Shelbow's World of Blasphemy!


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Hello and welcome to Shelbow's world of blasphemy.

Just a bit of background to my world:

I trained as a manufacturing engineer when I was younger, worked in civil engineering for a bit (model making/QA engineer), went on to do a degree and masters in musical instruments (primarily a maker of plucked stringed instruments), made parts for state of the art electronic keyboards for a few years/ QA engineering work and now I'm working part time helping to look after some historic instrument collections.

I like to experiment with materials and make things up as I go along. I don't like anything that is normal! :lol:

I'm really fascinated by baroque violins and bows. I have looked at a number of bows, read a few books and spoken to a few makers but I have no prior experience. I would very much like to move in to making bows full time in the future once I have learnt a bit more / made some more bows and gone on a course.

 

Here is Bow #1 that I have made - Some kind of Hybrid baroque bow thing with a screw mechanism I made myself - Basically I thought I would just practice doing loads of different things on it to understand how bows can work.

(Sorry for the crap picture but I left it at work and never took any proper ones)

Everything was made in my bedroom as I have no workshop.

Loosely based on a few contemporary baroque bows I have looked at.

Materials: Purple Heart (Stick) Kingwood (Frog) Paduak + Corian (Button)

Verdict: Well it works but it is pretty terrible to be honest, it is way too light and flexible as I got a bit carried away whilst shaping it. The shape is a bit wonky at the end but I couldn't change it much because it was already too light. I know people say purple heart is too flexible but I think in this case I just got a bit carried way rather than the wood being too flexible. The frog is not sitting perfectly on the stick so it is causing the bow to twist a bit under tension (I think I can fix this though when I am able to go back to work). I can't remember the weight or length.

I learnt a lot so that was the main thing, I never intended the first one I made to be useful for anything other than going on the bonfire.:ph34r:

Onwards to the next one ha ha. 

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Much love,

Shelbow

 

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Here is Bow #2 that I have made - (I call it 'THE BEAK') Some kind of 17th Century short bow with a hair tension mechanism. (clip in frog).

Everything was made in my bedroom as I have no workshop.

Loosely based on some historical 17th Century short bows I was able to reference online but with some modern bits and pieces just as an experiment

Materials: Purple Heart (Stick) Paduak (Frog) Kingwood (hair holder)

Weight: 41g (This is pretty much in the middle weight range for these kind of bows

Length: 580mm


Verdict: Well this one is a lot better, but I really need a baroque musician to try it. The stick is straight, the balance seems good and so does the weight. The tension mechanism works really well. I think the frog is a bit big so this might be an issue, I will look at changing the frog size for the next one. not really a lot of hair on the bow so need to improve that for next time. I'm not very good at hairing at the moment but I'm getting better.................. In general I just need to work a bit more accurately and neater.

Onwards to the next one, probably another short bow but out of different wood and hopefully a bit neater.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Much love,

Shelbow

 

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I have 0 experience with baroque bows...but I can tell they are baroque bows! :)

I love purple heartwood too :wub:...I have a purple heartwood French-style rolling pin...for display only...^_^

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5 minutes ago, Rue said:

I have 0 experience with baroque bows...but I can tell they are baroque bows! :)

I love purple heartwood too :wub:...I have a purple heartwood French-style rolling pin...for display only...^_^

Well this is a step in the right direction then :D

Yeah purple heart is awesome, one of my favorite woods.

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44 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

Well this is a step in the right direction then :D

Yeah purple heart is awesome, one of my favorite woods.

Nice work. I like the second one with the cool frog mechanism. 

Did you stabilize the color on the purple heart? If not, unfortunately it turns a dullish brown after a few years. 

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Thanks Nick much appreciated.

No I didn't stabilize the purple heart this time, I don't mind so much if it goes brown as I quite like the ageing in sunlight, but if I start making proper bows using it then I would definitely consider doing that.

Next bows will be different wood I think.

I should probably swap the screw button to wood or bone instead of brass to please the historic players. (Although I love brass so much)

I'd like to make modern bows at some stage as well but perhaps in my own style once I figure out how to make everything properly.

