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MikeC

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Wow that's nice but quite a bit beyond my abilitiy.  I wouldn't mind having a nice Gibson or Martin but they sure are pricey!    A solid body electric is something I was contemplating,  either that or a semi hollow electric.    I would need to use a neck/fingerboard already made.  I can't see making that from scratch.    A guitar would look good with a violin finish.  It would be something unique. 

I may make a walking / hiking stick for myself  just because that curly maple is such nice eye candy. That's if I can find another piece long enough with good curl.  

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I'll be walking in style with that cane. It looks fantastic. Thank you for posting the video. I do like the shaft being like a violin neck.

 

Many Thanks to you Mike for making this cane for me and to Fiddlesurgeon for donating the wood. I owe you guys.

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I'm jealous now.  I want one.  I'm going to be in search of a piece of curly maple long enough.   No handle on top for mine,  maybe just a round knob,  sort of a hiking stick.   I have a piece of broom handle that has some curl in it but it's been cut off too short.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I put what may be the final application of varnish on it last night.   It will need a few days of UV and then I'll try rubbing it with some pumice.   I haven't said a whole lot about the varnish.  It's kind of a brownish effect with a tint of red.   It's a mixture of varnish made with your red rosin that you sent and some dark cooked rosin that I had already.   It has some of the madder lake  and a little of the homemade red pigment that I made also there is some small amount of burnt umber that was cooked into the varnish.   I wish I had been able to recreate the varnish I made a couple years ago.  It had a really nice color with no pigments added.  The varnish on the handle looks pretty good though.   The varnish on the shaft is not a thick layer but the appearance of it should be pretty durable as I put something 'in' the wood also.  In the turns of the scroll and the deep part of the fluting on the back there is a little deeper red where some cochineal had been added.  I was trying to get a little bit of an antique wear pattern but it's not a huge effect.   Will try to post pictures tonight.  

 

As for varnish making, I really need to get a hotplate that will reach higher temperatures.   The varnish a couple years ago was cooked at very high temp for a short period of time on a bed of hot coals.  The hotplate only gets up to about 550f maybe a little less and that's with the thermostat bypassed. 

 

The photos may make it look a little red'er than it looks in person but they are reasonably accurate. 

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I think the varnish on the handle is dry enough  and hard enough for shipping.  I wouldn't want any packing materials to make an impression on it.   Now I have to figure out how to box it up.   You mentioned using pvc pipe and I think the box that the wood came in may be long enough.  

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I think the varnish on the handle is dry enough  and hard enough for shipping.  I wouldn't want any packing materials to make an impression on it.   Now I have to figure out how to box it up.   You mentioned using pvc pipe and I think the box that the wood came in may be long enough.

Hi Mike

Yes PVC or ABS pipe works well for shipping things that could be mishandled by carriers which is often the case. I just shipped some delicate purfling in a PVC tube (with endcaps) from western Washington to the east coast. It made it without damage.

The cane looks great BTW...

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Dried it some more in the sun today. At 53 I have to use reading glasses grrr.  Looking at it in the sun with glasses on so I can see the medullary rays, it looks good.  In good light the grain seems to float around in 3D.  Cool effect.  Almost Cremonese... almost  ;)   I noticed yesterday there was still some softness in the varnish in the crevices around the scroll and the 'ducktail' or whatever you call that part.  Seems pretty dry now though.   I'll probably send a small bottle of the varnish too. 

 

I see you selling a lot of stuff.  I have some hand saws to sell  and some shopsmith markV stuff but will probably list them on ebay 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't remember if I mentioned it but I didn't rub out the varnish with pumice or anything.  So you'll see brush marks probably.  I didn't want to risk doing that too soon in case the varnish was still tender.   

 

Let me know when it arrives and what you think of it.    I was watching the news this evening and they showed a truck going down the highway and packages tumbling out the back of it....   :o     yikes!    None of them looked long and skinny like a cane though  :D

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I've heard that UPS is pronounced  'oops'  which is not a good sign for a shipping company.  LOL      USPS tracking shows it in Memphis TN on the 24th.  

