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Iím making a bow Ė would anyone like to watch?
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Ed Shillitoe
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 110
Location: Syracuse NY

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:00 pm    Post subject: Iím making a bow Ė would anyone like to watch? Reply with quote

There seems to be some more interest than usual in bow making on this forum, and Iíve been encouraged by a couple of people to show the steps I go through in making a new bow. I donít think anyone can really learn bow making without having personal instruction, but if anyone wants to watch, then Iím happy to show what I do. This will not happen quickly, but Iíll try to show my progress once a week or so.

The first step is to decide the model that Iím going to follow. Mostly I copy bows from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, and for the next one I want to make a violin bow from the classical era. The picture shows five possible models, more or less in historical order. The top two are from about 1750, and would be a little late for Leopold Mozart (1719-1787), maybe a little early for Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791 ), and somewhere in the middle of the Haydn (1732-1809) era . These bows have a swan head and simple, but adjustable, frog. The first one has been refinished at some time. The second one is better preserved but has a large frog, and I donít know it that is original. Perhaps it was a viol bow. The heads and sticks are extremely similar, but the head of the second one is carved more carefully. Between the two of them I think I can get a pretty good idea of what an authentic bow would have been like when new, and so they are the originals that I will use. The third bow is a little later, and the fourth later still, possibly from 1790 or so. The bottom bow is a cello bow, probably from the early nineteenth century.



To start I will make three patterns that I will need.
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ctviolin
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Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 942
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Iím making a bow Ė would anyone like to watch? Reply with quote

Ed Shillitoe wrote:
There seems to be some more interest than usual in bow making on this forum, and Iíve been encouraged by a couple of people to show the steps I go through in making a new bow. I donít think anyone can really learn bow making without having personal instruction, but if anyone wants to watch, then Iím happy to show what I do. This will not happen quickly, but Iíll try to show my progress once a week or so.


Thanks Ed.

I'll be glued to the screen when you post anything. I'll get this right, sooner or later.

Thanks again,
ct
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wm_crash
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Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 140
Location: Wilmington, DE - USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd be really interested to see your progress.

cheers,
wm_crash, the friendly hooligan
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
Posts: 828
Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed... please do post ... like CT... I'll be glued!
Cheers, Mat
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SooT
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Joined: 18 May 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me too, with baited breath.

There is just not enough emphasis on bows, yet they are soooo important.


Last edited by SooT on Mon Apr 08, 2013 10:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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whatwasithinking
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Joined: 26 Jan 2013
Posts: 209
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't wait!
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Ed Shillitoe
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 110
Location: Syracuse NY

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reception, fans! This puts the pressure on me to really make this bow! The picture of my bench shows, in the background, that the trees outside are bare and the pond is still frozen. I hope to finish the bow before the leaves are falling and the pond freezes again!

On the bench are the three templates that I just made. Two are from plywood and one from a scrap of cherry. The materials donít matter at all. I suppose I could do without templates and just have the original bow on the bench while I work, but given its age and value I prefer not to do that.







The top template shows the camber, the middle one is for the stick and the bottom one is for the frog. The stick template shows the outline of the head and the diameters of the stick at different places. The frog template shows the outline of the frog and its essential dimensions.


Last edited by Ed Shillitoe on Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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whatwasithinking
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Joined: 26 Jan 2013
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Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the photos, Ed. Do you always use a full-length template for your sticks?
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wm_crash
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Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 140
Location: Wilmington, DE - USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you cut templates on a scrollsaw/bandsaw/coping saw?

cheers,
wm_crash, the friendly hooligan
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SooT
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Joined: 18 May 2009
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Location: Devon, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boyd uses the tip and camber templates, I've not seen the whole bow template used. We've taken classes with Lynn Hannings, and worked with Steve DeCoux neither of them use the whole bow template. Is the whole bow template just to give you the thicknesses and graduations? or do you use it when you are actually working the stick? I'm not understanding, please would you explain it's use a little more.
Thanks
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Joseph Leahy
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Joined: 23 Mar 2008
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Iím making a bow Ė would anyone like to watch? Reply with quote

Hi Ed
I'll be glued to the screen. Very interested. Thanks for posting this.
Joe
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Ed Shillitoe
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 110
Location: Syracuse NY

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the questions! I cut the templates on a bandsaw and then finish them up with a plane and a file or rasp. Then I go back to the original bow and check for accuracy. In fact for this bow I threw away the first frog template because it wasn't accurate enough and made another one.

