"Right" amount of varnish on a violin


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So it has to be thin, right? How do you know. I probably put on too little as it weares down to the ground in a year or so at some places.

 

You can't weigh it because you don't know how much evaporated after drying and if you weigh it right after you have put on a layer of varnish, the violin is 5 g lighter after a night in the UV box, i.e. you don't know how much in weigh is left on the violin.

 

So you just have to know! - But How?

Yes, after 100 instruments or so, I don't want to wait for that

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There used to be a cliche that hard varnish constricts the wood.  But I always wondered why a soft, thick varnish wouldn't constrict the wood more, just as a pillow would.  My half-baked theory is:  At least with thin varnish, whatever it is doing, it is doing it less.  And more can always be put on. 

 

I killed the tone of my first violin with too many coats of too thick a varnish.  I've been very happy with getting more color with as little varnish as possible.  But it's not based on any careful research. 

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Peter

Don´t worry so much. Only copy to others (the good ones). 

The important issue is to realize what happen with each coat and you don´t need 100 violin to do that.

For example I decide to revarnish a yellow viola I made. So I added more coats of brown varnish. The outcome was that I feel muted a little the sound.

Experience with thoughts are gold (just for me)

 

Regards

Tango

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There used to be a cliche that hard varnish constricts the wood.  But I always wondered why a soft, thick varnish wouldn't constrict the wood more, just as a pillow would.  My half-baked theory is:  At least with thin varnish, whatever it is doing, it is doing it less.  

 

The term "constrict" doesn't really get to the technical basis of what the varnish might be doing.  If varnish gives a stiffening structural layer on the surface, that would normally be a "good" acoustical property, allowing for a thinner, lighter soundboard (depending on the efficiency of the stiffening effect), whereas a softer varnish might just add mass... normally a "bad" acoustical property.  And it is not inherently obvious that a hard varnish is necessarily stiffer than a soft one, as it is not obvious that glass is actually not as stiff as copper.  However, my guess is that soft varnishes are most likely less stiff, alghough I haven't tested to be sure. 

 

But the real issue in my opinion is damping.  My investigations of varnishes generally show that nothing really stiffens the wood (along the grain, anyway), as varnishes tend to be far lower modulus than the wood.  Damping can change by huge percentages, while the stiffness/weight only changes slightly.

 

So, less varnish, less damping, which I think is the right direction.  Or, as Michael noted, less is more.

 

I try to apply varnish only until the surface is smooth, and only the bigger grain lines ripple through, and adjust the color intensity to get the right color when the thickness is right.  It shouldn't take too many violins to do that, and that's what wood scraps and varnish testing is for.

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When applying colored varnish, I try and color the varnish sufficiently that two or three thin coats achieves the density I want. However, it can become difficult to apply evenly when it is so highly colored; careful application is necessary.

 

I follow up with a couple coats of clear varnish on top to allow for rubbing out later. This prevents rubbing into the colored varnish and causing a splotchy looking finish.

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So it has to be thin, right? How do you know. I probably put on too little as it weares down to the ground in a year or so at some places.

 

You can't weigh it because you don't know how much evaporated after drying and if you weigh it right after you have put on a layer of varnish, the violin is 5 g lighter after a night in the UV box, i.e. you don't know how much in weigh is left on the violin.

 

So you just have to know! - But How?

Yes, after 100 instruments or so, I don't want to wait for that

How about putting it in the UV box first to dry it out and then weigh it. Then varnish it and then put it back in the UV box again and then weighing it again.

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 I probably put on too little as it weares down to the ground in a year or so at some places.

 

If this is happening, I'm thinking you may have a varnish durability or adhesion problem. It could be the varnish is too soft. I've experienced this firsthand.

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So, less varnish, less damping, which I think is the right direction.  Or, as Michael noted, less is more.

 

I try to apply varnish only until the surface is smooth, and only the bigger grain lines ripple through, and adjust the color intensity to get the right color when the thickness is right. 

 

That's what I'm doing right now, but it looked kind of too even and boring so i added a little more colored varnish here and there.

 

How about putting it in the UV box first to dry it out and then weigh it. Then varnish it and then put it back in the UV box again and then weighing it again.

 

Yes this is the best I can do to get the appriximate weight, 5 coats is ~7 g

 

If this is happening, I'm thinking you may have a varnish durability or adhesion problem. It could be the varnish is too soft. I've experienced this firsthand.

