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…