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Rufledt Dork
6/6/13 8:14 a.m.
JoeyM wrote:
Rufledt wrote: At least this place knew enough to keep it unstrung.

glad to see an update. I was thinking about this thread - and this very topic - just the other day. I made the mistake of watching Immortals on netflix. Part of the film involves a quest for a bow. When it is found, it has been stored, strung, for many years.

I just sighed and shook my head.

Yeah storing it strung is the best way to turn a bow into a wall hanger. Even worse, you'll see it at many, MANY museums. I hope the bows on display are replicas or fakes, not actual artifacts. There's a museum in California somewhere with the bows made by Ishi, the so-called last isolated native american. It's a fascinating story, but the point is, he made a crapload of bows. The museum has since left many strung, shoved them in a barrel, and attempted to shoot some of them. Ishi's technique had a very short draw. If I were to take any of them, even without the ages of decay, and shoot them, they would surely explode. A bow is made for a specific purpose. Try making it do something else, like overdrawing it 5", and you'd have a problem.

There is some thought that certain bows are more resistant to being stored strung. For example, deflex tipped bows are basically already in that shape, so leaving them strung is not a problem. They don't have much power, though. Some also think those cool double bows are somewhat resistant to it as well, though I can't confirm that. I can say that the one I made took massive compression damage without excessive set, which is kinda cool. Also, many think that horn bellied bows are more resistant to strung damage. Can't confirm this either, since I don't have a horn bellied bow, and if I did, I wouldn't risk it for the sake of a test.

I imagine it's like anything else in movies. The movie maker doesn't know/care, and neither does the audience. I would guess if the fabled bow they searched for wasn't strung and it just looked like a stick, it might screw with some of the dramatic effect. Also I'm not sure I'd want to shoot a bow that had been stored for many years. They don't last forever. Again, people think horn bows have a bit more life than wood ones.

Rufledt Dork
6/18/13 12:10 p.m.

Anyone making these as a summer project?

7/20/13 1:19 p.m.

In reply to Rufledt:

YES! I have been reading and trying to catch up on the post. I will be selecting some wood this weekend. Hope this remains an active post.

Rufledt Dork
7/22/13 5:10 p.m.

UncleBeef- Welcome! I just 2 hours ago got internet at my new place, so I'll be regularly on GRM again.

Since my last post I have done precisely no bow work at all, though it will come soon. I'm thinking of making a much better tillering board/tillering wall kind of set up now that I finally own a place and won't be angering a land lord if I drill anything into the garage wall.

Rufledt Dork
9/22/13 10:39 p.m.

Aaaaaaaand we're back.

Updates to come: indoor archery in your home! A 'road test' of a new target I got! A look at some of my new (old) archery toys! Judging my past self- comparing an old bow I made to new ones and what I learned! Grow your own materials the true grassroots way (this does not involve planting trees and waiting 30 years before cutting them and splitting them the way I described earlier, I promise)! Maybe flint knapping your own points? (only if I can learn how to do it) Other ways to make strings! Actually working on the bow projects I started before and never completed! Also a short bow (which I PROMISE not to start before I complete at least all but maybe one of my current bow projects) because I want something to shoot in my basement that isn't store bought. Quick and dirty bows for kids/fun! And more! Like Atlatls, I don't think I've done a how-to on those yet, and those are fairly simple...

Any updates from the people who were going to make some of these?

tuna55 PowerDork
9/23/13 4:54 a.m.
Rufledt wrote: Quick and dirty bows for kids/fun!

Looking forward to this one!

bgkast HalfDork
9/23/13 11:17 a.m.

Also looking forward to the quick kid bow post, my 5 year-old is starting to get interested.

I still haven't found the time to start making one.

tuna55 PowerDork
9/23/13 12:41 p.m.
bgkast wrote: Also looking forward to the quick kid bow post, my 5 year-old is starting to get interested. I still haven't found the time to start making one.

Exactly this right down to the kids age. I am 50/50 on a BB gun or a bow.

Rufledt Dork
9/23/13 5:13 p.m.

Looks like I know which one to start with!

I'll start with some considerations when making a quick bow for kids, and then get to the actual photo build thing once I find where I packed my berkleying camera card reader....

So, there are a few ways to make a bow for kids. Here are the pros and cons of them:

1 go through the whole process of making a bow in 2/3 scale. Pros- the bow will be wonderfully made, shoot quickly and efficiently, it will be beautiful. Cons- It's a TON of work, and making bows smaller is much more difficult. Remember how tillering is far more difficult at the end of the process, where the margin of error shrinks to almost nothing? Well, imagine hitting that level half way through, and then the margin of error shrinks even more. yeah, not nice. Then, after all of this work, the kid will outgrow it. If they (or their friend's) try to pull it back farther, BANG!!!

