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Brandon_Williams

JOHA oil varnish from International Violin Co.

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So I got a few different colors of the JOHA oil varnish from IVC... I am quite pleased with it save for two points:

1 - it isn't dark enough. I've remedied this by adding color extract, so this is no big deal. 

2 - it dries too fast... that may sound like an oxymoron, but I assure you it isn't. 

I did a little digging and found an old thread from 2008 that raised the same concern. I just tried one of the suggestions which was to thin the varnish with turpentine. That helped some; but it still dries too fast to be able to move it around to the point I am satisfied with it. I wound up with a belly and back that are 75% nice and 25% streaky/blotchy.  Luckily I am doing this on some cheap white violins bought for varnish testing purposes, so it's not a total disaster. 

My question is: are any of you all using this/ experiencing the same issue? If so, have you cracked the code on how to alter it so that it remains workable long enough to varnish without being in a hurry, but retains some of the "quick" drying characteristics that make it nice from the oil varnish standpoint? I'd love to hear your recs on the issue if so.

Ive been wood working for years, and finishing has always been a thorn in my side. I hate it... every aspect of it. That's why I'm looking for the closest thing that is "out of the box" ready for a decent finish on my first few fiddles. I have two done, and am getting close to a third... I'd like to make them look OK as far as varnish goes, but I'm not quite ready to dig in full time to perfecting a unique technique... I'm still learning the making process. 

 

Thanks for for all of your help!

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I am experimenting with this stuff too. I find that you have to move it around a little to achieve a satisfactory result. Which color did you get? I have the Golden Brown, which is far too light, the Red Brown, which I find more useable, and of course the clear sealer. 

Are you tanning/staining the wood first? It can make all of the difference in the overall tone of the color. 

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7 hours ago, Nick Allen said:

I am experimenting with this stuff too. I find that you have to move it around a little to achieve a satisfactory result. Which color did you get? I have the Golden Brown, which is far too light, the Red Brown, which I find more useable, and of course the clear sealer. 

Are you tanning/staining the wood first? It can make all of the difference in the overall tone of the color. 

Hi Nick,

I got a small bottle of Amber, Golden Brown, Brown, and Red Brown.  To me all of them seem to be too light straight out of the bottle.  I also ordered some of the color extract in Amber, Golden Brown, and Red Brown.

So far I have only tried a few combos of mixing the varnish with additional extract, but my favorite final color has been to add about 1cc of Red Brown extract to a small amount of varnish (didn't measure, just enough to do a single coat).  The color looks quite nice, and if it would remain pliable for maybe 10 or 15 minutes longer I think it would give me enough time to get it on and moved around to where I would be satisfied with it. 

I do put the bare white instrument in the light cabinet for a few days to get as much tan as possible, and then have been using amber shellac cut to 4 parts alcohol 1 part shellac for a ground.  The final ground application leaves a very nice amber colored base.  I really think I could get to where I want to be in terms of final color if I could just keep the stuff wet just a tad longer.  I will say though, that the "quick" drying quality of this stuff is quite nice in terms of being able to get back to it and on to the next coat/step without waiting for ages.

9 hours ago, Jacob said:

Add some linseed oil. You will have to experiment to see how much.

Thanks Jacob,

I will try this.  I suspected that might be the best course of action.  That reminds me, though, do you or any other members have recommendations for linseed oils?  I got some Winsor Newton from the local craft store a few months back to make a batch of Michael Darnton's mastic varnish, but I'm not sure if I got the correct kind.  I seem to recall there being two or three types to choose from, and I don't remember which one I purchased... it seemed pricey to me, I think it was about $14 for 2.5 oz. 

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48 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Brandon

Are you talking about the Haemmerl varnishes (as marketed by Joha)?

If so, are you using the "Balsamic" or "Vitrolic" varnish?

I am not sure... It is the stuff marketed by IVC in the US listed as "JOHA Oil Varnish"

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Just spoke with Joe Robson,

First of all, it just goes to show how cool a forum like this is that someone with such limited experience as I could be muddling along and get one to one advice from a professional... that's awesome.

Secondly, Joe is very nice and offered me some great advice, which after I try and if he doesn't mind I will share here.

Thanks to Joe, and to all of the others here on MN who are willing to spend their time to give good advice to folks who are trying to learn!

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Sounds like the varnish lacks sufficient surface tension, ie, internal pull of the varnish to level itself.  A varnish with adequate surface tension, you can make a smear and watch as it slowly levels and gets a uniform surface.

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6 hours ago, martin swan said:

Brandon

Are you talking about the Haemmerl varnishes (as marketed by Joha)?

If so, are you using the "Balsamic" or "Vitrolic" varnish?

I don't think it's either Martin,  after talking to Ken at IVC I learned that they sell the JOHA "standard" varnish.  I believe it is very similar to a modern "spar" long oil varnish, using natural and synthetic resins.

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If you add color to your oil varnish it will be difficult to get a even coat by brush alone because of the streaking.  It can be evened out by using a  dry brush or padding the plate with the palm of your hand or in some cases your finger.  There are youtube videos of this technique.  I have found that the color extract can react with the previous coat which is not good.

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