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Strip and Refinish - It's going to happen...


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#121 Jeremy Davis

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 02:45 PM

If I fill the crack with the intended color, wouldn't the finished varnish be darker on that crack as a result of the relative depth of the transparent varnish? Would I be better off with at least leveling it now clear (or amber/shellac color) before varnishing? I've mixed up some Sandarac and it's color resembles the violin as it is now with shellac only. I'm not opposed to varnish, but front other cracks I've tried to fill with it, it seams to take a long time to dry (of course, it is linseed oil varnish...)

BTW, I've closed up the crack as tight as it'll get. There is still a trough of sorts, pretty much just like the picture above.
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#122 McBenet

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 10:17 PM

If I fill the crack with the intended color, wouldn't the finished varnish be darker on that crack as a result of the relative depth of the transparent varnish? Would I be better off with at least leveling it now clear (or amber/shellac color) before varnishing? I've mixed up some Sandarac and it's color resembles the violin as it is now with shellac only. I'm not opposed to varnish, but front other cracks I've tried to fill with it, it seams to take a long time to dry (of course, it is linseed oil varnish...)

BTW, I've closed up the crack as tight as it'll get. There is still a trough of sorts, pretty much just like the picture above.


Jeremy,

I think, that is it sounds to me, like you are visualizing this in your head as the same as filling the crack on a violin that has not been stripped of it's original varnish and you would be filling the crack in one step.

There are two basic ways (though I'm sure someone will have more) of filling a crack on a plate with original varnish:

1) Clean and glue the crack as best you can and then fill it with Sandarac or some similar substance (clear shelack, varnish, etc.) until it is flush with original finish and hope it has been repaired tight enough that you can barely notice it.
2) Gradually build up the surface of the crack with clear shelack/varnish while gradually adding successive layerings of color (water color or other) until the suface of the crack is level with the surface of the original finish and the colors have been added and blended to match the original finish as best as possible, considering the fact that the added color (water color or other) will usually not be translucent like the original varnish is.

Because you do not have to try and match original varnish, and you are not forced to use only a clear filler, the way I would do it (others will have "their own way") is as follows:

First, remember that I am speaking in some pretty general terms that you will have to modify to your specific circumstances. Let us assume (for the sake of discussion) the following: 1.) You have a ground and it is covered with varnish. 2.) There is a crack (which for sake of discussion) that is 3/32" deep. 3.) You have chosen a varnish method which will entail 3 color coats and 3 clear coats of varnish. (Note: I am not advocateing 6 coats, 5 coats or 12 coats, I just picked that number because it makes the example easy to discuss) 4.) We will call the 3 color coats "chocolate brown", "fire engine red" and "pumpkin orange" successively for the purpose of discussion and explanation.

Apply the first coat of "chocolate brown" varnish to the violin in your normal manner and set it aside to dry/set for your normal period of time. We will assume (for the sake of discussion) that you have applied a layer of varnish which is 1/64" thick over the entire outer surface of the violin. This will have raised the surface of the plate 1/64" and it will have also raised the bottom of the crack 1/64", leaving the crack still 3/32" deep. Now, using a fine tip artists brush, apply a layer of "cholate brown" varnish 1/32" thick to the inside bottom of the crack, raising the level of the bottom of the crack by 1/32". The crack will now be 2/32" deep. Let dry/set.

Next, apply the second coat of "fire engine red" varnish 1/64" thick to the entire outside surface of the violin and set it aside again to dry/set. This will have raised the surface of the violin 1/64" and also raised the surface of the bottom of the crack 1/64" and the crack is still 2/32" deep. When dry/set, use your fine point artist brush to apply a layer of "fire engine red" varnish 1/32" thick to the inside bottom of the crack and let it dry/set. The crack will now be 1/32" deep.

Third, apply a coat of "pumpkin orange" varnish 1/64" to the entire outer surface of the violin and set it aside again to dry/set. This also will have raised the surface of the violin plate 1/64" and the bottom of the crack will also be raised 1/64" and at this point in time the crack will be 1/32" deep. After the varnish is dry/set, use your fine point artist brush to lay a layer of "pumpkin orange" varnish 1/32" thick into the crack and the crack should now be filled even with the surface of the last color coat of varnish. Set the violin aside to dry/set.

After all of this, apply the first coat of clear varnish and set the violin aside to dry/set. IF there is still a slight depression in the area of the crack, use your fine point artists brush to level it out with clear varnish. If not, then proceed to the second coat of clear varnish and then the third. Polish your violin to your likeing.

