Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
8/16/14 1:05 a.m.

I checked and there isn't any info in TBB4, but there's a chapter on board bows in book 2 that mentions it can make a good bow. No additional information, though. I did glue up a bubinga stave that is unfinished, but if I remember right it is insanely tough to work. It's quite dense and my usual hand tool techniques don't work. One day i should really finish that thing...

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
8/16/14 8:09 p.m.

Haha, it IS insanely tough to work, I've found I can't use a drawknife or plane at all. I'm basically using a japanese saw rasp to remove the bulk of the wood. Turning that mallet was interesting too, had to keep sharpening the gouges as I worked just because it was so hard. I'll let you know what happens as I finish this bow.

aussie6898
aussie6898 New Reader
8/30/14 9:22 a.m.

Well I'm back, I was one that posted back in December... I'm a high school student so I can only work on it while on vacation... My bow is maple board 1/2inch by 1/2inch at the tips... Well I started tillering yesterday, and I think I broke so many rules... My bow is currently unbalanced despite the limb that's bending less being thinner than the other.... So what do I to fix it?

aussie6898
aussie6898 New Reader
8/30/14 9:26 a.m.

The max I got the bow to go was 2.5 - 3 inches at 23 inches draw back with deeep sea fishing line as the tillering string.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
9/4/14 6:41 a.m.

Hi Aussie, I'm new to this as well, but my advice from what I've read would be to check and double check that it's really unbalanced and then just keep removing wood on the side that is bending less until it is balanced. Just ignore the thickness difference, because what you want is a bow that bends and shoots properly, not a bow with absolutely identical limbs that is unbalanced and unusable. Just my two cents.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/4/14 6:49 p.m.

Hello! sorry I missed this! the school year started for me as well and it's been a bit crazy. the good news is i'm now technically faculty as well as a student, so I'm getting paid! AND I don't have to pay as much for parking or insurance! Yay! Still not paid enough to buy food, but, you know, it's better than nothing!

DSnell is right, remove wood where it isn't bending enough, don't remove where it's bending too much. One thing to consider, though, is that wood takes a little bit of time to adjust to the removal of wood. When you remove wood, it still may not bend as much right away. What you should do is pull the string down as far as you're going at that moment about a dozen or so times, then take a look. I didn't do this my first bow and the thinner-yet-stiffer limb quickly ended up being a weak and bendy limb after a bit of shooting, resulting in a VERY out of balance bow.

Pics would help us help you better, so if that's possible that'd be great. A really tough fishing line should work fine for tillering string. I still don't get what you mean by 2-3" at 23" of draw. Do you mean 2-3" out of balance?

The basic mantra is work at balancing the bow, and THEN work at increasing the draw length. Never increase the draw length until the bow is balanced.

kaedyn
kaedyn None
9/13/14 11:27 a.m.

Congrats on the faculty/student bit!

I've been reading everything from the build along for a couple of months and started playing around with the idea of a bow of my own a few days into reading. I just finished my first bow, but was still lurking around without an account. So instead of step by step, I just have the assortment of pics.

I started with 1x5 maple, which I quickly discovered wasn't sugar/rock maple (although the first projects aren't meant to be the works of art, are they?). Given my uncertainty about what species of maple I had I also opted to build in the extra safety of a longer bow, starting with 75" and a width at the middle of 2". The board! 75"x2"

A little shaping brought me something that looked more like an oddly-balanced javelin, but I was feeling okay. is that a javelin in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

I kept on shaping and added a strip of Douglas fir on the back because of a knot on the belly 3" from the tip. It also made for a really nice belly that will be fantastic after it's oiled. I shaped the handle based on a detached handle from a too-well-loved frying pan with a great grip. I realized it was still "just a board" but was having so much fun. Hehe. shaping in progress

Caution: shaping in progress. Handle detail.

String making was predictably frustrating! All I can say is the next one will be better, although this one serves. I was reading about 3Rivers strings and they said not to fiddle with them too much or they might unwind, which not many archers would know how to re twist. I definitely thought of the post about string-making then!

