Phoenix Bow Rehair

What is the purpose of the tip plate on the bow?

What is the purpose of the tip plate on the bow?

By on May 15, 2017 in All About Bows |

One of the most common “simple” repairs that comes through my shop is a broken tip plate. The tip plate is the part of your bow that covers the wood of the bottom face around the tip mortice, and the very tip of the bow. The material from which this piece is constructed, will typically be: plastic, bone, ivory (elephant on very old bows, fossilized mastodon tusk on the more modern bows, non-precious metals (typically steel), silver, and in very rare situations gold. The tip of the bow is the most delicate part of the entire stick, and therefore must be the most protected, but because of the lack of understanding the purpose of the part, it is also one of the more neglected repairs that I find as well.

For most people, they think of the tip plate as being a decorative part of the stick without any real function, and this could not be further from the truth. As this is the most delicate part of the bow, this part is ABSOLUTELY necessary help ensure that the bow of your bow tip remains protected against incidental damage. The most common way that the tip plate is damaged, is from the bow either being dropped on its tip, or from the bow being knocked off the stand. When this happens, rest assured that your tip plate has done EXACTLY what it was supposed to do, break. This is a completely replaceable part on your bow, and its replacement (when done properly) does not affect the value of your bow in any way. Think of this part like the crumple zone in your car when you get into an accident. This area of your vehicle will break, so as to transfer the energy of the impact to a non-critical zone, so that it is not transferred into the passengers of the vehicle. The tip plate of your bow acts in the same exact way, it breaks, absorbing the energy of the impact, so as to hopefully save the wood of the bow from absorbing the stress, or energy of the impact, and keep the precious, and irreplaceable wood of your bow from breaking.

Obviously, the different materials from which the tip plate are constructed, are going to act differently when impacted, and as a result will have advantages, and disadvantages associated with each. As would be expected, the tip plates constructed from the different metals available, are the most durable, but they offer the least protection from a dropping impact, as they will not break off, and transfer the most energy from the impact into the stick itself. The advantage of the metal tip plate, is that it will offer more protection from a cutting style fall, and from staining. The non-metal constructed tip plates are less durable, but they do offer more protection to the bow from an impact, because of its ability to break. When this break occurs, it is not always necessary to replace the entire tip plate, as it commonly can repaired using a graft of the same material to replace the part that was lost. While this repair will be visible, it will only be seen with a close inspection of the stick. When the entire tip plate is replaced, the change will not be noticeable, but will be far more expensive, and will take more time, but will be save you a lot of money when it keeps your bow tip from being broken. Remember, while wood can be repaired, a little bit of preventative maintenance when the tip plate is damaged, will in the end save you a lot of money!