How to clean whalebone lapping

Edited: April 24, 2020, 4:06 PM · Can anybody suggest to me the best way to clean whalebone? The lapping on my bow has a lot of dirt and grit in between the ridges.

Also a side question, why is the lapping 2 different colors? Is it simply dyed that way?

Replies (12)

April 24, 2020, 12:09 PM · The two different colors must have come from different whales.
April 24, 2020, 12:10 PM · A clean toothbrush will loosen dirt. A dry cloth will do the rest. No solvents are needed.
April 24, 2020, 3:19 PM · Is your lapping real "whalebone" (baleen), which hasn't been used for many years, or is it synthetic (plastic)?
April 24, 2020, 4:06 PM · It is real and hasn't been used for many years.
April 24, 2020, 4:30 PM · By "hasn't been used for many years" I meant that makers and repairers haven't used it, because it's banned from commercial trade to protect the whales.
Edited: April 24, 2020, 4:50 PM · It is a very old bow, about 200 years old. For how long has whalebone been banned from commercial trade?
Edited: April 24, 2020, 7:21 PM · Not that long. Moby Dick was written in 1851.
April 25, 2020, 1:11 PM · Must be a Japanese bow. ( I can say that, I’m Nisei and 1/4 Norwegian.)
April 25, 2020, 2:28 PM · Interesting commments in this thread... I will try the toothbrush, thanks Dimitri.
April 25, 2020, 5:43 PM · Here is an article I did with samples of the various kinds of lappings:

Real whalebone is absolutely gorgeous and can be cleaned with a stiff bristle brush. It can be occasionally be cleaned with q-tips and very small amount of alcohol if needed. A very light rub with mineral oil will help bring out the beauty and preserve it even longer.

April 26, 2020, 6:02 AM · Thanks for that Anthony. I notice that my bow has no thumb leather at all unlike the bow in the picture on your website which has a thumb leather presumably over the lapping. Would you say this is necessary? Is my thumb in danger of wearing out the whalebone or somewhat displacing it from the stick over time?
April 26, 2020, 8:30 AM · Whalebone is fairly durable. Some players don't like the texture. If it doesn't bother you and doesn't show any signs of coming loose, I would say it isn't necessary. But in general a thin thumb leather is typically used and looks and feels real nice.

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