Inside information

00 Chamfer by Knife, Dominic Wilson

Very often neglected, the chamfers of a bow head can give intimate clues as to a maker’s working style and personal characteristics. Anton Lu and Dai-Ting Chung compare and contrast bows from the Baroque era to the present day

The purpose of a chamfer in bow making is to protect sharp edges from chipping off. Then, as now, these chamfers would be executed in the final stages of carving. These small details of a bow head have been largely neglected – unlike, say, the graduation or the camber, they have no bearing on the bow’s playability, and string players are perhaps unaware of their function. Nevertheless, the chamfers have a crucial role in identifying the bow maker and expressing their style, as well as showing the dexterity of their hands.

There are three basic tools used to finish the chamfers: knife, file, and sandpaper. Each method leaves its own marks on the bow. By way of introduction, here are the characteristics one can look out for when assessing a bow chamfer…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.