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Thinkkker
Thinkkker UltraDork
2/17/13 8:58 a.m.

I want to see more. With more on how to make a recurve.

nicksta43
nicksta43 Dork
2/17/13 6:31 p.m.

I'm 99.9% sure that I will be scouring the hardware stores and lumber yard with my next paycheck. Thanks for the inspiration.

Having so much fun learning about this.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/17/13 8:23 p.m.

Stream of consciousness is an apt descriptor! That's totally how I make stuff too. I used to hate reading that crap. Irony can be mean sometimes.

Thinkker, you're in luck because my friends bow will be a static semi-recurve. Ill do some build stuff and info on that when we actually get around to it. His schedule is a bit tight what with being a newlywed (im at the reception now) but we'll get some building time on his this week. I figure his stuff doesnt all have to be in order as long as my bow stuff is in some sort of order.

Im glad people are enjoying! This is the first time I did a build along. Ill be seriously pissed if this thing breaks!

A word on wood shopping: don't settle for bad grain. In time you will learn to read it better, but don't be afraid to walk away with nothing. I recently went to 2 home depots and a lowes for 2 boards. I once went to a lumberyard and only purchased 1 board, because I couldnt find any others. Bad grain will be a waste when it breaks. Let furniture makers use it, crazy grain can be desirable for them.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/17/13 9:23 p.m.

Another quick question: do you guys understand the theory stuff I talk about? I'm trying to explain it quickly and clearly, but there's no way I could do it justice with forum posts. Feel free to ask for clarification. Really, I can't measure up to the clarity of those books or the understanding of the authors, but I will try. At least I can look up your question and get back to you.

nicksta43
nicksta43 Dork
2/17/13 10:49 p.m.

Not really at first but doing some research on the sites you posted and goggling the rest it's starting to come together.

I found one decent set of YouTube videos by ibprimitive that really made what you said here "click" in my head.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 11:56 a.m.

Thanks for ibprimitive! I've never heard of them before and they are pretty awesome. They had lots of osage in that harvesting and splitting video

He's got some great videos on making bows from split wood. He even shows how to get around things like knots in split wood. Don't think you can get away with that on sawn board bows, you can't without a backing. Yet another reason why split wood is the best way to make bows.

I checked out their website, you'd think with all of that osage they'd be selling some... Dang.... For any of you who are interested, good osage staves can cost upwards of $100, yew is about the same. You can often get other wood bowstaves for half of that, like hickory or maple. If you pick up a copy of primitive archer magazine (they have a good active forum as well if you want to get more into it) you'll find ads for people that sell all sorts of split staves. For your first few bows, definitely stick to boards. You'll save tons of money, and you'll invariably screw one of them up. No big loss for a board, but a huge loss if you use a $100 stave. This way you won't have to fight things like wavy growth rings and learn tillering. Get a handle on basic bow making first, and then attack the issues you'll hit with split staves.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde Dork
2/18/13 1:20 p.m.

Quick question - as you are narrowing these tips, you're still only narrowing the sides ( like left-right if you were shooting) but not thinning it front to back yet, right? Am I correct in thinking that is done as tillering?

Great work, BTW.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 3:02 p.m.

Correct! Tillering is generally done by thinning back to front (by removing wood from the belly), while the tips are narrowed from the sides first. Remember, doubling the width doubles the bending resistance, but doubling thickness makes it go up by 8. you don't want the last bit of the tips bending, but you want it light. If you remove width, you can remove lots of weight without substantially weakening it's resistance to bend. Say the tips are square in cross section, .5" wide and .5" thick. Cutting the width in half (making it .5" thick and .25" wide) or cutting the thickness in half (.5" wide and .25" thick) will both remove the same amount of weight, but removing half of the thickness will weaken it's resistance to bend substantially more than removing half of it's width. I don't know the exact equation, just know you are shooting for no bend with a minimum of extra wood. Lets say the .5" square has a resistance to bed of "x", but you only need .5x. If you remove half of the width, you'll get that. if you're going to do it by removing thickness, you may only be able to remove 1/8", leaving more wood (and weight) at the tips.

For tillering, you tend to rough out a front view shape, and plan how it should bend accordingly, as to not under or over stress a certain part of the bending limbs. You adjust the bending by removing thickness, not width. There is a wood bending test in the first book of that series that lays out a test for planning how much width to allow for a certain amount of weight. If you want 10% more draw weight, just make the thing 10% wider. If it is efficiently stressed, adding draw weight by adding thickness will only over stress the wood and it will fail.

