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Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
12/19/14 8:55 p.m.

tough break! It always sucks to break a bow, but sometimes it happens. If you can do some kind of autopsy on it, you may be able to figure out the source of the break, then what caused it, then try not to cause it again.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
1/11/15 4:33 p.m.

I'm fairly sure that it was a glue failure, perhaps due to the density and oily nature of Bubinga. The mallet I made of the same wood has started to split along the glue line as well. On to the Ipe and Hickory bow now!

Enyar
Enyar Dork
1/23/15 2:35 p.m.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEG-ly9tQGk

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UberDork
1/25/15 10:40 p.m.

I realized I had a bit of wood that might make a good bow stave in the backyard. It was a 3" or so thick limb I cut from the maple tree.

I got if off the ground, but it may be too late to save it, though. The bark is still on and it has been sitting for several months.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
2/11/15 4:37 p.m.

In reply to Brett_Murphy:

Well, I've never tried something like that, but as long as the wood feels solid and not rotten or punky it should be fine. It will need to dry out, and you'll want to cut a few staves from it, because maple is notorious for twisting and warping as it dries. Good luck!

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
2/12/15 1:40 p.m.

Don't be surprised if it's a bit weaker, maple rots extremely quickly on the ground.

Cleverfrog
Cleverfrog Reader
8/10/15 10:34 a.m.

I made mine a bit different. No glue or layering. Just finished it this past weekend after 2 years of letting the stave dry and about 3-4 months of working it on the weekends. It's made out of american elm and was stained. shoots nice for my first time ever making one.

shortly after debarking and starting to work the growth ring all the way down. I was nervous about the knots, but they worked themselves out nicely.

annnnnd finished bow It's definitely not perfect. For the first time though it's very rewarding!

PS: NO POWER TOOLS WERE USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS. I even cut the tree down with a hack saw lol. Hatchet, draw knife, wood rasp/ large tooth file, and sand paper. Other than that all elbow grease.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
8/10/15 11:13 a.m.

awesome work! It's always rewarding :) the joy never stops! Do you have any pictures of you holding it at full draw? sometimes comparing an unstrung picture wiht a strung picture with a full draw picture can give you a better idea of where it's bending too much or too little.

have fun!

Cleverfrog
Cleverfrog Reader
8/10/15 11:24 a.m.

In reply to Rufledt:

Not yet

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock UltimaDork
10/13/15 8:15 p.m.

So, after a prolonged nap, I have resumed work on my red oak bow. After sitting for two years the wood has lost a lot of weight, it's really light now. I'm not sure if it's going to work out but I'm going to see it through in hopes of learning skills for the next one.

I think I'm going to aim for a 31" draw with a 30lb. weight. I have rather long arms. I don't think the board I have would take a strong weight. I found some issues with the back that I am concerned about so I now intend to back the bow.

Couple questions. I haven't glued on the tip overlays yet. If I want to go with pencil thin tips. How long should the overlays be? Also, how thick from belly to back? I'm just using some left over red oak.

Also, the handle is currently 1 5/8" thick and 10" long. I want to narrow the handle area. How narrow can I go without hurting the strength?

Rufledt
Rufledt UltraDork
10/13/15 8:45 p.m.

Blast from the past! i'm glad this got revived! my bow making is still currently on hold though i do still have one 'order' to fill for an experimental archaeology professor.

You're saying the wood itself is lighter to pick up, or to draw? It shouldn't lose draw strength by sitting (unless left strung) but it could lose physical weight by drying out. Kiln dried boards from the store usually have a bit of moisture inside compared to the surfaces, but it shouldn't lose enough to be very noticeable.

31" draw is a pretty long draw for a longbow when drawn to the mouth (like in all of my pictures), but there are some styles of shooting that draw to the shoulder or ear. It all depends on bow length. At 1 5/8" wide at the grip, elliptical tiller, and 30# @ 31", I would want the bow to be 6' long minimum. That would leave you plenty of safety room. If you have a good piece of wood, a strong backing, and good tillering skills, you can reduce the margin of error a bit, but i would start with 6' long.

