Elm Flat bow???


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Thread: Elm Flat bow???

  1. #1

    Elm Flat bow???

    Just took down part of a large elm tree this evening and saved a fairly straight 8 foot piece about 8" in diameter with the intent to split into staves and try my hand at making a bow.... Have had the urge for a while, but the opportunity presented itself when a storm partially broke a limb that was 15" in diameter and maybe 30' long. THere are a few other limbs of the same size that we are going to take off in the future and may be taking the whole tree down at some point. Trunk is maybe 3' in diameter.... Who knows, I may end up with a bunch of self bows out of th edeal...

    Any suggestions or things to watch out for? Pretty much gonna try to follow Trad Bowyers Bible vol 1... Gonna split it tomorrow evening and remove the bark and inner bark. I would have preferred to do it tonight, but didn't have time.

    I figuring ~68"-70", maybe 2" wide limbs, 55#@32".......We'll see, the worst I can do is add it to the rest of the firewood!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Sounds good! Elm wood is a great bow wood with its interlocking grain.
    If you can remember which is the top of the branch, that would make the best piece of wood for that bow as its been in tension all it's days instead of compression and will allow it to take less set and recover better.
    Split and remove the innerbark is spot on! The widths and lengths are also good.
    Try to place defects if there is any in the handle or outside the limb as you lay out your pattern...ex. pin knots,swirly grain. as you gain experience you can incorperate the character in your bows...

    You just may end up with a bunch of staves,,,nothing wrong with that as I'm certain once you start on one you just can't seem to get enough!
    Good luck! Holler if'n you need any help.
    Galatians 4:16

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  5. #3

    seal the ends of the stave

    What do ya use to seal the ends of the stave while it's drying? I don't have a hot box so I'll probably put them in the shed...

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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Beaver Falls, PA
    For sealing the ends paint or white wood glue will work, but most of the time if you give it one or two days in a dry room that doesn't undergo alot of heat variations, it should split (at least i haven't have one split on me). Most white woods have this quality.

    Once you do get your bow made, try toasting the belly with a heat gun or over the fire- this will help with compression and if you pull it inot a reflex it will add some snap to it.
    Omega Longbows

  8. #5

    no hot box

    Any suggestions since I don't have a hot box?

    I am figuring to leave them in the inlaws shed at this point. Their basement is cool, and mine is cool and damp. Not really anywhere else to put them, maybe in my attic which I have yet to venture into since we bought the place 5 years ago.... Probably more of a crawl space, but it's gotta be hot, dry, and relatively steady temps..... Maybe my mom's attic as it is definitely hot and dry - but is much easier to get into being semi-finished.

    No way to measure the moisture content so I need suggestions on when to start working the staves.... 2 weeks? A month? What about longer term storage of the staves - especially over the winter up here in PA?

    Once I get one whittled down close to shape should I bother to trying to put some reflex in, or take deflex out with steam and binding? May be more than I want to mess with on a first try....

  9. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I don't use a hotbox,, should build one someday....
    I"m not to keen on the downstairs, for storage, too high humidity I'd think.
    Better off upstairs under the bed or dresser where its out of the way
    an attic is almost perfect if access is there. You can leave a few staves outside under cover and bring one or two in the house for quicker working time.
    I also use white wood glue as a end sealer and have had no mishaps..
    I slop it on with my fingers and let it go a couple of inches up the sides as well.. give it a good coat!
    Since the limb has just been split and debarked if you wanted you could start to carve out the top profile and then even reduce the limbs to around a 2" thickness,,, it will dry faster this way and let you get on with the action
    For the first bow I would suggest to just let the wood be itself,,,no heattreating
    later if you wanted you can always experiment... the skys the limit!!
    some love it, personally I find that it takes some give out of the bow and makes it more brash
    slowly start to floor tiller seeing if the limbs will start to bend without taking set
    The first slow pulls on the tillering tree will tell you tons on how much moisture is in the stave... don't make the first pulls big pulls just enough to see if it wants to spring back if it does it is likely ready for continued working ,,,if it seems to bend and want to stay there let tit dry more and slowly reduce belly thickness.
    the shavings coming off your rasp will also tell you if the wood is dry enough, it will be crispy shavings almost you know when its right,, you'll see.
    Some folk even put there wet staves inside a car on hot days to act as a hotbox...
    I'm glad to see you trying out a selfbow project, its great fun and only pulls you in deeper to this great sport of archery
    Hope that helped some... tons of info out there..
    Good luck!
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    Galatians 4:16

  10. #7

    Deeper into archery???

    Helped a bunch. Actually my wife's uncle gave me Trad Bowyers Bible V1 for a birthday present back in the early 90's and I'm just now making the time to act on the urges I've had since we first landed a man on hte moon...
    I'm only 41 and figure to have 35 years in..... with maybe 5 of those using "training wheels".... Just following a natural progression... Besides, It'll help relieve stress......

  11. #8


    Do you prefer off the hand, or do you cut in a shelf?

  12. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I personally don't cut a rest in my bows, I just glue some leather together and then carve it down to hold an arrow and cover with more thin leather.
    Glue this all up with some contact cement and also contact to the bow..
    I make the top of the flares quite narrow though to help with arrow pass..
    These pics might help...
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    Galatians 4:16

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