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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I was wondering if you guys could answer a few questions of mine/give a few pointers to a first time bowyer. Sorry in advance if this is kind of long, or if i dump too many questions on you at once.

Lately, I've been wanting to make my own bow. It seems like something that would be tons of fun, and just the thought of showing up to the range with something built with your own two hands sounds extremely satisfying. If possible, I want to make everything myself; bow, bowstring, arrows, the whole 9 yards.

I have done some research into how exactly to go about everything. However, as I am fairly new to archery in general, and have never attempted something like this before, I figured it would be best to talk to real people and get some answers before I delve into it.

First off, my background/limitations. I'm a college kid, and therefore don't have a whole ton of money or tools. The only tool I currently have is a good knife. I'll probably go out and get at least a small c-saw and a set of wood rasps before I begin, but I don't have the money to get expensive tools and jigs. I figure it might take it bit longer, but people have been making this stuff for thousands of years without any fancy equipment.

Now for the questions...

How important is it to get the right kind of wood? I would much prefer to go out to the woods somewhere and find a good log to work on, than buy a plank of wood from a hardware store. However, I don't think I could recognize which trees are which, and as I live in Arizona, selection of good bow wood may be limited.

Is it possible to make a bow without a draw knife? Apparently they are somewhat difficult to find, and are expensive when you do. Could the same work be done with careful whittling instead?

How vital is it not to "violate the growth ring"? All of the videos that I've seen say this. However, I've also seen tutorials of people making 50-60lb bows out of hardwood boards(which obviously don;t follow a single ring) that work just fine. I'm going to do my best to follow a single ring, but do I have to throw out the stave and start over if I accidentally cut too deep?

What about backing/finishing? Due to my inexperience, and the above mentioned problem it seems like a good idea to back the bow somehow. Sinew backing seems a bit complicated, and the materials are not easily acquired. Anyone ever backed a bow with rawhide from dog treats? How well does a cloth backing work?

How helpful is it to have a tillering jig? I've seen it done with and without one. Do i need to make one?

What material would you suggest for the bowstring? I am willing to use more modern materials, however i have no idea where to get Dacron, Fastflight, etc or how much it costs. Maybe look for waxed linen at a craft store? Also, how many strands for each material? My target draw weight is 40-45 lb.

Serving the string... If I were to go with a less modern string, with what would I serve it? should I even worry about serving the string? Should I attempt to serve the ends, like store bought strings? And can I get away without a serving jig?

For the arrows, I was planning on using a dowel as the shaft, and making my own fletchings out of feathers from a craft store.

What can i use as arrow heads? These arrows will not be used for hunting, so I don't want a broad head. Modern arrowheads/points go inside the shaft, which is a problem, and traditional arrow heads sell for $5-$10 each online, which seems a bit pricey. Any ideas?

How do you suggest going about fletching without a jig? it must be possible...

Again, sorry for all the questions, and thanks in advance. :)
 

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May the force be with you! Thats quite an undertaking. I'd post this in the traditional archery section. Those guys know all the ins and outs of that stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good idea. However, i get a "spam score" error when i try to post a copy there..

as far as the bow goes use a good edge grained board and back with a piece of 1/8" hickory
I would much prefer to work with something that is not pre-cut, if possible.
 

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good for you not wanting to use anything pre cut but there is still no shame in that. most people would never even attempt to make there own bow never mind arrows and all the stuff to go with it!
 

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For making a self-bw from a stave:

- no backing necessary (but sinew makes an excellent backing and rawhide is a workable alternative --- see Jim Hamm's books for a mention of this, most cloth just prevents splinters from lifting, but silk will actually ``work'')
- a good bow wood is very important, but grain is more important --- get a good stave
- required tools are minimal --- a draw knife and a shaving horse or other clamp for holding a stave is nice, but not necessary. Absolute minimum: knife, saw, Nicholson 4-way rasp, round chain saw file, clamps and cauls, hatchet for rough shaping staves; nice to add: Surform rasp, plane(s), round (word for illegitimate child) file, flat file, coping saw, farrier's rasp; luxuries: band saw, &c.
- a tillering tree is very nice to have and makes things much more manageable --- make one from a board and some dowels --- also make a ``tillering gizmo'' (a scrap of wood w/ a hole for a pencil which allows one to mark a bent stave on the tillering tree)
- linen is a good traditional string material --- serve it w/ silk buttonhole thread
- dowels can be used for arrows but grain is key --- discard any w/ grain run out and build a spine tester
- a fletching jig can be made of Lego bricks, or just carefully cut a piece of cardboard w/ a hole the diameter of your shaft and three slots 120 degrees apart to function as a guide
- get some used brass ammunition cases from a gun range --- 9 mm, .357 magnum and 38 Special are good sizes to use as blunt arrow points.

This book may be of interest to you:

http://www.archerylibrary.com/books/flatbow/

William
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the input.

It should be easy for me to get a hold of brass; basically everyone in my family does some kind of reloading. But what should I use them for exactly?
 

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Edited my post to read:

- get some used brass ammunition cases from a gun range --- 9 mm, .357 magnum and 38 Special are good sizes to use as blunt arrow points.
 

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for building a takedown long reflex deflex does any one know about stacking with one? would a 56 inch bow be too short for a 28.5 inch draw length?
 
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