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Back to winter

Posted by BC on Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just got back from "spring training" in Phoenix.  While my beloved Tigers are in Lakeland, we could have watched Cincinnati or Cleveland or any number of teams.  But my wife decided we should paint her brother's house.  He is somewhat physically challenged and can't do some things so the decision was made the "old guy" could do all the high work.  The sun was hot and it was great!

Before we left, my Karl Hofner's tailpiece gut let go and after the explosion I saw the center seam had come slightly unglued.  I'm sure I didn't do anything right, but decided to repair it anyway.  I cleaned the seam, reglued with hide glue and then decided to semi strip it.  Sometime in the last 80 years someone decided to revarnish it.  I don't know if they forgot to stir the can or what, but there was this really, really thick goo all over the top and sides.  You could literally leave an impression of a finger print in the finish.  The back hadn't been touched so I left it alone, but scraped and scraped and scraped some more to get that crud off.  It was so filthy under the varnish purfling couldn't be seen until I got the scraping done.  I then sanded with 800 grit to try to get down to the original finish.  I followed up with 1200 and then 0000 steel wool.  I then applied two quite thin coats of wipe on oil varnish to try to add a little life to the fiddle.

I let it dry for a couple weeks while we were in Phoenix.  My brother in law is an Electronics Engineer, so I figured he would have every gadget available.  I tried to open the FHO site.  After I woke up an hour later, he told me he had dial-up!  So I had to go without any fiddle fix whatsoever for a week and a half.

Anyway, got back home and put Karl back together.  I then read the post here regarding woodworkers thinking they know what they're doing.  All I could think is "OMG now I''ve totally screwed it up". But ever since I got it, it had a really dull, subdued tone to it.  But now that thing is by far the loudest, clearest fiddle I've got.  Besides being totally surprised I was geeked. 

Anyway, I guess the motto is "even a blind squirrel gets something or other once in a while" or somethin like that.

The other thing I learned is how fast "old guys" can forget what they learned.  A week away from my fiddle and I thought I would have to start over from the beginning.  But it's all starting to come back now.



5 comments on “Back to winter”

bj Says:
Thursday, March 11, 2010 @4:05:34 PM

I'm glad the "repairs" turned out okay! Maybe you should do some reading online before attempting the next one, and do it from home, not from your in-laws'!

BC Says:
Thursday, March 11, 2010 @5:15:48 PM

thanks bj. I actually did quite a bit of reading before attempting anything. Unfortunately, my degree is in Mechanical not Structural engineering. The consensus I read was that if the seam has not openend or cracked, regluing with hide glue from top should suffice. I surmised with this being 80+ years old and spending X number of years in an attic, it had gone through many temperature and humidity cycles which I'm certain compromised the glue joint. The tailpiece gut letting go was the last straw for it. There was no evidence of cracking or seam opening. I was hoping to cleat the top but the hide glue I currently have sets much too quickly. I have had this for some time using the quick set for my wood turning jigs. I do have some other glue coming and my plan is to cleat the top later as a belt and suspenders fix. I probably scraped off 1/16" or more of gunked varnish and crud. I figured putting a couple light coats of wipe on varnish would solidy and stabilize the finish. And yeah, I did do the work at home before leaving for Phoenix. But right now it looks like a fiddle instead of a piece of ---- and the sound is awesome. Thanks for your comment.

fiddlepogo Says:
Thursday, March 11, 2010 @8:42:39 PM

Hey, at least you used HIDE GLUE!!!!
Excellent!!! Your reading is paying off.
Hard to say about the finish....
if someone already tried to refinish it, then maybe it was already effectively "ruined" as far as value
so everything you've done is an improvement... maybe. And it does sound better- that's a plus.
You COULD find out if you dare let a luthier appraise it, etc.
And he might just say:
Not worth anything but to learn on- have at it!!!

Tommys dad Says:
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 @7:22:28 PM

2 cents from another water utility supervisor guy. If the fiddle looks and sounds good now, your job is done! play it!

eerohero Says:
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 @2:08:55 PM

thats it ! positive minded people dare to get started with any desire of their own.

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