The world of flight shooting (for maximum distance) has brought us advances in bow design for maximum efficiency, and there is a 'mass principle' written about in those books that involves removing wood from the sides as well. I haven't taken the time to master the concepts, so my bows tend to be a little less efficient, instead trading speed for safety. This is more advanced and I don't have a strong grasp of it, so i'm not gona bother with that. There are a few simpler ways to measure how much the wood is stressed, and i'll get into that when it comes to tillering.

Also a word on tips, if you take my above advice to it's maximum conclusion, you should consider making it super narrow and quite thick, but there is a limit to this. At a certain point, you will find the wood at the tips starting to twist. This is bad. It doesn't take a ton of thickness, I think I've done 3/16" and haven't dared going thinner. I've also never had a problem with tips that thin. Maybe i'll dare go a bit thinner on this one?

Recurves need even more width around the tips since they are much more likely to twist. This is why recurves, despite storing more power per maximum draw weight, often shoot slower at lower weights (some say anything below 50# or so) than efficiently designed longbows. This jump in longbow efficiency is very recent, though (the last bowyers bible was published only a few years ago), so many people still believe lighter recurves out shoot lighter longbows. Some bows found archaeologically show that these high efficiency designs were more common thousands of years ago, before highly complex state civilizations rose up, creating a need for different kinds of bows (think war over hunting as a primary use, different uses results in different designs). As draw weight goes up, however, the amount of extra wood for twist stability goes up, but not much. As weights climb above 50# or so, recurves start showing an advantage and then keep climbing.

Edit: also, as arrow weight goes up, recurves show more advantages. Remember, higher arrow weight means the arrow extracts more kinetic energy from the bow, and recurves have more energy stored in them. A 50# bow with 500 grain arrows should be more than enough to kill a deer if you are hunting. In fact, the arrow should poke right out the other side of the deer, after slicing through both lungs and the heart. At these specs, neither longbow or recurve will show an advantage if both are made to maximum efficiency. Design/quality of build will determine which shoots faster, but both will work for hunting.

aircooled
aircooled PowerDork
2/18/13 4:29 p.m.

Just wanted to say, excellent thread, used to shoot a Bear Kodiak, 70# no sites. Good fun and made for strong arms. Sadly the bow cracked, otherwise I would still have it.

Wanted to note for those who might think of it (or your kids): You may be tempted (when no one is around) to try firing an arrow straight up. DO NOT DO THIS!!! It seems like all good fun until after about 50ft of travel you can no longer see the arrow!! A friend and I did this once and ran screaming for some hard cover. The end result... the arrow, stick straight up, in the rangers shack! (not real hard for the rangers to figure out how it got there I'm sure).

In the San Francisco Bay area where I grew up, they have (had?) ranges (parks) that you could go to in the hills (the ones I visited were in Oakland and Pacifica). They had the traditional open ranges with bales (including some very long range ones), but also had trails that ran into the hills will targets at various angles and distances. Made the shooting very interesting. You could even go "speed" shooting and run the course.

I don't know if those sort of ranges are common everywhere, but you should look for them if they are. A bit more interesting then just shooting targets at an indoor range. They may not be practical to build in non-hilly areas (too much danger of stray arrows).

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 4:47 p.m.

In case you're interested, higher efficiency longbows did change with the development of complex civilizations, as stated before. Long ago, prior to the establishment of more sedentary cultures (with the discovery of farming and pastoralism) bows were a primary tool for hunting (in addition to atlatls and other things that got phased out in all places except the americas) and therefor were optimized for that use. Sure, people shot people, but not as often as they shot food. With larger societies comes warfare. A 50# longbow will kill a deer just fine, but the deer isn't shooting back. If you take a 50# bow but the enemies bring 70# bows, they will be able to shoot at you from far enough away that you can't shoot back. If you wear armor, they'll need more power to get through it.

It's a good ol' fashioned arms race. The english used the 'more power' method making longbows that were crazy heavy. Yes, really heavy recuves would shoot faster/farther and with more power, but they couldn't make thousands upon thousands of them so quickly with the resources they had available. Asiatic bows tended to be heavily recurved, and thus shot farther, but they had much more difficulty making them. They had to use animal horn and sinew, and constant maintenance was required to keep them balanced and straight. They didn't have yew wood, either. Like I said, the english needed thousands of the things, and they didn't have a crapload of water buffalo horn just laying around. They did have a lot of wood.

