Ken Altman

Bow Maker

Finely crafted bows for violin, viola, 'cello and bass.
Ken Altman 2004
bow making - button 3
bow making - button 4
bow making - button 5
bow making - button 6
bow making - button 7
bow making - button 8
bow making - button 8
bow making - button 9
bow making - button 10
bow making - button 11
bow making - button 12
bow making - button 13
bow making - button 14
bow making - button 15
bow making - button 16
bow making - button 18
bow making - button 1
bow making - button 2
Soldering a silver ring for the button.  The button ring begins as a flat piece of metal, silver or gold, that is bent into a short, round tube.  A small snippet of silver solder is placed where the two ends of the metal meet.  When the metal reaches the proper temperature, glowing bright red hot, the solder "flows", joining the two ends.  When this solder joint is filed clean, the joint "disappears".
After the ring is soldered, it is pounded on a tapered mandrel in order to make it perfectly round, and of the proper diameter. (This is actually a ring for a frog eye, but the process is the same.)
A rough piece of ebony held in the jaws of my old Atlas machine lathe.  There's a sharp cutter held in the metal block near the ebony. The cutter is moved in and out, and left and right, by turning the handwheels.
At the bottom of the page are links to pages depicting frog and stick making.
The chuck holding the ebony is spinning, as the cutter is moved into the work. I'm turning the ebony down to the rough diameter of the button. After this step, a small shoulder is turned into the ebony to accept the silver ring.
Checking the fit of the silver ring.
After the proper fit is achieved, the ring is glued into place.
Using the handwheels to control the movement of the cutter, the collar of formed.
The shape of the collar is refined using a small file.
Drilling the hole for the screw into the ebony.
Boring the recess in the button that will engage with the nipple on the end of the stick.
Checking the fit of the nipple in the button. I'll bore the hole in the button gradually larger and larger until the fit is just right.
With this end of the button roughly finished, the button is sawn from the ebony stick.
Driving the screw into the button. The screw and eyelet are the only parts of the bow that I don't make myself.
The screw is then held in the lathe chuck and the shoulder for the second ring is turned.
The second ring is then glued into place.
Boring the hole in the end of the button for the pearl eye.
Filing the turned, round button into an octagon. This is done freehand, stopping occasionally to take measurements.
Here's a roughly finished button. Two small silver pins will be driven and glued into holes drilled through the rings, helping to insure that the rings stay in place. The pins are then filed flush with the rings. A mother of pearl eye will be turned to fit the recess in the end of the button. The whole thing is then sanded with progressively finer grits of sandpaper, and polished to a high shine.