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ViolinLove20

Premade Oil Varnish/Colors

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Hello all,

I've done some reading about oil varnishes and oil paint colors, but still have a few questions.

1. Making my own oil varnish is out of the question, so what brands or where could I purchase a reliable oil varnish?

2. I'm really intrigued by the oldwood varnishing system, especially their varnish and glazing process/materials. What are your thoughts or experiences with them?

3. After watching the varnish application process that oldwood uses (applying their thick looking varnish and oil colors by hand), are all oil varnishes applied like that? It surprised me because I thought you could only brush on varnish.

Thanks to anyone who could help point me in the right direction. All I want is to enjoy the amazing process of varnishing, and to be proud of the results.

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Hello all,

I've done some reading about oil varnishes and oil paint colors, but still have a few questions.

1. Making my own oil varnish is out of the question, so what brands or where could I purchase a reliable oil varnish?

All I want is to enjoy the amazing process of varnishing, and to be proud of the results.

Hi Whilst I understand your feeling what you are asking is a bit like wanting a bodybuilder's body buy doing some shopping for protein foods but not working out...There are no short cuts and putting in the hard yards to get experience and expertise in the handling of these materials is a key factor. Lots of us out here have collaborated and have years of experience and are considered pro's but still are not proud of our results compared to the great masters. But there could be some short cuts if you will consider modern ingredients...

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Hi Whilst I understand your feeling what you are asking is a bit like wanting a bodybuilder's body buy doing some shopping for protein foods but not working out...There are no short cuts and putting in the hard yards to get experience and expertise in the handling of these materials is a key factor. Lots of us out here have collaborated and have years of experience and are considered pro's but still are not proud of our results compared to the great masters. But there could be some short cuts if you will consider modern ingredients...

Most definitely. I know that the world of varnishing is very complex and personal, and that I need to experiment and learn for myself. All I was wondering was if there was a good starting point for a beginner(like me), a type of varnish that would be a good starting point and learning experience. Any reccomended literature or threads that would be good for me to read? Any types of varnish that would appease my beginner fascination? I dont mean to offend any of you by trying to shortcut or dumb down your process, all I want is a starting point or pointers :)

Thank you.

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Why is making oil varnish out of the question?  It's not that hard to do.  I tried glazing with artists oil paints.  It's not a bad look but there is some opaqueness.   If I were going to do it again, I would use homemade varnish with lake pigments.  No oil paint.     

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Hi,

 

All I can say is :

 

1st - There is no reliable oil varnish that you can purchase. The only thing industry has done, is to take us away from the real and precious knowledge.

 

2nd - I don ' t see any interest in purchasing a varnish to put on top of a violin that you have made. Unless you want to first get the knowledge of aplying the coats.

Learning about how to make a good ( enough ) oil varnish, is a long way, sometimes it ' s even painful, but the result is worth.

it demands a lot of knowledges of how to prepare the resin and the oil before cooking them together, how to cook, the material, the temperature, the cooking time, where to find the real stuff and so on, everything counts.

 

Maybe in your case, you should ask a luthier in a shop.

If you change your mind about making your varnish just ask advices, I will tell you what I can.

 

Cheers, friendly, Dave.

Have fun.

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Why is making oil varnish out of the question?  It's not that hard to do.  I tried glazing with artists oil paints.  It's not a bad look but there is some opaqueness.   If I were going to do it again, I would use homemade varnish with lake pigments.  No oil paint.

Maybe I'm mistaken, I thought that cooking oil varnish was a "dangerous" process. Like it would create toxic fumes or something of the sorts. Also, is it cooked indoors or outdoors? And is a thicker or thinner oil varnish better? I've seen thick varnish (oldwood) and seemingly thin varnish (I.V.).

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Outdoors or in a fume hood. I think there are several acceptable commercial varnishes, including the ones you mentioned and Joe Robson's. Some are very thick, some thin and brushable. I make my own but from pre-cooked resin, always thin. I believe that application is more critical than exact make-up.

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Hi,

 

All I can say is :

 

1st - There is no reliable oil varnish that you can purchase. The only thing industry has done, is to take us away from the real and precious knowledge.

 

2nd - I don ' t see any interest in purchasing a varnish to put on top of a violin that you have made. Unless you want to first get the knowledge of aplying the coats.

Learning about how to make a good ( enough ) oil varnish, is a long way, sometimes it ' s even painful, but the result is worth.

it demands a lot of knowledges of how to prepare the resin and the oil before cooking them together, how to cook, the material, the temperature, the cooking time, where to find the real stuff and so on, everything counts.

 

Maybe in your case, you should ask a luthier in a shop.

