Henry Jr Varnishes his Violin

There are a million ways to varnish, but this elegant minimalist method illustrates some of what we have learned. Good varnish has a pleasant color, is durable, thin, flexible, stable, and non penetrating:

(Click on a small picture to enlarge it. Go BACK to return.)

Prestain Brush on a dilute salmon-colored water "pre-stain."
Prestain Smooth the raised grain a little with a synthetic mesh pad.
Prestain Seal with a dilute spirit varnish, golden colored, brushed on fast and shallow.
Prestain Brush on a coat of pine resin - walnut oil varnish.
Prestain Brush on a coat of this varnish strongly colored with a brown "extract."
Prestain Oil varnish dries faster in the sun.
Prestain Rub carefully with a good rubbing compound on a felt pad.
Prestain Polish with a "creme" violin polish on a paper towel.
Prestain The back of the new violin.
Prestain We all agree it's a good one.

Steve Steven Nelson, conductor of Salem Oregon's Grammy winning Sprague orchestra, approves.

Varnishing is covered in considerably more detail in Violin Making Step by Step. And if you wish to make your own walnut oil varnish, a recipe is included in Cello Making Step by Step. But remember - it's not so much what you use as how you use it.

Henry Strobel Jr is a business partner, but also an "apprentice." He made use of his father's advice as well as his book Violin Making Step by Step, in this his first violin. Yes, it sounds as good as it looks - and sold very quickly!

Note: This is for new violin making. Please do not revarnish any old violin! Even when expertly done (which is not easy) it devalues it. It destroys authenticity, texture, and patina. Even if you simply add varnish, it adds weight and damping, and an ugly inappropriate shine, if not runs and bumps. If it wasn't worthless before it probably will be. Varnishing is covered in my "Violin Making, Step by Step," but careful, conservative cleaning, and at most a little expert French polishing should suffice for an old violin.

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Copyright © 2001 Henry Strobel. All rights reserved.