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Does anyone oil their bows?

 
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whatwasithinking
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Joined: 26 Jan 2013
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Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:49 pm    Post subject: Does anyone oil their bows? Reply with quote

I've just been reading interviews with well-known makers, some of whom oiled their bows, instead of using French polish. Martin Beilke and John Bolander did this. Supposedly, some of Tourte's latest, and best, bows were oiled--with something. Has anyone here used oil on a new stick, or when refinishing an old one? Any lessons learned, or suggestions?
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps everyone is too busy applying French polish--or pouring walnut oil on their salads! Ed, are you out there? Did Mr. Bolander discuss this with you?
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Ed Shillitoe
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I'm out here! But I haven't contributed much lately I'm afraid. I spent a week in the summer at the Bass Convention and picked up some bass-bow orders which are still in progress. I'll finish off the violin bow with the ivory frog after that.

As for Mr. B. - yes he oiled his bows with linseed oil and let them dry in the sun. Of course he lived on the California coast - I could not do that here in Upstate New York!

For bows that I have made of bloodwood I have used Bush Oil. It's made around here and works very well. It dries in a day or two and needs just one or two coats. I don't really know what is in it, but I suspect it is linseed oil with some drying agent. I like the look better than French polish.
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting--hadn't heard of Bush Oil. Mr. B suggested olive oil in his book, then mentioned linseed oil in an interview in the late 1970s. He also said he'd tried walnut oil, and possibly others. I'm trying walnut, partly because it has a high smoke point--about 425F. Then maybe I can still adjust stick camber/straightness without setting off the smoke detector. I've made a small light box to help dry the bows. Dunno how that compares with the California sun. Do you have success with air drying alone?

Bob
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Ed Shillitoe
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Bush Oil is just sold locally - through the hardwood dealer where I get most of my wood. But it works very well. Air drying is all it takes. I just wipe it on fairly liberally and leave it for half an hour. Then I wipe it off with a paper towel. Then the next day I wipe off whatever stickiness is left, polishing really hard to get a good shine. After another day or so it is completely set so I repeat the process - maybe once or maybe twice.

I don't know anything about walnut oil. Have you had any good results from it? Of course - there are lots of types of olive oil and linseed oil - I suppose you have to try what is available and then stay with what works the best. that. Do you have any pictures? Does your drying box darken the wood as well?

Ed
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed,

So far, the walnut oil seems to perform well. I think Pernambuco will lighten with lengthy exposure to uv light.

In the Bolander interview, he recounts leaving a number of sticks outside longer than intended. "I had about 20 bows once, at a time when I was very ill, and someone else put them out in the sun for me. They were exposed for 3 years and they were the best sticks I ever had." "There is one thing that you have to watch out for if you are going for color. You have to check the various stages for they get a little blanched."

I haven't noticed much change during a few hours in the box. The box is an old cassette case, and only long enough for a bit more than half of the stick. I have to slide the stick(s) to expose both ends. Of course, this is just an experiment. I believe the bulb is around the 300nm wavelength, which should work well for polymerization of the oil.

How do you wipe off the stickiness, and polish your finish?


Light Box 1 by newlives4old, on Flickr


Light Box 2 by newlives4old, on Flickr

Bob
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Ed Shillitoe
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting. I've seen UV boxes for violin varnish but not for a bow before. My expectation is that it would make the wood darker rather than lighter, but I don't know.

I just rub the stick with a paper shop towel. That gets the stickiness off and leaves a nice shine. I rub pretty hard - enough to warm up the stick a little I suppose.

Is that a bow you made?
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed,

Thanks for the info. I've read that some makers apply up to 30 coats of oil before they're finished. I also tried this on a really ratty-looking frog I had, and it looks great now! I'm sure I could have also used French polish, but that might have left too much of a sheen.

The two bows I've experimented with are old, student-grade German bows. I'm working on a new cello stick, though, so might try that next. I think it was Bernard Millant who speculated that the stiffness of the stick might possibly be improved in this way, but I haven't noticed any difference, up to this point. I suspect any change would be trivial.

Bob
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's someone else "tanning" their bows.
http://cornerviolinshop.blogspot.com/2007/08/bass-bow-in-works.html
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seammc
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:42 pm    Post subject: oil Reply with quote

Has any one tried tung oil and uv to set it?
Jim
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seammc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject: tung oil Reply with quote

Doesn't need u v
finishing is easy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqKzUGkiue0
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:51 pm    Post subject: An article on using UV light to darken Pernambuco Reply with quote

Violins, Bows and UV Light

ABSTRACT
Before varnishing, newly made violins and bows, like all other wooden objects, darken with exposure to the sun's light over time. UV light can be used to increase the effect, and therefore add the illusion of years of exposure to sunlight to the finishing process. After taking advantage of UVA, and borrowing UVB, with help I conceived, and had made, the ultimate UVC 'light box' to effectively darken the surface of newly constructed violin, viola, and 'cello bows.
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seammc
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:42 am    Post subject: tung oil problems Reply with quote

Tung oil can leach the resins out of the wood ...get trapped in the surface finish and cause an affect like snake wood and covering the fine figuring and any translucence that can be brought out

I like the Tung oil, and have to adjust my procedure accordingly...In a word, don't overload the surface and allow a lot of time for the curing stages

Tourte finished his bows with oil ..so the approach is valid...as far as oiling a bow goes...(and some feel that the wood needs to be fed ...perhaps)

Tung oil? (perhaps)

Jim
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seammc
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:19 am    Post subject: oiling bows Reply with quote

I have come to think that oiling a bow may make the bow 'rubber like' (depending on the oil chosen) and only come into it's own in about 25 years

I will take some time to determine if this is really true
Jim
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly a possibility. Some bowyers have said oil reduces the wood's stiffness. Of course, they're not using Pernambuco, either. There was a recent thread on MN about oil. It might penetrate the wood deeper than I'd guessed.
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