2- Make a bow an adult can shoot, something like a 25# @28" long bow. Pros- Same as above, plus you can shoot it. It might be on the light side, but it can work. The kid at their 18" draw length won't have to pull such a high weight. As they grow, they get stronger and their arms lengthen. BAM higher draw length and weight with the same bow. Perfect. Cons- Ever seen a kid holding a 6' long bow? It looks funny. It won't shoot as fast as the purpose built small bow, but i'm sure the kid wouldn't notice a few fps.

Making #1 and #2 have already been explained. #2 is what I did, #1 is just #2 but smaller. Reduce 2 inches of total length for each inch of reduced draw length. or whatever, make it about the height of the kid for a longbow. Recurves can be shorter.

There are also things to consider when kids mix with archery. Kids can wreak havoc on equipment. I know I did. Kids might knick the back of the bow and not even realize it. Kids might leave it strung for extended periods of time. Kids might throw it out of a tree house into wet grass. Kids can wreck stuff in creative ways. They better not do that to something you spent HOURS making. Kids also can have some iffy judgement. Where my parents lived a young boy was shooting at squirrels (VERY bad idea in a neighborhood), missed, and hit a little girl 2 houses away in the back. She's fine now, but that wouldn't have been so if she didn't have her back turned. Kids (and generally new archers) miss a lot. A powerful bow can break arrows that hit hard things, or vanish arrows in the grass. Kids also grow. Quickly. I'm sure you parents out there know how many shoes kids go through with their incessantly enlarging feet. Thats why...

3 is a quick and dirty cheap bow. Potentially cheaper than the oak board bow, and FAR less time consuming to make, there are a number of things you can essentially string and fire. A branch, a cane, a bunch of arrows, pvc pipe, etc... There are even ways to tiller some of them.

Here's a google example:

Branch cut (use fresh branches, not brittle ones that fell off), little branches cut off, strung, and shot. This bow has a round cross section, will probably suffer huge set over time, shoot sluggishly compared to better bows, have more hand shock, etc... One could 'tiller' by reducing wood from the belly/sides to narrow the tips. If you wait for it to dry, it would be better, too. There's a bow for the cost of the string alone. The bark is like natural camo. if you left the little branchlets and leaves on, you'd have more, but the leaves would make noise, eventually dry out, and fall off.

More to come after I visit home depot and get a new card reader from best buy...

I'm going to use pvc to show you 3 different designs that will work with multiple different cheap/free materials. They will all be simple, cheap, and indestructible.

Tuna- I'd say bow, but I'm biased. Do you have any neighbors? Some get twitchy when kids run around with a rifle looking thing, bows are less problematic with neighbors. Plus they're quieter.

and for the love of your hands, don't use crap arrows like in that picture. Always use good, matched arrows. Always.

Rufledt Dork
9/23/13 6:13 p.m.

And now for something different, a product introduction! This totally-did-not-pay-me-to-advertise-but-i'd-gladly-accept-some-free-targets-for-compensation product is the Rinehart 18 in 1:

18 target faces, specialty foam, broadhead compatible, carrying handle, and a 1 year warranty. If you can shoot out all 18 faces in a year, they're give you a new one. I have never head of anyone -ever- shooting out even 1 face using target/field points. broadheads, yes, but not field points (that guy tested their replacement policy and got a free replacement hassle free, just as they say). They make all kinds of targets, but this one was available at the local Dick's, somewhat portable, and not as pricey as their bigger targets. Plus, the bigger one has deer vitals, and I don't hunt so I don't care about that. That bigger one also has a replacable center, fyi.

In the past I've used bags:

Paper targets on hay, cardboard boxes full of phone books, everything. This foam target is the best one I've ever used. Most of the time, I remove the arrow, and the hole just disappears. gone. Bag targets wear out. When that happens, the arrow will hit, stop, and then droop a bit. This increases the risk of hitting it with another arrow, which will kill it. cheap foam targets do the same. Same with hay targets (and you'll be replacing the paper a lot). Horizontally stacked phone books in a box is pretty good, but the front of the box wear out. Rinehart targets won't. The down side is the price, this was just over $100. If you really get into shooting, buy one. If you buy a cheap one, you'll go back and buy another, and another, and another. Eventually, you'll be out a lot of money, and have a lot of crappy, worn out targets.

The cons of this target are simple. It ain't cheap, and the center of the target doesn't have a small dot to aim at. Just use a white marker and make one. They always say "aim small, miss small." That basically means if you're aiming at the large target face, you'll probably hit it, somewhere.. Maybe the middle, maybe the top, maybe the left, somewhere, or you'll miss. If you aim at the exact center, you have a better chance of hitting exactly the center. If you miss, you'll miss less. If you miss the whole target, you get 0 points. if you miss the bullseye, you'll still get 8 or 9 points.

This target is now sitting on top of a stack of crap I don't mind getting shot in my basement, and you'll be seeing a lot of it in the following posts when I test stuff.

