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Equisetum— should I freeze it for 2 months?


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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

Many (most?) leaves have a wax coating. So how would we know that the "reeds" were being used as an abrasive, rather than to apply an attractive and protective wax finish?

What's your beef with equistrem?

You're going against the history books in this one. Why?

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12 minutes ago, David Beard said:

Theophilius keeps it simple.  He recommends that after carving or working in wood you take an iron scraper all over the piece and then rub with 'reeds', meaning equeisetum.

 

Isn't there also a similar leave in traditional Japanese wood finishing?

I have to confess that I am not all too educated in the details of Classical Japanese wood finish. 
 

All the carpentry seems to be based on the principle that if skills of the craftsman are at a master level, he can make seamless joints with a Japanese saw without further corrections. 
 

I have also seen a video of a furniture maker where the finish was done with a very precisely adjusted plane. The furniture was a soft wood, either Hinoki or Kiri. (Besides there are still competitions of making hinoki wood shavings so thin that you can read a newspaper through it.)
 

For musical instruments such as the shamisen or Koto I have actually no idea how the wooden parts were finished. Koto, because of its big size, could have been finished with a razor sharp plane. The body of the shamisen is lacquered and therefore the wooden surface must be even but not polished.

I never heard about scrapers in traditional Japanese woodworking. However Equisetum seems to have been known. Just last weeks I bought 4 equisetum plants and the garden shop owner knew that it can be used for wood finish. 
———————-

When I made a quick search on Theophilius I got a bit confused. To which one do you refer? 

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11 minutes ago, David Beard said:

What's your beef with equistrem?

It's similar to the beef I have with "the little ice age" being a supposed explanation for the superior sound of Stradivaris etc.

If wood grown at slightly lower temperatures is desirable, it has always been available a little further up the mountain.

11 minutes ago, David Beard said:

You're going against the history books in this one. Why?

Which history books? Pertinent quotes are welcome. Looking for more than wild guesses, assumptions and fairytales.

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11 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I have to confess that I am not all too educated in the details of Classical Japanese wood finish. 
 

All the carpentry seems to be based on the principle that if skills of the craftsman are at a master level, he can make seamless joints with a Japanese saw without further corrections. 
 

I have also seen a video of a furniture maker where the finish was done with a very precisely adjusted plane. The furniture was a soft wood, either Hinoki or Kiri. (Besides there are still competitions of making hinoki wood shavings so thin that you can read a newspaper through it.)
 

For musical instruments such as the shamisen or Koto I have actually no idea how the wooden parts were finished. Koto, because of its big size, could have been finished with a razor sharp plane. The body of the shamisen is lacquered and therefore the wooden surface must be even but not polished.

I never heard about scrapers in traditional Japanese woodworking. However Equisetum seems to have been known. Just last weeks I bought 4 equisetum plants and the garden shop owner knew that it can be used for wood finish. 
———————-

When I made a quick search on Theophilius I got a bit confused. To which one do you refer? 

Theophilius: On Diverse Arts

 

Yeah. I'm pretty sure that besides equisetrum, Japanese woodworkers have sometimes used a certain leave as file rub before applying finish coatings.  The leave is used fresh.  It has a gentle final 'cleaning' abrasiveness like equisetrum, but also the juice of the leave begins to bring up color in the wood.   I've seen this in a video of a tradition cabinet maker at work.  But I never learned the name of the leave.

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10 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

It's similar to the beef I have with "the little ice age" being a supposed explanation for the superior sound of Stradivaris etc.

If wood grown at slightly lower temperatures is desirable, it has always been available a little further up the mountain.

Which history books? Pertinent quotes are welcome.

You are aware that horsetail reed has other old names including Shave Grass and Scouring Reed?  Scouring Reed is generally acknowledged as referring to its use as an abrasive.

 

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12 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Many (most?) leaves have a wax coating. So how would we know that the "reeds" were being used as an abrasive, rather than to apply an attractive and protective wax finish?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicuticular_wax

It seems that you have never worked with equisetum.

 

 

Besides, it is a plant which doesn’t have leaves. 

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Also, from the CAMEO historical art materials online database:

Description

A nonflowering, grass-like plant of the genus Equisetum, such as Equisetum hyemale, found in wet, swampy soil. In medieval times, horsetail was imported from Holland. It was called Dutch rush and used for cleaning pots and burnishing Metal. Horsetail stems contain fine-grain Silica with small angular fingers. They are used as an Abrasive for polishing Veneer, burnishing Clay, and smoothing Gesso grounds.

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

It seems that you have never worked with equisetum.

 

But I have. :)

I just didn't find that it did anything remarkable, nor have I been able to find evidence for it having been used on violins, except in modern times. Fine silica sand or pumice on a rag can do about the same thing, except that it leaves more texture, which I would consider to be more desirable on fiddles than a "sanded" finish.

Maybe equisetum would have been good for finishing things like the neck and fingerboard?

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

I have to confess that I am not all too educated in the details of Classical Japanese wood finish. 
 

All the carpentry seems to be based on the principle that if skills of the craftsman are at a master level, he can make seamless joints with a Japanese saw without further corrections. 
 

I have also seen a video of a furniture maker where the finish was done with a very precisely adjusted plane. The furniture was a soft wood, either Hinoki or Kiri. (Besides there are still competitions of making hinoki wood shavings so thin that you can read a newspaper through it.)
 

For musical instruments such as the shamisen or Koto I have actually no idea how the wooden parts were finished. Koto, because of its big size, could have been finished with a razor sharp plane. The body of the shamisen is lacquered and therefore the wooden surface must be even but not polished.

