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Making my first bow
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Chet Bishop
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 642
Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:18 am    Post subject: Making my first bow Reply with quote

Well...I hesitate to publicize a first effort, especially amongst a bunch of fellows who actually know how to build a bow...but perhaps it will encourage others to take the plunge.

This is a work in progress: extremely rough right now, and still waiting for the remaining parts (screw, eyelet and hair) to arrive. The bow is Hickory, and the frog is African Blackwood.

Here is the weblog post:
http://www.bluefiddles.com/2014/09/what-is-an-archetier/

I was feeling fairly cheerful when I wrote the post, as you may observe by my "lighthearted style". Right now I am just tired. Prolly oughta head for bed.

Thanks for looking.

Chet
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Mat Roop
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Joined: 24 Mar 2007
Posts: 839
Location: Wyoming Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Chet... pretty awesome for a first effort! I am sure when finished, it will be to anyone's eye a professional job.
You must have some metal working skills to tackle making your own ferrule from stainless... from what I have heard that stuff is hard to work with unless you really know what you are doing.
Thanks for the post... it is inspiring.... and more pics as you go along please!
Cheers, Mat
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Chet Bishop
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...we will see what it actually looks like when complete. I have never worked wtih stainless. I have done a little brazing, so I have all the unfounded confidence of total inexperience.

I bought a heavy stainless serving fork for the flat portion of the ferrule, a cheap stainless steak-knife for the curved portion of the ferrule, and a sort of "eskimo-ooloo" double-bladed chopper-thing with very thin blades for the underslide and other stainless parts of the frog (don't even know what they are properly called).

As I mentioned on the post, it should certainly wear well. and it is lighter than either silver or nickel-silver, I'm pretty sure. I have a feeling it will be tough to work with though. Still, for $3, I feel that it is worth trying.

I do have 30+ years of metalworking, but virtually all of it with carbon steels of various types. Come to think of it, in 1978, I did braze a stainless hydraulic (tractor) fitting for a customer who needed a peculiar angle, and it was not commercially available. I guess it either worked or it killed him...I never saw him again. Smile

Thanks for looking, Mat.
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whatwasithinking
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chet,

I can't wait to see it finished and played! Keep going!

Bob
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ctviolin
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Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Making my first bow Reply with quote

Chet Bishop wrote:
Well...I hesitate to publicize a first effort, especially amongst a bunch of fellows who actually know how to build a bow...but perhaps it will encourage others to take the plunge.

I was feeling fairly cheerful when I wrote the post, as you may observe by my "lighthearted style". Right now I am just tired. Prolly oughta head for bed.

Thanks for looking.
Chet


Believe me when I say that the looking is most likely all of our pleasures....

Bow making is a royal Pain in the arse - if you'll excuse my Irish. I've gone at it a few times in the past, and just simply given up. It's really a job for those individuals given to painstaking detail, and extreme diligence.
Grrr.
It seems a likely thing for a violin maker to branch out into, doesn't it?

Well, at least that's what it seemed to me - and I wasn't even attempting the frog, which I was going to buy ready made.
I do rehair, and have been doing that for some years in the past, no problem there...

But I could go no further. I have ended up throwing away the planks and beginning attempts - (rosewood) but still have some virgin pernambuco sticks left to have a go at... (Bruce H used to sell it extremely cheap)
I wish you the best!
PLEASE do post whatever photos you feel comfortable posting.

I really would like to see this progress, and see you succeed at doing this. I may try again, one day, if you succeed.

Hmmm, well, let me think about that one for a while... gulp!
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Chet Bishop
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Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig;

the remaining parts arrived about dark last night, so, no more excuses: now I have to get building.

I tried the eyelet in the mortise, and it was a tad too tight, so I will work it out to a perfect sliding fit using a small flat file.

I tried the screw in the screw-ways, and it fits well, but the hole is too shallow. I had been afraid that was the case, as I only had a fairly short drill-- so I will make a longer spade bit, the way Lynn Hannings showed her students, and deepen the hole by about 13mm or so.

I found a tool at Harbor freight that was intended for cutting out spot welds...it worked perfectly for cutting the nipple on the back of the stick.

Two stainless steel nuts (hex-head) have been drilled out, and I will grind off the six points and flats to make them round, and the correct outside diameter, then grind the flats for an octagon shape, and neck down a section of the same hickory stick from which I made the bow, to be the core of the button.

I'll insert the screw from the one end, leaving a pocket into which the nipple will fit, and insert a gold MOP dot in the other end. Then I will be ready to work on finishing the frog and bow tip. After that, I can hair the bow, and start checking the final camber, etc.

Ah, yeah, like I've got all this time... Well, no excuses: I have 168 hours/week, just like everyone else.

Press on, Craig!

Chet
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Ed Shillitoe
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 110
Location: Syracuse NY

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking good so far Chet!

I don't quite understand how you are making the ferrule or underslide. Will you be posting pictures of this process?

Do you play bass or will you have to find a local musician to try it out when finished?

Keep going!

Ed
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Chet Bishop
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Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aw, Ed;

I don't understand it myself! I will try to post photos. Smile

The ferrule is made from two pieces-- the flat portion, a little thicker, is cut just barely over-length (Probably 21mm in my case, for a 20mm outside final dimension) and the curved (half-round) section is formed of thinner material, so that the two ends will butt into the flat bar when the two parts are mated. It has to be a perfect fit, with just a little of the flat bar standing proud on each end. The two are held together temporarily by means of a steel wire twisted around them, and silver-soldered together to form a "D" shape. After they cool the "D" is filed and buffed to the perfect shape you wanted the ferrule.