JoeyM Mod Squad
9/23/13 6:40 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: Maybe flint knapping your own points?

Oh, I'm interested in flint knapping. That would go nicely with the just-cut-a-tree-limb method of bow construction you had there.

Rufledt Dork
9/23/13 7:10 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: I'm going to use pvc to show you 3 different designs that will work with multiple different cheap/free materials. They will all be simple, cheap, and indestructible.

Forget that, I lied. I'm going to START with 3 different designs out of PVC, but since there seems to be a lot of interest (and because my wife is pregnant which is getting me more interested) i'm going to try a few other designs, too, mostly out of easy to find/cheap home depot materials. keep in mind some of these won't be as pretty, but where possible I will try to show how to make them better looking (to you or to kids) using other methods/materials. Maybe after all of this i'll end up with half a dozen kids bows, and a kid that doesn't care about archery... That would be a disappointment, kinda like the guy's kid that doesn't like cars, or bacon. What are they teaching in schools anymore?!

I can't flint knap. yet. I have the literature and a few professors who can actually do it, so that's more of a long term kind of thing. Also, there's a grassroots way to do it. Spoiler alert- use discarded toilet tanks for their porcelain. It's called 'johnstone' by the people who flintknap.

Rufledt Dork
9/27/13 2:44 p.m.

Update! Today I went and got two 1/2" x 10' PCV pipes and a larger one, I think 1" by 10'? I also got a new card reader. Expect things soon!

tuna55 PowerDork
9/27/13 5:23 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: my wife is pregnant

Whoa whoa whoa - congratulations!

Rufledt Dork
9/28/13 5:27 p.m.

Thanks! We're pretty excited, and it's gonna be a while until he/she is big enough to hold a bow, much less shoot it, so i've decided to create the first quick and easy kid's bow in my size.

Step one, go buy two 1/2" x 10' pvc pipes.

Step two, get a saw, tape measure, and packaging tape:

Now, take one of the pipes, and cut it to roughly the height of the indended shooter. In my case, I rounded up to 6'. Then, the offcut should be cut to 2/3 the length of the first piece. you'll need to do math here. I didn't, since 2/3 of 6' is 4', which is the length of the offcut. Perfect. now, cut one peice off the of the second pipe that is 1/3 the length of the first pipe. In my case, that's 2'. you'll see all 3 pieces (and the remaining 8' piece) in this picture:

I set the 8' piece aside, maybe i'll use it later, I haven't decided yet. Now, take the 6' piece and figure out a way to cut string nocks. I did this first:

Basically, I sawed a line around the pipe (but not through, obviously) and used a chisel to get the other shape. I cut it straight around, you probably would want to cut it at the string angle. I made a mistake by not doing that. Whatever. I also screwed one of them up so the string wouldn't stay on, so I just put a screw through it. I have a plan for a better string nock on the next one, you'll see it sooner or later.

Then, I strung the 6' pipe:

When I put it on the tiller stick, it was about 10# @ 28". Not exactly a super bow, and the bow bends a lot in the center, like an untillered board. That's where the other pipes come in. Mark the center of the 3 pipes. Now, line up the 6' and 4' pipes, and wrap tape around the ends of the 4' board to attach it to the other. Now, do the same for the 2' pipe. Then, wrap some tape around the middle. Like so:

Now, string it:

Here's full draw:

Now it's 20lb @ 28", much better. Around 15# @ 25", 12# @ 20". It's even powerful enough to put an arrow into my dense foam target:

But not very far... This bow is very quick to make, very ugly, and riddled with efficiency problems.

Pros- I couldn't break it. I even dry fired it a bunch. I made it in like 10 minutes. It even works.

Cons- It's butt ugly. All PVC bows are in my opinion. Also, PVC is not a great bow material. It's heavy, not very elastic, etc. Also, the pipes rub up against each other when drawn and fired, resulting in friction which slows cast.

Like I said, this model can be scaled, make it shorter for smaller people, just make sure the longest piece is the height of the shooter, and the others are 2/3 and 1/3 the same length. Easy.

I said I would try to suggest ways to make these bows a little less hideous, and there are a number of ways to do that. For starters, don't use PVC and packaging tape. Some kids like the color options of duct/electrical/packaging tape and spray paint, so that's a possibility, but there's a way to make it look less ghetto.

Instead of using PVC, use bamboo poles. Sufficiently dried, bamboo will resist bending more than PVC (meaning higher draw weight) and it weighs less, so more power with less weight. There's a key difference, though- Bamboo is not a straight pole. it starts wider at the base and narrows as it goes up, so one end of the pole will be, say, 1/2", while the other end will be 3/8". There are a couple ways around this, and one is to alternate thick sides from pole to pole. One pole, put the thicker side on the bottom, for the next, put it on the top. It's not perfect, especially with only 3 poles, but it should work.

