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Removing unknown clear coat on top of varnish


KeiranC

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Hi all- this cello was given to me by a high school in North Carolina, as it was going to be thrown away.  I’m assuming it’s a used and abused example of “the usual,” but I find something charming about it and think it could be a decent student instrument.  My question is this:  apparently, the guy who fixed the pipes at school was the same person who maintained the instruments.  I was told that when he found some of the older instruments to not look “shiny enough,” he coated them with some sort of clear lacquer...  As you can see, some of the abuse has peeled off, leaving a slightly dulled varnish beneath.  It does chip and peel off, but not so easily, so I’m wondering what one might use to remove the shiny top coat.  I also realize that there are much bigger concerns, like the button being held together with wood putty, or the Un repaired soundpost crack.  Thank you!

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There's a lot to learn and practice on there...

I doubt you'll find a solvent that will remove the applied clear coat without affecting the original varnish, but you might!  I would try peeling it off with a scraper that is sharpened on an angle with the edge hooked, that can give a fair bit of control and hopefully limit damage to the original.  Good Luck!

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There was/is a commercial violin varnish that behaves that way - it seems to be like a flexible plastic.  I used it on a violin and a wooden flute when I was a callow youth but ended up peeling it off the violin.  The brown, red-brown, reds,... are fugitive and turn yellowish after a short time.

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1 hour ago, KeiranC said:

Hi all- this cello was given to me by a high school in North Carolina, as it was going to be thrown away.  I’m assuming it’s a used and abused example of “the usual,” but I find something charming about it and think it could be a decent student instrument.  My question is this:  apparently, the guy who fixed the pipes at school was the same person who maintained the instruments.  I was told that when he found some of the older instruments to not look “shiny enough,” he coated them with some sort of clear lacquer...  As you can see, some of the abuse has peeled off, leaving a slightly dulled varnish beneath.  It does chip and peel off, but not so easily, so I’m wondering what one might use to remove the shiny top coat.  I also realize that there are much bigger concerns, like the button being held together with wood putty, or the Un repaired soundpost crack.  Thank you!

IMG_4393.jpeg

IMG_4392.jpeg

IMG_4391.jpeg

IMG_4390.jpeg

IMG_4389.jpeg

IMG_4388.jpeg

IMG_4387.jpeg

IMG_4386.jpeg

Zylene or Zylol will strip some touch up varnishes but usually not have any effect on original varnish

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5 hours ago, iburkard said:

…it's probably just a ton of white glue.

If that were true, you would be very lucky, because white glue does not adhere strongly to other non-permeable wood finishes.  And when it is moistened with water, in a few minutes it turns an opaque white and softens, making it easy to scrape off without damaging the underlying finish.  It’s worth trying this on a small area to see what happens.

If this doesn’t work, you are left with either trying to find another solvent that will soften the overcoat without affecting what’s under it or trying to scrape it off without damaging what’s under it.

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You might want to try using masking tape on the applied overcoat as a starting point, apply and pull.   If the over coat has not imbedded itself onto the original varnish it might just peel off.  A long and slow process but worth the effort.

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