Sign in to follow this  
Jack Devereux

Keeping Varnish Clean

Recommended Posts

I've been trying to improve my varnishing, and find that one of the biggest trouble areas is keeping small particulate matter from getting into the coats and making those little snits that are so frustrating. I try to keep things pretty clean and wipe the bench and surrounding areas down with a damp rag before varnishing, but I still get some contamination. My drying cabinet is pretty basic and not completely sealed off from the room, so maybe stuff is getting on the fiddle while it's in the cabinet?

What do you do to keep dust/small hairs/bugs/Russian intelligence officers/what have you out of your varnish? How do you remove bumps from varnish? The ancients certainly didn't have hermetically sealed rooms for varnishing and they managed pretty smooth finishes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jack Devereux said:

The ancients certainly didn't have hermetically sealed rooms for varnishing and they managed pretty smooth finishes. 

300 years of wear and polishing can work wonders.  

I doubt they came out of the shop very smooth; see 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don, that's a good point. Was it you who had some kind of little rig that sat on your bench and maybe pushed clean air to varnish under? Kind of a miniature lab hood kind of deal. Someone on here put a picture of that up a while back and it was kind of ingenious. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One simple solution that I find helps is to varnish first thing in the morning.  At the end of the day I clean the area and set up everything I will need to apply the next coat. The next morning I come in and immediately varnish while the dust is still settled, so to speak.

It's not always possible, but I try to make it work, and I do find it makes a difference. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jack Devereux said:

Don, that's a good point. Was it you who had some kind of little rig that sat on your bench and maybe pushed clean air to varnish under? Kind of a miniature lab hood kind of deal. Someone on here put a picture of that up a while back and it was kind of ingenious. 

Yeah, that was me.  Here it is again:

593ede1352083_CleanBench.JPG.f7b8c1e93ab293d206a2a27d6b84359d.JPG

I still use it, although I think mostly for the air flow to keep from breathing varnish fumes.  I have found that sanding between coats was counterproductive, generating more nits than it removes.  I use a scraper to knock off the obvious ones, and rely on the final sanding/rubout/polishing to take care of the rest.   Antiquing makes the nit issue far less important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can see the blower to the right of the box.  The "box" is a shallow wooden box with a large filter on one face.  Then there are foldable plastic walls that define the clean workspace.  The idea was to be able to fold it up and put it on a shelf when not in use, but I'm getting too lazy to do that, and just leave it on the bench.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Don Noon said:

You can see the blower to the right of the box.  The "box" is a shallow wooden box with a large filter on one face.  Then there are foldable plastic walls that define the clean workspace.  The idea was to be able to fold it up and put it on a shelf when not in use, but I'm getting too lazy to do that, and just leave it on the bench.

So, 100% positive pressure with double filtering.... Do you know the flow rate of the fan, and is it too much or too little?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Luis Martins said:

Do you know the flow rate of the fan, and is it too much or too little?

No clue, and seems adequate.  The only number is on the motor of the blower: 1/60 HP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

No clue, and seems adequate.  The only number is on the motor of the blower: 1/60 HP.

I'll see if I find it out based on HP. Thank you Maestro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't measured anything, but I'm sure it's more than 40 CFM.  Your average muffin fan will do more than that.

Anyway, this isn't a certified cleanroom flowbench.  But it's a lot cleaner than the plain old dusty shop bench.  Cobbled together using a blower that a friend gave me for free.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I varnish in a corner of my woodshop.

Just a bench with the occasional dog hair.  Thin coats.  Thin coats.  If the chunk is thicker than the coat, take it off with tweezers or a knife.  Clean up between coats. 

Worry less.  Varnish more.

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found that most of the trash comes off of my clothes or hair,,,or out of the fiddle itself.

I get get the fiddle blown out, (in another room) then get myself all dusted off, wipe off the spot of varnishing, then after I'm all set and ready to go,,ready to pick up the brush and spread,,,,,,

I then grab a big 4" wide nylon paint brush and wet it with water, shake it out against a corner and mostly dry it, then I clean the fiddle real good with it, scroll, ribs body.

The dampness will discharge it so it won't have a tendency to attract dust, and the brush removes everything much better than a tack rag ever could,,, scrolls are not flat, and there are places for things to hide around the edges.

Then after applying some varnish I use tooth brushes to spread it out and try and remove it until it gets really stiff. It will flow out perfectly flat and be extremely thin when it drys with no excessive buildup around the edges and in the turns of the scroll. I do the ribs first then the back, then the top then the scroll. If I have figured right I am running out of varnish by the time I reach the scroll, but there is always enough, scrolls don't need much.

With this method I can varnish successfully in most any situation, stuff just doesn't jump up out of a dirty room and seek out a fiddle to attach to. After years of fighting tons of nits and bumps and junk,, cleaning special spaces, waiting till early morning and being so careful ,,,,,still to have a mess to sand down when I was through,,,,,,,I found it was just bad simple hygiene that I was missing,, I can varnish in the middle of a workshop with dust everywhere successfully if I follow the simple steps to get me and the fiddle clean first.

The air needs to be fairly clear,,,if the fiddle has been discharged it will be ok.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/12/2017 at 6:43 AM, Jack Devereux said:

I've been trying to improve my varnishing, and find that one of the biggest trouble areas is keeping small particulate matter from getting into the coats and making those little snits that are so frustrating. I try to keep things pretty clean and wipe the bench and surrounding areas down with a damp rag before varnishing, but I still get some contamination. My drying cabinet is pretty basic and not completely sealed off from the room, so maybe stuff is getting on the fiddle while it's in the cabinet?

What do you do to keep dust/small hairs/bugs/Russian intelligence officers/what have you out of your varnish? How do you remove bumps from varnish? The ancients certainly didn't have hermetically sealed rooms for varnishing and they managed pretty smooth finishes. 

In another posting I made today,  I discuss my emulsion varnishes.  True:  oil varnish have bad surface-tension properties that make "mountains out of mole-hills."

An  O/W emulsion does NOT do this.  Each dust particle is varnished and remains extremely small.  The hand can feel the grit,  but a slight micromesh rubbing makes the coat dead flat.  It is because WATER is the carrier.  Its surface tension properties are very much unlike those of an oleoresin solution in solvents.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.