Instead of tape, you can try wrapping it with string. I would suggest artificial sinew spun into a reverse twist string. Wrap it around the end of the poles (where the tape goes), and super glue it in place. It'll look much more natural than PVC pipe and tape, and it'll shoot faster. More to come!

edit: Bamboo poles are often available at garden supply type stores. I would guess you should go for 1/2"-3/4" thick poles, but what do I know, I've never tried it. If you err on the side of too small, you'll just need to wrap additional poles together to get the draw weight up. Too thick and you can risk the stuff breaking, but in reality, bamboo has insane tensile strength.

Rufledt Dork
9/28/13 11:21 p.m.

I'd like to draw your attention to the above shot of my new target. Notice how there aren't really any holes in it? Most of the 'holes' in the green part were there when I got it, and they appear to be the result of the foam forming process. The 2 black x's under the arrow are actual arrow hits, and aside from the wearing of the paint, they appear flat and smooth to the touch. There are a couple of cracked spots in the center of the target, but again, fairly flat to the touch. This picture is after maybe a hundred or so shots into the target face, mostly into the black parts. Like I said, this target is like money in the bank. It'll save me lots of money on more targets in the future. Plus, if I wear out this target face, the target has 17 more faces on it.

Next up- yumi style pvc bow, even less steps than the above bow!

Also, on the non-quick and ugly bows topic: grow your own bow making materials. What species to use, how/where to plant, how to harvest, and so on. More about gardening than you ever thought should go in a bow-making post! Also, a side by side comparison on longbows to show what mistakes I made early on, so you don't have to!

Rufledt Dork
10/3/13 12:01 a.m.

Ok guys, today's post is a bit difference, since I've been too busy with school and GTA 5 (which, oddly, was discussed at length in my digital anthropology class yesterday) to do more bow work. Today i'm going to talk to you about grassroots ways to grow your own materials, either for the bow or strings or arrows.

There are some things you probably can't grow/gather yourself if you just have a house in a neighborhood like me. First off, feathers. Turkey farmers can (and do) grow feathers suitable for fletching, but I can't. Same goes for arrow point materials. Some of you might try to cut some out of scrap metal, but chances are they won't be legal for hunting and won't work for target shooting. Well, they might work, but your target won't appreciate it. Flint can be gathered, but I can't help you there. Wood for bows can be grown, but it takes so long I'd rather just acquire wood some other way.

What you can grow in a normal garden (with permission of SWMBO) still gives you a great variety of options. First off, flax. Flax is a flower that is an annual, it is easy to grow/maintain, and it comes in blue or red. It's very easy to justify a flower garden. What SWMBO may not know (or care about) is flax, when properly spun can support nearly 200lbs with a 1/8" string. It's fantastic stuff. plus, it's not bad lookin:

It can grow pretty much anywhere in the USA, and it likes full sun. It is, however, an annual, so you'll have to constantly replant. Also, it grows and flowers fairly quickly, so if you stagger planting some every couple months, you can constantly harvest /have flowers from mid summer to autumn.

Many plants can be spun into string, some of which are ornamental, but flax is among the best. Hemp can be better (the fibers are much longer) but growing that in your yard can cause other issues, like legal troubles or loitering stoners. You probably shouldn't grow that. Some can be gathered, like nettles or milkweed. For a more extensive explanation of strings, look at the bowyers bible book 2. It's quite extensive.

A more useful ornamental plant is bamboo. Unlike flax, bamboo is a HUGE group of plants, like over 1,000 kinds, and most of them are useless in bow making. Most of them aren't the huge forest kinds, either, but we'll start there.

Usually when you buy a bamboo backing strip for a bow, it's from a huge species, like moso (phyllostachys edulis) or japanese timber bamboo (phyllostachys bambusoides). Both of these can get really big and are very strong. Here's a pic:

That's moso. The large diameter poles (called culms) can be cut into 2" wide strips, then the inner wall is planed flat. Then it's glued on. do NOT shave down the node bumps, that cuts the fibers and creates a weak point. Growing this plant to bow backing size usually means you have to live in the south east.

Remember how I said instead of PVC you can use bamboo poles? Well there are species a plenty for that use, depending on where you live. Most species of the Phyllostachys genus can be useful, like aureosulcata, or bisetti, or nigra. They come in multiple colors, climate preferences, and so on. Here are some pics:

There's plenty of variation, but remember, the colors will fade slightly after cutting.