 

I just mailed a bottle of varnish.  The label may be a little confusing so I'll explain what it is.  It's about a half n half mixture of two varnishes.  I was experimenting some.   One varnish is made with the red rosin and linseed oil you sent.  The other was made with some dark orange-ish rosin which was cooked down from some hawthorn venice turpentine.  I put some burnt umber in the rosin while it was heating up and also put in some red precipitate which is made by mixing ferrous sulfate with a soap solution.  This varnish was made with regular boiled linseed oil in a can so it would have some chemical driers.  The mixture was thinned with some turpentine and some odorless mineral spirit.   It does not have any lake pigments added.    There is a dab of the varnish on top of the cap and if you try to scratch it with a fingernail you'll find that its pretty hard tough stuff.   

This is the varnish I put on the handle mostly,  but there may be some other stuff as I was experimenting a bit.  

 

I also included a non slip rubber cane tip.  You probably wont use it but it's one I found laying around so decided to include it.

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A little more info on the varnish used on the handle.   I was trying several things and making small batches of varnish in a 4oz baby food bottle rather than use up large quantities of materials.  

 

  So the varnish in the bottle is a mix of a couple different varnishes

 

.   One is a simple varnish made with the red rosin that you sent to me along with the washed linseed oil.  It was thinned with tupentine mostly although I probably did add some odorless mineral spirits.

 

  The second varnish was made as follows,  to the best of my memory.   Keep in mind I was making small batches and so used volume measurements rather than weight as it was easier that way.  

so 2 table spoons crushed rosin mixed with about 1 teaspoon of red precipitate.  Heat to melting.  Add in about a half inch bead of burnt umber from artists oil paint tube.  Once it was all melted I added one tablespoon of linseed oil.    By weight this would probably be about a 60:40 mix, I'm estimating. 

The rosin I used for this was cooked down from some hawthorn venice turpentine which yields a dark orangy kind of color,  not as red as the rosin you made.   

The linseed oil I used was regular boiled linseed oil from the hardware store.  Although I did wash it with salt water before using it.   

I heated the varnish until it made a good string.   Once cool enough I added turpentine to thin it.   

 

Well that's about it,  Let me know if you need more details like for example making the red precipitate.  It's kind of waxy so I wouldn't suggest using much of it in a varnish,  probably better to use lake pigments.  But I was experimenting.   

 

That varnish mix seems to dry pretty quickly and hard so hopefully it will hold up good in use.  

 

 

I forgot to mention,  in the deeper crevices like in the turns of the scroll I tried to add extra red in there by using some of that cochineal lake.  and also there is one or two thin layers of the varnish on the handle that has some madder lake added in.   I may not have mulled it well enough but it seems to have come out ok.   There is on spot where you may find a brush hair embedded.  :D    

 

It seemed slightly streaky on that front medallion so I was thinking maybe another coat or two would even that out.   But I wanted to go ahead and get it dried and shipped and thought it looked ok.    

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Mike

I received everything without damage and the cane looks so nice. One last word of Thanks to you and fiddlesurgeon for this gift. To me this is a real gift and something I will cherish and use for many years. I'm glad you had so much fun making it and I'm looking forward to seeing your next project.

Cheers

-Ernie

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I'm glad you like it.   Hey that's a nice banjo.  I used to have one but never got good at playing it.     There's something wrong with that fiddle.  IT's got too many pegs,  you need to fix that.  A sawsall should do the trick.   :D   

 

I do enjoy the process of building something even though it takes me forever.   Next project,  I mentioned maybe a guitar kit but was also thinking maybe a violin kit.   A build from scratch isn't going to happen anytime soon so it would have to be a kit.    There are some finishing ideas I'd like to try out.  Always experimenting and thinking of new things.   

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  • 1 month later...