If you change your mind about making your varnish just ask advices, I will tell you what I can.

 

Cheers, friendly, Dave.

Have fun.

Since eventually, I will want to make my own varnish, I would love if you had any process or tips, or "beginner" recipe to share with me. I am starting to see how making your own varnish is worth it. But I just get so overwhelmed trying to comprehend all the ingredients and procedures and what are lake pigments and the list goes on and on. Is there any one book that could answer all of those questions for me? Because I would feel bad constantly asking for answers on here.

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There are different opinions.  I don't think making varnish is dangerous, at least not in small quantities.   My varnish is not great but I'm still learning.   I only use about 2 or 3 tablespoons of powdered rosin and about an equal weight of linseed oil in my test runs.  Do it outside because of smelly fumes and there's the chance it could catch on fire but it's not a poisonous explosive.   

 

I have a property line dispute with a neighbor.  I usually make varnish when the wind is blowing in his direction.  

 

:D

 

 

What causes it to be thick or thin,  Rosin and oil mix is usually thick when it cools.  Before it gets too cool you would add turpentine or mineral spirits to make it thinner.  

 

my results are inconsistent.  If you want something that you know is good then buy some that has a good reputation.  

 

I just like to make stuff.  

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There are different opinions.  I don't think making varnish is dangerous, at least not in small quantities.   My varnish is not great but I'm still learning.   I only use about 2 or 3 tablespoons of powdered rosin and about an equal weight of linseed oil in my test runs.  Do it outside because of smelly fumes and there's the chance it could catch on fire but it's not a poisonous explosive.   

 

I have a property line dispute with a neighbor.  I usually make varnish when the wind is blowing in his direction.  

 

:D

 

 

What causes it to be thick or thin,  Rosin and oil mix is usually thick when it cools.  Before it gets too cool you would add turpentine or mineral spirits to make it thinner.  

 

my results are inconsistent.  If you want something that you know is good then buy some that has a good reputation.  

 

I just like to make stuff.

Thanks for the ideas! I'll probably hold off from making varnish until I'm a little older, I bet my parents wouldn't approve of me trying that quite yet.

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Is the following an "acceptable process"?:

1. Gelatin sealer coat

2. Dichromate stain coat

3. Shellac ground coats

3. Oil varnish coats

4. Oil varnish + oil painters color coat

5. Clear or varnish coats

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If the wood has a beautiful, natural contrast in the grain, then it can be as simple as applying several thin coats of a high quality, store bought satin finish oil based polyurethane. It will highlight the natural beauty of the wood.

When you get into stains and colored varnishes, the main challenge is in controlling how much of the color is absorbed, as the porosity of the grain structure can vary quite a bit in spruce (not so much in maple). You can get some really ugly splotches all over the wood. You need to learn how to use a stain controller before applying the colored layer in order to get a uniform finish. Definitely practice a bit on wood scraps!

The next step up is using a ground/stain/varnish system and there has been quite a lot written about this method from simple to very complex. Time to put Google to work!

I would discourage making your own, traditional varnish as it is messy, smelly and dangerous. OK for a seasoned professional, but something to be avoided otherwise.

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If the wood has a beautiful, natural contrast in the grain, then it can be as simple as applying several thin coats of a high quality, store bought satin finish oil based polyurethane. It will highlight the natural beauty of the wood.When you get into stains and colored varnishes, the main challenge is in controlling how much of the color is absorbed, as the porosity of the grain structure can vary quite a bit in spruce (not so much in maple). You can get some really ugly splotches all over the wood. You need to learn how to use a stain controller before applying the colored layer in order to get a uniform finish. Definitely practice a bit on wood scraps!The next step up is using a ground/stain/varnish system and there has been quite a lot written about this method from simple to very complex. Time to put Google to work!I would discourage making your own, traditional varnish as it is messy, smelly and dangerous. OK for a seasoned professional, but something to be avoided otherwise.

Thanks for the advice! Any systems in peticular you'd recommend?

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I had bought a cheap white violin and have applied, then stripped, then applied and stripped and reapplied coats of shellac to get a feel for using a varnish like substance on a violin. How does it look for a ground coat? Any advice or pointers? Would a oil varnish plus oil colors "work" on top of this?

post-77139-0-57308200-1417147284_thumb.jpg

post-77139-0-19373300-1417147551_thumb.jpg

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Why is making oil varnish out of the question?  It's not that hard to do.  I tried glazing with artists oil paints.  It's not a bad look but there is some opaqueness.   If I were going to do it again, I would use homemade varnish with lake pigments.  No oil paint.

