Stick Selection

This is a photo of one of my stick racks.  In 2007 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species  of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) http://www.cites.org/ listed Pernambuco as a species which would be regulated in regard to it’s international trade.  Basically the listing stipulated that pernambuco in it’s raw form would need proper documentation to cross the borders of any of CITES signatory countries.  Most bow makers took the initiative to document their own stocks of pernambuco at this time.  If properly documented the wood is considered “pre-convention” and could cross international borders with the proper paperwork.  It is possible that CITES could implement a stricter listing.  If this happens the wood in any form including finished bows would require proper paperwork to cross borders.  Can you imagine the logistical problems that a touring symphony orchestra would face if the stricter listing occurs?  Since 2007 when I write certificates for my own bows the stick number from my documentation process is included in the paperwork.  The row numbers in the photo were part of the third party documentation that was done on my stocks.

So now it’s time to get to work on the stick.  The maker just needs to grab one off the rack and get to work right?  Not so fast,  stick selection is perhaps the most critical decision in making a bow.  In the coming posts I will describe some of the qualities that I look for in a stick.

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2 Responses to “Stick Selection”

  1. ron Says:

    Nice stock of pernie! I’m in Canada (Vancouver) and have 8/4 x 8-8 1/4″ x 10′ clear, perfect boards of the stuff. Wide enough for guitar backs. flat sawn, almost perfectly so if you orient the board on the face and rip lengths, you have 1/4 sawn material for bows…is my idea correct?

  2. Robert Morrow Says:

    Ideally, blanks are at least 12 mm thick, cello heads at least 30 mm tall, violin/ viola at least 26 mm tall. Definitely the wood should be quartersawn at the head. If you are thinking of cutting the wood up for sticks please continue to seek advice on how to best utilize the wood. I was trained by Espey to mill sticks very conservatively and it has really paid off in yield. I can’t tell you how many sticks I’ve seen were wasted by poor milling. Call me if you like.

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