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

Here is Bow #3 that I have made - Some kind of 17th Century short bow (clip in frog). I was using it as an experiment to try and improve my accuracy on the cross section of the stick and on the frog in general. Many sticks and frogs were lost in this mission. RIP lost bows.

Everything was made in my bedroom as I have no workshop.

Loosely based on some historical 17th Century short bows I was able to reference online but with some modern bits and pieces just as an experiment.

Materials: Purple Heart (Stick) Corian (Frog) 

Weight: 32g (This is very very light even for a 17th century short bow)

Length: 600mm


Verdict: Well this one is my most accurate so far. The stick is is a lot more even on the cross section and mostly straight (although there is a bit of a twist at the end caused by some uneven work). The balance seems good but it is very light. I think the frog is a bit big again so I need to work on this, the throat of the head is also a bit too deep. The hairing of this bow was definitely my best yet, I am defininitely getting better and quicker at doing this which is encouraging.

I need to keep improving my accuracy especially on the stick.

Onwards to the next one, probably another short bow hopefully out of a better piece of wood.

I like purple heart but it is just too light and flexible, I really need to start practicing on other wood.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Much love,

Shelbow

 

 

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Difficult to accurately say without playing the bows, but the way they look I'd say especially nr 1 and three will feel unstable, too flexible, as the curve is too high and too close to the frog, and too much divided over the whole stick. If you find your bow is "nervous" or difficult to handle, I'd advise you to keep a longer part (seen from the frog) straight and thick, and start the thinning of the stick and the curve at a later point (closer to the head), and generally not exaggerate the curve. The way the first and third bow look what the curvature is concerned, I'd expect them to be intended for underhand (gamba style) playing. I'm a pro baroque cellist, not a bow maker.

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I think you are 100% correct. They are a bit too unstable and flexible. I've been using wood that is quite close to desired thickness to work on so by the time I work on it everything is quite thinned out. Purple hear is also very flexible so I think it is just time to use other wood for practice. Need to get some bow blanks.

Bring able to get a mortice on a very thin stick was an interesting challenge though so good experience.

 

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The tightening contraption looks handy. Is that based on an historic design?
I wonder if that affects the tonal advantages of a clip-in bow.
I made my first baroque bow a few months back and the part that gave me the most trouble was just getting the hair and blocks to stay in place.
How have you been faring in that department?  Any tips?

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2 hours ago, J.DiLisio said:

The tightening contraption looks handy. Is that based on an historic design?
I wonder if that affects the tonal advantages of a clip-in bow.
I made my first baroque bow a few months back and the part that gave me the most trouble was just getting the hair and blocks to stay in place.
How have you been faring in that department?  Any tips?

No not historical at all, loosely based on something that String King sells but with my own thoughts. I really need to update my prototype and make a better one. https://shop.stringking.net/webpage/historical-bows.html

I have another idea to make an adjustable clip in frog but I'm just waiting for some materials to arrive. This will probably be on my next bow.

I'm not sure on the tonal effects, I was able to keep the weight down but not sure about balance issues.It definitely needs some revisions.

Do you mean the wedges for the mortices to keep the hair in place or keeping the actual clip in frog in place?

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26 minutes ago, Rue said:

It looks nice! :)

As much as I also love purple heartwood, I'd agree that it would be time to see what happens when you utilize other woods. 

Yes purple heart is too bendy really hence why I'm getting quite a curve, that and the fact my material is too thin. I achieved a goal of improving the aesthetics a bit so now I have to think more about the properties of the bow and how it will actually work on a practical level.

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  • 3 months later...

Here is Bow #4 that I have made - Some kind of 17th Century short bow (clip in frog). I took more time to try and improve my accuracy on the cross section of the stick and on the frog in general. 

Everything was made in my bedroom as I have no workshop.

Loosely based on some historical 17th Century short bows I was able to reference online but with some modern bits and pieces just as an experiment.

