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jere
jere Reader
2/6/13 1:59 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: ... Be warned: Some wood dust causes health problems. Yew, for example, is toxic. Don't snort yew dust, and don't suck on it for long periods of time. I think oak and maple are fairly safe, but if you are using power tools, you best wear a dust mask. You may be alergic...

I have to chime in here as safety issues about wood dust have not become common knowledge. There are some woods that do things that you have said but all wood dust is cancer causing.

All wood dust is classified as a know carcinogen, directly involved in causing cancer. There is an article that is floating around the web that talks about how it is more dangerous than Asbestos.

It is good practice to keep fans blowing into and out of a wood shop in addition to wood chip collection devices. Even with the above a respirator should be used as well as clothing that is not brought back into say a family dwelling.

jere
jere Reader
2/6/13 2:03 p.m.

As far as planers go will an electric one work or is it better to do it by hand? My grandfather gave me a 12in electric planer last summer and I have been trying to find something to do with it.

looks like this

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/6/13 2:21 p.m.

Thanks for the info! I indeed did not know that all wood dust causes cancer. I'll be more careful from here on out. I would assume that it can be more problematic because so many people believe it's safe. I imagine there is more than one guy out there with a random orbit sander, sanding away on some board in a confined space without any dust collection or respirator equipment at all.

That looks like a sweet planer! One thing that might be sped considerably by that tool is processing boards from lumberyards. They come rough sawn, and at least one surface has to be planed smooth (the back of the bow). That could do a whole board before being sawn up into bow blanks, meaning you could do many bows at once. The planing I talked about earlier is for roughing out the limbs, and I don't think that electric planer would work. When it comes to to tillering (again, the process of making the limbs bend, making the board into an actual bow) you shouldn't use a power tool. You need to remove small amounts of wood at a time, and sometimes in very specific places. There are times you need to remove wood from only a spot, or from one edge. A planer like that removes a flat sheet along an entire board, which would also removed the extra thickness left in the handle area.

Enyar
Enyar Reader
2/6/13 2:59 p.m.

Awesome, who would have known that I really wanted to make a bow? Now I do!

Hail GRM.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/7/13 7:08 p.m.

OK, Here's the deal. I probably won't be to the next stop for a week or so, and I can't find my string wax to do a string making how-to, so I'm gonna fill the dead time with some "how stuff works" info.

Ever notice how a bow tends to be all bulky in the middle, and skinny around the tips? The shape I described earlier results in precisely that- wide in the middle, skinny tips. There's a very good reason for that. If you were to take a board of consistent width and thickness for the entire length, (and for the sake of the example pretend it's unbreaking) and strung it like a bow, you would notice it doesn't make a circle shape. When you pull it back, it would instead look like this: That's right, a parabola. It would bend like crazy in the handle, and bend less toward the tips. I don't know why, I'm an archaeologist, not a physicist. It's just what happens. This would result in a great amount of stress in the handle, and a lot of wood near the tips not doing much except weighing down the limbs. If the thing didn't break in the handle, it would shake the living crap out of your arm.

dangit, added post on accident again...

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/7/13 7:44 p.m.

Why shake your hand? because the energy had to go somewhere. When you pull it back, it stores energy. When you let go, it transfers it to the arrow. The dead weight at the tips of the bow slow down the limbs, meaning less can be transferred to the arrow. When the string slams tight, it usually takes some of that energy in the form of stretch, and releases the rest into the cartilage of your bow holding hand. This hurts after a while, and can lead to bow limbs and strings breaking.

On that note, never pull the string back and let go without an arrow. it's called "dry firing" and it means the bow limbs and string must absorb ALL of the energy stored in the bow. This, if you are lucky, can cause damage over time. If the bow is made without as much extra safety built in (likely making it a faster bow) it may just break outright. NEVER do it. ever. You wouldn't weld a plug into your shotgun barrel, load a blank, and fire, would you? Same kinda deal. The shotgun would have to absorb all of the energy, and something would likely break.

The best way to prevent this is to narrow the limbs as you get closer to the tips. This means there is less worthless wood weighing down the limbs, and with less bending resistance, the outer limbs will take on some of the bending stress. We want the whole bending portion of the limb to be doing work, and no extra weight slowing down the limbs. However, longbows can take multiple shapes. Some are extremely wide near the handle and the limbs narrow to a near point on the tips. They look like pyramids, hence the name "pyramid bow". These take on a circular bending shape, and generally have a stiff handle. English long bows bend through the handle, and generally take on a elliptical tiller (bend shape). This means they bend less in the handle, and more near the tips. This has many advantages, namely that bend near the tip bows don't move the whole limb back, meaning less energy will be spent moving limb weight forward. The power curve won't be as fat, though. Some longbows do bend a lot in the handle, and have long stiff tips that are extremely narrow. These stiff tips act like levers, which can make for fast bows, as well. This is called 'holmegarde tiller' in the photo below.
These shapes can all be made to high efficiency by different front view shapes. basically, if you see more bending, it needs to be wider there. If it isn't bending, make it narrower, but thick enough not to bend. That way, no one area will be stressed too much, and no unworking area will have dead weight. Dead weight matters more the farther out the limbs you go. The one I suggested on the first page would produce a fairly elliptical tiller, the other's are a bit harder to make. The bow i'm making for this build along is a bit more like the holmegarde tiller, but somewhat in between.

