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Chapter I

Making the Bow

Part 4 of 6

Connect I and M, J and N, K and O, L and P, with straight lines. The wood outside these lines must be cut away, as shown in Figure 6. This can be done most quickly with a drawknife or a jointer plane. The purpose is to get rid of this excess material by working from the center of the stave toward the ends, with the grain of the wood.

Figures 6 to 10. Details for shaping the bow
Click for a larger image

Cut this waste stock away to the lines. Then turn the stave on its side and at each end, ½ inch from the back, mark the points R and S as in Figure 7. On the lines D and E, 7/8 inch from the back, mark T and U. Connect the points T and R, U and S, with straight lines, and cut away the shaded parts of the wood from the last two lines to the belly of the stave, as in Figure 8. Here again, use the drawknife or a heavy plane to rough this off quickly, working from the center toward the ends as before. Care must be taken, though, not to take off, or go below, any of these lines, as both limbs must taper evenly from the center, or handle, to the tips.

Next, round off the belly of the bow. The most accurate way to get the best shape, as in the long bow, is as follows:

On the belly at the ends of the stave, measure from each edge one fourth of the total width of the stick. (See Fig. 10.) If the ends are ½ inch, this measurement will be inch from each side. Mark these points on both ends V, as in Figure 9. At the lines D and E also meas­ure one fourth of the total width, or ⅛ inch. Mark these points, on both lines, W. Connect V and W, and also W and W, with straight lines along both limbs of the stave. Turn the stave on its side, and at the ends measure one half the thickness, in this case ¼ inch. Connect these points as you did V and W, and W and W. Do this on both sides of the stave.

The stock on the corners of the belly, lying between these lines, should be planed off. Figure 9 is enlarged to show the detail of the ends and handle; also an end view showing the portions to cut away. The small sharp corners that are left may be planed off carefully with the plane set fine. This gives an irregular rounded surface which can be further evened with strips of No. 1 sandpaper, or speed grit from a power sanding machine. Tear these strips about 2 inches wide, and tack a small block at each end for handle grips. Clamp the bow in a vise, back down, with one limb projecting. Lay the strip of paper over the belly and rasp with a seesaw motion from the handle toward the tips, until it has a nicely rounded form. Reverse the limbs in the vise, and repeat this last performance.

English bow makers leave the back of the bow perfectly flat, merely taking off the sharp corners. American archers round off the back, to conform somewhat with the curve of the growth rings.