What do you use to the get the ferrule off a bow?
I've been using pliers with cloth folded twice lain overtop, but it can still damage the ferrule if I'm not careful.
Also, do any of you luthiers make your own unique bridge designs? Most instruments (including old ones) come stock with bridges that's basically just a blank cut to the right height and width. Makers and repairmen seldom seem to touch the eyes and heart, or make any sort of special aesthetic.
Re: bridge tuning: depends how much one is willing to pay. If you're looking for a $50 bridge setup don't expect anything other than blank's feet crudely fitted to the top plate. If you are looking for fine tuning of the bridge, count 2 maybe 3 hrs of work @ $70/hr.
I don't personally know any good makers or repair people who do not touch the heart or kidneys, and "unique" bridge designs are the domain of the amateur. A bridge blank is just that, a blank, nothing near a finished bridge. Although there is quite a bit of room for personal expression in the styling of a bridge, most have their own ideas about what to remove and what to leave alone, and not every instrument gets the same treatment.
So, typically, you gouge out the wedge before pulling the ferrule off? I'll try that next time, if I have a tool that fits.
Cotton, just out of curiosity - how many luthiers do you know, and do you know about their training? As in any other profession there is a pretty wide range.
I pull the majority or all of the hair out first, then the ferrule comes off pretty easily unless someone glued it on. If I absolutely have to, I'll use swedging pliers like for brass instruments with folded over leather. I don't have to gouge out the wedge once again unless someone glued the ferrule on, then I just carefully get in there with my rehair knife to loosen it up. A good bow maker, just like good musician, utilizes economy of motion and doesn't do anything unless we absolutely have to. When doing hundreds of rehairs, extra steps add on a lot of time.
No one mentionned, but perhaps you would be better served to ask such questions on maestronet, which is where many luthiers hang out.
"As for bridges, I mean to say most luthiers I know shave it for thickness and cut the feet to match the top. It's basically a fitted blank, if you know what I mean. Little other material is removed."
Apart from thinning a blank out and shaping the feet to fit, there is a process of removing and shaping almost everything on a blank to accommodate the requirements of every instrument. One though has to be prepared to pay by the hour and also choose a luthier who knows what they are doing. In this kind of situation, you have to begin with a great blank which will also cost more than a standard one. In my opinion, if one does all these things and the bridge does not come out to their entire satisfaction, the luthier should make another one at no extra cost.
Kypros is correct, and I do sometimes cut more than one bridge in an attempt to optimize a violin.