Bow rehairing: what is this substance?


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I searched google adding maestronet and came up with nothing, so I apologize if there is a topic here already.

I have been rehairing some old bows that came with some old trade instruments.  In some of them, there is a red substance in the tip and frog mortises where the knots are tied. It crumbles when you scrape it with a pick, but otherwise holds together somewhat. It seems like a mix between rosin, wax, and glue? 

Is it there to help hold the plugs in? To help keep the knot from moving? And most importantly,  what exactly is it? 

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4 minutes ago, Fiddler45 said:

I searched google adding maestronet and came up with nothing, so I apologize if there is a topic here already.

I have been rehairing some old bows that came with some old trade instruments.  In some of them, there is a red substance in the tip and frog mortises where the knots are tied. It crumbles when you scrape it with a pick, but otherwise holds together somewhat.

It's probably "sealing wax", which was quite popular at one time.

https://www.google.com/search?q=sealing+wax&client=firefox-b-1-d&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjylIOv4t_vAhXSQs0KHVjFAz8Q_AUoAnoECAEQBA&biw=1704&bih=910

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I think I used to buy individual hanks of hair with one end encased in a blob of that red stuff.  I think it was intended only to hold the end of a hank together until it was sold.  After that, the user was supposed to tie a proper knot, cut away the blob and discard it.  I don't know what it is; I though maybe shellac with red coloring.

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I've seen that red material too, and I'm inclined to think David is correct in identifying it as sealing wax. However, there's nothing waxy about it; it's quite brittle.

The fellow that taught me re-hairing would dip the end knot into hot hide glue, and then burn the end in an alcohol flame to fuse the hair and glue into a solid mass. He would repeat this a few times until the knot and hair was a nice, tidy little mushroom head.

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I do the "rosin" thing when I rehair, and this isn't it.  I'm inclined to think David is right, it seems like wax that has dried out???  I've seen this for years.  I don't think it's that red blob on the individual hair hanks either.  Mystery..................

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23 hours ago, Bill Yacey said:

I've seen that red material too, and I'm inclined to think David is correct in identifying it as sealing wax. However, there's nothing waxy about it; it's quite brittle.

Right. The "sealing waxes" were probably mostly shellac, not wax, sort of like the melt-in shellac sticks which were/are available in various colors, used to fill gouges in furniture. But different brands of sealing wax could have been primarily composed of just about anything, including rosin. All I have run across on bow rehairs were quite brittle.

Perhaps we can talk Bruce Carlson into prying the seal off the scroll of the Cannone Guarneri, and flexing it enough to see where its breaking point is? ;)

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Thanks all! Now that I have thought more about it, I think one of the supply cabinets I got from an old family friend who used to rehair some student bows has a  partial stick of what could be this in a drawer. I'm going to look for it and see if it melts and what it sets up like

 

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I am quite familiar with this substance; it is stick shellac, and was used primarily as an adhesive to hold woodwind instrument tone hole pads in place. It is available in various densities and colors. If anyone wants a sample stick, I might have one or two lying around.

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On 4/5/2021 at 9:29 AM, violguy said:

I am quite familiar with this substance; it is stick shellac, and was used primarily as an adhesive to hold woodwind instrument tone hole pads in place. It is available in various densities and colors. If anyone wants a sample stick, I might have one or two lying around.

I"m old enough to have been taught in repair school to use this on Sax pads, french pad cement on clarinets etc.  The stick shellac that I used, however, would have crumbled differently over time.  Far more brittle than what I've seen in the bow mortices.  The stick shellac I used (amber)when crumbled, is very white.  Non of my woodwind repairmen use this anymore.

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