You go guy!!!... :)

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It can be very dangerous until you know how to do it. Common sense means lots of research beforehand. You must understand the dangers of heating solvents and resins and their flashpoints. Whatever you cook look at the MSDS sheets and never cook on an open flame or in an enclosed space. One spark could cause an explosion.

There is a lot of information out there but it takes time to research. My first attempt at varnish making was Fulton varnish made from thickened turpentine. I researched it thoroughly and made damn sure I understood each step before I made this dangerous varnish. But I made it and it turned out fine.

Varnish making does not need to be dangerous though. I suggest reading the varnish chapter in Roger Hargraves bass thread book. That will be a good place to start.

The first commercial varnish I ever used was bought from Joe Robson and I still use his products. Magister was the second commercial varnish I used and that was also a high quality product. I know other makers who use Hammerel varnish and at least one who uses varnish sold by Vitali.

Good Luck and please be safe...and ask questions before you embark.

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Thanks em! I know for sure that one day I will make varnishes on my own, but being only 16 years old and restricted by parents(for good reason) from messing with chemicals or mixtures like creating a varnish for safety, I think I premade is my only option. :)

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Ok, I understand, so yes maybe there is eminent violin-makers such as Joe Robson who makes varnish for sale, and you should begin with this.

 

If you want good books about materials and varnish, I think that Geary Bease  has made a very good book about making varnishes,

and it's a good place to start also, such as Roger Hargrave's bass thread book. By the way all you can read from Mr Hargrave is really interesting, and he 's a really generous man, at least enough to let us know about his findings which are great.

 

So, off course, don't worry about asking details and advices, many people here are really kind and willing to help, and will always answer your questions, cause you need guide lines, it is really important.

 

Cooking might be dangerous, you must do it only outdoor.

 

I will tell you the process I follow later. But please promiss that you will always be careful with this.

And keep in mind that you have plenty of things to know, before starting.

 

Friendly, Dave.

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If you want to ease into a safe, inexpensive method that mimics a more advanced approach, try the following.

1. Use a mineral ground, like gypsum. For your first attempt, buy a small quantity of Plaster of Paris (calcium sulfate anhydride, aka gypsum) and stir in small amounts into a glass of water at room temperature. Let the motion of the water stop between stirrings and note when the plaster starts settling out of the water rather than remaining dissolved/suspended in it. This is called "slaking" the plaster and converts the gypsum into a very unreactive, neutral pH compound called calcium sulfate dihydride.

Wet the surface of the wood with this solution, paying special attention to the end grain. Let dry. You can hasten it initially with a blow dryer, but it is a little better to let it dry naturally. It will dry to a white haze. This is the gypsum crystallizing into a very fine powder. Apply a second coat if needed to get a consistent, white finish. For finishing an actual piece, let it "cure" for 2 to 3 days so the wood stabilizes with the relative humidity of the room air and the gypsum forms a fully hardened, crystalline matrix.

Gypsum is actually a transparent crystal with a refractive index of around 1.5. When you apply varnish with a refractive index also of 1.5 on top of it, its transparency will be restored and the wood grain will reappear. It also does an excellent job of sealing the grain and filling minor scratches and inconsistencies in the wood finish.

2. Use a pre-colored, stain finish oil-based polyurethane varnish. You can find about a dozen different wood-toned colors. Mix it with mineral spirits, sometimes called white spirits, in a 1 to 1 proportion to form a "rubbing" solution. I use small paper cups that are easily disposed of in a trash can. The mineral spirits will evaporate and the urethane will quickly harden into an inert solid.

Both of these materials are low odor so there is no objectionable smell to travel throughout the house. But you might want to keep a window cracked open anyways when first applying. Apply lightly to the mineral ground with a soft bristle brush and very gently wipe a lint free cloth so the surface is just lightly wetted.

Urethane varnishes dry to the touch in about 4 hours and are ready for light use in 24 hours. If you like the consistency and depth of the color, you are done with the color step. Otherwise, very, very lightly sand with fine grit sand paper (320+), wipe off any dust, and apply a second color coat. Repeat until you get the color consistency and depth you want. Consistent color is usually achieved in two coats.

Colored varnishes are typically pigmented. This means the coloring agent is "opaque" rather than "transparent". So the more coats you apply, the more it hides the details of the wood grain. But you need a lot of coats before this becomes an issue.

Classic violin varnishes use rosin that has been "cooked" to achieve a desired "transparent" color. It serves the same function as the polyurethane, but needs to be dissolved in a solvent, typically a combination of mineral spirits or turpentine and some linseed oil. But it is messy, smelly and dangerous to prepare.

3. Finish with multiple, thin coats of clear, satin oil-based polyurethane mixed 1 to 1 with mineral spirits. Same application process as the colored varnish.

