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Spirit Varnish for the Convinced and the Curious


Julian Cossmann Cooke
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On 5/23/2020 at 4:06 PM, Special Agent Ransac said:

I have been experimenting with spirit varnishes lately. I bought some Copal resin and tried to dissolve it in Methylated spirits - without success.

Some of it dossolved but the are balck particle suspended in the jar and a gooey residue at the bottom.

Does it have to be a specific type of Copal to make spirit varnish?

I also have Sandarac beads which I intend to dissolve in Isoproanol.

I'm just starting out with all these different resins wherea previously I just used shellac flakes and even the ready mixed button shellac.

Can someone confirm that Methylated spirits (the purple stuff) is essentially Isopropanol with a dye added to stop you from drinking it.

 

Michael.

You can use Bio ethanol. It's basically ethanol with an added denaturant but without the added purple dye i.e. it's water clear. 

It's commonly used for stoves and fires. The large DIY shops often sell it. Also available on the auction site. Cheap, well it is compared to Everclear. 

Methylated spirits (at least in Europe) does not contain methanol. It's ethanol with a touch of propanol, ethyl methyl ketone and the dye. It's now a standardised recipe throughout the EU. In the US it may still contain methanol but I'm not familiar with the current practice. 

The strong (97% +) isopropanol also works. It's slower to flash off than ethanol but in real life the difference is marginal, to say the least.  

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On 6/5/2020 at 12:44 AM, Michael.N. said:

You can use Bio ethanol. It's basically ethanol with an added denaturant but without the added purple dye i.e. it's water clear. 

It's commonly used for stoves and fires. The large DIY shops often sell it. Also available on the auction site. Cheap, well it is compared to Everclear. 

Methylated spirits (at least in Europe) does not contain methanol. It's ethanol with a touch of propanol, ethyl methyl ketone and the dye. It's now a standardised recipe throughout the EU. In the US it may still contain methanol but I'm not familiar with the current practice. 

The strong (97% +) isopropanol also works. It's slower to flash off than ethanol but in real life the difference is marginal, to say the least.  

I have been using bioethanol for many years. The stuff I'm buying (for 2-3EUR per liter) is 99.97% ethanol with just trace amount of denaturants (MEK+bitrex). NEVER had better stuff! And I found the shellac solution in this doesn't go bad even after few years...

I'm in the EU and in our country there is no colored version. But the "technical ethanol" sold in HW stores can be anything generally 80+% ethanol plus denaturants. No methanol, AFAIK that is not allowed here.

I'd used ethanol from pharmacy either the lab grade ethanol 95% that cost as much as everclear in US or what they call here "benzinalkohol" which is the same with with some organic stuff added (something like naphtha).

 

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On May 24, 2020 at 12:06 AM, Special Agent Ransac said:

I have been experimenting with spirit varnishes lately. I bought some Copal resin and tried to dissolve it in Methylated spirits - without success.

Some of it dossolved but the are balck particle suspended in the jar and a gooey residue at the bottom.

Does it have to be a specific type of Copal to make spirit varnish?

I also have Sandarac beads which I intend to dissolve in Isoproanol.

I'm just starting out with all these different resins wherea previously I just used shellac flakes and even the ready mixed button shellac.

Can someone confirm that Methylated spirits (the purple stuff) is essentially Isopropanol with a dye added to stop you from drinking it.

 

Michael.

Most types of copal don't dissolve in alcohol except Manila copal. 

Isopropanol is poisonous so no need to add something. It can be used to dissolve most of the rosins which dissolve in ethanol as well. The only advantage I know of is that varnish made with isopropanol doesn't attract water in humid climate as fast as varnish made with ethanol. 

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Hi folks, I’m back in the land of spirits. :) Ok, not violin making, but at least a shellac coloring question. I’m making a cabinet mostly out of cherry, except for a birch ply back that won’t be seen by anybody that’s not in the process of moving it. I will be using clear shellac to finish the cherry, and I want to make the back look close to the same color. Cutch tinted shellac is too red. I’m looking for something brown-er, but not walnut brown. Does anyone have a guess on an alcohol soluble ingredient that will get me close. I’d rather get close with one dye, then only have to nudge it in the right direction. 
thanks,

Jim

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Woodessence.com has a wood color matching chart based on the dyes (water soluble) that they sell.  This may help you get started

Fruitwood

1 part Burnt Umber + 1 part Burnt Sienna + 1 part Raw Sienna

Walnut

3 parts Burnt Umber + 1 part Burnt Sienna

Early American

2 parts Raw Umber + 1 part Burnt Umber

Provincial

1 part Raw Umber + 1 part Burnt Umber

Golden Oak

3 parts Raw Sienna + 2 parts Raw Umber

Ebony

4 parts Raw Umber + 1 part Black

Cherry

4 parts Burnt Umber + 3 parts Burnt Sienna + 1 part Black

Ipswich Pine

3 parts Raw Sienna + 1 part Burnt Sienna

Colonial Maple

3 parts Raw Sienna + 3 parts Burnt Sienna + 1 part Yellow-R

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