Josh Henry

Tip Armor bow tip blanks

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I just wanted to introduce people on Maestronet to a newly introduced product for repairing and replacing bow tips. It is called Tip Armor, made by David Warther. This is a new synthetic tip plate, sure to pass by even the most ignorant of Customs officials.

 

I just got done with an urgent repair order of re-tipping a dozen bows using this product, and I am quite impressed. I had not used it before this week, and so I was a bit nervous about the results. Overall, I really liked it, and will begin recommending it for use in the future. I think that this will become a viable and accepted option for use on bows both old and new. I didn't take any pictures of the bows that I re-tipped, but the next bow I use it on, I will take some before and after pictures.

 

Tip Armor is horizontally reinforced, so there are actually material fibers that give strength to the thin edges along the hair mortise. This means that Tip Armor will not deform there like plastic, and will not crack there like mammoth or ivory. The material is easy to bend to the face curve of any bow, and glues easily. However, it is very hard, and does take an effort to file, but once I became familiar with the way it worked down, it was really no more difficult to use than mammoth ivory. Cutting the mortise was easier than in mammoth due to the absence of “grain” (in other words, there was no preferential direction that was easier to cut). Cutting the mortise does require a sharp knife and bevel-edge chisel. The main thing that is a bit different, is that the face of the finished tip does not polish as highly as mammoth does. I ended up leaving the tips with a finely sanded (to 4000 grit micro mesh), but still slightly matte finish that looked fine.

 

As far as how it works down with a file, chisel and knife: I would rate it as far easier to use than bone, but slightly more difficult to file than mammoth. Plastic tips are easy to work down, but are prone to problems. Bone tips just are just awful and should not ever be used.

The following is my rundown of currently available options for bow tips:

  • Silver (and gold)                   Not difficult to work down, but difficult to glue. It works best with pins, but that is not always recommended in the bow if it did not have pins originally. Silver also is heavier than other options.
  • Ivory                                  Classic, but should not be used anymore
  • Mammoth                              Easy to work with, bends well, glues well, and looks like ivory. Unfortunately, it can be confused with ivory, so is at risk with Customs officials. Note: The sale of mammoth is now prohibited in New York and New Jersey.
  • Tip Armor                          Bends easily and glues well, very strong and very hard. A bit more of an effort to work down than mammoth. At a glance, looks like mammoth, but is obviously synthetic upon inspection.
  • “Ivoroid” plastic                  Grained plastic that looks like ivory. Glues easily and files easily, but tends to deform and crack with time, looks better than regular plastic.
  • Plastic                               Very easy to bend and glue. Very easy to file and cut the mortise. Unfortunately, it just looks like white plastic and is appropriate for cheaper bows.
  • Bone                                      Very brittle, tends to crack easily, damn near impossible to bend, does not glue well, absorbs oils, tends to absorb color from case fabric, is porous, and is an awful thing to put on the heads of bows.

 

Tip Armor bow tips can be ordered at the following website.

http://www.guitarpartsandmore.com/?nav=products&cat=27

From the website:
Made of AMW-814, a polymer composite. This recently developed polymer has been formulated for strength and flexibility and engineered in a way to allow artisans to work the material with ease utilizing standard carving and bow making tools. This material bends with finger strength and holds its bow tip curve for application without the typical process of soaking and press-forming. Simply bend the floor to the needed curvature and glue into place. Then shape, sand and carve as you would mammoth ivory or other materials. Several glues work well including hide glue and superglue (CA glue) which works very well.

This is the latest development in violin bow tip technology and these incredibly well machined and strong bow tips are made exclusively here at David Warther & Co.. These have been developed to fill the need for a highly durable bow tip that can enter international trade because they are made of a polymer rather than a natural material. This material looks like ivory until looked at closely wherein one plainly sees a patterned design in the material itself that clearly shows (to any customs agent) it is not ivory.

