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9 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

To Users of Equisetum:

I am sure it is cheaper than any commercial product but is it better than Micro-Mesh?

How about 3M Flexible Polishing Paper?

I've used horsetail on bare wood but not on varnish, and I've used the 3m polishing cloths on varnish but not bare wood. Love those cloths! Cheap, too

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Saxophone players (like myself) use Equisetum to burnish the mouthpiece reed with. I was taught this by a musician when I was having issues with a new set of reeds. 1or 2 small stalks cut at an angle/bevel. Then gently burnish the reed surface.

I will be doing the same to my first violin making. Will bundle a bunch with string. Cut the ends at an angle/bevel, then burnish...

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I have tried to use the powdered horstail but found it useless for wood finishing because the risk of scratching the surface is too high and unmanageable because of the larger fragments blended with the finest powder. Even if it were possible to obtain a uniform powder size it is too fine for my taste. 

One of the main advantages of the equisetum used in small flat pieces is that you can identify a precise cutting direction and use it accordingly, while with the powder would be like to use any other abrasive of equivalent grit.

I suspect that the powder is derived from herbalist use for making medicinal tinctures, not for wood finishing.

The only other way I found useful is to use the leaves of equisetum arvense still unbroken, crumpled like a steel wool (you will need to wet them a little so that they do not crumble once dried).

 

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Thanks Davide.  I have just talked to Beares who say that you should sprinkle it on to duct tape and then use it like abrasive paper.  I hope that if Beares sell it then it will be OK for violin making.  I'll find out soon because I've just ordered some and I'll experiment.  It's only about eu 4 so it won't break the bank.

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This is a general FYI in using MicroMesh correctly. You need to rub in one direction not to-and-fro like sandpaper. I find that I need to run in one direction to set up the abrasive particles in the right direction. Then, MicroMesh engages the material and "plows" the surface as it were. Here is a copy of the information sheet found here

Micro-Mesh™ is what we like to call a non-abrasive abrasive. It is considered a cushioned abrasive in fact.

Conventional sandpaper is designed to be aggressive so that it will dig deeply. In its manufacture the crystals are electrically charged so that they will stand up. They are locked into a hard resin and when you apply the paper to a surface it will literally tear in and remove the substrate of the material you are sanding. The crystals cut in a negative raking motion, leaving inconsistent scratch patterns.

Micro-Mesh™ does the opposite. The backing is long lasting cloth to which an ultra-flexible cushioning layer is applied. This cushioning layer will determine how far forward you can push crystals before they will penetrate the cushioning layer. On top of this layer, we have a very resilient glue, not a hard resin, but a completely flexible glue that will hold the crystals while allowing it to move and rotate. The crystals can turn in any direction without coming loose. When you start to apply pressure to sand with Micro-Mesh™, the crystals will go into the cushioning layer while beginning to cut a bit. If you push harder, they will go further into the cushioning layer, which serves as a safety valve. It determines how much pressure you can exert in a downward direction. Instead of a deep scratch that sandpaper makes, Micro-Mesh™ produce a refined scratch that is close to a RMS of 1.0. The cushioning layer also allows the crystals to cut with a planing motion that leaves an extremely consistent scratch pattern and allows you to achieve extraordinary levels of gloss.

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41 minutes ago, Muswell said:

What grades do you use?  I went 1500 18 24 32 36 40 60 80 12000.

I have all of these in my arsenal. I hold the wood surface up to the light to watch for how the digs and scratches are removed. This guides me to the next grade. 

For varnish, I never go coarser than 6000 with water. Usually, 8000 is the lower limit unless I need to knock down some serious mistakes.

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11 hours ago, Muswell said:

Thanks Davide.  I have just talked to Beares who say that you should sprinkle it on to duct tape and then use it like abrasive paper.  I hope that if Beares sell it then it will be OK for violin making.  I'll find out soon because I've just ordered some and I'll experiment.  It's only about eu 4 so it won't break the bank.

Of course it works, but loses the uniqueness of the equisetum used in rectangular pieces that is more like using a tool than an abrasive.

Used in powder is just an abrasive like many others. maybe tripoli or fine pumice, bone flour, calcium carbonate or many others might work better.

However I use equisetum very sparingly and on maple only (to open up the surface pores, for the most part of the finishing work I prefer to rely on scrapers only.

Micro-mesh is a fantastic technological tool, I love it for varnish, neck and ebony finishing.

2400, 3200 and 4000 are my preferred grits, sometimes 8000 and 12000 for polishing little spots on varnish (i.e. the eyes of the scroll), really too fine for others extensive work.

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On 11/20/2017 at 10:58 PM, Davide Sora said:

Of course it works, but loses the uniqueness of the equisetum used in rectangular pieces that is more like using a tool than an abrasive.

Used in powder is just an abrasive like many others. maybe tripoli or fine pumice, bone flour, calcium carbonate or many others might work better.

However I use equisetum very sparingly and on maple only (to open up the surface pores, for the most part of the finishing work I prefer to rely on scrapers only.

Micro-mesh is a fantastic technological tool, I love it for varnish, neck and ebony finishing.

2400, 3200 and 4000 are my preferred grits, sometimes 8000 and 12000 for polishing little spots on varnish (i.e. the eyes of the scroll), really too fine for others extensive work.

My powder arrived from Beare.  It's very fine and uniform, reminds me of the green tea used in the tea ceremony.  I did a trial on spruce and maple and although it works fairly well it's messy and I wasn't happy about the traces left in the pores.  It wasn't as good as the Micro-mesh, Michael Molnar:)

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Apparently using 'reeds' to finish wood is truly ancient.  I believe it's considered to go back to ancient Egypt even.  And apparently the use continued through Greek times, Roman times, and on into Medieval Europe and then Renaissance Europe.

However, the usage from all old descriptions I've ever heard of is simple.  'Rub with reeds'.  No cutting, splicing, flattening, and definitely no grinding to a powder.  

Recently, I learned that Japanese wood culture has a different leaf that they use in a similar way, just rubbing.  

The virtue of Horsetail isn't just that it's a fine abrasive, which is all that's left if you grind it.  The virtue is that it is a fine hard abrasive held in a yielding and eroding strata which itself is a soft abrasive.  Sandpaper and microfiber give abrasives in a yielding strata, if you don't put backing on.   Pumice stone (again not powdered!) and cuttlefish bone give abrasives in an eroding strata.  But reed gives fine abrasive in a strata that both yields and erodes.   This is wonderful for finishing out.  It also leaves the surface very clean and perhaps a bit burnished.   

 

I suspect that a very ancient work sequence would tend to be:  carve with blade, smooth out the shape with pumice, scrap the surface clean with blade, finish with reeds.

 

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I've never tried it fresh.  Dry is the way I use it.  I cut it into two or three  inch strips from a big bunch hanging on the wall and give the back  and sides a good rub down with it.  Does a very nice job of smoothing the wood.  It's never occured to me that it might have sound improvement properties.  Fascinating idea, sounds like alchemy.

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1 hour ago, lawrence furse said:

I've never tried it fresh.  Dry is the way I use it.  I cut it into two or three  inch strips from a big bunch hanging on the wall and give the back  and sides a good rub down with it.  Does a very nice job of smoothing the wood.  It's never occured to me that it might have sound improvement properties.  Fascinating idea, sounds like alchemy.

Never use it fresh, it would dirty the wood.

Sound improvements? I do not think it is possible that it does....

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