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Question about Violin Varnishing


Kallie
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Hi there,

 

Im finally having my first attempt at varnishing a violin. This is a violin that I bought off Ebay, with the purpous of varnish experimenting, trying different varnish techniques etc. (The violin was literally painted over, so I felt no guilt in stripping the paint)

 

My question for this topic is:

 

When you varnish, must the varnish be perfectly even in both color and texture? Or do you even out the color when you are "rubbing it down"? Also, when do you actually "rub the varnish down"? After it has completely dried? And what would you use to "rub it down"?

 

Thank you, and I look forward to reading your replies. :)

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The stripping has been a little brutal, so why not awaken and revive the wood by using gum turpentine only? Air dry.

 

Optional next step: Make up a solution ammonium chloride, apply it warmed to the wood, then dry the wood in the sunlight.

 

Then “sugar seal” the wood. Making up the recipe:

 

Dissolve sugar or honey in hot water.

Then dissolve in a bit of gum like acacia or tragacanth to get binder you need.

While stirring, add a bit of alum.

 

 

Coat the wood, then heat the wood very hot using a hair dryer, or passing the wood back and forth near a fire.

 

The aluminum chloride that is within this system will chemically transform the sugar/turpentine treated wood into something beautiful.

 

Prove this out on scrap wood before doing it to your violin.

 

When an oil varnish is next applied, it should bond to the wood.

 

Again, try this entire approach before doing it to your violin.

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The stripping has been a little brutal, so why not awaken and revive the wood by using gum turpentine only? Air dry.

 

Optional next step: Make up a solution ammonium chloride, apply it warmed to the wood, then dry the wood in the sunlight.

 

Then “sugar seal” the wood. Making up the recipe:

 

Dissolve sugar or honey in hot water.

Then dissolve in a bit of gum like acacia or tragacanth to get binder you need.

While stirring, add a bit of alum.

 

 

Coat the wood, then heat the wood very hot using a hair dryer, or passing the wood back and forth near a fire.

 

The aluminum chloride that is within this system will chemically transform the sugar/turpentine treated wood into something beautiful.

 

Prove this out on scrap wood before doing it to your violin.

 

When an oil varnish is next applied, it should bond to the wood.

 

Again, try this entire approach before doing it to your violin.

 

Thank you for the suggestion and explanation, however as I mentioned above, the purpose for which I bought this violin was to practice varnishing... Specifically the use of oil varnish, from my first batch of oil varnish I made (Used the Adele Beardsmore recipe).

 

The violin, I can assure you has no commercial value whatsoever in the state in which I received it. No varnish, painted over, cracks everywhere, missing neck, saxon/czech violin, strad copy.

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This is a picture of what I have so far:

 

I sealed the wood using a gelatin solution, and applied the first thin coat of the varnish. I rubbed the varnish on by hand, not using a brush.

 

Note: The varnish is still drying, and hasnt been rubbed down yet.

post-63555-0-19634600-1413228389_thumb.jpg

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for a cheap painted fiddle it has some nice figure in the maple.  What kind of varnish are you using? 

 

Yes the figured maple is quite nice. The varnish Im using is the recipe from Adele Beardsmore (Colophony, Aloe Powder, Linseed Oil). This recipe gives a nice golden varnish. I will add madder lakes later to get color.

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The stripping has been a little brutal, so why not awaken and revive the wood by using gum turpentine only? Air dry.

 

Optional next step: Make up a solution ammonium chloride, apply it warmed to the wood, then dry the wood in the sunlight.

 

Then “sugar seal” the wood. Making up the recipe:

 

Dissolve sugar or honey in hot water.

Then dissolve in a bit of gum like acacia or tragacanth to get binder you need.

While stirring, add a bit of alum.

 

 

Coat the wood, then heat the wood very hot using a hair dryer, or passing the wood back and forth near a fire.

 

The aluminum chloride that is within this system will chemically transform the sugar/turpentine treated wood into something beautiful.

 

Prove this out on scrap wood before doing it to your violin.

 

When an oil varnish is next applied, it should bond to the wood.

 

Again, try this entire approach before doing it to your violin.

This is more than sugar ground :-) do out have any pictures of a violin with this ground treatment? What is the source of this recipe?