The asiatic bowmen also tended to use horses. A longbow can't be used from horseback, the bottom limb hits the horse. Short asiatic bows do work, however. This set up was once used nicely against an old Persian army, back in the days when their numbers measured in the hundreds of thousands, primarily foot soldiers. The bowmen rode over a hill, firing arrows, and when the Persians came at them, the horses turned around. They kept running, still firing arrows, and the Persians never caught up. Distance counts in warfare.

One exception is the japanese bow:

They are crazy long (longer than english longbows) but the bottom limb is very short. It doesn't get in the way of horses. It can also be made without animal products (the japanese also didn't have a crapload of water buffalo horn just laying around). It's mainly made from a tree like mulbury (related to osage orange, FYI) and bamboo. Bamboo grows crazy fast and it's crazy strong in tension. Good stuff, but it has it's own challenges. The point is, they made a bow that works extremely well in warfare with the resources available to them.

These bows could theoretically work for hunting, too, but to get an accurate shot for a clean kill you must be close. This means all of that range is meaningless. It also means you have to shoot without the animal seeing you and running off. The giant japanese bow wouldn't work so well if you're trying to hide. Even a 6' bow would be a hassle in the woods, getting caught on everything. Thats why many hunting bows are shorter than the archer is tall. If the guy can get through the woods, the bow can, too. Medieval Englishmen didnt' need bows for hunting, because they had their food animals domesticated. Hunting was for noblemen anyway.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 4:53 p.m.
aircooled wrote: Just wanted to say, excellent thread, used to shoot a Bear Kodiak, 70# no sites. Good fun and made for strong arms. Sadly the bow cracked, otherwise I would still have it. Wanted to note for those who might think of it (or your kids): You may be tempted (when no one is around) to try firing an arrow straight up. DO NOT DO THIS!!! It seems like all good fun until after about 50ft of travel you can no longer see the arrow!! A friend and I did this once and ran screaming for some hard cover. The end result... the arrow, stick straight up, in the rangers shack! (not real hard for the rangers to figure out how it got there I'm sure). In the San Francisco Bay area where I grew up, they have (had?) ranges (parks) that you could go to in the hills (the ones I visited were in Oakland and Pacifica). They had the traditional open ranges with bales (including some very long range ones), but also had trails that ran into the hills will targets at various angles and distances. Made the shooting very interesting. You could even go "speed" shooting and run the course. I don't know if those sort of ranges are common everywhere, but you should look for them if they are. A bit more interesting then just shooting targets at an indoor range. They may not be practical to build in non-hilly areas (too much danger of stray arrows).

QFT think of where the arrow will go (and land) before doing anything stupid. If the answer to 'where will it land?' involves anything that you don't want to die/get damaged, don't do it.

Those kinds of ranges should be all over. They usually are called 3D ranges. Many even have foam animals (including things like zombies and velociraptors at some places) hidden everywhere so you can imitate hunting conditions.

How did your bow crack? I've never heard of someone doing that to a production bow, except at places like handles where sweat can soak into wood through HEAVY use and weaken it. Even then, that was my uncles bow that he shot every week for YEARS. He also had a leather wrapped handle which can cause problems. Sweat soaks into the leather, and the leather keeps the moisture locked in while it soaks into the wood. The handle is under a lot of stress, and then one day, SNAP.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 5:03 p.m.

Did some digging. Was it a lenghtwise crack in the fiberglass? pic:

Those are very common in older bear bows and it has no effect on how it shoots. My old bear is covered in those, and it still shoots just fine. It's width-wise cracks that are terminal.

aircooled
aircooled PowerDork
2/18/13 6:43 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: How did your bow crack? I've never heard of someone doing that to a production bow...

It was a splinter type separating crack at the edge in the wood (more of a small break really), that worked up from above the handle. I tried cutting out the split (kind of like drill stopping a metal crack) but it continued to travel up the bow. I even wrapped it with string etc. but I eventually got worried about it breaking.

The only cause I can think of is that maybe it got a nick in the wood which started the crack. Not sure if that is even possible.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 6:48 p.m.

the nick theory sounds more than possible, it happens on wooden bows all the time. You should be especially careful of doing anything to damage the back of the bow. A nick can damage wood fibers and create a spot where stress causes a fracture, which further weakens it, which causes more breaking, etc... exactly as you described. Good choice to stop using it, when bows break things can go seriously bad. Like "AHH THERES A PIECE OF FIBERGLASS IN MY LEG" bad.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/18/13 7:53 p.m.