Mid-size international orders ship free - see shipping page for details. These also provide the bow making and repairing community with an extremely durable bow tip that is a time saver for application artisans. Bow makers are finding this material easier to work than the natural materials such as bone and fossil ivory and far easier to work than the plastic and casein based bow tips.

In addition to ease and speed of application is the strength and durability factor. This material is simply as tough as nails and can take a lot of punishment.Tip Armor is a registered trademark of David Warther & Co..

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Good for David! I'll be sure to order some tips and try them out. He's always been a great source for tusk and I'm glad to see him providing us with a viable synthetic alternative. I paid Eric Swanson a visit over the summer (glad to see him a member here, now), and we were discussing other alternatives for bow tips. He made a new ebony frog for a Dodd cello bow ( to replace the ivory original, so the owner could travel internationally with the bow) and tipped the head with ebony, I really liked the look of it. I also noticed that Coda bow discontinued the use of MOP on their slides. They now have a carbon weave slide, kinda' cool looking.

 

I feel rather than to be so up in arms about the new legislation it's better to go with the flow and adapt, as it can spark some new ideas.

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How much of an operation is it to remove and install a new bow tip?  I would guess that a lot of us players -- even those who wouldn't want to part with our bows in our lifetimes -- will need to have this done to make our bows salable.  My bows placed in my grave will not enhance my afterlife.

 

Steven Csik

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How much of an operation is it to remove and install a new bow tip?  I would guess that a lot of us players -- even those who wouldn't want to part with our bows in our lifetimes -- will need to have this done to make our bows salable.  My bows placed in my grave will not enhance my afterlife.

 

Steven Csik

Hi Steven--great to hear from you! It typically takes somewhere between two to three hours to replace a tip plate--and to do it well. The amount of time it takes is similar for most materials, except for silver tips (takes me a bit longer) and plastic tips (a bit less time).

 

For players I will not recommend that they replace a bow tip unless there is a reason to do so--even if it still has ivory (actually, especially if it has an original ivory head plate, and the musician does not travel outside of the USA). It is not prohibited to own or to use something that has ivory on it. The reason this has become an issue now, is due to the recent law changes that make it risky for players that are traveling internationally to re-enter the USA (this apparently is not really as big of an issue in other countries).

 

As you mention, there is also the technicality in the law that when you sell your bow, you might need to take the material of the tip plate into consideration. That is actually the reason that I received the dozen bows into the shop for replacing the tip plates--the bows came in from a dealer in New York City, and all ivory and Mammoth needed to be replaced before they could be sold.

 

 

Josh , is it better than Elforyn or have you not tried that one?http://www.elforyn.de/en/elforyn/

 

I've never come across this material before. It looks nice, but if it looks too similar to actual ivory, then the recognition of the material by some ignorant customs official might put the bow at risk. I would love to get some of this stuff and see what it looks like and how it works down.

 

 

Josh;  Could this be a similar product, or another alternative.  A bow maker friend mentioned it seemed to work well.

 

http://www.howardcore.com/cgi-bin/shopper.cgi?preadd=action&key=638110

 

Jeffrey--that link shows the tip blanks that I referred to above as "ivoroid." They are made from a plastic composition that is grained to look like ivory. It is typically a bit exaggerated on the ivory look, so they are easily distinguished. My use with these has not been all positive. I find that the plastic is quite brittle, and they tend to crack at the edges of the mortise. They also come back into the shop with the nose of the tip chipped away. I also do not like to use pre-lined tips, and the thickness of the lining (these use fiber) and the curvature of the blank is pretty much never what I need.

 

The thing that I think will make the Tip Armor blanks take off for use with bow makers for is that the material is made with reinforcing material embedded into the blank. Under magnification, it actually looks like a fine cheesecloth. There is layer upon layer of the material that makes up the thickness of the tip blank, so I would doubt that there will ever be any problems with the tip cracking at the mortise or the nose of the tip chipping away. I took a couple of pictures of a tip blank to show the structure. The weave detail is quite fine, and shows better in the reflection on the polished side of the faceplate.