Tillering was the most fun part, I think. I was silly and did a lot of material removal simply by sight and balance in the rings. I wasreally lucky in the grain I chose! The only problem that I had was that I never really saw an end in sight to the process. Patience was lacking by the time I was just down to scrapers and sandpaper. Tillering: 40# @30.4"

The final result was interesting. My brace height us only about 4", but I could work on my string length for that I guess. And the whole thing was hard to gauge for performance as I took a few experimental shots around sundown. One of the three shots took a nice lazy arc and landed in the grass 40-50 yards off. Two shots hit high grass and wetland and despite some slogging around, haven't been seen since. Some dog is going to be very happy!

full draw

As you can see in the last picture we got snow Sunday night and this pic was Tuesday. Hopefully with things warming up I can do some more design because, yes, this is all very addictive. Next bow and assuring will be better, but it might also be time to hob one of the archery clubs here in Calgary for some shooting practice.

kaedyn
kaedyn New Reader
9/13/14 11:45 a.m.

Grrrr.

Bad links. I'll figure out pics later. Sorry. Grrrrrrrr

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/14/14 12:00 a.m.

can't wait to see the pics! I think there is a guide to hotlinking around here somewhere.

Good thinking making it a little longer. All else equal, longer bows are safer. It's not really a problem that it isn't sugar maple. Sugar maple is denser and thus can be made a bit narrower, but otherwise a slightly wider other-maple can shoot just as well, it's more down to how well you designed/made it. I think the majority of fiberglass bows are fiberglass over maple, and i'm not sure at that level they even distinguish sugar maple from others. I think they just use it because it's cheap, effective, and it takes to gluing extremely well. On an unrelated note, the same properties make it blotch like crazy if you try staining/dying it without a blotch control.

String making IS frustrating! I think i'm still using my first string on my wife's bow. I failed the twisted loop a couple times so I gave up and just tied the bowyers knot on both ends! The other thing you'll notice is that they stretch like crazy right away until they settle. I've strung a bow with a new string at 7" before, set it on the counter with the back down, and watched the tips slowly lower themselves to the counter top over 30 seconds or so! The hardest thing was trying to unstring the bow when the string is super tight, AND there is no bend in the bow. A step through wont work because you can't get your leg through the gap!

With a bow that long, you may not get very high arrow speed, but actually raising the draw from 4 to 5 or 6 might help. Lower brace height usually results in faster arrow speed (longer power stroke) but too low of a brace height makes the arrow have to flex more to get around the handle. This can make it come out a bit sideways, which can add drag. Does the arrow fishtail a bit for the first 20 yards or so?

My first bow wasn't particularly fast either. I think the best I got with a carbon arrow and overdrawing it like crazy was 70 yards, 50 was more of a normal shot. The next ones will be better and better!

kaedyn
kaedyn New Reader
9/17/14 10:36 p.m.
Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/18/14 5:05 p.m.

I still can't see the pics

kaedyn
kaedyn New Reader
9/18/14 7:42 p.m.

Hey, Rufledt.... Trying this again. These are my pics, but I've got them on Tumblr. Let's see if I can show off my own pics like you and a couple others. lol

This is the 75 x 2" piece of maple after I cut it down from the 1 x 5". You can see some of my layout lines.

The pointy board of which I've waxed eloquently. I was so proud here.

Pointy stick meets the pot handle.

Here's what I proudly refer to as the "Pot Handle of Death Silhouette," portion of the handle.

The obligatory "tillering" shot, although I need to shorten the string.

Finally, mostly finished, although not coated several times in Tung oil yet... I think, aside from some bad cropping, an unseasonable dump of snow, and such, that there's a bit of a hinge in the bottom limb that I'll need to figure out.

However, hopefully this has worked as all my pics are visible in the preview. I'll try and be better about build-along pics with the bamboo.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/20/14 11:29 a.m.

Looking good! It feels good to shoot a bow that you made, doesn't it? Good work on making a working bow right off the bat. A guy once told me the first 6 bows you make will break. I'm guessing he was kinda bad at this, but very persistent.

The top limb looks pretty good. The bottom one is a bit hinge-y but it's good that you can tell. Part of the process is knowing what it should be like and recognizing it's wrong. That's the most important part, because you can always learn from your mistakes and improve. It's always rough telling someone with what they think is perfect tiller that their bow is doomed!

