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Chapter IV
Making the Bow
Part 4 of 10

Having clearly in mind the proper surfaces of the bow stave to be chosen for the sides of the bow, it will be understood that the surface forming the back and that forming the belly, being at right angles with the bow's sides must show the flat of the grain, previously referred to as the rift, feather or chamfer. For our purpose we will call it the rift, as this is the expression most used.

Having arrived at a clear understanding of what constitutes grain and what the rift, the beginner will more thoroughly understand the reason for the rule previously given that the grain should not cross the bow under 15 inches. It is easy to make this measurement, by following any individual line of the grain, from where it appears as a rift mark across the belly, to where it appears as a rift mark across the back.

And now assuming a satisfactory bow stave has been selected, the amateur will require a template or pattern for use in laying out the bow on the bow stave. An expert bowyer with a good eye for the work can dispense with this pattern; but nevertheless few of even the best makers will be found doing so. Make this tem-plate of any soft wood, preferably 1x2 inch, straight and smoothly planed. On this strip of pattern wood, first draw a center line 6 feet 2 inches long. With this line to work from, proceed as follows, referring to the accompanying illustration for guidance: first lay out the handle. Make a mark exactly midway the center line. From this midway mark, place a mark on the center line I inch toward one end of the template being laid out; from the midway mark, measure 3 inches toward the other end and place a mark. This provides 4 inches for the handle. Now measure out at each side from the center line at these guide marks for the handle and make four corner marks, each 9/16 of an inch at a right angle to one side and the other of the handle marks already placed on the center line. Last, join these four corner marks by drawing straight lines. These lines will be two each of the same dimensions, the short ones crossing the center line being 1 1/8 inches, the long ones 4 inches. Thus when completed the diagram for the handle will be a rectangle, 1 1/8 inches x 4 inches.

This detailed instruction for laying out the handle of the template is given for the reason that the handle provides the base from which to work, and its location is 1 inch off, or toward one end, of the exact middle.

Now to conclude: Next, measure out from these handle marks the necessary distance toward each end of the template to the point which is to be the end of the limb of the bow; these points being located by measuring an equal distance from the middle mark of the template, and not by measuring from the pattern lines of the handle. Thus it will be seen that one limb of the bow is to be shorter than the other. Having located these end marks on the center line, measure out at right angles to each of them and place a mark 5/16 of an inch on each side. The four marks thus made will be in two parts, each two marks being 5/8 of an inch apart, and the distance from one pair to the other being the length of the template or pattern for the bow. Now, last of all, take a straight-edge and draw four lines connecting these two pairs of end marks with the four corners of the rectangle forming the handle pattern, and conclude by drawing a 5/8 inch line at right angles connecting each pair of end marks. The template is now laid out, or completed. (See diagram.)

fig. 6
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Select stave 6 feet long by 1 1/8 inches square. First, mark off dead center, A. Then from end to end draw a line through middle, B. One inch from center line, A, draw line across back at C. Three inches from A, draw another line across stave at D. This gives 4-inch area for handle, C upper, D lower. From C, draw two lines to end of arm E and F, each 5/16 inch from center line, B, and 5/8 inch from one to the other. Repeat from D to other end, and trim off bye-wood. Then from C at belly of stave, draw line on side of stave to G, 5/8 inch from back. Repeat from D to other end, and trim off bye-wood.