I tried to make copal varnish today.   It's manila copal I think.   It dissolves in alcohol.   I tried to make an oil varnish with it and it turned into a gooey slimy mess.    I tried an unconventional cooking method by dissolving the copal in alcohol then adding linseed oil, then bringing the mixture up to heat until the alcohol cooked out of it.   I tried to thin it with turpentine which did not work at all.  It is completely insoluble in turpentine.   Well at least it wasn't the opaque brown concrete that I got the first time I tried to make it.   

 

Trying to capture Medulary rays...    The camera resolution isn't very good. 

 

This was the old #1 vso.  I have a low production rate,  one every 30 years.  Tempus fugit.  

Getting a photo that looks like what you see with your eyes is really hard to do.  I finally got one close though.  

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Sounds like Manila copal.  I haven't used that, but Congo copal I found to be very friendly to making oil varnish.

 

Photographing wood is tricky.  Light source and direction is #1, but it is also important what the ambient light in the rest of the room is.  Dark room with bright light source works best.  Here's what I could get out of my last violin, highlighting the rays as much as possible:

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That looks good Don.   My camera doesn't have a macro lens so I try to hold a magnifier in front of the lens for a closeup.   I take lots of pics and discard all but the one or two that come out in focus.   In the pictures above I wanted to try some new finishing ideas.   It's the old #1 vso with only half of it stripped and refinished so that I could compare the new finish next to the old.   There is more contrast in the grain now which doesn't really show well in the pics.  The varnish application is streaky so my technique needs work.  

In the center picture the lower part of it the old finish.  Hazy looking because it's a bit out of focus I think.  

 

I have some fossil copal which may work well but I'm not prepared to use it yet.   I still need to get a hotplate that will get hot enough.   Another crazy idea I had... would it be possible to make a shellac  oil varnish?    Could you melt shellac and mix it with linseed oil?   It would probably be fail sauce.  

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Mike, It will be hard to get the same contrast in the wood as Don's photo. His processed wood does that like no other method that I've tried so far. I have experience finishing his processed wood and for me the hardest part was developing some golden color into the dark wood.

I have seen photos of other makers who I know use nitrites to burn the flames and that also looks nice.

Going from the photo I think Don has pretty much nailed the contrast and color...that photo looks fantastic Don.

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I got some increase in contrast but not as much as in Don's picture.    Ernie have you tested out that varnish on a sample yet?     It has pros and cons.   In subdued lighting it can look very dark but it looks good in bright light.  

Here's a picture that shows how it can sink into pores.  This pic is dark because I was trying to show a closeup of texture and it's in the camera shadow.    I'll post another pic that shows the orangy red color better.      That iron soap precipitate is waxy so I was uncertain how it would work in a varnish.    While it looks good in this small sample shot,  overall it's a not very even streaky application.  

 

I wasn't going to post these last two but changed my mind.  The color in some of these photos is a little misleading.  This is what it looks like under some magnification and good light.   Absent those conditions, it's darker, not as colorful. 

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  • 1 month later...

yes.  a scrap I had left over from making the cane.   Really just a ground experiment.     I'll use it as a pipe tamper since I occasionally puff on one,  Sherlock Holmes style.   ;)

 

Getting an accurate video is as hard as getting an accurate still photo.   There are always subtle details that don't show up well. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yet another try at an interesting finish.  Nice contrast and no loss of chatoyance.  

 And an attempt at a dichromatic ground.   A little overdone,  needs to be more subtle.   And a better more complimentary varnish is needed. 

 

 

I decided to copy and paste this quote here so I could find it later.   One of the better posts on the forum.

 

Conor Russell, on 28 Apr 2015 - 05:48 AM, said:Conor Russell, on 28 Apr 2015 - 05:48 AM, said:

I saw a Strad once that was undergoing a monster restoration. The accumulated dirt and polish had all been removed from the back, down to the bare bones.

 

Granted, the surface was dry, but several things struck me. The remaining islands of original varnish were very thin and a pale yellow, and the ground and bare wood were very white. So much of what we actually see, as David suggests, is a build up of polish, dirt and patina.

 

 

I can't say anything about the ground that was applied to these samples but they look good so decided to post pictures.  Eye candy, enjoy.  

The varnish is simple rosin / oil with iron based color. 

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