Long Bow: How To Make
This fall my wife decided I should make a bow. Not just one but one for every one the kindle soul she is.
I have found a few spots whee there are blogs and discussion boards on this. I am hoping to start one here also.
SO here is my basic plan that I was able to find that did not involve complicated machines or dies to cast laminated forms on.
Find a good hard wood(I chose Oak) Sapling about 6 inch dia or slightly moore and cut down using a saw not an axe. The intent of this is to keep the end cut smooth and prevent splitting in the ends as the wood dries.
I found a nice pice that was 8 inch and fell it. Once down I cut in tow 4 pices. One at about 84" one 78" and two about 48". Two adults and two children.
I cut the pieces so as to avoid any major knots being in the length of the future bow.
I have no pics to share till much later in development.
I took them home in the back of my truck where I used a chopping axe to start spitting the tree down the middle trying to stay in a grain.
I started by taping the chopping axe in with a 5lb sludge. Once it was in 4" or so I pulled it out and replaced it with a 5lb splitting maul. using the sledge I drove it down the centre grain of the tree.
I repeated for all the pieces.
Once that was done I took a machete and scraped of the bark being carful not to cut into the grain.
This is a piece of scrape but it shows what the outside looked like when I was done.
I will be linking to Photobucket.com under my own profile to link to images.
will continue tomorrow
This step is called rough tillering. The wood should be about 4" longer then your arm span and 3-4 inches thick at this point.
Use a sharp hatchet , machete, band saw to narrow it to about 1.5 inches wide and 2 " think over the entire length. Remove the wood from the face (the former inside of the tree where is was split). On the width try to save the centre of the tree for the bow but keep in mind it has to be straight when you are done.
You will end up with lots of kindling.
removed wood more wood
I am debating if some of this could be used to make other project I just hate that much waste.(it will like end up in my fireplace).
At this point you need to glue the ends of the wood to prevent splitting. I used Hide glue as it is strong and flexible.
You can also tie plastic over the end to achieve the same result.
plastic on end hide glue on end
Next tie the end to a bed rail 2X4 or some solid straight object and leave to cure. This would be at least 4 weeks the dryer the better from what I have been about to read.
Take two blocks (sorry I do not know how big they should be) I used one about 1.5-2 inch wide and place them near the ends. Then tie the middle. There is lots of tension here be careful not to splinter the wood or crack it! A crack bow is just a hazard waiting to explode in your face.
Once in place I kept tightening the clamps as the wood dried.
wood on rail 1 wood on rail 2
I made the mistake of letting the wood sit for 3 weeks after splitting and not being tied to the rail. As a result you can see I was unable to pull the centre of the bow back to the rail to give it more of a recurve shape. That is the reason for the block to to set the bow in a slight recurve to give a better thrust at the end of the release. It give the arrow a higher velocity I am told.
Next is the finial tillering(will continue that soon)
Edited: krakyn on 2nd Feb, 2007 - 9:35pm
If any one has experience in bow making any advice would be appreciated. I am currently looking at bow string materials and how to make the string.
I recently read about two methods were to back the bow once it was finial tilled.
One person used dry wall tape glued in place with carpenters glue. The person claimed it was to prevent any possible cracking or splitting of the wood. I think there is merit to this as it would hold the fibres in place especially where one shaves from one tree ring into the next.
The second method that I might try is backing with sinew and animal hide glue. The sinew(deer leg tendons) gives more recoil to the bow. The animal hide glue is strong but flexible when dry an completely Sand able, at least I have been told it is Sand able. The down side is the hide glue is susceptible to water and is very dark.
I found the sinew at the local native reservation not as expensive as I thought it would be.
I am going to stain the bow to help seal the wood or perhaps use oil instead. I would appreciate some thought as to which might be better for the wood to protect from water damage while not changing its characteristics.
Edited: krakyn on 5th Feb, 2007 - 4:25pm
I must say that I am quite impressed with both the time you have taken to create this archaic weapon, but also the detail you have paid to telling us about it. From the looks of your garage it certainly looks like you have no lack of tools to get the job done, but I was wondering what will be the final length of that bow?
You asked for extra tips, I do not know of any, but here is some good followup:
2. How to Make A Bow - this guy is giving instructions from experience
Link #3 starts with telling you which tree to select! I hope these helps. When you actually finish I will put the final product as a picture description for this Thread.
As I mentioned the rough bows right now are 84" one 78" and two at 48". The final product should be close to the same. The only reason it would shorten would be if the draw lbs are too low and I have to shorten the length to increase it(2" less gives 5lbs more). I expect the longer ones to be in the 40 to 60 lbs range for the longest ones the shorter ones I hope to hit 20 to 30 lbs tops. If less I am ok with that as they will be used for targets only.
I believe if you take your arms length add two inches the bow if a hardwood should work out all on its own to the right draw and a suffiecent draw weight for the user. I guess midgets being the exception. In wich case one would just make it wider.
A cools site is this one also Hunting Society. I have found so far bits in each site there is a whole lot more to this than fist meets the eye!
But I tend to jump both feet then bail myself out as I go. My cost for doing this so far is nothing.
One item I have noted is grain density some sites say the higher the density the better other say the opposite. I think the more dense makes sense as the wood is stronger.
The wood I have is fairly dense so I have hopes. just hope it ends up straight!
I might back the handle as your number two suggests. I might also cut the handle to make it more centre shooting then a traditional bow in which case the handle backing would be essential.
Krakyn, how is this project coming along? I think is fascinating that you are creating this and I really look forward to know how far you reached and when we will be able to see the finished product! :)
I will start the final cut when the snow goes. I Need the wood warm to finish thinning the ends and to start training the wood to bend. So I am hoping in April. I need to build a stand (just a few 2x4's to hold the bow with notches to hold the string as I do the finial shaping). When I start the next stage I will post pics.
Spring is hear and so I continue my journey on the bow. After a long storage in the garage then basement during the winter I hauled out one wood piece.
Here is how it was stored with clamps on to encourage a slight back ward bend.
I unclamped the stock and braced on porch rail and used a axle shaver(two handed plane?) to square the sides more and level the back of the wood. Next I will draw the final product on the stock and shave down to the lines trying to keep equal portions through out both ends.
My Webpageslight bowing
squared stock ready now for final tilling
Before I started this last step my son and I did a quick experiment on a piece of scrap.
toy bow from scrap
Note the shattered spine the bow. It drew about 15 lbs easy on a 18"shaft....my son really pulled and the spine broke. I have repaired it using the hide glue and wrapped the end in thread. It still seem to work well for his fun target shooting. I will be making him a better one but he just could not wait any longer.
Will post more as I get it done.