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Ed Shillitoe

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Posts posted by Ed Shillitoe

  1. This is similar to the question of how to file a replacement ivory face so that it is level with the head, but without leaving file marks on the head itself.  I have been taught to do that with a piece of painters tape on either the side of the head or on the side of the file.  That lifts one side of the file away from the bow head  while the other side takes care of the face.  But a pin is surrounded by silver, so that wouldn't work so well.

    One thing I have done is similar to your method with stainless steel shim stock, but instead to paint the silver plate with frisket - watercolor painters' masking fluid.  It leaves a surface probably thinner than the shim and when the file is removing the frisket you know you are done.  But its not perfect.  I'll be interested to see any other solutions.



  2. The book was originally a series of articles in a Victorian magazine that was full of articles on practical things such as building a bookcase, cleaning a clock, making a stone wall, casting brass at home and so on.  After the Heron Allen articles appeared there were a number of letters to the Editor from people who claimed that they made some excellent violins from his instructions.  There were a few complaints about the issue of making varnish however.  Here is a link:




  3. I believe it was published in the 1820s in Germany.  A translation was published in English around 1900 and reprinted by William Reeves around 1975.  The full title in English is 'Treatise on the structure and preservation of the violin, by Jacob Augustus Otto'.    I have a copy of the Reeves reprint which I bought from Mr. Reeves.   The book doesn't seem to credit the origin of the picture as far as I can see, and its not exactly the same as your picture either. 

  4. On 11/2/2020 at 8:16 AM, Rue said:

    When I go to Germany...everyone speaks English...so I barely get to practice keeping up my German. It's very sad. :(

    My German is fine. I'm fluent (albeit lacking a bit in vocabulary) ...but I am rusty...so I need to focus and speak it for a while for it to "come back" and up to speed. 

    By then, it's time to return to Canada...:angry:

    You should visit Markneukirchen then!  I was there a couple of years ago and its quite an interesting place - but no one in the entire town, literally, understands a word of English!   Without German you will starve and never get out!


  5. Clever idea Brad.  I have a couple of bows right now with this issue.   The problem though is that the top of the frog slopes down a little toward the back - this would make it very hard to get the measuring calipers at exactly the same place each time.  We are dealing with very small adjustments here.

    I remember hearing an idea from Rodney Mohr at one of the VSA meetings.  He suggested opening up the eyelet hole just enough to let the eyelet stem move up or down.  Then putting the screw and eyelet in place in the stick and putting a little epoxy putty in the frog.  Then you could press the frog into position down tightly on the stick.  When the epoxy had cured the frog would be in just the right place.  Whether he did this or whether it was just an idea, I don't know.

    I also like the insert idea.  I'm going to try it out.


  6. Sounds like sealing wax to me as well.  When I was a child we had to use it to fasten knots on the string that went around parcels wrapped in brown paper.

    We got sticks of it from the post office.  You tied the knot on the parcel,  heated the end of the sealing wax with a match until it got drippy, then  quickly pressed it down onto the knot.  It solidified immediately and held the knot closed.  I expect you could do the same thing with a hank of bow hair. 

  7. This week I was due to ship a new bow to a principal of one of the big US symphony orchestras - when I told him it was coming he asked to delay the trial and wanted his deposit back!  He has been told that they will not play again until the end of April but of course there is no guarantee that they will restart then.   

  8. On 1/24/2019 at 3:55 PM, Dave Slight said:

    I’ve never been, but for those who have, what are the best 5 things about Munich?

    OK, Here's my list:

    1.  Gasteig.  The cultural center, where the Munich Philharmonic and other groups perform.  Tomorrow they have Hilary Hahn for example.

    2.  The S-Bahn.  The underground/overground train that goes all over, including the airport.  Not expensive and easy to use.

    3. The Englischer Garten.  A huge city park for walking, running, jogging etc.  A beer garden at one end and a nude sunbathing area at the other.  Something for everyone!

    4. Hugendubel.  One of the biggest book stores anywhere, just off the Marienplatz.

    5.  Bauer and Hieber.  A sheet music store with all kinds of books and musical publications. 

    And also - the Hofbräuhaus.  A great restaurant / pub with amazing German food and drink.  Visiting musicians congregate there.

  9. Hi Argon:

    I have a gold and ivory  mounted bow that Garner Wilson made for me in 1973, and it has the number 303 on the stick, under the frog.  He left Hills in 1966, which would have been 7 years prior.  I suppose that means that he was numbering them sequentially from that date, and producing over 40 a year.  It sounds like a lot, but I suppose it is possible.