The underslide is a three-faceted slide of metal (in this case, stainless) that protects the frog from damage as it slides forward and backward on the bow-stick. (At least I guess that is what it accomplishes. It seems to me that the stick itself might be more likely to take a beating, but what do I know?) All the good bow-frogs seem to have the thin metal slide under the frog. The eyelet goes through a hole in the underslide and screws into the frog. Usually, the good frogs also have a metal (silver or nickel-silver, mostly-- again, in my case, stainless) that wraps around the back end of the frog and butts into the pearl slide that holds the hair flat in the frog.

The ferrule, of course, holds the other end of the pearl slide, and tightly surrounds the hair and the tongue of the frog. The wooden spreader wedge is the last piece to go in, when hairing the bow. it goes inside the ferrule, between the tongue of the frog and the hair, and holds the hair in a broad, flat ribbon, for playing. The ribbon should be very flat, and pretty thin, for good clean tone and fast response.

This is all from my very limited understanding of how the thing works.

Somebody who is a "real bowmaker" here, please chime in and correct any mis-information I am distributing. I freely confess that I am speaking from abysmal ignorance, and I earnestly desire to be corrected where I am wrong. I know we have several makers here on the forum...somebody help me here. Smile

I don't play bass...or even have one anymore-- I need to shake loose and build another one.

There is a professional bassist in Portland, Jason Schooler, to whom I will probably take the bow (and subsequent basses) for "test-drives", and feedback. He played my first (only) bass, and liked it a lot. A double bass is a huge project, and I have been putting off the start of another bass for several years, now. I have the wood for several basses, but after the two surgeries about five years ago, my energy level has never really come back to what it was before.

(Edit: I looked back at some earlier threads, and I see that you (Ed) are a real bowmaker. So, I guess I gave you a lot of un-needed information. But perhaps you will take the time to straighten out anything I am planning that is wrong. Please?)
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Nick Walker
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Joined: 17 Sep 2014
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chet,

I'm new here, but I recently branched into bow making. I'm enjoying reading your blog.

I recently finished my second bow. My first (massaranduba) was pretty ugly, but actually sounds ok. My second (bloodwood) is cosmetically pretty good, but sounds horrible. It doesn't grip the string suficiently and is lifeless.

On to Ipe.

I haven't made my own frogs yet, but I'll be starting that soon.

Look forward to seeing your progress. Here are some of my pictures.

http://s1294.photobucket.com/user/nvwbow/media/IMG_20140529_125925_zps21c51cc9.jpg.html?sort=3&o=16

Nick
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ctviolin
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Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 961
Location: Roswell

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn Nick...
It looks like you're well on your way.
Did you take a class, or learn from a maker, or are you simply on your own?
Nice work.
Thanks for showing us all that. Please do not stop, as I would like to see where your work goes.

Hey, thanks again.
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ctviolin
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both you and Chet make me feel like a blundering... (well, whatever.)

I'm thinking that my entire ideology simply must change, and in order to get anywhere with bow making (non-automated bow making that is) that slow, methodical, precise wood removal must be a key method and mindset to adopt, and working quickly with the bandsaw is probably a great error...
I'm thinking that it would really be nice (for me, at least) to see a professional at work forming the basic stick's shape - by hand...
I do know one individual that was a completely self taught bow maker, that became an interesting "alternative technology" minded individual, who ended up making "master grade" bows out of some interesting alternative woods besides (and including) pernambuco.

He would tell me the measurements he used, and how he figured it all out, but the descriptions always went completely over my head "math wise"...

So, I'm also thinking that there are probably more ways that one correct way to approach the basic skill set required in order to make a decent bow.
I've got the wood necessary - in fact I have more than enough wood to do this, I just need to get my head around it somehow.
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Chet Bishop
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nick;

Good photos-- I always forget to take pictures. Digital stuff is new enough to me that I simply don't think of it until too late.

The one that broke is a sad story, but the grain tells another story: Runout. Sometimes it is hard to see, but it is deadly. I was fortunate: in using the hickory, I could clearly see which way the grain goes, and made sure the grain was straight, all the way through the head. On the other hand, the hickory is not a particularly good wood to use...it was at hand, and cheap, and vaguely usable, so I grabbed it.

I'm not sure when I will get to work on my bow again. Fall is well under way, and winter will be here before I am ready. I have a great deal to do outside before it is too late.

Nice work, anyhow, Nick. I hope you keep popsting photos. It is encouraging to the rest of us.

Chet
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Nick Walker
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did attend a rehair class with a master bow maker. During that time I was able to watch and discuss bow making techniques. Seems to me it is all about patience, sharp tools, frequent measurements, a good eye and the right material. I've broken more sticks than I've finished, and only one of my two play all enough for me to consider using.

I think with perseverance I'll get there. Judging from your photos you will too.
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Chet Bishop
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Location: Forest Grove, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:25 am    Post subject: Progress on the Bass Bow Reply with quote

Made a little progress this week:
http://www.bluefiddles.com/2014/10/bass-bow-progress/
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Ed Shillitoe
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good progress Chet! If I might make a suggestion, I wonder if you are making things a bit difficult by using ebony and stainless steel for the tip plate. I've had quite good results using casein tips from Howard Core, which are already lined with fiber. They bend in hot water very easily. If you really want a metal face then you might find that 22 gauge silver, dead soft, is easier to work than steel. Gold is easier still!!
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