Testing the varnish
  1. Go over the whole surface and remove zits.

The varnish must now pass the print test in all areas.
  1. Hold you finger on the varnish using moderate pressure for a few seconds and see if it imprints, and you can see the fingerprint imprinted plastically into the varnish.
  2. Check in the areas of C bouts again, especially the upper C bouts sometimes have a hard time drying because of limited UV access. The areas where the varnish still imprints can be exposed to UV selectively, using a mercury lamp. 20 minutes is usually enough.
  3. When the varnish doesn't imprint it is ready to be polished. With the varnishes used in this manual, this may be in about a day or two after the last coat.


The goal of polishing is to remove: a] the errors in the varnish, small zits etc., b] that cheap sheen which comes with new varnish. At the same time you want to retain some of the surface's character and that of the wood underneath.

You need a cloth, mineral oil and tripoli.

Start on the back of the violin. Again, you want to remove most of the zits, and some of the "orange peel" texture. You don't want to make the surface look like a piano.
  1. Take the cloth dip it in the oil and tripoli.
  2. Using circular movements start polishing the whole surface. Make sure you cover the area evenly. Feel for any coarser particles under you fingers and remove them if found, as they might scratch the surface. Be careful in the areas of corners and the purfling edge as here you can easily cut thru the varnish.
  3. When done, clean up the surface with a paper towel and see what it looks like. The oil residues will make the surface look somewhat unnatural, satin like, but you should get an idea about how the surface looks like. Again, don't overpolish.
  4. If you want to remove the oil to see how the finished surface will look like, use a wet paper towel or a towel with flour as medium.

The same applies to the ribs.

On the front you may want to use a movement which goes along the growth lines which may have created a "corduroy" effect in the varnish which you don't want to remove. Again, be careful not to overpolish, just get rid of the zits but not the texture.

The same goes for the scroll.
  1. When finished carefully remove the remnants of tripoli from all nooks.
  2. Wash down with a wet towel or flour again to see the final sheen.
  3. Let dry for a few hours to get the final look.

F-holes and pegbox staining

You can now decide, whether you want to make the inside of the pegbox and the f-holes any color or not. Some makers leave these parts just varnished, others stain or paint them. If you want to paint them, here you go:

You need a tube of artist's oil Burnt umber color, turps and a fine brush.
  1. Squeeze out some of the color and make if of the desired consistency adding a little turpentine.
  2. Paint the inside of the f-holes and remove any excess color on the top surface with a towel.
  3. Paint the inside of the pegbox.
  4. Let dry for a couple of days. The painter's oil colors have a comparatively long drying times. UV light doesn't help here. You could use some dryer additives to speed up the process, if you really need to.

The color, especially in the pegbox, can really be very thin, it doesn't have to necessarily cover a hundred percent. Think more about smearing the surface than putting a coat of paint on it.

When you are finished here, you can continue to the Peg fitting.

Category: Varnishing
Comment by
2016-05-06 00:47:29
Can I use paint thinner with the oil paint?
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2016-05-06 11:57:30
To thin the oil varnish, only quality turpentine should be used.
[Comment deleted]
Comment by Vojtech Blahout
2017-08-13 14:55:32
Also known as Rotten stone is a polishing abrasive, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotten_stone