When it comes to arrows, you have a couple options. Well, you have many options, but I'll give you 2. One is Arundinaria Gigantea, also known as river cane. This species is native to North America, and it will grow in most parts of the country. Your other option is pseudosasa japonica, also known as yadake or japanese arrow bamboo. That's not a coincidence. It's about arrow sized, it grows very straight, and the nodes (the bumps along the cane) don't really stick out. Japanese arrow bamboo has other uses, it can grow well indoors, grows well in pots, and it makes a great hedge. For this reason, it's very common in the USA. I have one in a big pot and it seems like an extremely easy plant to grow. Here's a pic of one used as a hedge:

Notice the guy's lawn is dead, but the bamboo is fine? Yeah, it's quite easy to keep looking nice. Here you can see the arrow sized canes:

Bamboo is a bit weird in how it grows. A shoot will come through the ground at the maximum diameter the cane will ever be. In a couple months, it reaches maximum height, and leafs out. It never grows again. The plant grows by sending up more/bigger shoots the following years. This means when a shoot comes out at the right diameter for your intended use (either for bows or arrows) you don't have to worry about it changing size later. Wait until it's 2-4 years old before you cut it. By then the plant will have sent up new shoots, and it won't miss the old canes. No problem.

If you want to know more, check out bamboogarden.com. They have tons of info about what climate which plants like, how to grow them, and how to control them. The control thing is important, because these plants spread. Well, some of them spread. It's all explained on the site. There are other sites out there, but beware of a crazy woman on a crazy vendetta against her asian neighbors who had a very aggressive bamboo in their yard that they didn't properly contain. She's making crap up left and right about these plants poisoning the earth and spreading for miles, eating small dogs and children etc... I've personally never had a problem, and I have a couple of the most agressive spreading ones out there, but I don't let them grow un-monitored.

Also keep in mind what climate you live in. I'm in upstate new york, and I can grow bow/arrow capable plants here. In the desert, maybe not. Likewise in Montana or other ultra cold places.

What do you do when the plant gets too big for arrows? Easy. When the shoots come out of the ground, if they are too big, just break them off. It will be replaced by smaller ones. You can have a whole hedge of arrow diameter canes. These will start with 3/8"-1/2" diameter at the base, and narrow slowly as they go up. A section in the middle will be arrow sized.

This post may be like telling a cook about farming, but I just thought someone might be interested.

Rufledt Dork
10/19/13 11:54 p.m.

Ok guys, another somewhat filler post, but this time it's about bows. Right now is around mid-term essay time, and I'll tell ya, if you think college mid terms killed time, try going to graduate school. The one I handed in last week was only 5 pages (limited by the prompt) and it took 20+ hours, and I still think it sucked. and of course, they don't reduce coursework during the week they give you to write it. It's fine, I don't need to sleep. /endrant

Anyhoo, this post is about comparing my early attempts at bow making with a more recent "the more you know" version. Full disclosure, I don't have a chronograph, I haven't back to back shot these in any scientific comparative sense, but just use what I've posted before and you'll understand what's going on.

Remember this one:

I'm comparing that to the one piece oak bow from earlier in this thread.

Here's a shot of the 2 next to each other.

Sorry for all of the crap on the floor, it's the least crappy filled place in my basement (future mancave?) since I have yet to unpack everything after the move a couple months ago. You should notice a couple things. Both bows have similar dimensions. Both are from 1x2x6' boards from Home Depot, one is maple, one is oak. The center 2' of the board is left the full 1.5" wide, then straight tapers cut to the tips. The last 6" or so of the tips remained stiff and were narrowed later. Both bows bend in the handle slightly. The tiller looks similar at full draw, though the maple one has gotten slightly off balance through the years. Also, I was a noob when I made it, so it probably wasn't perfectly spot on when new.

You'll also notice the oak bow (the one I just made a page or 2 ago) is still unfinished looking, and still has the paper tower handle I used while shooting it in. Yeah, I haven't had time to finish it, but functionally it is complete. Both bows are roughly the same draw weight, have similar amounts of set, and so on.

Here's a tip width comparison:

Now the side view:

Wow. It's like half the width with the same thickness! To make something stiffer, you can make it wider, or thicker. The maple tips are far wider, but just as thick. Obviously there is some extra wood there. Does anyone remember how I did the tips on the oak one? Did I tell you? I may not have. The last 6" of the oak bow's tips were narrowed to around 3/16". Then I Eiffel tower'ed the tips. Take a look at the Eiffel tower:

Notice how the sides aren't straight up to the top, like, say, the pyramids. They curve inwards. The maple bow's tips ended up about 3/8" wide, double the oak bow's, and I straight tapered them. Remember, the last 6" don't bend. So, the wood 5" from the tip isn't bending at all. Why would it need to be almost as wide as the wood 7" from the tip? It doesn't. If you leave it a little thicker to the point that it doesn't bend, it doesn't have to be so wide. Here's a shot of the whole tips:

Holy extra tip-weight batman! To understand where the extra weight is (and why it's worthless) here's the other side of the maple bow tips:

I gave the string loop a ramp, exactly where it doesn't need one. The string barely touches that at brace height, and it certainly doesn't touch it at full draw. It's useless wood. The pin part of the tip where the string loop actually pulls is far narrower, and it hasn't broken. Clearly, all that extra wood isn't necessary. However, remember how the oak bow's tip overlay broke off, requiring the wrap method? This maple bow didn't. There are a couple reasons for that. One is all that extra width which provides more gluing surface. Secondly, maple is a great gluing wood. It's diffuse porous, not ring porous like oak. The one tip overlay on the oak bow was glued on a thin strip of porous spring growth wood. Also, the string pushed against the side of the glued overlay while pulling down on the limb wood. I then had to remake it such that the string groove was cut into the overlay. The string never touches the limb wood. That's how the maple bow tips were glued:

You can see thanks to my crappy glue joint preparation and sloppy finishing job. The string pushes down the glued on overlay, not directly on the bow limb. This is somewhere I shouldn't have changed for the sake of laziness/carelessness.

