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Splined Bow


Potter
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1 hour ago, Jeff White said:

I'm talking about splines, not splices.........

Good distinction and certainly it was a spline, not a splice, that the original poster was asking about.  Sorry for any confusion -- I was thinking splices.  Just to be clear here is a "spliced" head repair, maybe on a Nurnberger, probably done many decades ago.

4B4A8A22-32EA-4D75-9785-7B227378B799_1_201_a.jpeg

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On 12/24/2021 at 11:23 PM, Potter said:

…Does that really happen regularly? I have read here that the spline is as strong as the original?…

In theory, a well-splined head is stronger than it was before it broke, because the spline gives the head cross-grain reinforcement that it didn’t have before being splined.  The big question is: How to you tell if the spline is a good one?

 

On 12/25/2021 at 6:20 PM, Jeff White said:

…I can't even imagine a good spline coming apart years later….

If a good spline is defined as one that doesn’t fail, then every spline is a good one — until it fails.  A failed spline is obviously a bad one, but it was a good one before it failed.  Having the ability to predict the future Is the only way to know if a spline is a good one or a bad one

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

In theory, a well-splined head is stronger than it was before it broke, because the spline gives the head cross-grain reinforcement that it didn’t have before being splined.  The big question is: How to you tell if the spline is a good one?

 

If a good spline is defined as one that doesn’t fail, then every spline is a good one — until it fails.  A failed spline is obviously a bad one, but it was a good one before it failed.  Having the ability to predict the future Is the only way to know if a spline is a good one or a bad one

 

Right, can't tell always, but if it's done neatly, then I have confidence that the person did the "hidden" correctly. Vice Versa..

Brad, sounds kinda like the Salem Witch Trials..........................

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  • 2 months later...

I used to have a copy of Bultitude's book about the Hill Bow. There was a period where they made a bunch of sticks "off the quarter" which came back broken and had to be repaired. It would be interesting to see if this was one of them. Can the OP look at the head and see which way the grain lines are oriented?

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22 hours ago, duane88 said:

I've asked more than one very good Bowmaker why they don't spline the bows when they make them to make that area stronger. I get bemused looks...

I have been wanting to visit...

In trying to repair a tip, there was a little experimentation involving laminating a very thin spine with a composited material. It is certainly much less expensive to manufacture whole composite bows, but as origin material like Pernambuco run out, I feel as if I am more likely to play a laminate wood bow that has composite material in the ply than something made from other existing woods like Ipe.

If there is a new generation of new bowmaking, they are likely having to experiment in creating a pre- splined head unless a bonded tip/ cap is designed.   

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On 3/14/2022 at 10:50 PM, GoPractice said:

If there is a new generation of new bowmaking, they are likely having to experiment in creating a pre- splined head unless a bonded tip/ cap is designed. 

I can imagine very thin strip of fiberglass bonded to the front of head instead of pre-splined head. The fiberglass could look just like a slightly thicker layer of finish without close inspection but would add extra strength against starting a split in head.

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On 3/15/2022 at 3:02 PM, HoGo said:

I can imagine very thin strip of fiberglass bonded to the front of head instead of pre-splined head. The fiberglass could look just like a slightly thicker layer of finish without close inspection but would add extra strength against starting a split in head.

That is a solution too. Generally, the shape of the head should not make as much of a difference as, perhaps, the shape of the stick as it is blended into the head...  so anything to help the tip from breaking off would be wonderful as we get to the "bottom of barrel" of some older Pernambuco. 

The shape behind the head can alter the feel, so perhaps your solution is better. I did "bond" a good student bow by epoxying an very thin fabric "a la" fibre mesh over the tip. It did not add much mass ( but it did change the balance point a bit altered with heavier winding, ) but did spend some time power sanding the tip to make it look a but more natural. Not pretty, but did save the bow until the boy graduated.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wouldn't worry about a splice or spline if it is apprpriately done.  There are two potential problems with splices:
If it is repair there are some archiers that will use "conservation grade" glues, so that "they can be returned to original condition"  (what [!?! - it's not a collectors' item any longer) and these are not really up to the job.
In principle, the fact that the bow split and needed this sort of repair in the first place can be an indication that the material is brittle and it may be more liable to split elsewhere.  However, this may be purely theoretical, as I haven't seen this problem.