 

post-25151-0-27134400-1412342514_thumb.jpg     post-25151-0-01445000-1412342546_thumb.jpg

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Thanks Josh!,

 

I am very interested to see the final, polished product.  Though, after doing a dozen tip in a row, I imagine you have had enough for a while! :)

 

Chris

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Hi Steven--great to hear from you! It typically takes somewhere between two to three hours to replace a tip plate--and to do it well. The amount of time it takes is similar for most materials, except for silver tips (takes me a bit longer) and plastic tips (a bit less time).

 

For players I will not recommend that they replace a bow tip unless there is a reason to do so--even if it still has ivory (actually, especially if it has an original ivory head plate, and the musician does not travel outside of the USA). It is not prohibited to own or to use something that has ivory on it. The reason this has become an issue now, is due to the recent law changes that make it risky for players that are traveling internationally to re-enter the USA (this apparently is not really as big of an issue in other countries).

 

As you mention, there is also the technicality in the law that when you sell your bow, you might need to take the material of the tip plate into consideration. That is actually the reason that I received the dozen bows into the shop for replacing the tip plates--the bows came in from a dealer in New York City, and all ivory and Mammoth needed to be replaced before they could be sold.

 

 

 

Thanks, Josh, for your reply.  Great thread!

 

Have you -- or any other bow repairer who might want to reply -- come across bows of substantial value in which the tip simply was not going to come off for replacement without some damage to the head, without removal of some of the wood in the head?  Hope this is a fair question.  The need for those of us who plan on keeping our bows for the remainder of our lives is balancing the need to make a bow salable in the future with possibly lessening the value of a bow.

 

Steven Csik

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Steven, any tip material can be taken off without removal of original wood and it isn't even that difficult. Filing the new tip material into shape is the thing where workmanship has to be proved.

 

Josh, thanks for the information!

In Oberlin a few tip materials where discussed and Rodney Mohr came along with a few suggestions but for me as a non native english speaker they rushed along a bit to quick to settle in my mind. Even if I rarely have customers outside of the EU it is interesting to know what could be a solution in that case.

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Thanks, Florian.

 

Josh,

 

A question about Tip Armor:  Is its weight significantly different from the weight of ivory?  I would imagine that a little bit of weight added to or subtracted from the bow at its very tip would have considerable effect on the balance point because of the location of the new weight. Do you have to re-balance the bow after installing Tip Armor?

 

My question assumes that bow repairers would be checking for the balance point of a bow before they replace tips (or do any other work on a bow outside of routine rehairing).  Is that a safe assumption?

 

Steven Csik

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Hi Josh

 Thanks for the great tip?

I'll order some right away. I know I'll feel better not wasting good mammoth on my skill level. I know Bone is crazy hard and ivoroid is unsatisfying.

 

  I see they do not come with ebony lining. I assume you are adding it. Would you reccomend glueing the ebony to the plate before glueing to the stick or some other way.  Thanks as usual for all of your help.

 

   David

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Looks like a great product. I've been using various micarta products for headplates after doing some research and experimentation with John Aniano. I like a product called G10, but it's really a nightmare to convert the material into a tip blank. G10 is also useful because upon close inspection it has an obvious grid pattern to it - certainly NOT like ivory for TSA and other customs officials. Pre-made blanks would be most welcome.

I'd also like to point out here that it's very easy for anyone to make their own Micarta product at home or in the shop. Knife makers do this all the time as micarta is simply layers of material such as cloth or paper with an epoxy between each layer. The whole thing is then clamped between flat metal plates and allowed to dry. You Tube is filled with videos of folks making different kinds of micarta.

Check out G10 on a bass bow: https://swansonbows.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/ivory-alternative/

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Just ordered some Tip Armor headplates!  I've been buying headplates from David Warther for years and I'm glad he's come up with this new product.  Can't wait to give them a try.

