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Bows (Read 5078 times)
Hellfire
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Bows
Aug 6th, 2005 at 2:15pm
 
I want to make something of a list of interesting or favorite bows all of you have made. This is something of a pre-gallery of bows that Knight alluded to some time ago. I think many of you will like this. It will also display a combination of wood, design, and particulars of bows already made, so beginning bowyers will have some info. I'll start.

6ft 43# at 28" Red Oak (board) flatbow, in the Meare Heath design. First decent flatbow.
6ft 2" Slippery Elm ELB, 46# at 27"- Slightly flatter cross-section than usual. The stave was snaky, so I followed the grain.
66" Elm flatbow, named the Meatmaker. 47# at 28". Fairly straight with about 2" of natural reflex.
48" Red Oak shortbow. 48# at 23". I got the stave after most of a tree in the backyard fell over. This was about the only limb without branches and knots. The other one was about 30" in diameter. Couldnt split it.
46" Hydrangea(?) shortbow. Made for a friend (hope it didnt break). 67# at 23". Had some natural reflex.
54" White Oak sinewbacked short/medium bow. Coming soon! I mainly have to get enough sinew, and to pound the rest into threads- would also like a nice day without other work. Likely to be 48# at 27". Also with the tips well reflexed (safety).
I've been thinkin lately about Navajo Sheephorn bows. Maybe I can get some horn off Ebay.
Have a few spined pine arrows, starting to plane out some more.

Lot of staves drying- going to draw out some designs on them in a few days (after I get some other work done)
Hope this helps a few people. Cheesy
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me
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Re: Bows
Reply #1 - Aug 6th, 2005 at 3:28pm
 
Some selfbows I had laying around-
Top one is ash with elk sinew string, middle is red oak with Osage orange spliced into it's tips, and the bottom is sinew-backed red oak.


...

I took a better pic of them where they weren't laying all crooked and stuff, but of course my camera didn't have it when I went to download them. Oh well. Smiley
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Chaotic Rage
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Re: Bows
Reply #2 - Aug 6th, 2005 at 10:27pm
 
Those look really nice! My fiirst bow was pathetic. All it was was a sapling with the bark cut off and a string going from end to end. It had a round cross section and was incredibly inefficient. My best shot at a 45 degree angle got the arrow 120 feet.  Sad I then made another bow from a sapling that had a rectangular cross section. It was better but was still sad. I sort of gave up on bows when I found out how to sling.
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LKH9
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Re: Bows
Reply #3 - Aug 6th, 2005 at 11:56pm
 
WOW!! Shocked


How heavy are those bows?
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me
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Re: Bows
Reply #4 - Aug 7th, 2005 at 12:37am
 
The top two weigh in at around 50 lbs and the bottom around 55-57 which is my prefered draw weight.
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moonhunter
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Re: Bows
Reply #5 - Aug 7th, 2005 at 7:32am
 
Me, These are superb pieces! where did you learn to make them?


Crater_Caster, your first bow somehow rings a bell of pathetic memory too  Smiley If fact, I don't even consider it as my first bow, my bent sapling... After this, I decided to seek advice on a new thred in the "other primitive weapons" . I think I will go for a fiber-glass bow to start with, to get a feel of what a bow shoud be like, and then make my own...
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me
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Re: Bows
Reply #6 - Aug 7th, 2005 at 1:55pm
 
Thanks, Moonhunter. I first started making bows at around the same time I first started slinging.I mostly just went be instinct.  Mine started out the same way yours did, a kitchen knife and a sapling. Thankfully I have better tools now. Get yourself a good book on bowmaking and just start making woodchips.
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Re: Bows
Reply #7 - Aug 8th, 2005 at 9:59am
 
Bowyers Bible Vol. I, II, and III. They are excellent reading. That was pretty much the only reason I figured anything out. They are about $20 apiece, the first bible is likely good enough for starters. Expecially read the works of Paul Comstock. He makes white wood bows, very durable, practical, easy to make. Overbuild whatever you make, a little longer, wider...
Believe me, self arrows get to be a problem..
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moonhunter
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Re: Bows
Reply #8 - Aug 8th, 2005 at 11:09am
 
Quote:
Top one is ash with elk sinew string, middle is red oak with Osage orange spliced into it's tips, and the bottom is sinew-backed red oak.


By the way, how did you make the string out of sinew? I have a few  dried cow tendons lying aroud, waiting to be turned into a cord or string of some sort, but I'm not sure how to do it...
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Re: Bows
Reply #9 - Aug 8th, 2005 at 1:09pm
 
Moonhunter- the procedure is pretty simple. If using leg tendons, their might be a Y shape near the bottom where it splits into two pieces, cut this off where the Y begins as the fibers will not seperate easily (or at all)  and it is a waste of time to try. (save all the scraps for making hide glue.)  Pound out the tendons you have , but be careful not to cut the fibers. Try not to pound "really" hard or hit the tendon with the edge of the hammer. When you first get the dried tendon it will be sort of clearish to amber colored. After pounding it you will see it start becoming white as the fibers seperate and the glue that holds them loosens. Strip the tendon in half or thirds then pound these pieces alittle more and strip them into finer pieces, until you get to about kite string size (finer threads will produce a smooth string, but are not really nessacary). One large tendon can be stripped into a huge amount of sinew, much more then you think is actually in there. If you were careful when hammering, you will find the tendon strips quite easily, though a few tough pieces might require pliers. I'll call these finished strips threads though they will be thicker then threads obviously. Take 5 or more threads and make a bundle, then take an equal amount and making another bundle, lining them all up straight. Begin reverse-twisting them together. Start splicing in
more sinew threads, as you get near the end of your current bundle. If you know how to reverse-twist cordage,
then the splicing process shouldn't be hard to understand.
Take a couple of these threads from you stock arrange them together into another bundle, fold them in half and place the center of the V into the cordage, then begin reverse-twisting them into the cordage. It takes alittle practice, but once you get the splicing down it's all downhill. Another thing to remember is to keep the string even in thickness, you don't want lumps or thin spots, this
is not only ugly but makes for a very inefficient string.
Once you finish the string , stick it under running water, wet it , and hang it under tension.
Heres a site for learning to reverse-twist cordage.


