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UG Fiddlesmith

Bow Rehairing

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Maybe fifteen years ago a fellow fiddler showed me how he rehaired bows and I remember him telling me not to use glue in the mortises.  Now after 15 years of not using glue I wonder why so many of the bows that come across my bench have moderately or severe glued mortise plugs.  Often I spend 15 to 20 minutes digging, drilling, etc trying to get out a plug and not damage for or tip.  Then there are the guy (gals) who put a drop of super glue on the slide.  I am always thrilled to get in a repeat rehair (one I had previousl done) and I zoom through the process. Best I tell I have rehaired 2000 bows-not a record I'm sure but I am still learning.  Any comments?

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I feel your pain! I also have seen that and makes no sense. If everything is fitted properly and done right there is no need to glue anything, friction and pressure will hold everything in place. I am largely self taught but take pride in doing the best job possible. I have lots to learn but try to do it right from the beginning.

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I see two categories of bows with glued-in plugs:  1. New Chinese bows.  2. Old bows that have been rehaired by people who didn't know they weren't supposed to use glue or who were too incompetent to get the plugs to stay in without glue.  Usually these are pretty wretched bows, but I recall a Marcel LaPierre.

 

Confession:  In the course of doing several thousand rehairs, I have glued in one head plug.  It was a cheap bow, probably not worth rehairing and probably destined to never be rehaired again, with the head so damaged that I couldn't see any other way to get the plug to stay in the head.

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I think gluing the plugs fits with some of the great laws known by all workmen;  possibly dating all the way back to the beginnings of the Masons  :) :

 

If it don't fit, force it.

 

If it don't stay in, glue it.

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Best I tell I have rehaired 2000 bows-not a record I'm sure but I am still learning.  Any comments?

Any comments?

2,000 - ?

That's not a bad number.

Keep posting here, the things that you find that are important in a rehair.

2,000 is an adequate number to qualify you, as a qualified, experienced, *rehairer*...

A thing we that we (desperately) need to hear from, here.

How long have you been doing this, I'm curious?

Has it been months, or years?

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The first guy who taught me about rehairing bows was definitely a gluer. Nothing crazy like I've seen done to many of the hundreds and hundreds of student bows I've rehaired, but he wanted me to put just a dab of liquid hide glue on the plugs at both ends, just to "immobilize" them in their mortises as a matter of course. 

 

But the more I've fought with glued plugs, and the more I have read and studied the art, learning to cut my angles correctly and consistently, there really should be no need at all to glue the plugs, assuming the mortises are also cut correctly.  As mentioned above, I really hate these student bows where someone has just squirted a blob of white glue or whatever into the mortises and you basically have to drill them out, carve all the glue and hair residue out of the mortises and make new plugs.  Half the time they get glue in the slide too and then you really have some hard work to do getting the slide out intact.  Sometimes the mortises in student bows aren't even angled correctly enough to get a plug to 'bite' mechanically as it's designed to do, and then I'll use just a toothpick dab of expired liquid hide glue to hold it in place, but even that's become a fairly rare circumstance for me.

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