Rehairing a bow.. My first successful attempt. ;)

Well, I have been blessed with an overabundance of ancient bows. Most of them need to be rehaired, and have damage in different areas. Here’s an account of my journey- good, bad, and ugly.. 😉


This bow had a few hairs still attached, with a damaged wooden wedge trying desperately to hang on. 20140324_091658_resized


I dug the wedge and old hair out, then cleaned out the cavity in the bow tip as well as I could.



Then I went to work on the frog. First thing was to convince the metal sleeve to come off without damaging the ebony frog or scratching/deforming the ring. Took a while, but eventually it slid off.20140324_092620_resized


Then I slid the slide off, which again didn’t want to budge. I managed to get it off, but the shell delaminated from the wooden portion of the slide. I glued it back on, and set the slide aside



Once that was apart, I lifted the old hair out of the way and pried the wedge from the interior of the frog.20140324_092957_resized


It was pretty tightly wedged in, but came out without damage. Thank Heaven. 😉



Here are the parts..

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Not every day you get to see the insides of a frog- Very precision chambers and channels in there…



I cut a piece of maple to make a new wedge for the tip. The wedge from the frog was fine, it’s better to reuse the original when possible (these are a pain to carve from scratch).20140324_095942_resized


Previously I mentioned gluing the shell to the slide of the frog- I guess this is when I actually did it. A couple drops of cyanoacrylate glue put it back in short order.



I gently placed the frog in a vise, and pressed the ends of the hair into the cavity, followed by the wooden wedge. Looks easier than it was.. 20140324_105328_resized


Then I flattened out the hair, straightened it out to be as uniform as I could get it, and ot the slide into place. The slide clamps the hair and the wedge in place, and is very effective.



Once the hair, wedge, and the slide were in place, I slid the metal sleeve back onto the frog, which holds the slide in place. It also provides a platform that is straight and rigid on which the hair will rest.

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At this point, I drove a very thin wedge above the hair, which keeps everything nice and tight, as well as keeping it as close to a consistently flat plane as I could get.  It is very securely anchored in the frog at this point.


I cut the loose end of the  hair to length, and combed it as neatly as I could. Horsehair is really coarse, tough hair. By the way, this hair was removed from a clunky fiberglass bow that I didn’t care for.  The old wooden bow is thinner, lighter, and more resonant than fiberglass. Each bow needs to be responsive and balanced, it has a huge impact on the sound and playability of the violin.



I got a length of cotton thread ready, as well as some CA glue and a toothpick.



I held the hair as straight as I could while tying the ends together, adjusted the knot, and put a drop of CA glue on the ends of the hair and thread. Once it had hardened, I trimmed it back to keep it as small as possible, without breaking the bond.




At this point, I spent a couple of hours carving a new wedge, but neglected to take pics- it was intense, and the fit is critical. Eventually, I got it to fit well into the cavity, holding the hair in place. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I put a tiny drop of hot hide glue into the cavity, inserted the hair and wedge, then pressed it into place. Held it tightly until the glue set.. then filed the underside of the wedge dead flush with the bow tip. I’m trying to keep the hair flat, flush, and straight. Reminiscent of running a six-burner stove with a one-track mind. Looks pretty good in the end, though. 😉



Once the hair was seated in the tip, I reattached the frog to the stick, trimmed a few loose/wild hairs, and ran an open flame along the length of the hair. No pics, as I really couldn’t shoot anything while holding a moving flame along the hair. I’d hate to set it on fire.. lol

The heat helped bring the hair to a more uniform tension, and helped set the bend in the tip. Turned out nicely. This took some practice to get it nice and flat, but it affects the way the bow grips the string, and I’m very picky about having the hair straight and even. Any deviation is maddening, and wrecks the response of the bow- adversely affecting both the feel and the tone.20140326_151045_resized_1



Double click the pic, and you can see the hair is pretty darn flat- which is what it must be. You may also see a bit of discoloration near the frog, this is a carbon deposit from the flame.. Luckily, I was able to clean this off with denatured alcohol. Gotta keep that fire moving at all times.



That’s it- this bow is better than it has been in decades. Still nice and straight, also has a nice curve to the stick, giving a good amount of tension to the hair. Turned out very well. 😉20140326_151141_resized_1



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