In this photo the recesses for the pearl eyes are being created. The tool that is being used is a bow drill or foret. Just below the photo my right hand is operating the bow causing the foret to spin. The drill bit or cutter that is making the recess is one that I made from a piece of round drill stock. Bow makers usually make their own cutters so that they can create the exact dimensions for their own particular eyes.
The pearl eye is now in place and filed to the shape of the flank of the frog. I will outline the process of making pearl eyes in another post when I have the photos. To make the eye you first cut out a piece of shell with a jeweler’s saw roughly to size. The piece is filed square and to the size of the recess. Afterwards, the piece is made first octagonal, then 16 sided, then 32 sided, and finally round. When Charles Espey first taught me this technique I found it very difficult and tedious. I began to make eyes with a lathe. While in France I didn’t have my lathe and noticed that my friend Yannick Le Canu was making them by hand. When in France as the saying goes… I now make all my pearl eyes by hand and enjoy the process. Not only is it a joy but I’m sure that it is faster than using the lathe and less shell is wasted. Working with hand tools really can be faster than machines once you hone your skills.
The channel (coulisse) for the pearl slide (recouvrement) and the heel plate (talon) have been created with files and specialized chisels. You can see photos on my website of this work being done.
The last two photos show the frog with the talon fit and the mortise completely carved. Ultimately the hair hank will fit into the back of the mortise and be secured with a wooden wedge. It would be difficult to describe how to fit the talon. Basically, cut out and bend a piece of silver that is the shape of the coulisse and heel of the frog. It is just something that the maker learns to do. The frog is now ready to have the pearl slide fit and that is where the next post will begin.