There's also a length consideration. Longer bows tend to have more power under the curve, but have a lot more mass. short bows have less mass, but tend to have less power under the curve. For the average person, the best balance for a long bow seems to be about 5 1/2 feet. 6 feet makes for a bit more safety. I like safety.

One accomplished bow maker/experimenter named Tim Baker had an idea for an 80" long bow. The thing has short bending limbs, which means less moving mass like a short bow, but a really long stiff center section that wouldn't bend (and therefore not store energy, and not contain mass to drain the energy). This means the bow holds more energy like a long bow. Put that together, and it makes for a really fast shooting $6 board. We took that idea and made a 72" oak bow that only draws 24" for my friend's fiance. It shoots very fast, despite being "too long" for the draw length.

Keep in mind, recurves open a whole host of other design considerations, but just ignore those. All you need to know is that recurves store more power, but don't tend to shoot faster at lower weights due to the increased tip mass unnecessary to make them stable. (to resist twisting)

Remember, the power is a useless factor when weight isn't considered. My van has FAR more power than my wife's G20, but the infinity has FAR less weight. It's also a stick, so it doesn't lose as much to an inefficient automatic transmission.

Those bowyers bible books use this example: What can hit a golf ball farther, a freight train or a golf club? The train stores FAR more kinetic energy, but the golf club moves faster, and can transfer more energy into the golf ball.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/7/13 8:05 p.m.

One way I thought I could have it both ways is the following bow:

I didn't come up with that idea, it's a type of bow historically attributed to the Native American Abenaki confederacy, specifically the Micmac and the Penobscott tribes. I was thinking if the strings on the back of the bow were pre-loaded, it could raise early draw weight (like a recurve) making for a fatter power curve without the extra tip mass needed for a recurve. The originals used natural material strings, which makes them stretchy, and that adds a whole ton of cool physics that I won't explain unless someone asks, because it'll make my fingers tired.

Also I thought this design looked dang cool.

It proved to be problematic. First, it was hard to balance 2 bows and 3 strings... The 2 short strings were hard to keep matched, which is why the photo shows the upper limb bending more. Since it adds weight by adding tension, the belly of the main bow was under more compression than i had allowed (should've made it wider) and it started getting compression failures. They look like horizontal lines and they make me sad

Still, that bow could be adjusted to be 31# without the back strings, or 40-45# with the back strings at various tensions, which was cool.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy SuperDork
2/7/13 10:11 p.m.

Man. I've always wanted to make my own bow, and I've set aside wood for it before, but the termites got it, even though I stored it about 6" off the ground. Little bastards.

This thread has me itching to try again.

I'm about to take down some privet, and I've heard you can make a bow out of that.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/7/13 10:27 p.m.

Indeed you can! here's a link to some: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/34061/Privet-bows-new-privet-bow-5028-updated?page=1 If you plan on cutting a tree down and making it from that instead of a board, I would suggest you pick up the first bowyers bible book. It has a chapter on cutting and seasoning wood for bows, and making it into bow staves. You can't just cut it down or it will cause some drying damage, just enough to cause problems. I'm not sure how much help I could be in that regard, as I've always purchased bow wood. I've never had the opportunity to cut down a tree for bow wood, so I am thoroughly jealous!

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy SuperDork
2/8/13 12:09 a.m.

If you want some privet, come and cut some. I have too much, and I'm trying to get rid of it.

I'll have to see if the library has the book. I bet they can get it. Thanks for the tip.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/8/13 12:58 a.m.

You sir, are one patient man. As I lack most patience, I simply bought my first bow last fall......and to think, the shop was dismayed at my request to order a longbow to learn with(they were a predominantly compound shop). Needless to say, they changed their minds after they saw it in action. Are your built ones nearly silent as well?

As you'll probably ask, I ended up with a PSE legacy 68" 55# @ 28".

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/8/13 11:31 a.m.

