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Brad Dorsey

How to Simulate Spruce Edge Wear?

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I have fit and trimmed a new bit of spruce into the edge of an old cello.  It's toward the top of the upper bout so it has mostly end grain exposed on the outside.  It looks pretty good except that it isn't worn the way the adjacent old edge is.  The soft grains of the old edge are worn away a bit leaving the hard grains with lesser wear as little protruding ridges.  Does anyone here have a trick for removing a little wood from just the soft grains to match the wear of the old wood?  I'm thinking of doing a little filing on just the soft grains with a fine round, half round or bird's tongue file then smoothing the file marks with fine Mirco-Mesh.  I want to end up with the hard grains forming little ridges and the worn soft grains forming little valleys between them.

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I sometimes use a burnisher, a smooth stone,swell it up with glue,  burnish it again, repeat until it looks right. 

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13 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I have fit and trimmed a new bit of spruce into the edge of an old cello.  It's toward the top of the upper bout so it has mostly end grain exposed on the outside.  It looks pretty good except that it isn't worn the way the adjacent old edge is.  The soft grains of the old edge are worn away a bit leaving the hard grains with lesser wear as little protruding ridges.  Does anyone here have a trick for removing a little wood from just the soft grains to match the wear of the old wood?  I'm thinking of doing a little filing on just the soft grains with a fine round, half round or bird's tongue file then smoothing the file marks with fine Mirco-Mesh.  I want to end up with the hard grains forming little ridges and the worn soft grains forming little valleys between them.

Just a thought, have you got a cheap bow you could try abrading it with, using the hair?  Isn't that how a lot of real edge wear happens?  :)

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1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I have fit and trimmed a new bit of spruce into the edge of an old cello.  It's toward the top of the upper bout so it has mostly end grain exposed on the outside.  It looks pretty good except that it isn't worn the way the adjacent old edge is.  The soft grains of the old edge are worn away a bit leaving the hard grains with lesser wear as little protruding ridges.  Does anyone here have a trick for removing a little wood from just the soft grains to match the wear of the old wood?  I'm thinking of doing a little filing on just the soft grains with a fine round, half round or bird's tongue file then smoothing the file marks with fine Mirco-Mesh.  I want to end up with the hard grains forming little ridges and the worn soft grains forming little valleys between them.

If you use a scraper, it might give you the effect you desire. Moistening the wood to raise the grain can help.

You can file the summer grain only, but it will be more difficult and may look less convincing. 

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I think burnishing will smooth off everything, whereas a very stiff brush will achieve the effect you are looking for.

Another way to accentuate the "protruding latewood" effect is to slightly toast the wood first - latewood being much more resistant to burning.

A mini flamethrower of the sort used for making Creme Caramel is ideal.

Of course you need to do this before fitting the piece of wood to the violin!!

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Burnishing using a little bit of soap Is pretty standard and does the trick.  Once you see the effect you will be convinced and never do one without in the future. You can also q-tip on a little bit of nitric before hand, and burn it off with an alcohol lamp....probably best to watch it done first.  This leaves the wood a little “punky” for the burnishing,.  It always looks scary dark red-purple at first and drifts to a convincing aged color.  

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Do you put the soap on the wood or on the burnisher?  How do you remove it from the wood when you're finished?  (I expect you don't want to varnish over it.)

I'm surprised by the nitric acid suggestion given how strongly the Weisshaar book recommends that it not be used.

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39 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Do you put the soap on the wood or on the burnisher?  How do you remove it from the wood when you're finished?  (I expect you don't want to varnish over it.)

I'm surprised by the nitric acid suggestion given how strongly the Weisshaar book recommends that it not be used.

Soap on the burnisher and wipe off before/during varnishing.  Burnish multiple times to simulate wear...once you see how well it works you will not go back.....

I suspect Weisshaar was referring to staining wood as a whole and not in this limited sense. I was told when I asked about neutralizing that it was not necessary because of the flaming....I do not believe this is the case, but I do believe it is neutralized with time and use.  After all is said and done the effect is stable and lasts longer than any example I have ever seen, which is 60+ years.  This is for edges and corners ONLY...you will not have good results if it is tried elsewhere.

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