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Violin Finish Removal with Baking Soda "Sand Blast"
I may have to refinish the back of an old violin and wondered if it was possible to remove existing finish with a baking soda "sand blast"
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February 13, 2018 - 4:55 pm
Member Since: December 23, 2017
Forum Posts: 1650
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I just received an old (in the violin field, old is certainly a relative term since the design is basically unchanged for hundreds of years) violin that I received in combination with a metal violin bow (the item that I wanted).  No clue but I would guess it is circa 1930s.  Nothing fancy but in playable condition with the exception of a poor attempt at repairing a small crack on the back side of the body, which left a lot of exposed glue that gives the finish a strange appearance.

Since I have nothing to lose on this one, I am considering opening the body of the violin on the front plate (the side with the f holes), cleat the crack, and reattach the front plate.  I may replace the existing ebony fingerboard with a "toasted" maple fingerboard.  I am considering masking off the unaffected finished wood and removing the back plate finish by "sand blast" with baking soda media.  I have done this technique on wood furniture before and it did not damage the wood and left a nice surface to receive finish.  Has anyone tried this technique before on a violin?

Would it be better to media blast the whole instrument so that there would not be a noticable difference of finish between the surfaces?  Any ideas would be appreciated.

Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. —Earl Nightingale.

Fort Lauderdale
February 19, 2018 - 10:28 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 15989

Of course it would be better to do the entire body of the instrument evenly if you would like an even result. Take pictures. I'm not familiar with this method of removing varnish and it would be nice to see the result.
Otherwise, you may want to try with a sponge or rags and Everclear 190 proof grain alcohol. You may even want to use some 0000 steel wool with the alcohol. Just make sure you use plenty of paper towels to absorb the varnish.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."


February 19, 2018 - 6:07 pm
Member Since: December 23, 2017
Forum Posts: 1650
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The most unusual situation I had blasted were several kitchen stainless steel steam kettles with a 50 year accumulation of starch.  Any type of conventional media would stress the steel and would have to be done in a cabinet.  I found someone that used pellets of dry ice (carbon dioxide) as a blast media.  It did a beautiful job.  The same person took "dope" off of a canvas covered airplane upon my recommendation.  No damage was done to the canvas.

I found a Youtube video where someone converted a Harbor Freight air blaster into a small baking soda bead blaster using a plastic soda bottle as the media reservoir.  Looks like just the ticket for me.  

I am not big on finishing.  Has anyone used Tru-Oil for a violin finish?  

I will certainly take pictures on whatever I end up doing.

Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal. —Earl Nightingale.

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