Now check this out:

That's light reflecting off of some dents in the bow's back! Somehow it never broke. It's even close to the edge, where stress can be focused. You can also see here (and elsewhere in the close up shots) how horrible of a finishing job I did. This stuff is called tru-oil, it's a gunstock finish. It's not really an oil, more of a varnish. When used properly, it's amazingly beautiful. I didn't use it properly. You should just spend a lot of time with surface prep (sanding), dust removal, apply in thin coats, use steel wool between coats, and so on. It'll look great. Don't sloppy sand and just slather 2 thick coats on like me, leaving it outside to dry in the dusty breeze. I can't compare this to other bows i've made, since I didn't use this stuff after this bow. Maybe I'll try it on this unfinished oak bow since I want to try something new once in a while. Plus I have some tru-oil left. I found it when I moved.

When I made that maple bow, I didn't know how to make strings. I used a store purchased one from 3rivers. It was overbuild (invincible) and not exactly the right length. The string had a non-adjustable loop on both ends. The only way to adjust is through twisting and untwisting. 3rivers only makes strings in 1" increments. They suggest a string 3" shorter than the nock to nock measurements on a longbow, but I'm not that exacting, so if my nock to nock measurement is 71 1/4", I can only get a string 1/4" too short, or 3/4" too long. I went with slightly too short, and got this kind of brace:

It doens't look too high, but remember, this is a full 6' longbow. The brace is around 7" or so, maybe higher. The higher brace makes the bow feel stiffer, but gives it a shorter power stroke, with barely more peak power, all while making the bow more likely to break at full draw. Bad news.

I knew that the brace was too high when I made it, so I tried untwisting the string slightly to give it a lower brace, but then this happened:

The loops, when not wrapped, are held together purely by the twist and wax. If you untwist it too far, there is nothing holding it together, and it starts to unwind. I wrap something for a serving around all of my strings to prevent this, but I also make one end adjustable so I don't have to untwist them. My strings are twisted a bit too far (more twist means more stretch means less efficiency) but I can live with that.

When I shoot these bows, the maple bow has more hand shock. Obviously. It also physically weighs more, noticeably so, than the oak one. Remember how different bow woods have different densities? The densities don't mean they should weigh more or less, it means the wood can be narrower or wider accordingly. In a perfect world, a 10% denser wood would make a bow 10% narrower with the same design. The finished procude would have the same draw weight, and the same set. It would also weigh exactly the same. There's a chapter in one of the bowyers bible books about 'tuning' the width of a bow by the weight. The maple bow's extra weight is likely in those massive tips.

I remember shooting the maple bow in a field and feeling like the cast was only mediocre, where the oak bow is probably the fastest bow I've made in this weight range. Obviously, the MUCH more powerful walnut/hickory bow I made earlier in this thread shoots much faster, also possibly the purpleheart/hickory bow that is only pictured on page one of the thread. That bow was also much more powerful, but without the glued in reflex of the walnut one. I don't have that bow here to compare anymore, though.

I should make it clear, these bows are extremely similar, but I had separate goals when making them. With the maple bow, I wanted a bow that wouldn't blow up, and was around 40-50#. It's overbuilt, but it hasn't blown. It's also just over 40# if I remember right. Mission accomplished. If it was a class, I would've gotten a gold star. With the oak bow, I wanted the most draw weight and speed as I could safely get out of this piece of wood without doing too much work (i.e. reflexing, intensive heat treating, drilling 'speed holes' in the tips like homer simpson trying to make his car faster). There is less safety margin here, but I have more bows under my belt, so i felt more confident pushing it. Remember what your goals are, and also remember that they don't have to all be the formula 1 car equivalent of bows. Good luck beating a compound on speed, anyway. I'd rather make the toyota hilux of bows, not particularly fast or pretty, but dead reliable. Compounds need maintenance on all the moving parts, these 2 stick bows won't.

Thats why I think my old E-150 is more reliable than my parent's vw phaeton. CD changer freaking out? In-dash everthing controller glitched out and went blank? ABS sytem error? Tire pressure monitor in the spare tire not realizing that the other 4 tires change pressure with heat? Not a problem in my archaic van. I've never had the automatic trunk opener/closer (that I don't have) break, trapping all of my groceries in the trunk (that I also don't have).