This method will basically do the same thing as the "water color" method, but it uses varnish that matches each layer as it is put down and avoids the problem of trying to match varnish color with opaqe water colors and it avoids the "dirty" look that often comes from filling a crack with only a clear filler.

As I said, the colors of the varnish, the number of coats, the depth of the crack are all made up by me purely for the sake of example and you should change it all according to the varnish method you choose, the depth of the crack you are filling, the number of color coats you are going to use and also the number of different color coats you are going to use, along with any other annomolies that occure in your particular situation.

Hope this helps, but if it sparks a big controversy then at least you will get to hear how others prefer to do it.

-----Barry

Edited:

I forgot to add, repairs of defects (cracks, dents, chips, etc.) are usually less perseptible if the repair is just ever so slightly lighter in color. If you lighten the color of the varnish just slightly when you add the 1/32" fill with your fine point artist brush, it will help hide the crack. Please note: don't do this by "thinning the varnish". Do it by adding a "tiny, tiny bit" of clear varnish to the colored varnish.
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#123 Jeremy Davis

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:23 PM

Barry, thank you so much for that comprehensive response. I can tell that I will reference it many times over the next month or two. Don't worry, I won't take your examples too literally. (Though I would love to see "fire engine red " varnish...)
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#124 McBenet

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 10:05 PM

Jeremy,

You are welcome. I hope I wasn't too "wordy", but I didn't know any other way to explain how the layereing of the varnish was supposed to work. As for the "fire engine red varnish", I'm still working on it. :D I'm sure it would be pretty spectacular if I could develope a translucent fire engine red varnish that set off the wood grain and the flames. Wow. Well, we'll see what happens. Keep your sunglasses ready. B) :lol: :lol:

-----Barry
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#125 Jeremy Davis

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 12:03 PM

quick question: do you install the saddle before or after varnishing?(I ask because I've seen it both ways.)
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#126 McBenet

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 09:46 PM

quick question: do you install the saddle before or after varnishing?(I ask because I've seen it both ways.)


Jeremy,

My preference, and it is only that, is to varnish with saddle off. First of all, I just like haveing the thing out of the way. Makes it easier for me. Second, I don't like tell tale signs of varnish on the saddle. And third, if you varnish with the saddle on and you get varnish down into the small gap between the sides of the saddle and the the edge of the top plate, you will have the same problem you would have had if you had left no gap on the sides of the saddle and this presents the possibility of saddle cracks re-appearing on the top plate.

Makers usually like to "play their instruments in", "in the white" and therefore install the saddle before varnishing and (understandablely) often don't want to remove the saddle to complete the fiddle when they varnish. Most of them are probably more skilled than I am at doing a proper varnish job with the saddle on and I don't offer any judgement on their choice, I just find it easyer with the saddle off.

Hope this helps,
-----Barry
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#127 iburkard

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 12:16 AM

I'm not sure what to recommend... personal preference. If you plan to set up the instrument right away with a soft-ish finish, it would make sense to install before, so that you don't have to risk marring the finish while installing/clamping. It's easy enough to mask the saddle and gaps to the left and right, or scrape the areas clean later.

#128 Jeremy Davis

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 10:11 PM

Ok, I successfully filled the crack and managed to lighten it as well. I think it'll be much less noticeable once my varnishing is done. Speaking of which, can anyone direct me to any instructional videos (online) that would be good to look at? I'm very much interested in the "hand-applied" approach (you know, being a sculptor an all..) and seem to remember seeing some videos with that technique a while back. Something having to do with 1800 and violins, but unfortunately didn't bookmark it at the time. Anybody know what I'm talking about?

I am interested in opinions on brush vs. hand application BTW...
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#129 MikeC

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 08:41 AM

I think this is what you are looking for.
http://www.oldwood17...aplicacion.aspx

The videos are on youtube

I would reccomend the hand application. I did it for the first time recently. Thinned artist oil paint with a little uncolored varnish that had some drier in it. I think it has a drier because I didn't have as much workin time as I would have liked so it may be better to thin the paint with something other than what I used. I dabbed some on with a brush as shown in the videos then spread it in a thin glaze with my hands as shown but I didn't use rubber gloves as shown, just bare skin. Hey, it cleans off with turpentine! :) One thing I like about doing it this way is I put a little extra color in the coves of the C bouts because I wanted it darker there. Pattted it out from there with my finger tip and got a very smooth even transition from the dark area to the light area. Looks almost like the effect you could get by spraying with an air brush.

one place where I did use a brush was on the ribs and ended up getting some brush hairs in the varnish. Lesson learned, use a better quailty brush!

in this thread you can see some pics of how mine turned out with the hand application
http://www.maestrone...pic=323377&st=0

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