The three main considerations in making top quality bellows should be efficiency, quality of construction, and comfort.
Our bellows are made with a generous capacity which allows for a more relaxed speed of right arm movement. The leather is sealed inside with two coats of olive oil and beeswax. Our bellows are completely airtight. Those of our customers who have been playing them for many years have never had to return them for repair or seasoning, unless they actually damage them.
The boards are made from Dark Elm which has an attractive grain and colour. Top quality leather has been selected for its warm “teak” colour which compliments the colour of the boards, and its non porous properties. It is hand stitched to the boards and the stitching channels are then inlaid with rosewood. Hand stitched bellows naturally take longer to make than ones where the leather is tacked to the sides of the boards. That style is more traditional for Irish pipes whereas hand stitching has been the tradition in the past for Border pipes and Scottish Smallpipes. Not having tacks does cut down on the weight a bit which many consider an advantage. The thick leather hinge is secured with face plates which are plated to match the ferrules on the pipes. Experience has taught us that this design is better than a metal hinge which has no flexibility.
The transfer tube separates from the bellows block for ease of packing and allows different length tubes to be supplied to suit different individual measurements, for example where two members of the same family want to share the pipes. The fittings on both ends of the tube match taper to taper with the fittings on both the bellows and the pipes, these are not hemped and give a firm connection which releases with a simple sideways twist. No maintenance is required!
The main belt is substantial "butt split" leather now in a shade that matches the rest of the bellows. In order to avoid rubbing we use a softer leather for the arm belt. Although in the past we have rarely had any customers complain that our bellows were not comfortable, we do recognise that not every piper is built the same, so we now offer the option of padded bellows. We have restricted the padding to an amount that contributes to comfort, but does not cover the whole side of the bellows and obscure the natural beauty of the wood and the craftsmanship evident in the construction.