Bass Bow Progress

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Bass Bow Journey Continues

It has been a while since I felt that I could afford the time to work on the bow…I would go by and look at it, sometimes, but I had other things to do– cleaned the chimney, took apart the wood stove and re-cemented gaskets, etc. It’s funny–the commercial chimney sweeps all tell me that my chimney is too dangerous, and they will not touch it– (very steep roof– 12:12 pitch– and quite high).  So I have to do it myself every year. Ah, well…it gives me something to grin about…and leaves me sore for a few days every year. I’ll be 60 this month: the irony that I have to go clean the chimney that men half my age refuse to attempt is not lost on me.

Making a Stainless Steel Bow-tip Plate

Anyhow, I finally took apart one of the stainless utensils I had bought for a dollar at a resale shop, and hacksawed out the rough shape of the tip plate. Drilled holes for pins, cut out the trapezoidal window for the tip mortise, and bent the little tab on the end of the tip plate. Felt pretty good about it…bent it to fit the curve of the bow tip. Looked pretty nice.

stainless steel tip plate for a bass bow
First try at making a stainless steel tip plate for a bass bow.

Making the Ebony Liner for the Bow Tip

I had a terrible time bending ebony to fit the bow tip (probably a little too thick), but I managed to do it, and even got it fitted, glued, and trimmed to size:

Ebony lining with stainless tip plate, for Bass Bow.
Ebony lining with stainless tip plate, for Bass Bow.

Fitting the Tip Plate

Then, I had hoped to glue the tip plate in place, and even went to the auto-parts store and bought some black epoxy that is supposedly “specially formulated to glue all metals”. But when I got home and looked more carefully, trying to fit the tip plate to the ebony liner, it turns out that I had used up all my tolerances on the stainless and it was just a little too small to fit the bow correctly. (Rats!) That left me two choices:

  1. Modify the bow to fit the stainless tip plate, (which would be dumb) or
  2. Go make another tip plate and be more careful this time. (sigh…)

So I will do that later. (This is not a new thing for me– I have a long history of trying to make something a perfect fit, and finding out that I went just a bit too far…thus proving the wisdom of the adage, “measure twice, cut once.”)

Gold Star Inlays for the African Blackwood Frog

I decided to work on inlaying the little (10 mm) gold stars I had bought from Andy DePaule. I laid out the locations as accurately as I could, then lightly glued the stars in place with a tiny dot of superglue. When the glue was hard, I used an X-acto knife to scribe around the stars, cutting as accurately as I could, into the African Blackwood  of the frog. Then, using a small flat gouge, I popped the mother of pearl stars back off, and began to carve out the cavities for the inlays.

Inlay in progress
Inlay in progress

I cut around the perimeter as deeply as I could with a tiny chisel, then scooped out the excess wood with an even tinier chisel, and finally used the tip of the X-acto blade to clean out the sharp corners. When (many attempts later) the star finally dropped into place , I put gel-style superglue under the shell, and pressed it into place. One has to be gentle with the shell. It will not stand much pushing around before it snaps–it is quite brittle. So one has to simply try and try again until the piece fits as deeply as if needed, with hardly any pressure.

As soon as the superglue gel hardened I added some ebony dust to the very small grooves around the stars where I did not get a perfect fit, then dropped a drip of water-thin superglue into the area, and sanded it flat.

Finished inlay of Gold star on Bass Bow Frog
Finished inlay of Gold star on Bass Bow Frog

It is interesting to see how the different light reflects differently. Those gold stars can just look pale, or they can shine like real gold, in the right light. Here’s sort of an end-view of the frog:

End view of unfinished Bass Bow Frog.
End view of unfinished Bass Bow Frog.

So– that’s the progress report: I will install the second star, make a new tip plate, and complete the frog and button, then I can hair the bow and see what I have got. Here’s the pile as it stands:

A work in Progress.
A work in Progress.

I will post more photos when I get a little further along.

Thanks for looking.

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