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Conor, a copy/paste from the David Warther link above:  "Several glues work well including hide glue and superglue (CA glue) which works very well."

Hope this helps.  Thanks, Josh –

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Thanks for this information Josh. 

 

I've just ordered a few of these tip plates. What type of glue would think I should use to fit them?

 

I've now installed around 40 Tip Armor blanks on various bows in the past several months. I have found that CA glue works very well with these tips. They flex easily so bending them to a curved face has not been a problem. I usually just hold the tip in place with my fingers for a minute or so while the glue takes time to set. A few times--on bows with very curved faces, I used the old string winding method to hold the tip in place while the glue sets.

 

It took a while using this material to get comfortable with it, as it does file and cut differently than traditional materials. The resins in the material do tend to load up my files, so cleaning them frequently with my file card several times during a tip job is necessary. Cutting the mortises does require a sharp knife--sharpened more like a violin maker's knife (to slice delicately) than a bow maker's knife (made to hack away). Also, a sharp chisel (a bow maker's chisel--one that is triangular in cross-section) is the perfect tool to clean up the edges of the mortise.

 

One word of caution: I have had three tips so far that the nose has sheared off while filing it down to size. I don't use excessive force when working on the head of bows, but if the nose of the tip is very narrow, the Tip Armor can separate on one of the horizontal laminations in the material. This makes me question how durable the nose of the tip will be when in daily use (and abuse) by players. Even so, I still think that this is a very promising material for future use.

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Another tip replacement option: Used historically, white or off-white mother-of-pearl shell is an excellent substitute.  Very hard and durable, glues well and stable, excellent color.  Downside, not easily bendable, so it is necessary to carve/shape to fit each tip.  Lots of work, but very fine result---as seen in some old French bows.  Use area near the hinge of "gold-lip" shell. Does not add unwanted weight as metal tips may.

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I've used a few of the Tip Armour faces now, and like them very much. 

 

I had a bow with a very curved face, and decided that I should bend the face before fitting. I clamped it gently and warmed it with a hot air gun, and it took a shape very well.

 

Josh's warning about breaking off the tip of the nose is worth heeding. I cut the nose with a knife, and the tip can flake off very easily if I take any more than a sliver at a time.

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Another tip replacement option: Used historically, white or off-white mother-of-pearl shell is an excellent substitute...

I thought MOP was under the same/similar ban?

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I have a C. Collinet bow that I think has one of these tips, it looks fine and seems to be OK.  This mess with making Mammoth illegal is really a foolishness.  I don't think they blame us for mammoth extinction.

 

 

DLB

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On 1/29/2015 at 9:21 PM, Josh Henry said:

 

I've now installed around 40 Tip Armor blanks on various bows in the past several months. I have found that CA glue works very well with these tips. They flex easily so bending them to a curved face has not been a problem. I usually just hold the tip in place with my fingers for a minute or so while the glue takes time to set. A few times--on bows with very curved faces, I used the old string winding method to hold the tip in place while the glue sets.

 

It took a while using this material to get comfortable with it, as it does file and cut differently than traditional materials. The resins in the material do tend to load up my files, so cleaning them frequently with my file card several times during a tip job is necessary. Cutting the mortises does require a sharp knife--sharpened more like a violin maker's knife (to slice delicately) than a bow maker's knife (made to hack away). Also, a sharp chisel (a bow maker's chisel--one that is triangular in cross-section) is the perfect tool to clean up the edges of the mortise.

 

One word of caution: I have had three tips so far that the nose has sheared off while filing it down to size. I don't use excessive force when working on the head of bows, but if the nose of the tip is very narrow, the Tip Armor can separate on one of the horizontal laminations in the material. This makes me question how durable the nose of the tip will be when in daily use (and abuse) by players. Even so, I still think that this is a very promising material for future use.

Thanks for this. How do you polish tip armor?

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