 

Materials: Purple Heart (Stick) Paduak (Frog) 

Weight:  Somewhere around 32g (This is very very light even for a 17th century short bow)

Length: 600mm


Verdict: Well this one is my most accurate so far. The stick is quite even on the cross section (it's actually round this time ha ha) and mostly straight (although there is a bit of a twist at the end caused by some uneven work). The balance seems good but it is very light. I think the frog is about the right size now, and the throat of the head is a bit better. The hairing of this bow didn't really go so well, and I had massive problems with wedges. I think I also need the frog to be a bit wider where the hair passes through, but narrower where it sits on the frog. One of the main things I need to work on is marking out the positioning of the head mortise in realtion to the stick mortise, I feel like they are always out slightly which causes a bit of a twist when the bow is haired. I will try and mark these out better at the beginning to avoid this in the future.

I need to keep improving my accuracy across the length of the stick, my cross sectional accuracy is OK ish now and I think that is reflected in the fact that the curvature of the bow is more sensible than the previous one. It could however do with more material around the frog area. I really need to stop using purple heart because it is too light. I have some other wood now so I guess it's time to start using that.

Onwards to the next one, probably another short bow, hopefully out of a better piece of wood. 

I will try to see if I can get it working a bit later on a violin I have, but I suspect one of the wedges will just come flying out (I really need to work on that).

Anyhow I think I am making some kind of progress I guess....

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Much love,

Shelbow

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3 hours ago, Jim Bress said:

Looks good, and great pics. Have you applied a finish yet?  I’m curious how the Purple Heart will age color wise. 

Many thanks.

At the moment I haven't put any finish on it, I just polished it with micromesh to about 20,000 Grit. I have just ordered some Agate burnishing stones so I might try that next time. I want to try and avoid any other type of finish if I can. The problem is I'm very sweaty so I need to be careful when I'm handling / making bows, I should probably start wearing gloves.

I think it will probably just go a dull light brown colour over time from what I have read, but I have never seen purple heart age before with my own eyes.

I've just tried it and it definitely makes a sound and the wedge didn't fire off into my eye ha ha (good result!).

The bow feels a bit nervous, which makes sense because it is a bit too light but it is way better that the others that I have made.

Overall good progress.

I have some Pau Rosa that I am going to try for the next bow.

 

 

 

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I have been playing around making various clip in frog bows and I think that one improvement in yours would be a slightly pointed front to the frog so it can't move side to side. Also a straight or slightly concave top to the tip would be more elegant.

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4 hours ago, Mark Caudle said:

I have been playing around making various clip in frog bows and I think that one improvement in yours would be a slightly pointed front to the frog so it can't move side to side. Also a straight or slightly concave top to the tip would be more elegant.

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the feedback, I completely agree I definitely need to have more of a point on the frog to locate it more scurely. This one fits better that the others I have made but I can see the potential for a bit of sideway movement which is not good.

I shall have a play around with different head shapes and see if I can refine it. I think I need to add chamfers to the back of the head and also to the frog to make it look a bit nicer.

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Ah ok interesting, well I think some of my early attempts where a bit more like that - eliptical rather than round. That definitely make sense, I shall investigate this further.

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Here is Bow #5 that I have made - Some kind of 17th Century short bow (clip in frog). I just wanted to experiment a bit with beech. 

Everything was made in my bedroom as I have no workshop.

 

Materials: Beech (Stick) Paduak (Frog) 

Weight:  Somewhere around 30g (This is very very light even for a 17th century short bow)

Length: 600mm


Verdict: Well this was just an experiment with Beech to see if I could make a bow out of Beech dowel very quickly. The answer is yes, you can make a bow out of Beech dowel but it is very light and a bit jumpy. I will try and make another one though as it was quite fun. I turned the detail on the button on my mini lathe. I will do a better job on this next time.

The head is a bit small because of the dowel width so this has had a bit of an effect on balance. The hair is also very narrow because the bow itself is quite slender.

Onwards to the next one, probably another short bow, probably out of Beech but with a different head.

One day I will actually make a good bow ha ha.

Feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Much love,

Shelbow

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