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Apprentice Contributor
ollievaughan
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎01-12-2010
0

refinishing a violin

I have been asked by a friend to strip & refinish the face of his violin. Does anyone have any suggestions on procedure. I would like to finish with spray lacquer. Thanks for your info.  Ollie

Community Manager
MSWOODcraft
Posts: 5,246
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: refinishing a violin

My best suggestion right now is to STOP.   Don't touch it!!!

 

Determine if there is any value in that exact instrument as it sits right now.   Is it a bargain basement model or is it something that's possibly worth a penny or three?

 

Refinishing stringed instruments immediately, automatically and permanently destroys any value if they're collectible, rare or just plain ol' old.

 

So job #1 is to find out if your efforts might possibly create a subtraction instead of an addition.  

 

Then, presuming you've got an instrument which is a candidate for a job such as you propose, you'll want to take advantage of some of the literature, lessons and supplies found at Stewart MacDonald.

Best,

Matt Seiler
Wood Online Moderator

Veteran Advisor
grandpabear
Posts: 2,454
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
0

Re: refinishing a violin

 

   pay attention to Matt!


Whittier CA
THE MOST DANGEROUS TOOL IS THE ONE YOU ARE USING
Honored Advisor
Steve Mickley
Posts: 1,567
Registered: ‎10-21-2009
0

It has been said…

Ollie;

 

…that only fools and jewelers set about to repair watches.  I suspect that when it comes to violins we need only replace jewelers with Luthiers…

 

You may want to return the violin and offer to refinish a table instead…

 

Steve

Finishing & Refinishing Forum Host
Honored Advisor
Howard Acheson
Posts: 1,132
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: refinishing a violin

I have to agree with the other responses.  Repair and refinishing of string instruments is a job for professionals.

Howie..............
Advisor
Rrandy
Posts: 1,626
Registered: ‎11-05-2009
0

Re: refinishing a violin

I watched a lithu...luti...guitar builder and we talked while he was building. It seems a light touch and slow progress is best on hollow bodied instruments. I asked about refinishing and old Gibson and was told while it could be done without too much fuss it would destroy the collectability of the piece. I was amazed watching at how light his touch was and how he seemed to be able to stop sanding at like 60% smooth on a first and fine grit so when he went to the next finer grit that most but not all of the previous marks were gone...more of a polishing than sanding operation. I can hold a guitar, spell it, and that's about it...never tried a violin or fiddle. I wouldn't begin to do more than wipe one down with a soft cloth to remove my fingerprints...more than that and it goes to a pro in my book. 

Never do anything you don't want to explain to the EMT.

Apprentice Contributor
ollievaughan
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎01-12-2010
0

Re: refinishing a violin

Thanks, I will heed the warnings & proceed with caution. The violin is not a collectable, he plays it all the time. Ollie

Honored Advisor
Howard Acheson
Posts: 1,132
Registered: ‎10-24-2009
0

Re: refinishing a violin

[ Edited ]

There are luthier forums on the internet.  I suggest you google them and get connected.  Finish removal is tricky.  Finish removal chemicals can be a problem for the adhesives used on instruments.  Finishes can also have a significant impact on the sound of the instrument. 

Howie..............
Apprentice Contributor
ollievaughan
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎01-12-2010
0

Re: refinishing a violin

I have finished the violin & it looks great. I stripped it & applied 6 coats of guitar lacquer.  I returned it yesterday & my friend loves it. I am a little disappointed in the negative responses I received when I first posted my question. It would be very boring if you never tried anything new.  I did get a suggestion to look at Stewart/MacDonald & it was very helpfull, thanks for that. Ollie

Community Manager
MSWOODcraft
Posts: 5,246
Registered: ‎10-23-2009
0

Re: refinishing a violin

[ Edited ]

It's just because we all respect and pay homage to stringed instruments.  It seems that there are hundreds of ways of doing the job badly and only a few of doing a quality job the right way.   So we always caution folks to make sure that the integrity of the instrument is held first and foremost.

 

Glad that the StewMac link worked out for you!

 

Please post a photo or two of your results.  It'd be great to see how it came out.

Best,

Matt Seiler
Wood Online Moderator

 

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