I'd love to take some privet off your hands but that would be quite a drive for me. I checked amazon and the 'look inside' thing only has the first 2 pages of the chapter visible. i would suggest getting your hands on the physical book and reading through the rest, its full of good info, especially the design and performance chapter. Some of it is wrong and was revisited in the 4th book, but if your library has access to 1, it should be able to get all 4. I've never seen them at barnes and noble, so reading them there with some coffee probably isn't an option.

yamaha: that looks like a great bow! it seems some compound-only shops don't have any experience with longbows, which is sad. They're missing out on the other half of the sport. These bows are likewise very VERY quiet. Recurves tend to make more noise than longbows, though not as much as compounds. I make adjustable strings, and sometimes the knot slips, lowering the brace height (the distance between handle and string when the bow is strung), which can result in the string slapping my wrist when I shoot. That makes a noise, (and hurts like the dickens) but a properly set up bow makes very little. The more efficient the bow, the quieter it is, too, since more energy goes into the arrow and not into vibrating the limbs.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/8/13 12:44 p.m.

String burns hurt like the dickens......and I still haven't gotten a bracer yet

I've been waiting to place an order to 3 Rivers for 5" helical flecthed eastons, as right now I just have 4" helical. For learnings sake, this bow has been worth every penny. I think I need the actual feather fletching to truely tighten up my groupings. But as it sits now, I can put 20 arrows into a 20" disc at 30yds. IDK if thats bad or good considering self taught and only doing it for 4 months.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/8/13 1:16 p.m.

That sounds great for 4 self taught months! Definitely go for actual feather fletchings. They collapse better when the arrow passes by the shelf, so it won't kick the back end out. The plastic vane fletches are more meant for compounds. Have you seen those with those round, brush rests? It doens't matter what the fletchings are like for those, but I've never seen that kind of arrow rest on a longbow. Might i also suggest wooden arrows. Aluminum ones tend to bend from impacts and can be tough to straighten well. Wooden ones will warp just sitting there, but they can be hand straightened if you are careful. I can do an arrow making tutorial along with this, I have some shafts that need to be made into arrows. I'm also not sure how they spine aluminum arrows, but I do know the ones I used to use didn't shoot as straight. If they fishtail in mid air, it's usually an arrow stiffness thing. Mass produced bows tend to be more center shot, though, and therefor less sensitive to stiffness. As a bonus, wooden arrows tend to be quieter, as well. If you are thinking of carbons, don't. They are often far to stiff, as they are meant for compounds which are centershot, instead of having the arrows flex around the handle. 3rivers sells some carbons designed for traditional bows, though, so it is a possibility.

Wood arrows can be quite a big heavier, which means they shoot slower. However, heavier arrows extract more kinetic energy from the bow, giving them more penetrating power. This is part of why they can shoot quieter, since less energy is left in the bow. Just keep in mind, you don't want a sluggish bow, but a few fps one way or the other doesn't matter. Nobody cares how fast the arrow gets there, as long as it hits the right place.

Also, get a bracer!

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/8/13 3:46 p.m.

I will go wood for arrows sooner or later, the aluminum ones are just inexpensive enough to use for target.....If I fubar one(I've done this a couple of times) toss it aside and go for another

I have noticed the solid vane fletchings hitting and deflecting off the shelf a bit, but they are at least pretty consistantly the same each time.

Thus far, I absolutely love the thing.....I also love the shoulder workout I get.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/11/13 9:02 p.m.

Ok so i took some time off from technology while the power was out and did some more bow work. I don't have the clamps I need to glue the backing on, but I did add some thickness to the handle.

Here's the bottom of the handle and a piece of cherry i'm going to glue there. This will give me a little extra thickness for sculpting the shape I want, and also add some stiffness. It's already going to be pretty thick, but a little extra won't hurt.

The surfaced was first planed smooth using my #5 plane in preparation of gluing.

Add glue. More glue than in the picture. Enough that it can form a thin coat on both pieces, as per instructions on the bottle.

You want that on both pieces. Now, clamp for 30 minutes. I don't have the clamps, like I said, so i used weight:

Luckily, those planes are crazy heavy. Unfortunately, I didn't line stuff up right:

Not a big deal since half of that is getting carved off ASAP. I started by trimming some overhang, then marking off where I want to start roughing out the shape.

Then, get at it. I used to use rasps for this, and those work just fine. I will most likely use them when I get to finishing the shape of the handle, but for now I used chisels.

That's rough looking, but remember it'll be quite different looking when it's finally worked to the correct shape and smoothed out. More on that to come after tillering.

I also shot some photos for an arrow making how-to, i'll post those at some time. It's not as 'from scratch' as bow making, since all of the pieces are prettymuch in the final shape, with the exception of the feathers. I fletched the arrows in a method that doesn't require a fletching jig, but does require some careful work.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/11/13 9:12 p.m.

