Monday, January 14, 2019

Varnish and a chinrest

The smell of varnish in the morning.  Put a second coat of clear oil varnish on these two this morning.  Neither are of my make, they are Bulgarian whites.  The one in the foreground left is a 16-inch viola, and the ones of this make I've had in the past have been rather nice sounding.  The one in the light, in the background, is a master-grade violin.  I have never spent this much money on a white instrument before, so an experiment, or a gamble, depending on the point of view.

I think these might be done with varnishing.  Now to hang out for a while, let the varnish harden, then set them up and see how the play.

Working on a customer's instrument on the bench today, a 3/4 violin with a Juzek label.  Caught the light just right, and noticed these grinder marks in the chinrest.

You may need to zoom in to see them properly.  They appear to come from some sort of drum sander, used to shape the cup of the chinrest.  I like finding tool marks.  Gives a clue as to how things were done.

Here's a side view.

You might notice the little bit of wear on the right side of the chinrest.  Not ebony, but painted black to appear so.


  1. Is shellac used on instruments as well or mostly varnish? Do you mix varnish to an historic recipe or are commercial oil varnishes still suitable for your purposes.

    I really like how the finishes catch the light.

    1. Thank you, Steve. To my surprise, this photo has gotten some attention, and I will write a separate blog post on my varnish process today.