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cleaning rosin from violins - acetone?

 
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
Posts: 848
Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: cleaning rosin from violins - acetone? Reply with quote

Was looking for a good solvent to clean grime & rosin from violins...after I was told ammonia is not healthy for the wood.
Thought I would try acetone on a junker, and it really cleans the gunk off quickly... I just did a quick scrub with lightly acetone dampened cloth and worked amazingly well... does not appear to have removed any varnish.

So question is... does anyone use it? tried it? or what is the downside?

Cheers... Mat
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rs
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Location: Holland, Michigan

PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use xylene to get old rosin off. I use acetone to take off new varnish and clean stiff brushes but I never tried to use it to just take off rosin. My fear would be on newer varnish it would strip it fast. But, that is just speculation. Older varnish is more like a tank and your results sound interesting.
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Acetone is what I use to strip violins. You got lucky!

The best thing I have found for cleaning, that affects the fewest varnishes, is toluene/toluol, but I'm finding it hard to get. When I used xylene, years ago, I found it didn't really cut rosin, and my rubbing was doing most of the job. If I want to do it that way, I use turpentine, which is much safer to the body, sometimes with fine steel wool used with a light hand.
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Mat Roop
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Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Michael & rs...
I too have used Xylene, but it is a slow go with lots of rubbing and smell.

I even tried Methyl cellulose as described in an article by David Polstein, in the IPCI book... but could not get it to work effectively as it seemed to dry like a layer of glue and then it it took more work to get it off. David P was kind enough to respond to my enquiry and he suggested I was applying it too thick... and that using deionized water was a key element. He did say he uses it primarily where the wood has accumulated dirt in areas where the varnish is worn off to the bare wood. .... I'll have to experiment more.

The acetone was extremely effective... likely for 2 reasons... 1- as rs said old varnish is like a tank .. and this old junker was likely a good instrument from the early 1900's. 2- I used very little acetone... just a bit dampened on a rag on the end of my finger, so the acetone would not have lingered at all and with the dirt coming off quickly, the acetone did not remain on the surface long enough to affect the varnish... newer & soft varnish would be another story.


Toluene is my next try... Cheers, & thanks... Mat
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FiddleDoug
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Joined: 08 Sep 2007
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Location: Hilton, NY

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:59 pm    Post subject: Don't even bother with Toluene! Reply with quote

That will strip oil varnish off like crazy. I have, as a very last resort, (I'll never admit it if you ask me in person), used Formby's Furniture Refinisher to strip really tough crud off of really nasty old MK type instruments. It contains Methanol, Toluene, and Acetone. Besides taking off crud, it WILL strip off some varnish. The varnish is nowhere close to what I would call original after using it. As I said, a very last resort, after Xylene. I would never use it on anything that I wasn't willing to trash.
Xylene may be slow and smelly (Toluene is pretty smelly and toxic also!), but if you work outside, with gloves, it's a lot safer to go slow than to risk messing up by having it go too fast.
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
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Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Success (I think) at Last!... I knew that hot soapy water was the best to clean dirt... so on that same junker violin, I tried really hot (85 deg C/ 185F) plain Deionized water. That water is too hot to handle, so I cut off the finger of a rubber glove, Wrapped my finger with paper towel for insulation, stuck it in the finger of the rubber glove, Wrapped that in a rag, and dipped it in the Hot Deionized water and rubbed the dirt... In 2 seconds & 4-5 rubs, the dirt & rosin came off clean as a whistle!
I could see no harm to the varnish with the high temperature.

The up side is no hazardous materials or fumes, no residue, environmentally safe, cheap.... can anyone see a down side??
Cheers... Mat
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