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varnish

 
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DaveBob
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Joined: 10 Dec 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:35 am    Post subject: varnish Reply with quote

Why isn't polyurethane used as a violin varnish?
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L P Reedy
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Joined: 02 Apr 2009
Posts: 248
Location: Brevard, NC

PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because it is not violin varnish. A better question might be "why would you want to?"
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DaveBob
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Joined: 10 Dec 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because it's very forgiving in application, dries clear, could take dye, waterproof, and almost indestructible. I use exclusively on furniture that I build.
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DonLeister
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Joined: 29 Mar 2007
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Location: Richmond, VA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take it you are talking about the oil based kind?

From what I have seen of polyurethane it can easily get too thick. Some kinds are wipe on which would look better initially.
Polyurethane tends to wear in a poor fashion or rather not wear at all and when it does it is not attractive, kind of chips or loses adhesion but doesn't totally let go. The chippy areas continue to lift.
Poly is so tough that when something scratches it the poly often stays on but takes the dent and sticks to the dented wood. Poly won't polish in a nice way that some violin varnishes and spirit varnishes do. They are softer and move more with the wood.
Importantly, traditional varnishes develop a patina that polyurethane never does. Some subtle craquelure is a good thing.
Have you seen how floors done in polyurethane wear? Maybe that can give you an idea.
You want a violin varnish to wear in a soft shading kind of way.
Also, traditional varnishes can be touched up in a predictable manner. I would not want to have to touch up a varnish that wears like polyurethane.
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
Posts: 839
Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting... Suzuki student violins are ( or were) finished in polyurethane for durability.
I had refinished one in the early 90's with violin varnish, and the opinion from the teacher of the program was that with the violin varnish, it had better tone than all the others.
My intuitive guess is that polyurethane is more "rubbery" as a finish and acts somewhat as a mute... but that is just my 2 cents worth
Cheers, Mat
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kjb
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Joined: 06 Feb 2013
Posts: 373

PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes I think the qualities that are good for furniture are not good for violin, I think its a different concept .
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
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Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing I wonder about is why lacquer works good for guitars and yet not for violins, cellos or basses??
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DonLeister
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Location: Richmond, VA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you elaborate on what it is that lacquer does well?
I see all sorts of things on guitars and to me , most guitars I see don't sound that great. I like the prewar martins and some 50's ones but honestly I don't see a great deal of them to be able to make an objective comparison.
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
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Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don... I have no idea why lacquer works well... in fact I don't know that it does... except that to my knowledge, most guitars are finished with lacquer which would imply that it works well otherwise other materials would be the standard....But then I do admit that I know almost less than nothing about guitars.
Merry Christmas!... Mat
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Michael Darnton
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The whole point of lacquer is to get a glassy-smooth, indestructible cover. When it peels, it does so in a really ugly way. None of this is what violin makers want, and additionally, it has a tonal profile--restrictive and bright--that doesn't help violins, which need fast and warm.

I do know some people who've used lacquer mixed into a sort of spirit varnish, which does mitigate it's ugly wear characteristic, and the thinner they make it the better it sounds.
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shaunfosdick
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Joined: 22 Jul 2013
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Location: saint louis

PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a few that have had some luck with brushing lacquer such as Deft because the formulations are different than spraying lacquers. They often have plasticizers added and don't peel in the same way as the spraying versions. Just remember to look for a company that uses good quality materials in their production of their lacquers. Left thin they can behave like a good spirit varnish.

Not everybody likes to speak about it but more than a few small shops/small factories/independent makers with a good name use lacquer like these or oil varnishes that are alkyd or phenolic resin based. An application system is just as important as the materials themselves.
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