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PVC shortbow (Read 31069 times)
Thunder Chief
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PVC shortbow
Mar 3rd, 2013 at 6:51pm
 
Far from my beloved warbow and unable to build a new one, I decided to see what all this hullabaloo about flattened PVC bows was about, so last week I went out and bought a length of 1" sch40 pipe and some wood to make a jig.  Now, I've always been enthralled by the vague and mysterious tales of the Welsh shortbow, so I hewed a four foot section from my pipe and and proceeded to make it all mushy on the stovetop.  Over the course of an hour, I tapered both limbs, flattened the handle in the opposite direction, and cut some nocks.  It ended up a little lopsided (like a bad tiller job on a selfbow), but it evens out in the draw and shoots straight.

This thing is a beast.  I'm a tall dude and I draw to the point of my jaw.  When I stand up straight and make the bow-pulley motion with a tape measure, I have a 36-37" draw, and my arrows are yard long, English style arrows.  My draw with this bow is something more like 29", so I scrunch up close to ten inches.  Strung with paracord at full brace, the measured pull is around 75# at 28".  It's got some string follow, but it isn't much and I don't think it's affecting the pull much.  This bow is a hoot to shoot and I can feel it in my triceps and back muscles after I've been shooting it for a while.  All told, this bow cost me about $3 and an hour of my time between classes, and I ended up with a fun, powerful shortbow.
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Steven
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #1 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 8:52am
 
#75  Shocked I didn't realize a squashed PVC bow could be that heavy with a relatively small PVC pipe.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #2 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 9:27am
 
I made the Backyard Bowyer's "youth recurve" from 1" PVC and it only draws about 30 pounds as the lad says.   Good cast though... Quite credible.
Dunno how you'd get 75 unless you went to bigger pipe.
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Dan
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #3 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 9:36am
 
You can get a lot of variation depending in draw weight depending on how much you flatten the pipe.

However, the more round the pipe, the more apt it is to breaking. Part because of the increased preasure on the belly/back and also because of the increased draw weight.

Glad you are having fun with it. You'll see improvment in each further bow, each pvc bow builds up your expiereience.

At 4ft you are probably getting some serious stack at 29" but it still sounds cool.
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Thunder Chief
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #4 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 1:23pm
 
Bikewer wrote on Mar 4th, 2013 at 9:27am:
I made the Backyard Bowyer's "youth recurve" from 1" PVC and it only draws about 30 pounds as the lad says.   Good cast though... Quite credible.
Dunno how you'd get 75 unless you went to bigger pipe.


Really? I used 1" as well.  In the video, he uses 3/4".  Maybe you're just much stronger than you thought Roll Eyes

Dan, as to stacking, I'm not going to say it's not doing it, but I'm not really having trouble with it.  It does get significantly more serious about an inch past my anchor point.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #5 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 6:01pm
 
Maybe the difference is in how the pipe is described.  Nominal 3/4" is just over 1" outside diameter, and 1" is just under 1&3/8" outside. Different specifications have different wall thicknesses, too.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #6 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 6:58pm
 
I'd like to see pictures of your Welsh bow!

Ironically enough, I just finished my PVC Horsebow using the Backyard Bowyer's tutorials. I tried 1" pipe and couldn't draw it at all, so I went down to 3/4#. As near as I can tell it's about 35-40# pull and a 24" draw (I might be able to draw more out of it, but one limb makes me think it's going to collapse.)

It took me 3 tries to get it right. The first two times I had limbs collapse before I modified my jig to work better. (More on that at the end of the post.)

Here's a few pics of my bow:

Unstrung with my two finished arrows

...

Strung. The string is 6 strands of twisted waxed nylon "thread" the same stuff they sew saddles together with. It looks a lot like artificial sinew, and is cheap, so I use it. I served the whole mess with some nylon thread I bought at an army surplus store.

...

One of the ends. I had trouble getting the taper right and getting my epoxy putty to stay in, so I wrapped it with more waxed nylon thread and braided  gaucho knots out of flattened paracord to make it look decent. Then I soaked the knot in superglue to keep it from fraying.

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Almost at full draw. The top limb always seems like its going to collapse to me.

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The grip. I'm a lefty, so I made it a left-handed bow. I wrapped it with buckskin from an old coat, but I had to glue a piece of linen to the back of the buckskin to keep it from tearing when I pulled everything tight. The arrow rest is made of some more putty and glued into place. (Obviously I spray painted the whole thing black, just for looks)

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Front view of the grip. You can see I didn't quite get the limbs lined up when I flattened them, and I didn't realize it until I was almost done. The knots are called pineapple knots. I chose blue and white because those are the colors on the family coat of arms. The knots didn't turn out quite as nice as I liked, partially because of the odd shape they cover, and partially because my braiding needs practice.

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You can see how it's kind of warped in this shot.

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The arrows are made from poplar dowels I bought for about .86 cents each. Each dowel was long enough for two arrows. The feathers I got from Culligan, of all places. The Culligan store in our area gives out headbands to the kids each year. I know the owner, so he hooked me up.

...

The heads were made from old spoons. I beat the handles flat with a hammer and then shaped them with a dremel. Cheap, crappy metal, but they'll poke a hole in something. I smeared superglue on the string and the nocks to help them last longer. The dirt is from testing them out.

