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xraymymind

Applying Robson Varnish

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Hey folks,

I am currently using Joe Robson's varnish for the first time. I am very pleased with the results so far. The ground system has gone on well, and today I applied the first coat of Oil varnish (the 'clear' type) with fingers..It went on nice and evenly. Currently drying under UV lights..

Do any users of this thin it for later coats, so it is brushable? Or would one have to still apply with fingers, even if it is thinned with turps?

Also, do any of you sand between coats/rub it down with anything...I am reluctant to do so, as I want the colour to be even...but would appreciate any tips...

Thank you

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yes I have, but do not recommend using it dramatically thinned over his ground system,particularly if you have used the balsm ground varnish over the 4 part base ground system, the thinned top coat could melt into the under coats,thus making a wipe job...I will use it cut dramatically as a top coat over shellac {dissimilar base} only as there will be no resolventing of that as a base...

 

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I thinned it when I first tried it on a test violin and ended up needing to apply more coats than I’d expected because I made it too thin. I adjusted my ratio in later coats and had much better luck. I rubbed each coat out with pumice to get rid of dust or irregularities. It turned out well, but I made sure to add less turpentine in later applications. 

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3 hours ago, xraymymind said:

Hey folks,

... today I applied the first coat of Oil varnish (the 'clear' type) with fingers..It went on nice and evenly. Currently drying under UV lights..

 

Which of Joes' varnish are you referring to?

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Another thing to mention is, I seem to be getting some very slight, tiny 'pinholes' in the surface of the varnish on my Sycamore. I am only 2 coats into the main varnish...

I wonder if there is a way of avoiding this? Maybe rubbing down better between coats..?

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I just returned from the VSA convention/competition.  Great week!

As I design a particular varnish the application qualities are always a major concern.  I think the varnish behaves best when used at the viscosity that it has in the jar.  However this does not work for every one.  All the varnishes can be thinned with turpentine to your desired viscosity.  I recommend only the turpentine made by Diamond G Forest Propducts.

Joe

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On 11/11/2018 at 7:15 PM, xraymymind said:

Another thing to mention is, I seem to be getting some very slight, tiny 'pinholes' in the surface of the varnish on my Sycamore. I am only 2 coats into the main varnish...

I wonder if there is a way of avoiding this? Maybe rubbing down better between coats..?

I have had the same issue with pinholes even when spreading varnish with a finger, and I'm pretty sure it's from small bubbles.  This is especially true with viscous varnish where the bubbles don't float up and pop very easily.  The best remedy is to keep from introducing those bubbles in the first place, and then giving time for any to float out before application. 

 

Any other suggestions to avoid pinholes would be appreciated!  tx

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10 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

I have had the same issue with pinholes even when spreading varnish with a finger, and I'm pretty sure it's from small bubbles.  This is especially true with viscous varnish where the bubbles don't float up and pop very easily.  The best remedy is to keep from introducing those bubbles in the first place, and then giving time for any to float out before application. 

 

Any other suggestions to avoid pinholes would be appreciated!  tx

Are these pin holes only on the back?

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36 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

I have had the same issue with pinholes even when spreading varnish with a finger, and I'm pretty sure it's from small bubbles.  This is especially true with viscous varnish where the bubbles don't float up and pop very easily.  The best remedy is to keep from introducing those bubbles in the first place, and then giving time for any to float out before application. 

 

Any other suggestions to avoid pinholes would be appreciated!  tx

I haven't used Joe Robson's varnish (although I think it looks like brilliant stuff!) but I've had to fight the pinholes using Oldwood1700 varnish for the last four years.  I've gone between pads, fingers and brushes to apply it...here's just some things I've learned...and now I'm getting much better results.

Like you just mentioned...don't stir the varnish...that's a good one.

