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Category Archives: varnish

Among the treasure trove of information and tips and tricks at Frank Ford’s website Frets.com there’s a description of how to turn a single-edge razor blade into a miniature cabinet scraper for repairs of guitar finishes. Click here to read it.
 

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I thought that this was a really clever idea and immediately ordered a box of blades to try it out. Ford says that he draws the edge of the blade across a round piece of hard steel such as a screwdriver shank to create a fine hook just as one might finish a full size cabinet scraper.

I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t make it work. Maybe it was my technique or perhaps the steel of the blade had hardened during the sharpening process but despite repeated trials all I could produce was a ragged edge that scraped less well than a blade straight from the box.

 

The solution was first to grind off the bevelled edge of the blade;

 

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then to make the blade edge straight and square on a diamond stone;

 

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and finally to turn a hook with a burnisher in the usual way.

 

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These little scrapers work extremely well if you need to remove polish or varnish and they’re easy to re-sharpen.

 

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The cello that I’ve been writing about over the past few months isn’t far off completion. I always string instruments up before varnishing to be sure that they sound as they should. If adjustments are necessary and the top needs to come off, it seems better to do it before any colour or varnish is applied. This one was played by several decent cellists and I’m glad to say they had no complaints about the sound – a good response across the strings, although there’s a rather fierce wolf between F and F# on the G string and, to a lesser extent, on the D string too. It may prove necessary to fit a wolf note suppressor but I’ll defer judgement on that until it has been strung up again after varnishing. One of the cellists however, was helpfully critical about the shape of the neck – he thought that I had left it a touch too wide. So I reshaped it before starting to varnish.

Here’s the instrument strung up in the white:

And here are a couple of photographs after a few coats of varnish.

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