I never heard about scrapers in traditional Japanese woodworking. However Equisetum seems to have been known. Just last weeks I bought 4 equisetum plants and the garden shop owner knew that it can be used for wood finish. 
———————-

When I made a quick search on Theophilius I got a bit confused. To which one do you refer? 

Theophilius Is the recipient of the New Testament book of Acts.

 

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59 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

It seems that you have never worked with equisetum.

 

Besides, it is a plant which doesn’t have leaves. 

I don’t want to appear to take sides in this discussion, I think it’s fascinating, but I failed to see any difference between this and extremely fine grit sandpaper? What am I missing, please?

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6 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I don’t want to appear to take sides in this discussion, I think it’s fascinating, but I failed to see any difference between this and extremely fine grit sandpaper? What am I missing, please?

Very little to none.  Many people say it leaves the wood 'cleaner'.  And, in deed, it leaves no 'dust'.  It somehow sweeps or perhaps even picks up the particles as it goes.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I was hoping more for direct links to maybe two or three pertinent articles, than a link to a searchbar. Can we give it another go?

 

https://alutiiqmuseum.org/word-of-the-week-archive/408-horsetail

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4253427

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262010987_Ethnobotany_of_the_Okanagan-Colville_Indians_of_British_Columbia_and_Washington_State_British_Columbia_Provincial_Museum

A quote from page 17 of the last article is typical:

"Both large and small horsetails were used in the old days as sandpaper, to polish bone tools and soapstone pipes. The pipes were first coated with a "varnish" of warm salmon slime, which was allowed to harden, then rubbed with horsetail stems."

Why don't you go try some warm salmon slime as a varnish?  :D

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7 hours ago, David Burgess said:

But I have. :)

I just didn't find that it did anything remarkable, nor have I been able to find evidence for it having been used on violins, except in modern times. Fine silica sand or pumice on a rag can do about the same thing, except that it leaves more texture, which I would consider to be more desirable on fiddles than a "sanded" finish.

Maybe equisetum would have been good for finishing things like the neck and fingerboard?

I found that pumice roughs up the surface too much for my taste and the remains have to be cleaned off very meticulously. On the other hand it’s certainly not very time efficient to use equisetum on a double bass. <_<

I like equisetum on violins because it gives my steamed wood a very silky mild shine. 
 

Sacconi mentioned shark skin as an abrasive for sure and I think it was him as well who kicked off the avalanche of violin makers using equisetum today. (Need to read it again)

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I think I’m pretty safe suggesting that the classical Cremonese makers hardly (if ever) used abrasives of any kind. We only have to look at an Amati scroll to see that the hundreds of fine tool marks they left behind. These were so fine, they were practically invisible. As for the Guarneri family they simply did not bother trying. IF classical violinmakers ever used abrasives, they probably used shark skin, because it cuts rather than rubs and leaves less dust to block the pores (and kill reflection). In effect shark skin works like a fine rasp. Rasps have had a bad rap for years, but if you can get good ones they are brilliant tools. I rarely used files.

Other than necks, I see no reason for using abrasives and even here I have seen one or two old necks that have lots of tool marks on them. If anyone can show me examples of abrasives having been used by classical makers, please post. If I am persuaded I will eat some of viola’s salmon slime. Very tasty on toast.

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Most of the dust is in the equisetum very little on the surface.

 

Once the equisetum is loaded, the dust will need to go somewhere else, just like with sandpaper.

Speaking of sandpaper, the 17th century Cremonese makers had everything needed to make sandpaper; paper, glue and sand. Abrasive particles can be easily sorted into various grits via gravity separation in water. I sometimes don't understand the fondness for the notion that people of that era were less technically advanced than they were. Compressed air, for instance, had already been in use for centuries in things like pipe organs and forges. Much longer, if we include lung-powered wind instruments.

"Omobono, we're out of 220. Make me some more so I can finish this neck." :D

"Omobono, I don't care if you're getting dizzy. You need to finish spraying on that varnish coat by dusk."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAip2KyfQmo

 

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40 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Once the equisetum is loaded, the dust will need to go somewhere else, just like with sandpaper.

Speaking of sandpaper, the 17th century Cremonese makers had everything needed to make sandpaper; paper, glue and sand. Abrasive particles can be easily sorted into various grits via gravity separation in water. I sometimes don't understand the fondness for the notion that people of that era were less technically advanced than they were. Compressed air, for instance, had already been in use for centuries in things like pipe organs and forges. Much longer, if we include lung-powered wind instruments.

"Omobono, we're out of 220. Make me some more so I can finish this neck." :D

When equisetum gets clogged it doesn’t cut so well any more so I automatically snip it off to continue. 
 

———
But …

if you use pumice it isn’t any better? You rub pumice plus wood dust into the pores, or do I miss anything in the picture?

I am convinced too that there have been many more applications known. The picture always gets distorted because there is always a time gap between the invention of something and the person who finds it interesting enough to create a written record to be preserved for the afterworld.

 

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11 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I don’t want to appear to take sides in this discussion, I think it’s fascinating, but I failed to see any difference between this and extremely fine grit sandpaper? What am I missing, please?

I see the major difference that equisetum just can takes off some roughness from the surface and it is very hard to go further and make a ‘hole’ (dig deeper than that) while with sandpaper you just can go on and on and at very extreme you could go literally through the wood.

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14 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

I just had a students Finkel bow rehaired for him. I mentioned the oxidized eye in the frog, and the recommendation was to just replace it. I decline in the absence of permission from the owner, but I’m wondering if the material that you guys are discussing here would be sufficient to polish the eye and restore some or all of its past glory?

 

020DA48B-7521-4302-975A-3C44AEAAA3F7.jpeg

Is the eye metal or pearl?   If metal a light rub with a pencil eraser will remove the oxidation and make it shiny

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