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Refreshing/ touching up violin varnish


sabaugher
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Hey guys! I've been reading maestronet's discussion boards for about a month now, and I'm excited to finally be posting a question :D 

 

I'm a composer/ violist by trade, and I've decided to refurbish some abandoned violins as a summer project. They're trade instruments from the 60's that are in really bad shape, so I'm just using them as practice victims to learn some repair skills. I'm not too concerned about screwing them up, but I do want to do the best job I can on repairing them while getting the maximum amount of education out of the experience. As far as education goes, I've been reading the Strobel books, talking with local luthiers, reading boards like this and other luthier blogs, and watching videos on Youtube (especially Brian Lisus' video of building the Peace Quartet). 

 

With all that in mind, I have a question about how to best touch up the varnish on one of my patients. In some places, the varnish has been removed down to the bare wood (maybe gouged the wood a little too). There are also large areas of the finish where it's deeply pock-marked, like someone rubbed it against some gravel or concrete, but the color is still intact. 

 

I know that where I can see bare wood I'll have to replace the ground and varnish. But what is the best way to approach these other large areas of abrasion? I've heard that sandarac is good for filling in holes.... but is there a varnishing material that works sort of like polish on a car for getting out scratches in the paint? I've also heard of people "refreshing" varnish, but I have yet to discover exactly what "refreshing" entails (I suspect many different techniques....)

 

Any suggestions/ guidance from the elders and my fellow enthusiasts is much appreciated! Thank you a bunch in advance ;)

 

-Sarah

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Yay! Thanks for all the ideas and the welcome, guys!

 

Violadamore, I look forward to getting that feature! Is it something I unlock after so many posts? Am I also initially restricted from posting pictures? I'd love to load one to show you all exactly what I'm talking about with the varnish abrasions, but I've not been successful in finding a button for that :(

 

Christopher, Thanks for the recommendation! I'll look into all three options.... I had been wondering what French polish actually was, so it's good to know that it's for getting out the nicks and scratches.

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Am I also initially restricted from posting pictures? I'd love to load one to show you all exactly what I'm talking about with the varnish abrasions, but I've not been successful in finding a button for that :(

 

 

Sarah,

 

If your pics are hosted somewhere on the web (like photobucket for example) you can copy the url into your post using the image button in the posting tool bar.  The image button is the green square. 

 

Mac

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I'll second the recommendation for the Brain Epp book. It's not very expensive, and gives a good, basic overview of what needs to be done. I've taken a couple of weeks of varnish retouching workshops with a real Master of the craft (Hans J. Nebel), and still feel humbled when I try to do the retouching. He can make things virtually disappear!

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Robert, thanks for the heads up on the pictures! I do have a tumblr to record my repair adventures (Zombielins), and I'll try linking some pictures from there.

 

Doug, thanks! I'm going to try and get my hands on it (once I get my next paycheck.... :P).

 

Yaay, thanks for all the advice, guys! I think I might try the french polish, if I can get my hands on some pumice, and if the remaining varnish is thick enough to stand a little buffing down. I'll let you all know how it goes and post some pictures! :D

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  • 11 months later...

OK, done  :)

 

 

I hadn't realised that they grill alligators is Bosnia :)

 

Oh, regularly, although we still have problems with suppliers :)

Tail's what you use.  Grilled is good but my favorite's deep fried battered chunks with cocktail sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce(though Jacob would probably prefer malt vinegar)  :lol:

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