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Bow tip glue


Skreechee
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Hi,

what bow tip glue do you recommend using? I have been using superglue but I don't know whether this is right?

Also, when you put on a bone/ebony tip, do you have to soak it first. I have tried soaking it but it seems to break up when clamped. When I put it on dry it does not marry up to the bow tip and there are gaps. Any help here much appreciated.

Gina

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I use superglue, also. I know of one bowmaker who charges extra to replace a tip if the previous one was glued with superglue, which makes me think there might be something wrong with it.

I have experienced the same tip bending problems and could also use help. I buy unlined bone tips and use ebony liners.

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Hi,

what bow tip glue do you recommend using? I have been using superglue but I don't know whether this is right?

Also, when you put on a bone/ebony tip, do you have to soak it first. I have tried soaking it but it seems to break up when clamped. When I put it on dry it does not marry up to the bow tip and there are gaps. Any help here much appreciated.

Gina

I think most people pre-bend on a jig, so that when dry and removed from the jig, the tip already conforms closely to the head of the bow.

Can't say what the best glue is. Maybe Jerry Pasewicz will comment on both the pre-shaping and the gluing.

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I use superglue, also. I know of one bowmaker who charges extra to replace a tip if the previous one was glued with superglue, which makes me think there might be something wrong with it.

I have tipped about 30 using superglue and they all seem to hold but I tried bone glue and it didn't. I can't think what else would hold them.

I have experienced the same tip bending problems and could also use help. I buy unlined bone tips and use ebony liners.

I use the ones that have the ebony liners already on them. I don't know how to clamp with just the ebony liners as they split when I tried to clamp them.

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I too use Krazy Glue (or other CA-type glue) to glue tips on. Bone tips are so much more difficult to bend and to cut out the plug mortise than mammoth ivory because bone is very brittle. I have also found that it is so much easier to work with the unlined tips because any attempt to bend the already-lined tips with heat or moisture results in separating the liner from the tip. I also use ebony to line tips with, but I glue the ebony directly to the pernambuco, and then in a second step, glue the tip plate to the lined head of the bow.

When working with bone, I bend it in the following manners: (Note that if using pre-lined tips, the liner will become detached with these methods.)

1. I soak it in white vinegar for about 24 hours before gluing it on. I then (without glue) put the tip in place, and 'clamp' it in place with wrappings of string. I let the tip dry for about one hour. I then remove it to clean and prepare the gluing surfaces with a file. Final step is to glue the tip in place, again using the string wrappings as a clamp.

If I don't have the 24 hours to let the tip soak in white vinegar:

2. I fill a small jar (like a baby food jar) about half full with water. I put the tip blank in the water, and put the jar in the microwave, heating it for about 30 seconds (just until the water boils). You need to act fast (about one minute), but the bone tip will be flexible enough to conform to the shape of the bow head. Here again, I use the string wrappings to clamp the tip plate to the bow without glue. With water, it will only take a few minutes for the bone to dry and become stiff again. Sometimes, I find that using this method, after the tip is dry, I need to heat the bone in the water a second time to get a perfect fit to the head. Once the tip plate is the same curvature to the head, I glue it on as above.

3. I have a curved piece of metal that I heat up as an 'iron' to bend tips on. I almost never use this method with bone (as it tends to crack), but this is a great method for mammoth ivory.

Good luck-

Josh

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"I use the ones that have the ebony liners already on them."

This is part of your bending problem. The tip is much stiffer and harder to bend if it has the liner attached. The tip will also bend easier if you reduce its thickness somewhat before trying to bend it.

"I don't know how to clamp with just the ebony liners as they split when I tried to clamp them."

Sometimes I glue the liner to the bow head and then the tip to the liner as Josh describes. And sometimes I glue the liner to the tip, if I can get the tip bent correctly, and then the tip and liner to the bow head.

I was taught the string clamping that Josh describes, but for gluing I just hold the tip/liner in place with one hand while applying the (thin) superglue with the other. A shot of glue accelerant sets the glue. And, yes, I always glue the bow to the fingertips of my left hand. It's not a problem. I think I might try the string clamping idea for bending the tip.

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Strobel recommends super glue. (or other CA-type glue).

I re-did the tip of my viola bow 12 years ago and it is still Ok.

I did not remove the ivory/bone, just uses a drum sander on a pillar drill to taper it off then spliced on a new bit, re-shaped it, etc.

The long splice has held very well and the bow is German trade stamped Dodd, but plays quite well.

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Ben, from your description above, it sounds like you are referring to fixing a broken head on your bow. The topic of this thread is about the replacement of the ivory (or rather the bone) tip plate.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words:

For those that have asked (or are wondering), the following pictures sort of explain my methods described above. Note in pictures 4 & 5 the wooden block with a v-groove cut into it (padded with cork) to hold the head of the bow while clamping with string. Pictures 6, 7, and 8 show the head of the bow and the tip 'clamped' into place with the string. (The bow pictured has not been prepped for actually gluing on a new tip yet--I just grabbed it for photographic purposes.)

Pictures 9 and 10 show the bent piece of aluminum that I use as my iron to bend ivory and mammoth tip blanks. I can vary the amount of the curvature in the blank by adjusting the tip's position along the curve.