Splines can be useful for brittle bows where the grain does not run adequately along the length of the bow.  There is significant work involved, and if it is a repair the bow cannot be returned to supposed original condition, so it is likely to be a fully functional repair.  Clearly the spline will affect the playing of the bow - but if you are judging post-spline this is not really relevant.  It is of course important that the woods be compatible in terms of expansion under humidity, but any archetier should be fully aware of this

My personal experience with splices (just supporting information)

I have two spliced bows: a V Fetique and a Sartori. 
The Fetique was almost certainly spliced in Fetique's workshop himself, possibly because he had some outstanding wood that wasn't quite long enough.   The indicator here is that the grain runs exactly along the length of the bow, so clearly the splice does not run along the grain.  The other possible explanation is that is is the marriage of two bows, but the grain looks too similar for this to be likely.  As ever, the bow was selected for playability.  In the 70 years since my uncle aquired it that splice has never shown any issues.
Then (50 years ago) it split at the the tip while I was playing (maybe a collision with the frog of my desk partner - hard to tell).  It was initially repaired by a renowned London workshop.  It very soon split again, and then again after their re-repair.   In the end I took it to my own workshop, cleaned it off and fixed it with a stiff indusrial adhesive and inserted two small brass studs with adhesive for security.   I left left the studs visible for maximum strength.  As it was a clean break and a very tight fit, the change in mass was negligible (less than 10-mg), and the bow plays just as it did before.  This too has stood the test of time.
Based on this experience I bought a repaired Sartori at auction; the estimate was a quarter of the price for an otherwise less desirable Sartori.  The original repair failed after a about a year.  I no longer have access to a workshop, so I had it redone by a (different) London workshop, giving instructions that this was for playability rather than collection.  This came back with a visible stud (only one because these long splits don't leave much space at the critical location).   This is still great after five years - and the archetier indicated that there was no reason to suppose it was any less robust than before is was repaired.

Edited by giorgy
refinement of original/ corrections
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I had a splined bow fail on me once, at an important rehearsal. Its something that came with a violin, didnt pay anything, played well, but I learned my lesson. It can be a good way to get a really nice playing bow for a really good price. But be prepared for a ruined performance somewhere down the road.

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18 hours ago, giorgy said:

The Fetique was almost certainly splined in Fetique's workshop himself, possibly because he had some outstanding wood that wasn't quite long enough.

Bowmakers would generally splice the wood at the handle if the blank was not long enough ,not at the head.

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Bill Salchow's practive, which he learned in Mirecourt, was to dribble some alcohol on the head end of the blank, looking for bubbles, before doing anything with it. Bubbles indicate a shake/incipient crack. No bubbling = a (presumably) sound head area.

FWIW.

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13 hours ago, fiddlecollector said:

Bowmakers would generally splice the wood at the handle if the blank was not long enough ,not at the head.

Interesting, thank you.  I don't think I indicated where this splice was, but it runs half the length of the bow, not along the grain, and slightly nearer to the tip than to the heal. 
So you are suggesting it was a marriage of two remarkably similar sticks?   The bow shape is very good, the workmanship superb, and the grain match outstanding - all to the extent that I was not aware of it until my latest (and sharp-eyed) rehairer pointed it out (her predecessor having retired).   This would seem to be less difficult to achieve if the splice is made prior to final shaping of the bow - could ithis indicate a bow that had an accident partway through fabrication?

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On 4/13/2022 at 12:11 AM, giorgy said:

 - could ithis indicate a bow that had an accident partway through fabrication?

