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Humidity for ground/varnish
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rottrunner
Chicago, IL, USA
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January 10, 2015 - 8:09 pm
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Hi all -- I'm a beginner in the luthier world, and am about to embark on my first finishing/varnishing project.  I have a violin in the white on the way, and good gosh -- there are a lot of methods and opinions out there for this process.

My largest question is this: I used to build small aircraft when I lived in Florida, and with the intense humidity, a lot of the chemicals/stiffeners/etc. we used would dry extraordinarily fast.  I have however, just recently moved to Chicago, where the humidity is much lower -- very dry.  I've heard several people say that humidity is a big factor for putting the ground on, darkening the wood, varnishing, all of it.  Many have advised against doing anything in an air conditioned room, as well.  Does anyone have an idea of what an ideal humidity/temp would be for this?  I'm wondering if I need to get a humidifier...

If anyone has any other special tips or opinions about this, I'd love to hear them as well.  Thank you!

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augustoad
Ponta Grossa, Paraná - Brazil
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January 10, 2015 - 11:46 pm
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Hey @rottrunner , I've found this really detailed article on Violin Varnish. I hope it's useful to you. Here's a link: http://houslari.sweb.cz/varnish.pdf

Skype: augustoad Email: augustoaguieiras@hotmail.com Phone number/whatsapp: +55 42 9861-4084. I'd be happy to talk anything fiddle-related to anyone! :)

 

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rottrunner
Chicago, IL, USA
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January 11, 2015 - 12:13 am
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@augustoad Thank you!  I have read that article, but I wasn't able to find anything about whether or not humidity is an important factor.  I'll definitely go through it again though -- regardless, the author has some really interesting ideas (I would never have thought of asphalt!).

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Uzi
Georgia
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January 11, 2015 - 1:21 pm
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@rottrunner I sometimes make Native American Style Flutes (NAF).  I've tried a number of different  finishes on them and the only difference that I can detect is drying time.  Clearly, the solvents evaporate more quickly in warm and dry conditions than they do when it's cold and wet.  When you are waiting for a finish to cure, you're just waiting for the evaporative process to complete (oils like tung oil take a very long time regardless) and so the same rules that apply to the evaporation of water apply to the evaporation of other solvents such as alcohol or turpentine, although the drying times are different.    

After dealing with a number of different finishes, I've found that for my purposes shellac is one of the best.  Of course, since a native american flute is something that people put in their mouths, having it finished with a non-poisonous substance is very important to me -- you won't have that issue with a fiddle so you'll have more options.  

My experience has been that when you think it's dry enough to touch, give it another day or two before you do.  When you think it's dry enough to apply another coat, give it another day or two. Don't be in a hurry when applying the finish. 

@augustoad thanks for the link, that was a really good article and it contained a good link for obtaining pigments. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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rottrunner
Chicago, IL, USA
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January 12, 2015 - 6:58 pm
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Thanks, @Uzi!  That was my thought as well -- that the humidity would affect drying time, although not necessarily the chemistry of the reactions themselves, but I wasn't sure.  Glad to get some confirmation. =)

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