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Casey Jefferson

French polish touch up on bow

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Hi everyone,

Following up my previous thread, my bow came back with new tip plate and I was delighted. The head needed some new french polish job though, which I'll arrange with my luthier to do it later.

However since I'm at it, I realized the playing portion of the bow can become slightly tacky when I sweat a little on my middle/ring finger. Not so obvious of a problem on my previous bow which made by the also very well established bow maker (they are father and son). I read a little about shellac, I had a feeling of the shellac wasn't hard enough, probably a little old? Should I get this renewed too? Or should I be too concerned about the polish, my previous bow were well used and I don't see any wood wear apart from darkening from sweats.

Any opinions and insights are much appreciated. Thank you guys.

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When I was taught rehairing, part of the protocol was to give the bow a cleaning, and a very light French polish. It's possible that the shellac is a little soft, or old. Another possibility is that your sweat might be degrading the shellac. Certain individuals seem to have that problem, and it might also show up in the upper treble bout of a violin. In cases like that, a plastic overlay can be put on to protect the varnish. A little piece of plastic "shelf liner" might also work on a bow.

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Thanks for the reply guys, plastic sheet over the playing area seems like a great idea. I've only seen leather skin over that area which will inevitably adding some weight throwing the balance off a little.

Interestingly it was never a concern on other bows, one which made by the father who's a very well established maker and the polish seem to hold up very well.

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An update, I couldn't resist and went out to buy necessary ingredients to do FP by myself and it was a success! So now I have a fresh layer (two in fact, I polished it two rounds and brought back the sheen nicely). It's relatively easy after a lengthy reading on valuable informations available here.

But just one more thing if anyone will be reading this - while I gave the areas where my fingers touches fresh layer of polish, I left the maker stamp side untouched. Is it a common practice to polish that area too (in my case my finger never really touches there) or I should just leave it untouched? The stamp side is a little duller compared to other side at the moment.

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15 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

Maybe you should seek the advice of the person who made your bow, you seem to indicate that they are a contemporary maker.

They are and still living healthy and making bows. I tried to text them but apparently didn't get any responses maybe due to language barrier. I'll leave it as it is until I manage to get advices.

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