could also try M. Darnton's method, with a shellac sealer/ground application, and a mastic/turpentine/linseed oil cold mixed varnish with some pigments. these might be ingredients that he could find more easily around where he lives?"'

It used to be said that Melbourne was the second largest Greek city in the world, so mastic won't be a problem :D the oil and turps from an artist's supply shop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.