Fixing it is just a matter of removing wood where it isn't bending enough until you balance it out. Hinges can kill bows in a few hundred shots so you might want to fix that, but you'll end up losing a little bit of draw weight. It will end up more efficient, though, since bad tiller is usually bad for everything. Another method you could try is fix the hinge, then balance the tiller, then shorten the bow a couple inches. 75" is plenty long, and if it's 40# @ 30", you could probably get it balanced at 35#, then shorten it to 72" which could raise the draw weight back up to 40#. OR you could be happy you have a shooting bow and move on to the next one! I vote for the last one. You can always go back and fix this one, or you can keep it as is as a memento of your beginnings in bow making. I have my own maple board bow shown a few times in this thread that was one of my earliest. I could make it shoot faster and with less hand shock, and I could make it much prettier and with a better handle. For now i'm leaving it as an artifact of when I didn't know what I was doing! The tiller isn't bad, but the rest of the details are all terrible.

I like your handle, too. I always have trouble making handles comfy, but as I said earlier in this thread I broke my left thumb when I was a teenager so my problem may not be the handle. Handles are always a good spot to do something unique since they often don't bend. Some people (modern and from history) also make some decorative tips with carvings and stuff, but that can only be done with additional tip weight, so they are a little less efficient.

When you say bamboo, what do you mean? Flooring? a cane? a split strip? Bamboo can make fantastic bows, i'm just curious what you're starting with. Whatever you do, post pictures!

kaedyn
kaedyn New Reader
9/20/14 3:17 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: When you say bamboo, what do you mean? Flooring? a cane? a split strip? Bamboo can make fantastic bows, i'm just curious what you're starting with. Whatever you do, post pictures!

Thanks for the feedback! It is a pretty amazing feeling, right down to the place where the fletching gave me a bloody paper cut of a nick where it came off my hand. It's also good to get ideas on how to fix the bow up. I might fix it up a bit, but I'm pretty undecided at the moment.

The bamboo I got is a 1×4",8 foot piece of what the lumber yard called "carbonized bamboo." It's an S4S plank, really, just the same as we'd find maple or oak. Perfectly straight grain from just a fast look. Sadly, it was the store's last piece and they won't be getting more until there's demand. At $3 a linear foot I can't imagine there not being demand!

Pics to follow when I clear some space and get in the "mood," as it were.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/20/14 9:48 p.m.

Does it look like this:

Like laminated bamboo? I don't think i've ever seen someone make a bow out of that, I'll be interested to see how it turns out!

kaedyn
kaedyn New Reader
9/26/14 11:26 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: Does it look like this: Like laminated bamboo? I don't think i've ever seen someone make a bow out of that, I'll be interested to see how it turns out!

That's the stuff. It's really great looking. I figured that for $3/foot I couldn't go wrong, really, despite the starving student situation I'm in.

So I was looking around for ideas on cheap arrows. Having lost 3 of them at way too much per arrow, I was interested in something that was a little more DIY, even it wasn't as pretty. I stumbled onto a build-along from Paleoplanet using bamboo garden stakes from Home Depot: Paleoplanet Bamboo Arrows Build Along. A quick read through and I decided that I had to try something that would give me arrows at maybe $4 an arrow plus time involved. Tonnes of learning too! And my apologies for such awful-sized pictures, I didn't edit for width on this set. Next time, I guess.

I'm missing a couple of pics, but I'm nearly ready to fletch, and you'll love the cheap ass approach I'm taking. Really, the whole thing is cheap, with 15 36" bamboo garden stakes costing $3 at the end of the summer. I got two bags. I ended up with maybe 12 "okay" pieces that were in the 7-10mm range the build-along recommended.

A heat gun was really a cool experiment for straightening pieces, and, rather than testing on discarded pieces (of which I have many), I quickly became the owner of only 9 decent pieces of 36" bamboo. Oops. Some node trimming and sanding made me take a closer look at what I was working with and I was down to 6. It's like Americal Idol, but with sticks. Some more "final" straightening, and guess what! Then there were only 5. sigh

The Paleo tutorial gives a good lesson on how to spine the bamboo pieces properly. Given that I'm still not totally set on the maple bow as a keeper/user, and because I don't now the specifics of what I need, I streamlined and found the stiffest axis for each of my five pieces. I cut the nocks using a 7/64" drill bit and a utility knife, sanded them, and I then wrapped just below them in thread to help keep the bamboo from splitting. Do I believe that this will work? Only sort of!

I will be pleasantly surprised, let me tell you, expecially because of the next step. Given that I'm a student and trying to save money and I want to know if I can do this properly, I cheaped out on the feathers, which seems to me to be something I'm going to invest in properly, later. I'll make sure the fletching can be reused, as you've shown on like page 2 or something. In this case I've got craft store turkey quills. I split them...

