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Violin Fingerboard Question
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kubasa
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Joined: 13 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: Violin Fingerboard Question Reply with quote

I started working down a fingerboard and I ended up with a light streak towards the nut end of the fingerboard. Personally, I don't mind it but I know that having streaks in the wood maybe isn't the most desirable. I've read about people dying the wood with things like India ink and other stains. Does anyone have any experience with dying fingerboards or in this case, just a portion of the fingerboard? It seems like I would have to dye or stain the whole board or am I mistaken in thinking this?

Thanks in advance for your suggestion - James


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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a q-tip and wipe ink over the whole board. That way it will all look the same.
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kubasa
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Michael. I wouldn't have thought of using a q-tip.
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You will probably have to do something to even out the reflectance afterwards. Ink has resins in it, and unless you do a perfect job, the shine will be a little uneven. I usually give a very light steel-wooling. Too much and you take off the cover, so don't go too hard on the streaky areas or you'll have to repaint them. The more carefully you put on the color, the less work you'll have to do--an airbrush would probably be perfect for the job, but I'm too lazy to fire up my compressor for this.

I do this with many of the boards I dress--I think it looks a bit nicer. Over time the ink will wear off, but it will be replaced with skin oils and dirt, and those will cover up the streak, themselves.
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kubasa
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't thought about the reflectance. Good point.

I really haven't run across this issue but from what I understand it might be more common in the future. There was a video that circulated around on MN (I think?) about how the CEO of Taylor guitars bought up something like 90% of the ebony supply chain and he was planning on distributing ebony whether it was streaky or not. You probably watched the video when it came out. I suppose it is more responsible to use what they harvest so this will be good practise for me for down the road!

Thanks again.

James
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the prejudice against streaks is just a prejudice. In my experience, players often like the look (I do, too), and don't know that it's supposed to be bad. I pulled a particularly streaky blank from my stash yesterday and started making replacement scales (handles) for a straight razor--I think it's going to look pretty cool.

Sometimes the streaks are softer wood, but not always, and if you work from slabs of ebony as I do, you can put the worst of it at the bottom end of the board where there's not much wear.
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kubasa
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uh..you're not shaving with the straight razor are you? (probably none of my business to ask that....but they make me nervous) My dad still has some of his straight blades. They are nice and frighteningly sharp. The streaky ebony would indeed make some nice sides!
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed, I am, just for a couple of months now. It's much less scary than I would have thought. All of my knife skills transfer surprisingly well, including sharpening, and it turns out to not be that hard. Plus from years of cutting myself in the shop, a little blood now and then doesn't bother me (my wife is less indifferent about it).

Properly done, it's a remarkably mild experience. The main thing you have to learn is to just brush the skin lightly, never hard. The ways you can cut yourself are pretty easily defined and avoided.
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Mikes
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of fingerboards, what do people use to finish them after the india ink? I have been using mineral oil but the other day I read something that made me question using that which was the comment "why use an oil that will never dry/cure"? Then it was suggested to use a short oil, so to me that means a product like Minwax Old Antique Oil or maybe Watco or the likes. What do others use?

Mike Spencer
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Cliff Green
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I had a saxophone teacher who used a straight razor to trim reeds and he was remarkably good at it. Probably handy for some of the venues he played. I have a couple in my shop and broken ones make wonderful knives. I use one for trimming purfling and linings and haven't found anything I like better.

PS I had not seen the last entry. On finger boards I like to use linseed oil rubbed in with 600 wet/dry paper followed by a good buffing.
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kubasa
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Darnton wrote:
Properly done, it's a remarkably mild experience.


So I have heard. I have skin problems and regular razors (electric and the disposable) always bother my skin. Maybe this is the answer?? Someday I will need try out my dad's blades. There is a local hair salon that advertises "old-fashioned" blade shaves. Apparently, they have a good following of individuals - at least enough to keep offering this service.

Cliff - I'll bet a straight razor does work well for trimming purfling!
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Michael Darnton
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen a number of things recommended for sanding boards. I was taught mineral oil, I know people who use linseed, etc. The underlying idea is to get a liquid slurry of ebony dust pushed into the pores to make the board smoother. Also, sanding with water results in a dry-looking board, where oil gives a nice, warm-looking sheen.

There aren't any functional reasons for any of it--it's all about appearance, and then people make functional rationalizations after that. Any option needs to hold only until enough finger oil and dirt get on the board to make it look "normal" and some type of oil comes closest to that for a start.
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pmccombs
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Darnton wrote:
I think the prejudice against streaks is just a prejudice. In my experience, players often like the look (I do, too), and don't know that it's supposed to be bad. I pulled a particularly streaky blank from my stash yesterday and started making replacement scales (handles) for a straight razor--I think it's going to look pretty cool.

Sometimes the streaks are softer wood, but not always, and if you work from slabs of ebony as I do, you can put the worst of it at the bottom end of the board where there's not much wear.


I'm personally in favor of the streaks and will sometimes choose that wood first. The story is that good makers pick based on tonal qualities though. I saw one guy on the 'net who tap-tunes every little piece.
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actonern
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw one guy on the 'net who tap-tunes every little piece.

If it's the guy I'm thinking of, he also tap tuned himself in the shower, leading to yet more revelations...
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pmccombs
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikes wrote:
Speaking of fingerboards, what do people use to finish them after the india ink? I have been using mineral oil but the other day I read something that made me question using that which was the comment "why use an oil that will never dry/cure"? Then it was suggested to use a short oil, so to me that means a product like Minwax Old Antique Oil or maybe Watco or the likes. What do others use?

Mike Spencer


I thought my violin teacher did a quick french polish with shellac after he dressed his fingerboards. So that's what I did on my last one. Then I polished it with a 2000 grit emery paper and buffed it with a leather strap. Have I sinned?
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