Joe

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This is more than sugar ground :-) do out have any pictures of a violin with this ground treatment? What is the source of this recipe?

Joe

Don't pay any attention to that scheme. Otter has been plaguing MN with totally hairbrained ideas for the past week or so. He doesn't have any results to back up his speculations.

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Hi there,

 

Im finally having my first attempt at varnishing a violin. This is a violin that I bought off Ebay, with the purpous of varnish experimenting, trying different varnish techniques etc. (The violin was literally painted over, so I felt no guilt in stripping the paint)

 

My question for this topic is:

 

When you varnish, must the varnish be perfectly even in both color and texture? Or do you even out the color when you are "rubbing it down"? Also, when do you actually "rub the varnish down"? After it has completely dried? And what would you use to "rub it down"?

 

Thank you, and I look forward to reading your replies. :)

Kallie,

 

Books have been and will be published on this subject.  I suggest that you try something simple such as a uniform varnish. You could always try shading later. Get a book or two on the subject (Strobel is inexpensive) or do a lot of searches on the Internet and especially here on MN. If you are doing oil varnishes you will need a UV cabinet.

 

As for rubbing down between coats, check the various threads on this topic. You will find lots of good opinions. My one warning is to make sure that you clean up all rubbing oil with kaolin and lots of absorbent wipes or you will wind up with fish-eyes in your varnish. If you use soap make sure it is pure soap like Ivory (or artist soap) and not one with moisturizing creams.

 

Mike

 

 

Mike

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Kallie,

Stay the course.  Your instrument is progressing well.  Make sure you allow each application to dry before adding the next.  Between coats?

Just remove any chunks which stand above the level of the varnish.  The rest will come with practice.  Keep us informed as you progress.

on we go,

Joe

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Kallie,

 

Books have been and will be published on this subject.  I suggest that you try something simple such as a uniform varnish. You could always try shading later. Get a book or two on the subject (Strobel is inexpensive) or do a lot of searches on the Internet and especially here on MN. If you are doing oil varnishes you will need a UV cabinet.

 

As for rubbing down between coats, check the various threads on this topic. You will find lots of good opinions. My one warning is to make sure that you clean up all rubbing oil with kaolin and lots of absorbent wipes or you will wind up with fish-eyes in your varnish. If you use soap make sure it is pure soap like Ivory (or artist soap) and not one with moisturizing creams.

 

Mike

 

 

Mike

 

Thank you Michael. :) Summer is coming up in South-Africa, and we've had some lovely sun-filled days the couple of weeks, so Im hoping I can pospone a bit on getting a UV cabinet (For those winter days). :P I will definitely buy the Strobel book this month. Could be very useful from what Ive heard on here.

 

 

Kallie,

Stay the course.  Your instrument is progressing well.  Make sure you allow each application to dry before adding the next.  Between coats?

Just remove any chunks which stand above the level of the varnish.  The rest will come with practice.  Keep us informed as you progress.

on we go,

Joe

 

Thank you Joe. I will keep posting the progress in this topic, however it might take a while for the final result. First I have to buy an espresso maker (For the Neil Ertz espresso madder method). :P

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Dang, that looks nice for a worthless piece of fireplace tinder.  :)

 

You just inspired me to strip the sprayed urethane from a cheap (and I do mean CHEAP)  VSO that has been collecting dust for ages. If it comes out looking half as good as the picture you posted, then I will have a nice adornment for a fireplace mantle.

 

Why, if this works out  I can eBay it as made by an Old Italian for thousands of $$$! I am, after all, old and of italian descent. Just got to google some pics of old italian labels...

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I've seen some older crappy vso that were made out of beautiful wood. Kind of a shame, but I guess that's what it took to market these things.

 

If the dimensions are good, some of these plates could probably be re-worked into a decent instrument if someone had the time and inclination.

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I've seen some older crappy vso that were made out of beautiful wood. Kind of a shame, but I guess that's what it took to market these things.

 

If the dimensions are good, some of these plates could probably be re-worked into a decent instrument if someone had the time and inclination.

 

Yes, the wood on some of these VSOs can be rather beautiful.