The overlays should be long enough (and wide enough) to give you ample gluing surface to ensure maximum strength. Be careful with red oak rings- I had a redoak bow with skinny tips and glued overlays, and one of them broke off while the other was fine. The reason was because the broken one, while no skinnier than the other one, was centered over spring growth, which is very porous and weak on red oak, while the other one was on solid late growth wood. When in doubt, you can always wrap it like in the right bow in this pic (it's actually that bow, that's why i wrapped it):

For the handle, you probably shouldn't go narrowing it without making it thicker (back to belly) first. The handle section is under the most bend force, and it needs the most strength. A narrow handle is almost always a stiff handle out of necessity, so you need to thicken it like the walnut bow first used for this thread. That being said, you can narrow it as long as it's thick enough not to bend. Thicker wood can't bend as far before breaking, but it won't break if it can't bend, so no bend = safe in this context.

What do you plan to back it with?

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock UltimaDork
10/13/15 9:21 p.m.

The bow is 6' long, The handle is 1 5/8" thick from back to belly but is not shaped at all yet. It is 1 1/2" wide.

I mean it's much lighter to pick up, moving from the very humid state of TN to the much more arid state of TX did that. I haven't bent it at all yet. It's just been sitting there all lonely waiting for me.

As for backing I'm probably going to just use the drywall joint fiberglass tape. Like this The holes are tighter than the big mesh of the regular stuff. I figured three layers using titebond III???

If I hold a tape measure in my left palm and hold the tip of it with my right index finger and pull it to the corner of my mouth like I was drawing a bow, I get right at 32" repeatedly without stretching. I'm sure there is a better way to measure. If it would be safer to shorten the draw up a couple inches I'm fine with that.

I've re-read this thread over a dozen times before I finally decided to start working on this again. I wanted to thank you for all the information. I'm really getting excited about it again. It helps that my son has shown an interest in archery and I have been out in the back yard helping him practice with his Lil' Sioux youth bow.

Rufledt
Rufledt UltraDork
10/13/15 9:45 p.m.

drywall tape is a good cheap way to back a bow, 3 layers and titebond III should work as a backing.

wow 32" is pretty long! i always thought i had monkey arms and my draw is only 29.5"! It's long, but a 6' red oak bow should be able to handle that at 30#. You might want to think about taking your 10" handle section (which i assume you mean is a 10" stiff handle section) and shrink that down a bit. Bending a little more closer to the center goes a long way near the tips. I usually aim for a 6-8" stiff handle section. The wood near the handle shouldn't bend much, though. A hinge or set taken there will KILL a bow. If it doesn't break with all the extra stress, it will shoot like a wet noodle and shake the crap out of your hand. So less is more, but none is bad, too.

If the board is 1 5/8 thick back-belly and 1 1/2" wide you shouldn't need to glue up any additional thickness. My red oak bows are generally made from 3/4" thick boards so i glue up extra for narrowed handles, but usually only up to 1 1/4 or 1 1/2", so you should be fine if you make sure the narrow parts (side to side) line up with thick parts (back to belly). How thin exactly is more dependent on the actual design of the handle so i can't really give you an exact number, but you should be able to get it down to half as wide as the board without a problem and still maintain a good margin of safety, assuming it's thick enough back to belly to stay stiff.

What kind of humidity change are you experiencing? I'm not familiar with TX weather, but if it gets too dry you will have an increased risk of breakage. The only time i've heard of someone flat out not being able to make a bow with red oak was a guy who lived literally in the middle of the desert in AZ. It's probably not quite as dry where you are, but you will want to be careful. That means it's more important to make sure you have good tiller, and plenty of wood sharing the bending load. It also means if you end up with a working bow, it will probably shoot a lot faster! Dry wood has stronger bend resistance, and less mass, so it's like adding lightness and a supercharger! I get the opposite problem, everything here is damp all the time...

Rufledt
Rufledt UltraDork
10/13/15 9:51 p.m.
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock wrote: I've re-read this thread over a dozen times before I finally decided to start working on this again. I wanted to thank you for all the information. I'm really getting excited about it again. It helps that my son has shown an interest in archery and I have been out in the back yard helping him practice with his Lil' Sioux youth bow.

