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Joe Angelo

Getting back the VOS finish

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I would be thinking in terms of old fashioned woodfinishing rubbing methods like pumice and rottenstone. These abrasives are packaged for woodworking catalogs by brands like Behlen (the DIY label from the Mohawk brand), and they're meant for rubbing out a lacquer or varnish finish until the desired sheen level is obtained. You'd be working backwards, of course, from gloss to a duller sheen. My first thought was really fine steel wool like 0000 (that's four oh's) but the powdered abrasives give you more control and it won't look striped like a rubbed out black piano. Modern furniture factories simply mix a flattening agent, essentially a powder, into the coating to make it satin or semigloss and they no longer rely on these rubbing methods to adjust the sheen level - so you have to find an old-school pro.

 

Is there a cabinetmaker or high-end woodworking shop near you? I'm afraid that the "furniture refinishers" only spray and pray and they might not have anyone who rubs out a finish the old fashioned way unless they call themselves "restorers." The finish on the guitar, after all, is nitrocellulose lacquer, and that's what most if not all furniture was shot with for a good chunk of the last century, so furniture repair people should be familiar with it. There's a great piano restorer in my area who would be perfect for the job. Then again, a good luthier should be up to it as well.

 

I think the only problem is going to be how to show the restorer what a VOS patina is supposed to look like! Then you still have the hardware to worry about...

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Play it and don't use anymore polish to clean it. Just use a dry guitar cloth to wipe it down once and a while if it gets too dirty. After a while, that shine will dull.

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