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Resophonic

Bow wedge wood species

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I am relatively new to bow re-hairing, up to 29 now to date. I have been using Basswood to make my wedges out of but most of the bows I have re-done have had Maple wedges. On one hand, the Basswood is soft enough that cuts easily and there is some squish, much less chance of bow damage if the fit isn't perfect. On the other hand, the Basswood wedge is pretty much a one time use item whereas a good fitting Maple one can be re-used a few times.

 

Pluses, minuses? What are others using and why?

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Don't ever reuse a wedge (meaning a spread wedge). You will never see a well-wedged ribbon of hair using an old wedge. Basswood is an excellent wood for the spread wedge as it is compressible and lessens the chance of damage to a fragile ferrule.

 

On the other hand, for plugs that are properly fit into the head and frog mortises to hold the hair, maple is an excellent choice of materials. Properly fit plugs can be reused a number of times as long as the amount of hair used each time remains the same.

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For spread wedges I use basswood.  I never re-use them.  When I first started hairing bows, I went out in the woods behind the house and cut down a basswood tree for this purpose.  I thought it was funny that I cut down a whole tree to get little pieces of wood the size of my fingernail.

 

For frog and head plugs I use red (soft) maple.  I tried poplar for a while but didn't like it as much.  Arnold Bone, who I first learn hairing from, used striped maple which he called moose maple and which isn't actually maple at all.  I have heard the the Wurlitzer shop used willow.  I have also heard of white birch being used.

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For blocks, I use very hard maple cut on the slab. I want them to fit without any squish, movement or surprises.

For spread wedges I use phillipine mahogany cut on the slab. Softer spread wedges will compress more, unfortunately it is the same compression that will deform ferrules.

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Thanks to the responders.

 

I have been happy with the Basswood for the spreader wedge but not so much with it for the frog and tip. Poplar sounds interesting, kind of in between the hardness of Basswood and Maple.

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Thanks to the responders.

I have been happy with the Basswood for the spreader wedge but not so much with it for the frog and tip. Poplar sounds interesting, kind of in between the hardness of Basswood and Maple.

Do you use a knifer or a chiseler to cut your spreader wedge?

(Just giving the new guy grief)

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Do you use a knifer or a chiseler to cut your spreader wedge?

(Just giving the new guy grief)

 

Jerry, of course you never want to use the force on the wedge, but I find that the best tool is a light saber.

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I use spanish cedar for the top plug and maple for both the frog and the spreader wedge. 

 

My top plugs can never be reused. The way they are fitted, they can only be chopped out and that is very easily because of the wood choice. It takes me about 3 minutes to make a perfect fitting new one, anyway. 

 

A maple spreader wedge I find gives  me the consistency I want for a good fit and to control the amount of pressure that goes on the ferrule. Poplar, lime or basswood tend to compress and I cannot control how much. 

 

 

It is a matter of what one gets used to, I guess. 

 

I must confess I don't have that much experience doing bow rehairs, I have done about 1000 of them and that is nowhere near what these guys above have done. 

 

Only my two pence worth. 

 

J

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Do you use a knifer or a chiseler to cut your spreader wedge?

(Just giving the new guy grief)

Acually, I have been using an Exact-A-Knifer for exacting chippertation and spreadulization.

 

 

Reso, let's get on the same page here:  plugs hold the hair in the head & frog, a wedge spreads the hair against the flat of the ferrule.

OK. You better tell Jerry too.

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  Poplar sounds interesting, kind of in between the hardness of Basswood and Maple.

 

It's available everywhere, carves well, (and easily) and has virtually no grain.

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It's available everywhere, carves well, (and easily) and has virtually no grain.

Yes, I'm quite familiar with Poplar and have enough on hand for thousands of plugs and wedges. Right now, I'm comfortable with Basswood for spreaders and will stick with that for now. Thanks.

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I use old cello and bass bridges for head and frog plugs, and basswood for spreader wedges. I use a 1 1/2" butt chisel for cutting plugs, and cut carefully, can usually reuse them three times or so.

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I'm surprised to see that no one mentioned mahogany wood.

 

The best material for bow wedge is Honduras mahogany.

 

Poplar or basswood is too soft.

 

KY

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