That brings me to the last point. The oak bow isn't as overbuilt as the maple one, but it's not going to break. There is still safety margin built in. Never make a bow that doesn't stand a good chance of lasting. Fragile bows can break, and that can injure people. When using any kind of weaponry, make sure safety is #1.

11/27/13 12:43 p.m.

Hello everyone. I'm really interested in archery and I've been readin this thread for the past couple of days and it's really interesting. I signed up to comment here. I'll admit I can't do much with the information I learned, which was a lot, for a couple of reasons, but I may have some questions later on when if you're still active on this forum and you're okay with me asking? Thanks for making this thread, Rufledt.

Rufledt Dork
11/30/13 12:36 a.m.

Of course you can ask questions! You might be best off posting questions here instead of PMing me, since I seem to miss those occasionally. I'm glad you like it, sorry I've been totally inactive on this thread. Something about preparing for an impending baby takes free time precedence over making bows. I told SWMBO that I can make bows for the baby but she said the kid's bedroom and strollers and car seats and stuff is more important for some reason...

Hadi New Reader
11/30/13 3:48 p.m.

Nothing to be sorry about. You are having a baby, after all. xD Right. Onto the questions then. First: I saw this video a couple of months ago on YouTube (here), and the guy makes a longbow from two planks and a piece of wood. He doesn't tiller it or cut it or anything. I was inclined to do it but after reading this thread I realized that it probably won't be a good bow. What do you think?

Second question: There are a lot of these... I don't know if they can be called trees, but, well, there are a lot of these and I've been wondering if they can be used as bow staffs. I don't even know what they're called but usually they grow near our house and my dad cuts them every few years. http://www.flickr.com/photos/95103646@N07/?details=1

Third: I understand most of what I read here, but understanding something and doing it are two different things, especially when I never saw the process. Do you know of any good videos that actually show the act of bow-making?

I know you probably haven't heard about KP Archery on eBay here but apparently he makes good longbows out of hickory and I think he's making them from boards as he's sold hundreds of them. I've been thinking about ordering from them but the shipping fee is too high for me (almost as high as the price of the bow itself!).

Also, how long do you think making a bow would take on average? I told my dad about the video above a few weeks ago so that he could get me some planks and today he told me to get the measurements... so if he's ready to try and help me out, I might as well try to convince him to make a proper bow. Sure, it might break, but I can always try again later.

Oh, one more thing. I've been thinking about starting with hickory if I can find some, if not maple or some oak. Which is the most forgiving? I know you mentioned it somewhere but I can't find it.

That's all the questions I can remember for now. I realize they don't directly relate to your thread, and not to be rude or anything, but you are honestly the best source of information I have.

Thanks again. My real problem is that the nearest archery club is 30 minutes away by car, I don't have a drivers license yet and won't for some time, there are no buses between here and there, and there's nobody to drive me around all the time, which means I can't get lessons and I can't buy a bow because it's too expensive for something I may not even have a place to practice.

Rufledt Dork
11/30/13 11:34 p.m.
First: I saw this video a couple of months ago on YouTube (here), and the guy makes a longbow from two planks and a piece of wood. He doesn't tiller it or cut it or anything. I was inclined to do it but after reading this thread I realized that it probably won't be a good bow. What do you think?

At the moment I can't watch the video for some reason. I'll try again later and get back to you.

Second question: There are a lot of these... I don't know if they can be called trees, but, well, there are a lot of these and I've been wondering if they can be used as bow staffs. I don't even know what they're called but usually they grow near our house and my dad cuts them every few years.

Most woods can be used for some kind of bows. As I've mentioned, different woods often have different properties, and bow design can be adjusted to work. However, those appear to be very small diameter. Small diameter trees can be used, in fact in the olden days (think paleo-lithic, thousands of years ago) they were used more often for a variety of reasons. For today, I'd say start with boards. One of the bowyers bible books has a chapter on making bows out of small trees, and as a resource I recommend at least the first one in the series to start. Do you know what kind of trees those are? Are they deciduous or coniferous? I should probably also ask where you are located. I don't need a city, just a state will do so I can point you to some local species. In general, hickories are great and they grow everywhere. Maples, too, though sugar/rock maple is the best.

Third: I understand most of what I read here, but understanding something and doing it are two different things, especially when I never saw the process. Do you know of any good videos that actually show the act of bow-making?

You are correct, they are very different things. I can't remember seeing any videos of the process, but I'm sure there are some. Like I said before I can't get on youtube at the moment or I'd look up some, i'll get back to you here.

I know you probably haven't heard about KP Archery on eBay here but apparently he makes good longbows out of hickory and I think he's making them from boards as he's sold hundreds of them. I've been thinking about ordering from them but the shipping fee is too high for me (almost as high as the price of the bow itself!).

