The finish of a musical instrument can be critical to its musical success. At Bear Meadow, we use materials that at first glance seem common, but we use them in a not-so-common way.

I use some abrasives available from beauty salon suppliers:

  • In particular, there is are abrasive-loaded foam blocks in 220 and 320 grits that are handy. These are just the thing for quickly working around the curves of a scroll and getting into the corners of a fiddle edge.
  • I also like the flexible nail files available there in various grits. These are great for getting around curves on the body of the instrument. When the end is dull, just snap off an inch and you have another fresh end.

Other abrasives I use are garnet "open" cut, in 100A, 120A, 180A, 220A and 320A grits. These do not clog so easily with shellac and varnish. For finer work and repairs to the finish, I use wet/dry papers up to 1200 grit.

Final rub out is with #0000 steel wool. All steel wool is not created equal. Some will have strands of other grades mixed in, and will cause tears and screaming. Basically, all brands of steel wool are turned out by two companies (in the United States, at least). Only one company makes the good stuff. Any brand which displays an elephant's head logo is made by the good company.