I actually had my legacy crack at the hand guard along a vertical grain in the wood yesterday. Once I got trough to PSE, they were very helpful and gave me an RA#. I just need to dig out my receipt from November to send a copy with it.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 7:59 p.m.

That's too bad. I've never seen a production bow break like that, and now there's 2! Then again, the only one I've used extensively was that old bear, and if that was gonna break it would've done so decades ago. I have some newer mass produced bows but I haven't really shot them much. Did it just happen one day or did something cause it to break? did you hear a 'tick' noise while shooting/stringing?

Dry firing can cause problems like this, too.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/18/13 8:05 p.m.

http://indycarscene.com/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/6940/size/big/cat/500

That should link you to a big photo of it.......I heard a tick so I let the arrow fly thus pinching the tip of my thumb in that crack......sucker bit me.

We will find out how good PSE's 1 yr warranty is I guess....

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 8:10 p.m.

1 yr is the standard warranty, or so i'm told. If you get into bow making you'll notice a bow will either die quickly (within a few hundred shots usually) or last forever. That's still odd that if broke like that. looking at the photo close, is that on the belly side? I had a couple glued on handles do exactly that. I blamed some glue that had gone bad. I wicked some superglue into the crack to try to reattach it, but it just ended up causing a nasty sounding crackling noise when the bow was drawn again. Best for you to send it back and get a new one!

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/18/13 8:18 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: 1 yr is the standard warranty, or so i'm told. If you get into bow making you'll notice a bow will either die quickly (within a few hundred shots usually) or last forever. That's still odd that if broke like that.

Yep, right along that dark/light color change in the grain. I have probably fired between 200-400 shots with it......I was shooting 40yds at the time this happened, and as I let it fly before I was fully aimed, there is still an arrow stuck in my barn's interior wall. I missed the top of my straw bale backstop by 6". Funny thing is, even at that distance, the aluminum arrow penetrated a white oak 1x6 by 2 inches....

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 8:24 p.m.

2-400 is still before I would call a bow 'shot in' so that makes sense. Is the break in a single peice of wood, or between 2 pieces? It looks like a glue joint break.

As for the penetration, that sounds about right. My friend's 30# longbow almost split a 2x4 at 20 yards. Since the compound bow became popular, people seem to have forgotten how powerful traditional bows are. They killed for thousands of years, and some can shoot half a mile.

I see a golden opportunity here. This bow broke, what will you shoot? You OBVIOUSLY need more bows. A few backups at least. Why not make one or seven? buy a few, too, why not.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/18/13 8:30 p.m.

I have a PSE 75# compound sitting here for the time being, but I will probably do what you are saying. I'm exactly like that, why else do you think I have so many guns?

It might be a glue break, but it probably would never be right again as you mentioned. So I am hoping for a replacement. I like traditional much better.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 8:34 p.m.

yeah glue breaks are really hard to fix. A lot of the strength comes from the glue soaking into the wood, and the second time you apply glue it can't do that. The first glue basically seals it off. If you have so many guns, then clearly you need just as many bows. and don't forget arrows. Think of this, when you buy ammo, it's one time use only. WHen you buy arrows, they can take many MANY shots. Think of the savings, you can't afford NOT to buy a bunch!

I, too, like traditional much better, but I like shooting my own bows even more. There's something about shooting your own arrows from your own handmade bow. It just feels nice and fuzzy to me.

yamaha
yamaha SuperDork
2/18/13 9:00 p.m.

In reply to Rufledt:

Shooting a lot isnt bad moneywise if you hand reload. Well, except when people go off the deep end like currently.

Rufledt
Rufledt Dork
2/18/13 9:05 p.m.

At least the political situation doesn't mess with arrow prices. Plus, nobody is fighting for longbow control like gun control.

If they ever do come and take away people's bows, you can always make more

nicksta43
nicksta43 Dork
2/19/13 7:41 p.m.

Quick question about selecting a board. I stopped in two different Lowe's yesterday and while I was there I took a few seconds to look at the red oak boards they had.

Didn't find anything that really stood out but I noticed something. Most of the boards had a very tightly spaced grain pattern when viewed from the side of the board. However a couple boards in each store had a much wider grain pattern.

I tried to illustrate it to make it more clear.

Would one be more optimal given no knots or runoff?

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