Then trimmed them for length and kinda did the same for shape, even managing to recycle part of the packaging for my template.

And now, just like they were last night, my 5 prospective arrows are hanging from the heating vent in the ceiling of the basement suite, getting some coats of water-based varnish. I think I'm going for 3 thin coats.

Sunday night after dinner with my son and my family, or maybe Monday, I might get to trying the fletching. Then again, school starts for certain adn for sure Wednesday, and there's a funeral in the church Monday that will need some dealing with, and life goes on, etc.

Later!

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/27/14 3:19 p.m.

Looks awesome! Im in a similar place trying to source canes, but for atlatl darts. Basically they need to be a little bigger around and about double the length of arrows and im having some trouble doing it cheaply.

I have a plant called pseudosasa japonica, or Japanese arrow bamboo, but it started flowering (sign of imminent death in bamboo) before I got arrow or dart sized canes. A replacement plant arrived last week but it'll be a couple years for it to get to size. My other bamboo plants aren't grown enough to start harvesting either so im stuck with garden supply stores myself. Hard to find big canes that are the right stiffness and length, though... I also got bummed my usual plant source was out of arundinaria gigantea, a north American native cane plant that makes nice canes without the downside of it being invasive. Well, it spreads just as bad, but its native so its not considered problematic.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
9/27/14 10:58 p.m.

I went to Home Depot today, all out of bamboo stakes. Lowes had some but they were 1" diameter. Same for the plant nursery I went to. On the plus side, I got some nice plants to put around our new front walkway and step thing! Hooray!

Should I add build along stuff for atlatls? It's not archery but it is equally fun in my mind. The building goes a lot faster, too, since there isn't much tillering. I once made an atlatl with a pocket knife while on a walk, so it can't be too hard.. Plus there aren't the same laws restricting the use of atlatls, though in some states they are explicitly prohibited for hunting.

jlight
jlight
10/10/14 7:24 p.m.

Hi there. I joined the forum to get in on some bow making. This thread is full of great information. Thanks for doing it. It's just what I was looking for. I've got two oak boards marked out and I've made my string. I just need to find some time to run them through the band saw. I also picked up some poplar dowels to check out. I'll build a spine tester tomorrow. I'll post some updates when the work starts.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
10/10/14 10:20 p.m.

Awesome! the more the merrier. I have some stuff that I might post, too, but it will be a bit out of the ordinary. Earlier someone said they would like to see flintknapping arrowheads, and i'm working on that. My program's flintknapping club is going, but so far NONE of us can make anything with regularity, except for the professor. Something tells me I won't be able to make an instructional post, but I might try something different, like hafting and that kind of thing, or at least add a bit of arrowhead history. I might actually get to post about archaeology! For those of you who don't know already, i'm an archaeology grad student, so it's kinda my thing. Unfortunately, when I start talking about what I do (ceramics, american north east, colonial period) people's eyes glaze over with boredom, but everybody likes hearing about arrowheads!

The atlatl club is starting to make equipment, however, so I might try to post some of that stuff since I know I actually CAN make that stuff. I got a bunch of bamboo canes from a guy and I might show how to straighten them and how a foreshaft works and that kind of thing. It will be for atlatl darts but there is evidence for arrows being made in similar ways, depending on the kind of technology.

Another friend from school wants to learn to make bows, too, so I might try to restart actually posting useful bow stuff in here. I won't repost the basics I went over earlier, I'll try to add something new, plus maybe finish a bow for once.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
10/16/14 9:54 p.m.

I have a professor who is a paleolithic/stone tool technology expert, and an experimental archaeologist. He said today he would like a bow. I guess I have a new project! Here's what i'm thinking:

That's an ancient bow found archaeologically. Usually, bows don't preserve. Wood doesn't last. This one did through some freak of preservation...for thousands of years.

If you have a bowyers bible book #3, go to page 44. There you see something called a holmegaard bow. I've mentioned this before. It's about as long as the average person then was tall, it had a stiff , narrowed handle, and long, stiff, narrow tips. The bow was roughly 50# @ 25", or roughly big-animal-hunting weight at full draw for the average guy back then. I want to do this design because this professor specializes in paleo-lithic Europe, and that's when this bow is from. I might just use that ash stave i've shown before, or one of my black locust staves. I haven't decided yet. The truth is I have time to decide, because i probably won't get around to it until, oh, 2451 AD.... I'll add this to the list after finishing some of my other bows (like literally sanding and applying finish, that's all that's left), my gardening stuff that's not in any build thread, school work, thesis writing, a couple furniture projects, all of those atlatls (that I will also post when I get to making them in numbers), and sometimes getting sleep.

