(modified 8/11/2014)
Violin Varnish Removal Tip....
...A number of years ago, I saw a TV infommercial about a paint/varnish remover called QRB. It looked like a useful product so I ordered some and tried it and have used it ever since for violin varnish removal (after some other unpleasant experiences trying to remove old violin varnish with other methods...).
...The basic procedure is to remove the external fittings of the violin to be varnish stripped (by the way, this method will leave any wood staining inplace, the surface ready to immediately refinish, with no wood grain raising.):
...Once the QRB has loosened the varnish, I use one of these to scrape off down to the bare wood. You do not want to scratch the bare wood surface.
,,,Here is the violin I wish to re-finish (although looking at it now I can not imagine why?!) It must have been the color I did not like how it had turned out...
...Wait 15 or 20 minutes and then remove a small area and scrape the coagulated old varnish down to bare wood; move to next section, exposing only what can be removed quickly. ..Notice how the old varnish is lifted and ready to be removed. Repeat as necessary until the surface is clear and smooth...
...The old removed varnish...all the coloring in the varnish is evident here.
...The de-varnished violin (showing original wood pre-staining), ready for re-finishing.
.. The product I used was made by:
QRB Industries
Niles, MI 4912
1/2 gallon metal can ( .1893 L)
"Paint varnish and lacquer remover"

*** Unfortunately, the company has gone out of business! ***, so you will have to discover your own favorite varnish remover...