I counted it up once. I have 6 bows in my house (2 PVC bows, a hickory bow I made for my oldest son, a crappy plastic kids toy bow, a 20# Bear fiberglass recurve, and a youth compound bow), and a total of 2 finished arrows.

...


HOW I MODIFIED MY JIG

My limbs kept collapsing at the base of the grip, where the jig was pressing a sharp crease into the pipe. To fix that, I took a half-round file and ran it through the space between the "legs" of the jig, so it has a nice curve instead of a sharp edge. If anyone's interested I'll take a picture of it.

One thing I learned is critical, is making sure the limbs are straight before you flatten them. If I'd done that, I wouldn't have had all the warping issues. I'd also recommend making a jig out of a 2x4. I used a 1x4 and it tends to warp when I'm putting my weight on it to flatten the pipe, which makes the limbs taper weird.

Now as soon as it warms up, I'm going to try a little mounted archery!

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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #7 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 8:23pm
 
I think you did an outstanding job on that bow, and your arrows are pretty good, too.  The bow bends the way it does because the limbs are exactly equal.  Next bow, make the top limb a little longer, that ought to even out the draw force.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #8 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 9:12pm
 
Kjev, that settles that...you are the last straw I needed to convince me to try all this PVC bow business.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #9 - Mar 4th, 2013 at 11:19pm
 
Bill Skinner wrote on Mar 4th, 2013 at 8:23pm:
I think you did an outstanding job on that bow, and your arrows are pretty good, too.  The bow bends the way it does because the limbs are exactly equal.  Next bow, make the top limb a little longer, that ought to even out the draw force.


Easy enough. Any idea how much longer?

Arcane Tinker wrote on Mar 4th, 2013 at 9:12pm:
Kjev, that settles that...you are the last straw I needed to convince me to try all this PVC bow business.


It's really easier than I thought it would be. I have a heat gun now, but I just used a burner on an electric stove. My brother tried it using a blowtorch (the kind used to cut steel). His problem was not scorching the pipe. Harbor Freight (if there's one in your area) sells a dual-temp heat gun for around 20 bucks. If you can find a coupon (there's one in Reader's Digest all the time, or in the store), you can get it for about $8.00.

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K'Jev  Cool
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Thunder Chief
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #10 - Mar 5th, 2013 at 2:41am
 
Alright! I figured out the whole photobucket thing.

Here's my bow.  Bear in mind, I made it between classes with little to no regard for aesthetics.  I might paint it some suitably earthy color so it doesn't stick out so much, but then it won't look quite so innocuous.  That picture makes it look more lopsided than it is, but I swear, when fully drawn the tips are even.  It's strung with paracord at the moment.

...

I'm not much of a fletcher, but the arrow in the previous picture is just a touch over 36" long and made of 3/8" oak.  It is excessively heavy, but hits with some kind of authority.  I've never had great luck with poplar.  It's got two fletches made from the choicest, hand-picked craft-store feathers and bound with paracord gut thread.  These are my three surviving arrows.  They all have wickedly crooked fletches because the feather heels over flat against the shaft, but they all fly pretty straight.

...

And these are the heads.  They're steel tubing beaten flat on the end and ground to shape.  They are very durable, easy to haft and work with, and suitably medieval-esque.  Maybe I'll do a tutorial on them sometime.  I started out securing them with wood glue, but it makes it nigh impossible to remove the head from a broken shaft, so most of these are press fitted or hot-glued.  I think I stuck one on with wax...

...

And my war-arrow type nocks.  They're short and if you're not shooting bare-handed (like with a band-aid or a glove) they're sometimes tough to keep on the string, but they are very durable

...

What is that on the nock you ask? Well, that's blood.  My blood.  Archery tends to be a relatively blood-drenched sport for me.  Maybe I should get on that... Undecided

Arcane tinker, these are easy rewarding projects.  I just did mine on the stovetop.  You should definitely give it a try.
Kjev, I am thoroughly impressed by your work.  I especially like all the knots, I've been wanting to learn to do that.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #11 - Mar 5th, 2013 at 5:35am
 
They look good! I only have two arrows because when it comes right down to it, I HATE fletching. Maybe because I don't do it often enough that I'm remedially slow at it.

BTW, I have a PDF copy of Paleoarts' fletching tutorial if you're interested. Just PM me.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #12 - Mar 5th, 2013 at 7:39am
 
Topic added to the PW's Indx.
Cool bows guys!!
Greetings,
Mauro.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #13 - Mar 5th, 2013 at 9:02am
 
Here's a tip.... Cut those nocks across the grain, rather than with it... They may split.

Also, you can reinforce the nock area by drilling a small hole through the shaft and gluing in a little piece of hardwood dowel.   If you leave a little bit of the dowel exposed next to the "cock" feather, then you can "feel" the proper orientation of the arrow without looking at it.
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Re: PVC shortbow
Reply #14 - Mar 5th, 2013 at 9:03am
 
I see the auto-censor will still not allow the word that refers to a male chicken.... Thus the "thingy" instead of the word we would recognize for the feather that will sit at right angles to the bow.
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