I don't think this is credible. If the stick broke on the maker they would surely bin it. 

I have a Voirin like this - someone wanted to retain the handle with the band and the fittings, so they made a new top third and spliced it on. Seen a couple of other bows like that, with nice brands! One was so well done that I had almost bought it before I noticed.

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22 hours ago, martin swan said:

I don't think this is credible. If the stick broke on the maker they would surely bin it.

Thank you - I just saw this (I'm following now).  

It is an exceptional player's bow.  Given that the tip snapped in playing it's probably also somewhat brittle (I think it may go with the territory - bows that are both stiff and light-weight). 
I agree that it seems most strange that the maker would think it worthwhile to repair an unfinished stick, so this is somewhat of a Holmesian conclusion - i.e. how would a "repairer" find such closely matched halves regarding all of appearance, mechanical properties and the maker's pattern of tip design matching the stamp?

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On 4/16/2022 at 5:24 PM, giorgy said:


I agree that it seems most strange that the maker would think it worthwhile to repair an unfinished stick, so this is somewhat of a Holmesian conclusion - i.e. how would a "repairer" find such closely matched halves regarding all of appearance, mechanical properties and the maker's pattern of tip design matching the stamp?

How are you measuring the playing properties of the stick before it was spliced ...?

Evidence suggests that matching the wood and the model is not so difficult.

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49 minutes ago, martin swan said:

How are you measuring the playing properties of the stick before it was spliced ...?

Evidence suggests that matching the wood and the model is not so difficult.

I'm not measuring the original properties.  Given the length of the splice, I merely observed the lack of twist when subjected to orthogonal stress.

I think you are implying that the "repairer" used the stamp end as a basis and spliced a stick that ran from 1/3rd of the way from the frog and included the tip.   I wouldn't expect there to e that many Fetiques broken closer to the frog lying around.   Am I overthinking to interpret your comment as (in effect) telling me that this is a very good forgery*?  (Not that I care that much**, as my uncle played this happily for 15 years and I have played it for a further 50+)
*I.e. a forgery that plays like the master's own bows
**My heirs won't care either: even were they worried about value, as the splice and repaired tip already define this as "only" a player's bow.

Thanks again

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Yes - overthinking.

I'm just saying that we see quite a few bows which have original handles, frog and button included, but which are spliced along the stick. Sometimes it's very difficult to see this - it's skilled work but not impossible.

I haven't seen the bow so I have no idea how convincing the head is for Fétique, but the chances of finding two broken Fétiques which have matching wood must be close to zero.

I can't see why a splice would cause any problems for playability.

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26 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Yes - overthinking.

I'm just saying that we see quite a few bows which have original handles, frog and button included, but which are spliced along the stick. Sometimes it's very difficult to see this - it's skilled work but not impossible.

I haven't seen the bow so I have no idea how convincing the head is for Fétique, but the chances of finding two broken Fétiques which have matching wood must be close to zero.

I can't see why a splice would cause any problems for playability.

It was good enough to convince Beare's* in the 1950s before anyone discovered the splice.  It has been rehaired every couple of years since, and it was only very recently that my (newish to me) perfectionist rehairer pointed it out.  
I would imagine that the skill to effect this level of repair is in the same order as a bowmaker's, albeit with a different set of constraints.

Personally, I think it would be better if repairers routinely added a stamp to a marriage of this sort (ideally the name of the maker of the top section but readily identifiable as a repairers mark?). 

As you know this arose out of a comment on the risks (or lack of risk) on playing with a well-jointed bow, plus a measure of curiosity.  I would attach photos, but the bow is not with me at the moment, so I think best leave it at that - at least for the present.

That said, you have already vastly improved my understanding, so deepest thanks for that.

Gg

*The head is extremely similar to other Fetiques in all profiles.  However, it's a relatively compact head, so it would be relatively simple to adapt an existing head to match if they don't want to build a complete stick. 

 

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