To stay in the spirit of the bow design, it'll have to be about as long as this guy is tall. I Think he's 6'1"? so maybe it'll be that long. I'll assume his draw length is 30", and i'll also assume he's not much of an archer, since he doesn't have a bow. That probably rules out the 50# draw weight. He seems like a fairly burly guy, so maybe #40?

You'll also notice there are no cut-in or glued-on string nocks. They were likely made with a hump of sinew wrapped around the tip, making a lump the string can rest on. I have a sack of sinew, so I could probably show sinew processing. On the other hand, he may have some extra sinew, too, since he processes a deer with stone tools for his experimental archaeology class. He also claims to have an awesome sinew glue recipe... This thread could become a bit more paleo.

Then again, it could just fizzle like it did before, and same goes for my van restoration thread. I even got the buffer that was recommended, and it rocks, but I haven't had time to sleep, much less wash and polish my van.

Also the lithic technology class i'm in has taught me a lot about stone tools (including arrow heads), along with showing me just how incompetent I am at making them. I guess you can count that out for the near future.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
10/22/14 5:33 p.m.

I'll definitely look forward to seeing how your bow projects develop as you have time for them! And as for Atlatls, I, for one, am interested in hearing about their construction and their use, as well as their practicality versus bows and spears or javelins.

On a different note, I got back to tillering my bubinga bow yesterday and committed my first big act of new bowyer stupidity. I have been following the Jim Hamm tillering method and pulling my bow to 50lbs pressure every time, and I had braced it, and was beginning to bend a ways beyond brace. I didn't think I could pull 50lbs, since I shook pulling a 45lb bow at Kittery Trading Post, but I was curious about how much I could pull. So, I pulled as hard as I could, and had someone measure how far I was pulling the bow. We heard a small cracking noise, but attributed that to a potential string shift. I then put the bow up on my tillering stick and attached my pull scale and began pulling. I reached 60 lbs and was almost to the point where I had pulled the bow, when there was a great cracking noise and one of the limbs of my bow had a great big crack in it. I remembered right then that with the Hamm method I was never supposed to draw the bow beyond it's intended draw weight. Everybody's gotta learn somehow, guess I won't make that mistake again! So there's my contribution to other budding bowyers, DON'T EVER DRAW THE BOW BEYOND ITS INTENDED DRAW WEIGHT!
I am going to try to glue it back up, since it broke along the long grain and Titebond II is supposed to make a joint stronger than the original wood, but my expectations for success aren't high. I have another bow planned if this one should fail completely, and I already have all the necessary wood. So here goes.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
11/30/14 7:37 p.m.

So far so good since the glue up. I've pulled a bunch of times to 50lbs and have gone a little further tillering, but other crazy things in life have kept me from finishing it. No sounds of breaking and the glue joint is tight enough that it's quite difficult to see with the naked eye.

Rufledt
Rufledt SuperDork
11/30/14 8:10 p.m.

I'm interested to know how that works out. I've personally never tried gluing a crack back together. If it breaks, I just leave it. On the other hand, I once had bow delaminate (backing came off during dillering) but the surface of the belly wood had actually given way under the shear forces- the back was unbroken, the glue joint held, and it tore a layer of wood off the belly wood! The joint can very much be stronger than the wood itself.

DSnell
DSnell New Reader
12/19/14 6:52 p.m.

Well... the break that was glued up held, but the bow broke in the other limb as I was trying to brace it for the first time. This time it looks like the backing broke, but the belly is mostly intact, and some of the glue didn't hold the backing to the belly. I'm afraid it looks like it is time for this bow to become kindling and I'll have to get started on my Ipe and Hickory bow. (I think I'll salvage the birdseye maple handle though and put that on my new bow.) It may be that I starved the joint when I glued on the backing, or perhaps it wasn't white oak at all but was really tight grained red oak. Bubinga is definitely very hard to work with, and if you ever finish the bow that you started, I'd love to hear how it works out.

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