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20004.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20005.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20006.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20007.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20008.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20009.jpg

http://www.fineviolinbows.com/pictures/tips%20010.jpg

And yes, I too regularly glue my fingers to the head of the bow when I use my fingers as the clamps.

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I think most people pre-bend on a jig, so that when dry and removed from the jig, the tip already conforms closely to the head of the bow.

Can't say what the best glue is. Maybe Jerry Pasewicz will comment on both the pre-shaping and the gluing.

I use Mammoth ivory tips exclusively. When I glue a tip it is unlined and flat, and I use a good quality CA. After the glued tip is thinned, shaped, and the mortise is cut, very little of the "memory" is left and the tip is stable. I have tried many other methods and adhesives, this is the best I have found.

When gluing tips, one cool trick I was taught by Michael Yeats, is to rub baking soda on the liner surface before gluing the tip with the thin CA. This lowers the ph and results in a better glue joint.

By the way, bone tips are the devils playground.

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"When I glue a tip it is unlined and flat."

If the tip is flat, how do you hold it in contact with the bow head during gluing?

"When gluing tips, one cool trick I was taught by Michael Yeats, is to rub baking soda on the liner surface before gluing the tip with the thin CA. This lowers the ph and results in a better glue joint."

I heard somewhere that alcohol does the same thing.

"By the way, bone tips are the devils playground."

What do you mean?

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For unlined ivory violin and viola tips, you can heat them over an alcohol lamp and bend them on the tip of your thumb. Just don't let the ivory get so hot that it blisters your thumb. It is really fast and you can adjust the bend by re-heating and increasing or decreasing the bend. Just be sure to hold it until it cools, or hold it in some cool water. You can't do this with bone. Be careful, as it is easy to overheat it and hurt yourself.

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"When I glue a tip it is unlined and flat."

If the tip is flat, how do you hold it in contact with the bow head during gluing?

"When gluing tips, one cool trick I was taught by Michael Yeats, is to rub baking soda on the liner surface before gluing the tip with the thin CA. This lowers the ph and results in a better glue joint."

I heard somewhere that alcohol does the same thing.

"By the way, bone tips are the devils playground."

What do you mean?

Once I have the head lined with ebony, I clean the surface with alcohol, score the surface, and rub baking soda on the face (not the nose). At this point I flatten the new tip on the inside by filing with the safe edge of the file next to the nose of the tip. After drawing the head shape onto the tip, I cut it out using a jewelers saw. I then shape the nose of the tip by backing it up to a small piece of wood I have placed in my vise. With the nose backed up I chisel down the nose until the angle of the nose matches the angle of the nose on the head. (If you do not back up the nose it will break off every time).

Now that the tip is prepared, I clean it with alcohol. Using a small drop of thick CA placed on the nose of the head, I glue only the nose of the tip. Once this is dry, it is very easy to bend the tip using your fingers to exactly match the curvature of the face of the head and glue it in place. A few cautions:

--Before using glue on the head, rub any portions where you do not want CA to stick with soap.

--Use plastic wrap to glue the tip, it keeps skin where it should be.

Sorry for the teaser about bone, my young daughter has given me a flair for the dramatic.

Bone tips are very inconsistent. When you try to carve them, besides being very rough on your knives, you cannot count on which direction the spit will run. Ultimately you end up doing much more file work which takes much more time. When you finally get the tip looking good and you go to polish the head, the bone can sometimes turn from opaque to translucent, and not consistently! You can end up with portions of the tip looking fine and other portions looking horrible. Mastodon is much better material to work with and can give you good results every time.

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What did bowmakers do before the invention of cyano-acrylic type glues?

I think that many early bow makers used "fish glue" to glue on tip plates. I think that it is made like hide glue, but from fish scales/skin. This was also used to glue in pearl eyes and the silver heel & butt plates. A number of contemporary makers use this glue today instead of CA-type glues because of it's high strength, long work time, and traditional use.

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  • 10 years later...

Hide glue is used also for the iviry plates on piano keys.

I personaly use aliphatic resin glues(Elmers,Titebond Original) insted of PVA glue.It works much better for ebony/bone joint than the PVA.

If the bow needs replacing only the bone part someday,it will be much easyer to remove it and keep the ebony liner safe .It wouldn't be so easy if the bone is glued to the ebony with a CA glue.

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I get it why people would use Mammoth exclusively, beautiful and easy to work. Crossing borders with it though...risky.

But is there a reason no one is mentioning Tip Armor or Casein as an alternative to bone? They're slightly more expensive than bone but lots easier to work. Your time has to be worth something.

If you're committed to bone, Lynn Hannings sells a powder (described as caustic ash?) that actually does work to soften the bone fairly quickly. I'd have to go back through my notes but my vague memory is that you mix it about 1:3 or 4 with boiling water then soak the tip for like an hour. Take it out, rinse and clamp it in a form, along with the ebony veneer (itself pre-softened in boiling water), slightly more curved than the face of the bow and let them dry. The form can be a simple band sawed piece of wood.

Lynn still sells the stuff:

https://shop.lahbows.com/collections/tools-stuff/products/soda

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It's probably of academic interest only by now, but elephant ivory tip blanks softened very quickly in very warm but not boiling water, and bent easily with the string wrapping & tightening method probably illustrated in a previous post. White glue worked well when it was left wrapped for an hour or so to set.

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