Thinning with turpentine is good to help things flow out and bubbles have an easier time resolving themselves.  I usually add 10% turpentine to the clear coat (this could be as much as 1 part thinner to 3 parts varnish if want...just watch out for runs and sags)...I pour enough varnish for a coat out of the bottle and into an aluminum can that's been cut in half-that I tape to my bench, and then pour in the turpentine, and then gently move it around until mixed.

I gave up trying to use fingers or make-up pads (on clear anyway) because brushes work better for me.  I like a good soft brush with a bristle long enough to hold a good amount of varnish.  I also started using a wider brush for the top and back...enough to get the work piece covered with 5-7 rows of varnish.

In the past I was probably using way too many brush strokes, now I just dip it in the varnish, spread evenly, and when the brush stops releasing varnish I re-dip and proceed.  I think it's all about not agitating the varnish too much, and just laying it down easily.  I used to sort of play "connect the dots" with my clear coats...and it would take probably 10 minutes to cover a violin back, and I'd get some pinholes, even with thinning...just from over working with a brush.  Now I do a back in about one-two minutes and I've had entire coats come out with no evidence of bubbles.

I'm also more anal about keeping my brushes soft and clean now.  I think a happy soft brush really helps to keep varnish calm when you're trying to make a nice clear coat.

If you want to cheat, it's also possible to check the violin a while after the coat goes on (I probably give the stuff I use 4 hours) and things have started to set up, flow out...you can always pop any bubbles you see.  I've done that a few times with just a flat, dry, clean, soft, small brush and just pull it over the varnish without really letting the brush sink in at all...I believe that is the term "Tipping Off."  If the brush stoke used is visible, than do that step sooner next time...the idea is you're very slightly agitating the top of the varnish, and the varnish will flow out enough to hide the brush stroke.

As far as blending the rows together (I used to get way too excited for this, and would pull varnish this way, that way, and then tamp it down with my finger to be sure it was spread evenly) I just let the brush strokes over-lap slightly, and have faith in the magic of flow-out.

The varnish I use also needs a bit more thinning to behave as I'm used to, as the bottle gets more and more empty.  The last bottle was getting thinned 15% at the end...which probably could have even been higher.

I'd love to know if anybody who makes varnish does anything to help flow-out/bubble escaping, or if that's mainly related to viscosity and application.  Is there something that can be added before application that lowers surface tension, or just helps bubbles flow out?  Are some resins more prone to making varnish be fussier in terms of pin holes?

 

Cheers,

Matt

 

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I've heard that pin holes can result from varnish that is solvent rich. And when it evaporates it will leave these pin holes. 

Another reason I've heard is from the wood not being sealed entirely. 

I personally like the look of pin holes. 

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20 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

I've heard that pin holes can result from varnish that is solvent rich. And when it evaporates it will leave these pin holes. 

Another reason I've heard is from the wood not being sealed entirely.  

Yes, some people prefer not to use fillers so the thin varnish will be sucked into the pores leaving tiny pinholes, especially on a scraped finish.

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1 hour ago, Matthew Hannafin said:

  Is there something that can be added before application that lowers surface tension, or just helps bubbles flow out?  Are some resins more prone to making varnish be fussier in terms of pin holes?

Adding a little spike oil of lavender helps things flow better. And I think Joe sells a product which helps with this.

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What you see as pinholes in the maple are most likely pores....a good look for  Cremonese varnish.   Other possibilities are contamination or over-brushing.

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Important to distinguish 'bubbles everywhere' from 'bubbles in some places', for example along the flame.

The former could indicate a property of the varnish/solvent/application system, the latter may not.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, joerobson said:

What you see as pinholes in the maple are most likely pores....a good look for  Cremonese varnish.   Other possibilities are contamination or over-brushing.

I'm certainly guilty of over-brushing, especially on the top coat where the bubbles were most noticeable.  Thanks for the feedback.

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2 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

I'm certainly guilty of over-brushing, especially on the top coat where the bubbles were most noticeable.  Thanks for the feedback.

Also.....Avoid commercial tack rags as they are treated with silicones.

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