Adventures in Violin Repair – Part 4 – French Polishing (reposted)

Adventures in Violin Repair – Part 4 – French Polishing (reposted)


Welcome back to Part 4 of my violin repair series. This is about how I French-polished the violin. So you can see the violin body has no finish on it right now. And I spent a bit of time using just alcohol and stripping off the original shellac. I also used a really fine sand paper just to try to smooth everything out. There’s a few little spots that I don’t think I’d really be able to get down to just because of the previous abuse to the violin. For the most part, it is all totally smooth and really fine, I used really fine, about 1000 grit sandpaper to make sure that it was ready to take the new shellac. Now you can kind of tell that the wood is kind of greenish and it’s just aged, it’s probably from just time and ultraviolet light and oxygen and whatever hitting it. And the new little replacement part on the f-hole doesn’t really match because I used this new spruce with that and I later read that it was possible to quickly age wood by suspending it in a jar of ammonia and that would kind of make the yellowish go away and turn more toward your greyish-greenish tone. If I ever did this again I’d try to age the wood to try to make it look a little bit more like a match. So you can see I have some shellac there which I am putting on a little pad and inside the pad I actually used an old cut-up tee-shirt. The outside is just some cloth that my wife used to use for quilting and it’s nice because it doesn’t give off any lint. You can see in the little jar there the shellac is a medium cut of shellac. I used pure grain alcohol in order to make the shellac and let it sit for a few days it dissolve and slowly stir it a little bit. It was totally dissolved. And for the oil, I just put a little dab of oil on the pad half dry. I put the shellac in it and it’s just a little bit on the outside, very little and you can kind of get a feel for it. I haven’t ever done this before, this is the first time I’ve ever tried it. So you can kind of get the feel for it, how much it was grabbing, I guess, against the surface. And, anyway, I really did kind of dial it in later on, when I was doing this. Ok, I pretty much have the top, the first initial coat done. I’m starting on the back now just to get a real base coat of this shellac on there. And this actually takes quite a bit of time. I’m putting it on really thick, later on I go really thin and it really starts to gloss up when I use ultra thin layers. I spent quite a bit of time polishing it This is just the initial base coat. So I was just trying to get the initial coat on there. I think it was ok to go a little bit thick with it because I really start polishing it up later and I just wanted to get one slight layer of gloss on the whole top and bottom plate. It took a little bit of time for me to figure out how much oil versus how much shellac I needed in the pad. I can kind of squeeze the pad to force out a little bit in as you are polishing. The one thing that I noticed was interesting is that pretty much almost instantly when you’re doing the circles that its dry. I mean, right after you come off of it, you’ll see kind of a little ghosphy whisper of the oil disappear and it’s dry to the touch. So it’s really interesting how fast that dries. So at this point you can kind of tell it’s not high gloss finish, it’s more of a satin or semigloss. Later on it will, with just this really light polishing, with thin amounts, will bring it to that high gloss. It’s interesting how different the two colors of wood are here. Ok, so I have done two coats on the top and it’s starting to get really glossy. I’m going to do a second coat on the back. Using just an absorbent little tow let, put it inside a lintless cloth and then I just take basically on my fingertip a little dab of oil and then just kind of rub it on the top. And that helps it glide around. I’m just so surprised how well this method works to put a finish on and I’ve never done a French polish before and it is just amazing. How glossy it gets and how quick it gets that way. So I just keep polishing here; I can kind of see the oil just disappear off behind after it leaves a little spot of the shellac. Just kind of buffing it in little circles; one it kind of starts grabbing, then I know it’s about time to either put a little bit more oil or a little bit more shellac on there. I think we’re at that point. I’ve been dipping it a little bit in just directly in the shellac and it doesn’t seem to matter, we’re applying it directly to the pad inside. But I think each stroke lays down a little deposit of the shellac and the more you do it, the more it keeps buffing up and getting glossier and glossier. It’s crazy. How deep it starts looking and it has to be just that super thin layer Let me see how glossy it’s getting already. So I don’t know which angle is the best. So this is just what I’ve been doing here. You can see how it’s starting to look deep already. Ok, I’m going to start working on this side right now. That is just so smooth, it’s crazy. Silky smooth. It’s just like, feel this! It’s crazy, dude! Do you see how thin, I mean, how thin is this coat? It’s already dry! Yea. It’s the coolest thing I ever have done. With like woodworking or whatever, I mean finishing this is just insane. A little oil on it. Ok, I’m going to reload, put a little oil on it, in these areas. Just kind of going back and forth blending it in where I’ve been. Where I’m going to. It looks like it’s almost a mile thick, but I know it can’t be, it’s just like a micron thick on there. It’s crazy. About time to reload the little pad here. It is getting reeeaallly luxurious looking and so glossy it’s crazy. Like a mirror. I have a feeling that violins that are painted are not to the same quality as French polished. This is just a practice for me. It’s already making this violin look so much better than what it was. I’m really pushing on the pad, force some of the shellac out to the surface so that it’s kind of on the inside of it. Pushes it through the pad to the outside.

6 thoughts to “Adventures in Violin Repair – Part 4 – French Polishing (reposted)”

  1. A parte mais interessante mostrar eram as laterais e a voluta, onde é quase reto é bem fácil

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