www.motherearthnews.com/printable/1983_January_February/Making_Natural_Cordage

Funslinger- The sinew bowstring is pretty stiff, like wire.
I'm not sure theres a way to keep it supple or even if you want to. In it's stiff state is very resistant to abrasion, much more so then plant fibers. 
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Hellfire
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Re: Bows
Reply #10 - Aug 8th, 2005 at 8:26pm
 
I like to gently grease it with fat or beeswax. I think the wax is better, as it doesnt smell as bad as my (poorly) rendered fat. Suppleness? Who needs it! Rawhide bowstrings are pretty stiff,too. I think I prefer rawhide somewhat, like to keep all the tendon Ive got for a sinewback.  Heres a question. Do you ever get sinew out of their neck? I got some, but it's very brittle and there isnt really any fibers in it... like spaghetti noodles.
...to funslinger. Thats an.. interesting pic youve got there. Sort of like a cat/gorrilla?

Reverse, twist, bowstring also works dandy for horsehair. I like to use it (does stretch a bit). Nice and smooth. Rawhide, horsehair, sinew, theyre great! Mongolians liked horsehair and hide for strings, I've got a lot of access to that stuff. My silk isnt very great quality, likes to break. I just use it for wrapping the serving.
To Moonhunter: Sinew is great, artificial sinew is also pretty decent, because its smooth, cheap, and if you screw up, it wont matter much. Artificial stuff is pretty fair for a "trad" look.
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Re: Bows
Reply #11 - Aug 8th, 2005 at 11:01pm
 
Actually I have to disagree about the artificial sinew. It's made of nylon, which stretchs "alot". Stretch/mass is the arch enemy of bowstring design and an artificial sinew string can easily make your 50lb bow shoot at 40lb bow speeds.
But for learning the string making process it's great.
Even though sinew probably makes a slightly stronger string, I prefer rawhide also, as you can cut out full length strips instead of having to splice the whole string out of smaller pieces.

In answer to your question, no, I don't use sinews from the neck in fact I wasn't even aware you could get usable sinew from the neck. Although I do seem to remember hearing about African bowyers using Giraffe sinew which was supposed to be long enough for a string without splicing...wouldn't that be nice. Roll Eyes
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Matthias
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Re: Bows
Reply #12 - Aug 9th, 2005 at 12:28am
 
The only artificial sinew I've ever bought was polyester, which can be very stiff (non-stretchy). Maybe there are more than one type available? I have no idea why they can't just call the stuff "waxed filament polyester/nylon" instead of pretending to be sinew, but oh well...

Matthias
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moonhunter
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Re: Bows
Reply #13 - Aug 9th, 2005 at 2:22am
 
Thanks Me! Hey, that’s great, I’ll try it right away… I just hope “my” tendons are not to old… Wink  I’ve done some nettle cordage and grass cordage quite a bit, so the process of making the string from sinew threads(spinning and splicing) shouldn’t be a problem… mainly, I wasn’t sure how to get my tendons into workable “threads”, so you gave me exactly what I needed!


Quote:
Heres a question. Do you ever get sinew out of their neck? I got some, but it's very brittle and there isnt really any fibers in it... like spaghetti noodles.

To Moonhunter: Sinew is great, artificial sinew is also pretty decent, because its smooth, cheap, and if you screw up, it wont matter much. Artificial stuff is pretty fair for a "trad" look.


Hellfire, thanks for the info, but the whole point of it is the fun of doing it myself, not buying it so that it merely “looks like I did it myself”… Smiley  But I'll try waxing it with beeswax!

As for the neck tendons, the problem is, it’s a ligament, so the structure is not the same as in a tendon… I never tried to make cordage either from tendons nor from ligament (yet!), but this might be the reason it doesn’t work that well. But if making cordage with ligament works reasonably well, try rather the long one running from the back of the head straight to the withers (not following the spine along the neck) and then lying on top of the spine right to the tail. You’ll have to work a bit to separate it from the spine, but it’s the longest ligament you can find on a carcass. There’s an other one just as long running on the “front” (or rather: “underneath” for an animal walking on 4 legs Smiley ) side of the spine, but the work you have to do just to separate it from the bone probably won’t be worth it…

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Hellfire
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Re: Bows
Reply #14 - Aug 9th, 2005 at 4:01pm
 
It doesnt stretch much, I use a timber hitch on the other end. Its dandy stuff, so I think its polyester. I also use it for them dreamcatchers. Make some money during the summer doing that. About four bucks an hour. Pretty good money considering the general state of my wallet.

Another thing (mainly to moonhunter) How do you prepare nettle cordage? Mine is somewhat.. weaker than it ought to be. I think it might be the species, and maybe what I do to it. How long do you rett it? Do you "water" it every day, or twice a day? I've been thinkin about investing in a kiddy pool for a retting pond. Is yours pretty sturdy stuff?
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