Glad to help! I got into archery because of a relative, it's the only way we'll keep getting new people interested! It gives me hope in many ways. People think automated cars will make the driver obsolete, well the gun replaced the longbow centuries ago and we still use them!

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock UltimaDork
10/17/15 12:05 p.m.

I've come down with what I can only assume is the bubonic plague so work has slowed down. I had hoped to be shooting this weekend but that's to going to happen. So here are some pictures of my progress so far.

Rufledt
Rufledt UltraDork
10/17/15 2:58 p.m.

looks good to me! I've come down with some sort of mini-plague myself. It doesn't help that the weather suddenly went from 70's to 30's, but only during this weekend where i'm home and can do stuff. As soon as monday hits, the weather will get nice again for me to look at out the window

I'd say don't rush tillering to get it shooting by a certain day, just work carefully until it's done. Tillering is the most important part! Looks like great progress to me so far.

On more tip, when you get the handle narrowed and stuff, don't cut the fiberglass tape. You can narrow the tape down as it goes through the handle section, but make sure the tape has some continuous stretch between the 2 limbs. I had 'individually backed' limbs once that weren't connected in the middle, and the shearing force on the glue joint ripped one of the limbs apart. In hindsight there was only glue resisting the tension of the backing, and it never stood a chance, even titebond which is amazing glue. To be fair, the glue didn't fail so much as where the glue bonded to the redoak- it tore off the surface of the oak from the oak beneath it . If the backing was connected, it could've spread out the tension force across the whole bow, not just at the handle section of that one limb. Live and learn, i think that was my first ever break and i have never made that mistake again. I've ruined bows since then, but in new, innovative ways!

Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock
Nick (Not-Stig) Comstock UltimaDork
10/20/15 11:25 p.m.

In reply to Rufledt:

You made an comparison a while back about how boring it is to watch golf if you're not into golf, and how archery competitions are the same way. Well I must be into archery pretty badly because I have been binge watching the World Archery broadcasts on youtube like crazy Those Koreans are no joke!

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
10/21/15 8:52 a.m.

I'm about to cut down a ton of privet, some unknown tree in the front yard and a bunch of maple branches.

I'm going to give making a bow a try with one of them.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
12/3/15 9:53 a.m.

I have an elm tree of some sort in my front yard that started to grow up right next to my dogwood. It's about 15" tall and 3" in diameter right now. I'm not sure what kind of elm it is, but I might use that for my first try.

The privet was too twisted and grown together to be good for anything, really.

Rufledt
Rufledt UltraDork
12/3/15 1:45 p.m.

That's too bad, privet is pretty awesome bow wood. Unfortunately a lot of good bow wood tends to grow in inconvenient ways, especially yew, which is often full of pin knots. Elm works very well, a quick glance at my books says that elm acts similar to hickory, only lighter, so it is much stronger in tension than compression. That's probably good for you, since a 3" diameter tree trunk will result in some pretty high crown on the back. Good luck, and post pictures!

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Mod Squad
7/8/18 12:21 p.m.

Zombie thread, canoe deleted.

Rufledt
Rufledt UberDork
7/8/18 3:27 p.m.

whoa been a while since i've seen this!    haven't made any new bows in a loooong time

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Dork
7/8/18 9:50 p.m.

In reply to Rufledt :

Just read through this whole thread and I demand you resume making bows and posting about that. Super cool 

Lobsterpennies
Lobsterpennies New Reader
7/9/18 8:08 p.m.

I second Mazdaface. There is so much info it is taking time to read through the thread. I think I am on page six but I will keep chewing through it. The only good things about canoes is when they bring up threads like these that I would otherwise never find.

Pensfan6782
Pensfan6782
8/4/18 8:45 p.m.

Just wanted to say thank you for the incredible effort put forth on this thread! I just finished my first bow from a maple board from Home Depot. I certainly couldn’t have done it without this info. Also I remember you asking how someone had found this thread earlier on. I found it by googling for bow info and this one was on the first page of search results. I was certainly not a member of this forum until now! 

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