© 2018 by Ken Altman

Stick Making

Rough planing the stick.

Measuring the dimensions of a stick with a compas, (prounanced "coom-pah").  This is a traditional tool of the trade, and is very fast and accurate to use.  Each one of the notches is 1/2 millimeter wider than the one preceeding it.

This is a roughly shaped tip with the mastadon ivory and ebony liner just glued on.  The string binding holds the ivory and ebony in place until the glue dries.

A rough tip ready for further shaping after the ivory and ebony have been glued on.

Carving the tip with a knife.

Refining the shape of the tip with a file.

Heating a stick in the flame of an achohol lamp, prior to bending.  A short section of the stick, perhaps five or six inches, is heated at a time.  The stick is heated slowly, allowing the heat to penetrate to the core.  The wood is heated almost to the scorching point.  As the wood gets hot it becomes more flexable.

Bending the stick.  The two chalk lines indicate the area that I've just heated.  As the wood cools, it will hold the curve that was worked into it when it was hot. When this section of the stick is cool, I'll move on down the stick to heat and bend the next section.  The curve, or camber, is judged soley by eye.  The amount and shape of the curve, or camber, will have a profound affect on the playing qualities of the finished bow. The camber will be adjusted again a number of times as the bow nears completion.

Planing the stick to fit the frog.

Checking the fit of the frog to the stick.

Chiseling the mortice in the stick for the adjusting screw.

Forming the nipple on the end of the stick with a "bow drill".  This is done after the hole for the adjusting screw has been bored, using a long drill bit in the bow drill.

This tool is called a bow drill  not because it is used exclusively for working on bows, but because it is driven with a bow.

Brass bow maker's planes, which I made myself.