Don't buy those, and not just because I have never heard of them. Hickory is a good bow wood, and he has more bows for sale right now than I have ever made, however, I would not trust bows with such poor tiller. I tend to be REALLY picky when tillering, but I could tell they were off from the thumbnail pic alone.

This one is a good example- the lower limb is bending way more, and the brace height is WAY too high.

Those 2 bend a lot near the handle (and also are very unbalanced). Most of his bows bend too much closer to the handle, plus the tips have a lot of extra weight in them:

Too much tip weight and not enough bend in the outer limbs is a recipe for crazy hand shock. Also being unbalanced is a recipe for lots of bad stuff, like broken bows or uneven set. Hickory is pretty tough, though, so they probably wouldn't break. I expected someone with that much experience to have perfect tiller. Not always the case I guess, you can do better.

The price is actually very cheap, that's why shipping costs as much as the bow. Find a better bow and pay more.

Also, how long do you think making a bow would take on average? I told my dad about the video above a few weeks ago so that he could get me some planks and today he told me to get the measurements... so if he's ready to try and help me out, I might as well try to convince him to make a proper bow. Sure, it might break, but I can always try again later.

The time is variable. My first bow (from an oak 1"x2"x6') took a weekend. My walnut bow in this thread took a month. It can take as little as an afternoon, it depends on a lot of things. If you just make a simple 6' bow out of a 1x2 board, it'll be faster than one with gluing. For measurements, I recommend what I posted before. take a 1x2 6' board from home depot or lowes, it will be 3/4" thick, 1.5" wide, and 6" long. the middle 2', leave it 1.5" wide. Narrow the last 2 feet from full 1.5" width to 1/2" wide at the tips. Now, look at the sides (the 3/4" side) Leave the middle 1" full thickness, and straight taper from there to 1/2" at the tips. I can make a drawing if that will help. I also don't always give the same dimensions for thickness because I can't remember what I say time to time lol but that's a good start.

If you start making bows, you WILL break some. I learn more from breaks than from successful bows sometimes. I have never had a break twice for the same reason. Come to think of it, I've only straight up broken 1 bow, though I have 'retired' a couple more for safety reasons.

Oh, one more thing. I've been thinking about starting with hickory if I can find some, if not maple or some oak. Which is the most forgiving? I know you mentioned it somewhere but I can't find it.

Hickory and white oak are the most forgiving. If you screw up, they will take set instead of breaking. white oak is probably a little more break resistant, hickory will take a little less set. Red oak is not fantastically forgiving, but it's still plenty good to start on, not to mention cheap and plentiful. Same for maple. I just recommend maple and red oak because you can get it at the store in the right size, and it's cheap. When it breaks, you'll be out $6. Not a big deal.

That's all the questions I can remember for now. I realize they don't directly relate to your thread, and not to be rude or anything, but you are honestly the best source of information I have.

You're questions are directly related to this thread and you can ask as many as you want. I'll be happy to help. I started young (probably not as young as you, I think I had a car but I was certainly not at college yet) and I wish I had more help. As for more resources, try paleoplanet.net. Scroll down, there will be archery threads down there somewhere. That site used to have lots of great people, but a lot of them left a few years back. The guys who are still there can help a lot, though, most of them are WAY more experienced as me.

Also, primitive archer magazine has a forum too. They can be helpful. The magazine is fun to read, too, but it may not directly help you in making a bow.

The #1 resource I can recommend is The Bowyer's Bible book series. If you don't have a lot of spare cash, just get the first one. You may also find them at the local library if you're lucky. If you really get into bow making, buy the others in the following order: #2, #4, #3. 2 has a lot of stuff the first one didn't, like strings. #4 has updates from #1, like new theories and corrections, and #3 is great, but didn't seem as vital for beginners, at least in my opinion.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have other questions and I"ll get back to you when I can get on youtube.

Just a random question, I see your only 2 posts on this forum are in this thread. How did you find grassrootsmotorsports? Were you looking for archery stuff on google and got sent here? If so, that's awesome. Do you like cars and stumbled on this thread after finding the forum?

Hadi New Reader
12/1/13 3:05 a.m.

In reply to Rufledt:

Thanks for the fast reply.

About the trees, I don't really know what kind they are, but I'll ask around and see if I can't find what they're called. And I'm adraid you can't help me find something local as I live in Israel, not the states.

I found your thread when I googled 'how to build a longbow quickly' and found your thread there.
However I'm planning to look around the forum when I have more free time as I'm interested in cars. I have an exam tomorrow though and on Thursday so :/

Rufledt Dork
12/1/13 12:32 p.m.

Ah Israel, I don't know about the trees there. I assume the climate is fairly dry? There should be wood that will work, ill see what I can find out.

Hadi New Reader
12/4/13 1:47 p.m.

Hey, I just found a Tillering video . I only watched about 10 minutes or so but it looks like you described it.

There's been a death my father's side of the family so I don't know when I'll be able to finally try. Still have a few more exams to go too =/

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