    If I'm right, then your bow would be from about 1975.  The cost would have been  85 pounds, plus 2 pounds for shipping!

    I've always liked his work.



  10. 17 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

    I spent a long time pondering this same question, and here's the solution I have come up with:

    Make sure that the eyelet can travel the full length of the stick mortise without sticking or binding.  If necessary, file the eyelet (preferable) or enlarge the mortise.

    After you get the outer hole drilled, hold the frog on the stick, with one hand, as close to the butt end of the stick as the eyelet will allow.  Insert the screw into the outer hole and screw it a few turns into the eyelet.  Try to wiggle the frog side to side on the stick.  If the frog seems too loose, remove it from the stick and screw the eyelet further into the frog.  (If you couldn't get the screw into the eyelet, this means that the eyelet is screwed too far into the frog, so you have to take the frog off the stick and unscrew the eyelet.)  Keep screwing or unscrewing the eyelet as necessary until you find the eyelet extension that makes the frog just the right tightness on the stick.  Since you have done this with the frog as close to the butt end of the stick as the eyelet will allow,  this is the eyelet extension that will allow the frog to run parallel to the upper facet of the stick.

    Now go to your number drill set, select the largest drill that will pass through the eyelet and mount it in whatever you're using as a bow drill.  Hold the frog on the stick, with one hand, as close to the head of the bow as the eyelet will allow.  Run the drill bit though the outer hole of the stick and through the eyelet and drill into the far end of the mortise with the other hand.  Only drill in about two millimeters, because you only want drill deep enough to establish the center of the inner hole.  Pull the stick off the drill.  Measure the diameter of the screw pilot, select the corresponding drill size, mount it in your drill and drill the inner hole to full depth starting in the previously established center hole.

    Try the screw in the holes without the frog.  If the screw feels too tight when you turn it, re-drill the inner hole with the next largest size number drill and try the screw again.  When the screw feels right by itself,  try the frog on the stick with the screw..  If the screw feels too tight when you turn it, re-drill the inner hole again with the next largest size drill.

    Thanks Brad.  That's exactly what I was looking for. 

    And thanks FenwickG.  I'll look up the Alberti solution, but I think the way Brad does it is probably the most accurate.    The stick I am working with is not only old and worn, but some previous repairer has filed away at the facets in an effort to fit a commercial frog.  I doubt if any jig is going to help a lot.  



  11. Thanks everyone!  Nice to hear from you Ben!

    Maybe I didn't explain the question too well.  I do have a lathe, but by itself it does not drill the inner hole exactly in the right place n the  bushing.  With a traditional bit there is the probability of the tip wandering a little before it bites and starts to drill in.  Even if it didn't wander there is still the possibility that the eyelet is not placed quite correctly in a lateral direction in the existing frog.  Also the inner hole has to be exactly on a line that is parallel with the upper facet of the bow.  If it is not, then the frog will get too tight or too loose as it travels back and forth.  

    One way to help might be to use a guide such as shown in Fig 8.9 of John Stagg's book.  But that would still not help to get the screw exactly parallel to the top facet of the bow.  I think the only way to line up the drill (whether a step drill or a conventional drill) exactly, would be to seat the frog exactly in place and use the eyelet to guide the drill.  But -that requires having the eyelet extending exactly the right amount from the frog and I'm not sure how to arrange that.

    Of course in making a new bow the situation is much easier - the stick is an exact octagon and there is also some trimming of the stick left to do, and that can help to seat the frog.  On an old bow the stick can have all sorts of distortions and peculiarities and the frog can have its own little quirks as well.


  12. When bushing an old bow where the screw holes have become really worn, what is the best method for drilling the small hole accurately?  The placement of this hole is critical, because if it is too high or too low, the frog will be loose or will bind at one end of its travel.  

    The way I do it is to drill the large hole first, then put the frog in place and drill the small hole with a long drill that passes through the eyelet.  This works well if the eyelet is screwed into just the correct depth.  But if it is just one turn too high or too low then the small hole will not be placed correctly and the frog will bind.  But, how to find if the eyelet is the right height, without doing it wrong the first time and repeating the bushing?

    I do have a Bow Badger and it works quite well on a new bow, but for an old worn-down bow it is not so good.  Any suggestions?



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