Also a word on glues. One of those bowyers bible books has a whole chapter on the subject. It's full of great glue advise and a few experiements, etc... My advise, use titebond 2 or 3. Use a fresh bottle. If you see a ring around the top of the glue inside the bottle that looks like dried glue, it belongs in the dumpster. It'll go away if you shake the bottle, and it'll glue up just fine, but a month or so later the glue will let go. Don't use expired wood glue. Don't use gorilla glue. Please.

A test done by fine woodworking magazine once showed that gorilla glue performed, in almost every respect, worse than old fashioned hide glue (which is also used for certain bow making things). Titebond performed amazingly in the same test of various woods, joint fitments, and clamping pressures. I've also had personal luck with 2-ton epoxy, which has never failed me. Many other glues will work fine when new, but i've never tried them. titebond and 2-ton epoxy worked the first time I tried them. The only time I tried to branch out (gorilla glue) i was met with a shockingly weak joint, even when used exactly as instructed. I blamed myself for misusing it until I read the fine woodworking magazine test.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/11/13 9:33 p.m.

You're not getting a lot of feedback here, but I think it's because we're all just reading and learning and don't know enough to ask any questions I'm really enjoying this.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/12/13 8:00 a.m.

Im glad you're enjoying it! I just figured most people here were more into cars, but im glad people are still reading. There will be much more interesting stuff coming up with arrows and tillering. Thus far i've only been gluing stuff to and shaving wood off a board, not a bow. Ill probobly post the arrow making one tonight when I get home. That'll be one post from start to finish. The only catch is that I have to repeat it a dozen times!

tuna55
tuna55 UberDork
2/12/13 8:04 a.m.
Rufledt wrote: Im glad you're enjoying it! I just figured most people here were more into cars, but im glad people are still reading. There will be much more interesting stuff coming up with arrows and tillering. Thus far i've only been gluing stuff to and shaving wood off a board, not a bow. Ill probobly post the arrow making one tonight when I get home. That'll be one post from start to finish. The only catch is that I have to repeat it a dozen times!

I am reading. Every post. Looking forward to doing this when the kids are a bit older and I can get some good chisels and a plane or three.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/12/13 8:40 a.m.

You can always get a head start and make a bow or 5 for yourself!

Like I said before, if you want planes or chisels and don't want to blow tons of money, half splurge and get woodriver stuff. Anything cheaper and you will be replacing it. The more pricey ones (like veritas and lie nielson) are fantastic. They can cost double or more, but only work a little better. If you properly set up a woodriver plane it will work beautifully. Same for the chisels. You need to spend some time flattening the backs and honing, but they will stay pretty sharp. Again, they arent top of the line, but they are good enough not to get in your way. Not like those crappy ones I got at the depot that couldnt stand up to poplar...

Also, I made my first few bows with tools that, all combined, cost less than my #5 plane. Some accomplished bow makers have never even held a bench plane. Theres a good reason- while a jack plane can do near anything in furniture, its very limited in bow making. A block plane is a bit more flexible, but usually rasps are the go to tools.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/12/13 8:47 a.m.

Dangit I hit add post. That's what I get for doing this on a train.

Artificial post count inflation aside, I would suggest a surform rasp, cabinet makers rasp, rat tail file, and that microplane rasp with the interchangible blade things before a big bench plane. On the other hand, a jack plane can be used as a club when pumas attack, so theres that...

Also fyi I found my string wax so a sting making how to is on the way

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/12/13 11:05 a.m.

I pulled down both of our old bows last night. One's got H24 on it, along with 66" and 25 lb. I'm assuming the H24 is the draw. The other is a Beaver made in Canada in 1953 58" but with a 60-od lb draw according to the scribbling on it. Both recurves, wood and glass. I'm going to assume they both need new strings, as neither one has probably been strung in 15 years or more.

My wife laughed at me for being all enthusiastic about this.

tuna55
tuna55 UberDork
2/12/13 11:19 a.m.

Where can I realistically shoot something like this? Is a larger backyard with a target at the end enough, or are we talking about a serious earthen barrier type of thing? I have too many kids, and transporting one or two of them can wreak havoc on the ones left behind (and Mom) so doing something like this in the backyard would be easy. We did our model rockets back there, for instance.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/12/13 12:35 p.m.

Keith: draw lenth usually comes right after weight in the format 25# @ 24". I don't know what the H would be for. 24 would be a safe bet for a womens bow, but many wood/glass bows at 66" long draw to 28". I could be wrong, id have to see the bow. Id err on the side of not overdrawing it. Does the "canada 1953" bow say bear on it anywhere? Like in a gold colored penny sized medalion? Most bear bows say that, even newer ones. There is a short code of letters and numbers that indicate when it was made. My 1968 polar says "canada 1953 on it, too.

Your wife used to do this, and shes ripping on you for being excited?! She should know first hand how awesome it is!

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