For now, avoid linseed oil varnishes as these are very fussy to work with although the results can be very rewarding.

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The Old Wood products are very expensive to use. Joe Robson's products are reasonably priced if you insist on real violin varnish. Personally I would not use polyurethane to finish a violin. Instead I wood use Ace Spar Oil Varnish available inexpensively at Ace Hardware stores. Buy a small can and start experimenting on small scraps of wood. You can mix small amounts of artist oil colors in the tube to make a colored varnish. I have experimented with Ace's product and it is a good place to start to get a feel for mixing pigment into varnish and I think it will dry on it's own without having to build a UV box. Just another thought.

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Ok, I understand, so yes maybe there is eminent violin-makers such as Joe Robson who makes varnish for sale, and you should begin with this.

 

If you want good books about materials and varnish, I think that Geary Bease  has made a very good book about making varnishes,

and it's a good place to start also, such as Roger Hargrave's bass thread book. By the way all you can read from Mr Hargrave is really interesting, and he 's a really generous man, at least enough to let us know about his findings which are great.

 

So, off course, don't worry about asking details and advices, many people here are really kind and willing to help, and will always answer your questions, cause you need guide lines, it is really important.

 

Cooking might be dangerous, you must do it only outdoor.

 

I will tell you the process I follow later. But please promiss that you will always be careful with this.

And keep in mind that you have plenty of things to know, before starting.

 

Friendly, Dave.

Thank you, Dave. I will for sure ask questions or clarify a process if it has the amount of risk that creating a varnish does. The last thing I want is to blow myself up!

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If you want to ease into a safe, inexpensive method that mimics a more advanced approach, try the following.1. Use a mineral ground, like gypsum. For your first attempt, buy a small quantity of Plaster of Paris (calcium sulfate anhydride, aka gypsum) and stir in small amounts into a glass of water at room temperature. Let the motion of the water stop between stirrings and note when the plaster starts settling out of the water rather than remaining dissolved/suspended in it. This is called "slaking" the plaster and converts the gypsum into a very unreactive, neutral pH compound called calcium sulfate dihydride.Wet the surface of the wood with this solution, paying special attention to the end grain. Let dry. You can hasten it initially with a blow dryer, but it is a little better to let it dry naturally. It will dry to a white haze. This is the gypsum crystallizing into a very fine powder. Apply a second coat if needed to get a consistent, white finish. For finishing an actual piece, let it "cure" for 2 to 3 days so the wood stabilizes with the relative humidity of the room air and the gypsum forms a fully hardened, crystalline matrix.Gypsum is actually a transparent crystal with a refractive index of around 1.5. When you apply varnish with a refractive index also of 1.5 on top of it, its transparency will be restored and the wood grain will reappear. It also does an excellent job of sealing the grain and filling minor scratches and inconsistencies in the wood finish.2. Use a pre-colored, stain finish oil-based polyurethane varnish. You can find about a dozen different wood-toned colors. Mix it with mineral spirits, sometimes called white spirits, in a 1 to 1 proportion to form a "rubbing" solution. I use small paper cups that are easily disposed of in a trash can. The mineral spirits will evaporate and the urethane will quickly harden into an inert solid.Both of these materials are low odor so there is no objectionable smell to travel throughout the house. But you might want to keep a window cracked open anyways when first applying. Apply lightly to the mineral ground with a soft bristle brush and very gently wipe a lint free cloth so the surface is just lightly wetted.Urethane varnishes dry to the touch in about 4 hours and are ready for light use in 24 hours. If you like the consistency and depth of the color, you are done with the color step. Otherwise, very, very lightly sand with fine grit sand paper (320+), wipe off any dust, and apply a second color coat. Repeat until you get the color consistency and depth you want. Consistent color is usually achieved in two coats.Colored varnishes are typically pigmented. This means the coloring agent is "opaque" rather than "transparent". So the more coats you apply, the more it hides the details of the wood grain. But you need a lot of coats before this becomes an issue.Classic violin varnishes use rosin that has been "cooked" to achieve a desired "transparent" color. It serves the same function as the polyurethane, but needs to be dissolved in a solvent, typically a combination of mineral spirits or turpentine and some linseed oil. But it is messy, smelly and dangerous to prepare.3. Finish with multiple, thin coats of clear, satin oil-based polyurethane mixed 1 to 1 with mineral spirits. Same application process as the colored varnish.For now, avoid linseed oil varnishes as these are very fussy to work with although the results can be very rewarding.

Thanks so much for explaining a possible process! I'm curious to try this soon, but am slightly confused by what a stain finish oil-based polyurethane varnish is? Is it just an oil varnish? Where could I purchase one?

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