For the stick I do make full length templates - I use them for the outline of the head and the length of the stick. For the head of a modern bow (which I don't make any more) I think you do need templates for the front of the head and the back of the head as well. But for early bows I find that the one template is enough. If I can't have the original in front of me while I work then I take measurements in a notebook and compare them with the head as I go.

The other use for the full length template is to show where along the length of the stick I find particular diameters. I use a dial caliper (the green thing you see in one of the pictures) to measure this as I work, but the more traditional method is to use brass guages (as does Lynn - in fact she sells them). But you still need to know the point at which to place each guage. I do have the guages but I still like the dial caliper better - its faster. If you make the same pattern bow again and again you can get to where you only need three guages and don't need to measure where to put them (one at each end and one in the middle!) and that's even faster. But I make different styles all the time so I like to take measurements and get them as close as I can.

I'm always looking for ways to do this better so please let me know what you think! I don't pretend to be an expert!
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Ed Shillitoe
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 110
Location: Syracuse NY

PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iím going to make the stick out of bloodwood. Itís a South American hardwood, closely related to snakewood. It is very similar to pernambuco but not endangered. I drew around the stick template and cut out the stick with a bandsaw.



Wood often warps a little when it is cut, no matter how well seasoned it is. However, this particular board is pretty straight and has not warped in the vertical plane at all.




Also it has stayed pretty straight in the left-right plane.



Normally I make bows two at a time, which is more efficient at doing just one. So at this point I would normally go back to the board and cut out another stick. But this particular board is 30 mm thick, and the finished bow will be only 9.5 mm thick at the widest point Ė this raises an interesting question. Can I make two sticks out of this board by resawing it carefully down the middle? Or will I lose so much wood from the kerf and from having to plane it straight again that I will end up with no stick at all? I thought about this for a little while and then:



I held my breath and went slowly and it seems to have worked. I now have two sticks that are fairly straight. One is a little narrower, but as long as I donít run into any problems later I am going to get two bows out of the one piece.
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wm_crash
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Joined: 24 Feb 2013
Posts: 140
Location: Wilmington, DE - USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a very nice piece of bloodwood. A lot of the bloodwood that I've seen/bought lately is a bit more washed off than that (perhaps a variety of satine, rather than bloodwood).

I have a question about grain direction. Some of the grain related matters in Henderson are explained in way difficult for me to understand. From a woodworking perspective, I'd want the growth rings perpendicular to the face of the bow in order to prevent breakage by delamination.

Now from reading Henderson on preparing blanks from a log, on page 10, "get the most boards with the annual rings running crosswise to the stick". He also illustrates this in Figure 3, diagram B, on page 9. To me, this invites grain separation in the tip when the bow is tensioned. The only explanation I could see is that the horsehairs are planted deep in the tip that they actually engage the grain fibers that run all along the stick, rather than just those in the bow tip. I could just be totally wrong on the grain issue too.

He does continue saying that some good bows have grain at a 45 degree angle, but he somehow presents that as a less than ideal case.

cheers,
wm_crash, the friendly hooligan
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ctviolin
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Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 942
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed Shillitoe wrote:
Iím going to make the stick out of bloodwood. Itís a South American hardwood, closely related to snakewood. It is very similar to pernambuco but not endangered. I drew around the stick template and cut out the stick with a bandsaw.


Very cool, ED. I'm still here, still interested, and I'm reading along...

Right now your blanks are pretty much equally square along their entire length, are they not? Except for the portion left for the heads, left rectangular?

So far, so good.
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