 

I have experimented a lot so that is a likely the problems with previous violins, they are varnished with Old Wood varnish systems.

 

This one has now a little more varnish than usual.

 

Anyhow varnisihing is extremely interesting, and you set your personal touch on the violins, kind of like art ;)

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For technical clarification, application method along with the viscosity of the fluid will determine the total amount of mil build. Not so much how many coats one applies. I agree with Don that varnish is all about dampening or not. Wear to me is not an issue. body contact is minimal based on rest's mostly being used. Most proper systems will last many, many years. Related to the question...you know you got it when it makes you feel good.

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Actually, no one really cares how much varnish you use but yourself. 

 

 

TRUE!

 

This Is what I wanted to do and I did it :)

In the unlikely event that anyone should care;

Applied total 6 coat of my own cooked varnish, 3 coats with amber and golden brown mixed into the varnish.

By hand with vinyl gloves no polish needed, it's thin and weigh ~8g.

 

post-37356-0-61206000-1392236854_thumb.jpgpost-37356-0-27521900-1392236870_thumb.jpgpost-37356-0-05156800-1392236888_thumb.jpg

 

It's too glossy, but that is easy to fix -> start using it

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That's what I'm doing right now, but it looked kind of too even and boring so i added a little more colored varnish here and there. Yes this is the best I can do to get the appriximate weight, 5 coats is ~7 g I have experimented a lot so that is a likely the problems with previous violins, they are varnished with Old Wood varnish systems. This one has now a little more varnish than usual. Anyhow varnisihing is extremely interesting, and you set your personal touch on the violins, kind of like art ;)

Sounds like you are criticizing the Old Wood product for being too soft. I don't think that's fair. I am having amazing results with it, which I will post about someday if my "luck" continues. Anyway, I hope you understand that the product is fine...great...yet there are 1000 ways to botch the whole system. The ground is key, for example. It is always a risk at that step. Your current instrument has a greatly improved varnishing but consider-perhaps that is because of your increased experience, not a fault inherent to the varnish you used in the past.

Anyway...this post is for anyone doing a search on the product. The system works in my opinion. So you at least have a positive review to see too.

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Sounds like you are criticizing the Old Wood product for being too soft. I don't think that's fair.

 

I have nothing but good to say about Old Wood products, even more so about the personal help I have gotten from them. The problems that I have had using Old Wood products is most likely to be attributed to my experimental aproach.

 

Last year this was my idea on how a violin should look like, (my taste has changed since that)

 

Oldwood IGG & DM grounding and Brescian Brown varnish with Walnut Dark Brown color

 

post-37356-0-98002200-1392401012_thumb.jpg

 

Compared to Girardin

 

post-37356-0-11300300-1392401110_thumb.jpg

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I have nothing but good to say about Old Wood products, even more so about the personal help I have gotten from them. The problems that I have had using Old Wood products is most likely to be attributed to my experimental aproach. Last year this was my idea on how a violin should look like, (my taste has changed since that) Oldwood IGG & DM grounding and Brescian Brown varnish with Walnut Dark Brown color attachicon.gifOW_Varnish_PG_2013.jpg Compared to Girardin attachicon.gifOW_Varnish_PG_Girardin.jpg

Oh! I really misinterpreted what you wrote, then. I apologize. So then do you still use old wood, or was my impression correct there...that you switched for this instrument to cook your own? I admire those who cook their own varnish. That's a pretty big project in itself. Eventually I'll get there.

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Oh! I really misinterpreted what you wrote, then. I apologize. So then do you still use old wood, or was my impression correct there...that you switched for this instrument to cook your own? I admire those who cook their own varnish. That's a pretty big project in itself. Eventually I'll get there.

 

:)

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I have nothing but good to say about Old Wood products, even more so about the personal help I have gotten from them. The problems that I have had using Old Wood products is most likely to be attributed to my experimental aproach.

 

Last year this was my idea on how a violin should look like, (my taste has changed since that)

 

Oldwood IGG & DM grounding and Brescian Brown varnish with Walnut Dark Brown color

 

attachicon.gifOW_Varnish_PG_2013.jpg

 

Compared to Girardin

 

attachicon.gifOW_Varnish_PG_Girardin.jpg

Peter, I like yours better in that picture than the Girardin, it's a nice amber color! 

 

Mike,

Agreed.  Less is more.

Joe

 

Joe,  what is that one?  How thick or how thin?

 

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