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So the purpose of the large amount of alcohol is to re-suspend the existing varnish? I would think that you would have to clean the surface very well so that dirt/rosin would not adhere to the french polish. I got to thinking that Steve is not taking the violin "to white" because he retained the "sunburst" pattern on another of his violin renovations.
I have a German Strad copy that would really benefit from a finish repair. The sunburst pattern is in the wood, so stripping the old varnish would not cause that to go away. The varnish simply makes that pattern pop. At least, it is in the wood on my violin, circa 1910 ish.
"Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one".- Albert Einstein
First of all, I am very new to this and have touched up woodwork but am new to violins... so I’m telling you what’s working for me
every violin is different... a violin like this newer Seidel has the stain mixed with the varnish and I believe it is sprayed on. The finish chips and scrapes off making it really vulnerable to damage and is hard to touch up. I believe it would be best stripped to white and refinished
Like the Czech above, a lot of violins because of the wood difference the front and back are touched up differently. If I know I am touching up the whole front and/or back I wipe down with a cotton rag with alcohol. You need to be very careful because the varnish does soften and will smear. Try to take off minimal. A little cloudiness is normal and will be gone during the French polish stage. While cleaning if the scratches appear to temporarily disappear then the French polish will take care of it. This was good for 90 percent of the top. Where the bridge and tuners were I mixed a little stain powder and alcohol together and touched up with a little brush.
I then applied a little varnish to the spots, let it sit overnight and wet sanded with 1,000 grit sand paper. I then French polish the whole top.
on the back the maple doesn’t absorb the stain and it chips white,
i mix the powder stain with varnish and touch up the spot(s). And sand and polish again. If I feel I have taken a lot of finish off I will put a couple good layers of French polish on to build it back up before I finish
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