There are two schools of thought on raising the grain before putting on a ground coat or varnish. There are those who prefer a perfectly smooth surface and those who like a “corduroy” texture, especially on the front of the fiddle. Many mass-produced fiddles have a sprayed on finish which leaves them uniformly shiny and “new” looking – they look cheap even at a distance.

Of raising the grain, Strobel says, “Now is the time to moisten the wood overall with a wet sponge. This will raise the grain (unless you have previously sealed it in places) and give an attractive texture. Let it dry completely. Some like to sand this off and repeat for a flat finish; we, however, appreciate this natural look, and will not. What we will do is rub the dried surface briskly with the synthetic mesh pad […] to get a smooth “satin” surface.”

I rather like a textured surface on the top but prefer a nice, smooth back, so I wetted only the top plate with a barely damp cloth and let it dry. Hmmm. No difference that I could see, nor did the surface feel any different. One more water application – this time the cloth was considerably wetter. I let it dry overnight and could feel some difference, but the only significant change was to a couple of spots that needed to be sanded some more. I think that’s as good as it’s gonna get and I’ll leave it there for now.

Next up – The Ground.