 

In the case of this violin, it is pretty much what you would expect from a Saxon mass Trade violin.... Carved in bass bar, unfinished top with gauge marks, faux corner blocks on lower bouts, button hole and rib joint not aligned etc. Plus, as I mentioned the original scroll and neck was missing, and the violin painted over. I bought it for 30 bucks (usd bucks :P) on Ebay, in the condition which I described it as. Poor previously repaired cracks (epoxy was used) etc.

 

Ive already fixed everything.. Repaired the cracks, reworked the plates, new bass bar, new neck (still unfinished in the picture which you can see above). When varnished, and set up with nice strings and a bridge, the violin could make a pretty decent student violin imo. Or even a nice spare violin to have. At the very least, a nice decoration to commemorate my first varnish job. :P But will have to see what it sounds like when it comes to that.

 

 

By the way, this is a topic for another thread (or not, since the opinion is pretty much black or white), but I really felt no guilt in stripping the paint off this violin. I would never strip good, proper varnish off an antique instrument to replace it with my own.

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That is a nice red brown. What rosin did you end up using? Did you make the same volume of varnish?

She also doesn't mention cooking until you can pull a string between your fingers. I was wondering how that effects the varnish's properties- the brushability, working time, curing time and durability?

I'm not assuming you know these answers since it's your first batch. I'm only three batches further along myself :)

I was hoping someone would be able to comment on this. I hesitated to start a completely new thread on that.

It looks great by the way. REALLY smooth finish! Is the second coat also hand applied?

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That is a nice red brown. What rosin did you end up using? Did you make the same volume of varnish?

She also doesn't mention cooking until you can pull a string between your fingers. I was wondering how that effects the varnish's properties- the brushability, working time, curing time and durability?

I'm not assuming you know these answers since it's your first batch. I'm only three batches further along myself :)

I was hoping someone would be able to comment on this. I hesitated to start a completely new thread on that.

It looks great by the way. REALLY smooth finish! Is the second coat also hand applied?

 

Hi Joe. Here is what I can answer...

 

I used the exact amounts as it says in the recipe.

 

First of all, the thermometer that I used couldnt go high enough to actually measure when I got the varnish to the right temperature. I only noticed that after I already started cooking it. This meant I had to "guess" when it was ready, but luckily it all turned out well.

 

I used yellow/orangy colophony that I bought on ebay.

 

The varnish, when cooked, is extremely thick. If turning the jar upside down, it would take a while before the varnish would start running. She mentioned having to add Mineral Turpentine (the proper stuff, which should smell like pine trees), which I did buy and did thin down some varnish to test, however for this violin I used the thick varnish and rubbed it on by hand. The brushability of the varnish is pretty good when thinned down, and it seems you have a while to work with. It takes about 1 day (1 and a half, possibly) to dry. Not sure about how long it takes to completely "cure". Durability I cannot yet answer on.

 

The 2nd coat was also hand applied (torture on my fingers... its like trying to spread very thick syrup evenly). After I varnished, everything was perfectly smooth, however as it starts drying, little bumps appear in the varnish. It sort of looks like salt grains, but the same color of the varnish. This had me worried at first, but once it is dried, it is very easy to get rid of with very fine sanding paper. Does anyone perhaps know what causes this?

 

These photos were taken just after I applied the 2nd coat - the bumps have not appeared there yet.

 

I hope this can answer some of your questions.

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Kallie, just one of the many methods and the one I used- when your varnish starts to develop a shine indicating you've sealed your ground coats, and the varnish is definitely dry, carefully polish with wet 1200 grit paper to smooth out the surface. Dry wipe then  wipe with a barely damp cloth. Your intent is to only remove those little picks, not much else.  Klingspor  located in Germany makes all grits if you can't find 1200 paper. Any remains from the polishing disappears with the next coat. Repeat if needed after next coat. It is an easy way to get rid of those bumps too small to pick. fred

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Kallie, just one of the many methods and the one I used- when your varnish starts to develop a shine indicating you've sealed your ground coats, and the varnish is definitely dry, carefully polish with wet 1200 grit paper to smooth out the surface. Dry wipe then  wipe with a barely damp cloth. Your intent is to only remove those little picks, not much else.  Klingspor  located in Germany makes all grits if you can't find 1200 paper. Any remains from the polishing disappears with the next coat. Repeat if needed after next coat. It is an easy way to get rid of those bumps too small to pick. fred

 

Excellent advice, thank you Fred.

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