Does varnish protect wood from burning?

Edited: September 18, 2020, 1:59 PM · One quick question: does violin varnish give the violin protection against external heat sources such as a lighter?

It's not that I plan to enjoy toasted violin with Hershey's and Marshmallows, but I ask this out of curiosity. If a violin had to pass a test were you put it over a lighter for 3 seconds, would varnish help resist the heat or the opposite?

Replies (12)

September 18, 2020, 12:33 PM · No.
Both Oil and Alcohol varnish might be More flamable than the wood.
September 18, 2020, 1:28 PM · Plenty of pianos have been scorched by having lit cigarettes left on the edge of the top or the cheek blocks. That's NOT what your F holes are for!
September 18, 2020, 3:30 PM · Aged dry wood burns really fast. I would not "test" an instrument in that way. To prove what theory?
September 18, 2020, 3:50 PM · I have been informed that the smell of a burning violin is really terrible. I've never tried it though...
September 18, 2020, 4:08 PM · George, it's in the first post, it's out of curiosity, I'm not testing anything, and I'm not trying to prove anything.

Bruce, I guess then it must be the varnish or hide glue burning what smells terrible. Maple or spruce burning must smell good, just like wood burning.

September 18, 2020, 4:23 PM · Imagine using your violin as a cigar holder... The Stevie Ray Vaughan of the concert hall. Or, coulda been, when smoking was allowed indoors.
September 18, 2020, 5:00 PM · I know first hand it doesn't. When I was a kid we had a house fire and all of our instruments, including our violins, were destroyed. The varnish didn't protect anything. If it did, I would be painting our house with varnish to protect it from future fires. :)
September 18, 2020, 9:42 PM · A Viola burns longer--sorry---
September 19, 2020, 6:45 AM · In general, varnish will soften, blister, separate from the substrate, or even melt before the wood starts to char. As an example, think of the practice of using a heat gun to strip paint.
September 22, 2020, 6:33 PM · I was sure that this was going to lead to more viola or vso jokes. Very disappointed;-(
Edited: September 29, 2020, 10:38 AM · I imagine most varnishes burn very well.
I don't know if pianos are varnished or lacquered.
I've seen a Japanese mouth organ so well lacquered that it was impervious to a lit cigarette.

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