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Chapter IV
Making the Bow
Part 6 of 10

Now to shape the belly. First, take the straight-edge and draw guide lines for the belly as follows: at the points previously marked for the handle and ends of the bow, make a horizontal mark on each side, those at the handle the width of the stave, and at the ends extending 5/8 of an inch back at a right angle from the top surface of the back of the bow. To the ends of the two marks thus made at the bow's ends, draw a line on each side from the two inside (belly) corners of the handle as marked out. (See diagram.)

Next, with a spoke-shave or a plane roughly cut down the belly to these guide lines. Then your bow will have reached a square-edged shape approximating the tapers from the handle to ends that it must have when finished.

Working with the unfinished back of the bow stave as the base, the shaping of the belly is now to be undertaken. If the maker happens to know a wood-working shop, perhaps he will think well of taking his bow there to get it finished. If he does, the woodworker can quickly dress it down to the lines laid out. Then if there is a novelty, or spindle machine, this can be used to as quickly round out the belly to the pattern desired. After which, when the back is roughly rounded and shallow temporary notches have been cut at the extreme ends for the bowstring, the new bow may be strung. However, I imagine that the average man or youth attempting the task will have no thought of bow making as a trade, and will be little interested in machine work. So we will proceed on the supposition that it is to be entirely a hand job.

I have previously spoken of using three tools —ax, plane and spoke-shave. Common sense will prevent any further use of the ax; but it is necessary to say a word of warning against the spoke-shave. This excellent tool like the draw-knife so commonly an accessory of the home work-bench, must not be used further. Because with it there is grave danger of cutting hollows, deeper than is intended. Actually, even for roughing out the bow to the shape now reached in this discussion, the best tool is a jack plane. One 3 inches wide by 15 inches long is about right to avoid side jumping and making hollows.

For roughly rounding off the belly, an ordinary hand plane should be used. In this work, fasten the stave down on the bench, and take the wood down from the handle to each end. Watch the dimensions closely, and do not take off too much wood in your hurry to get your bow strung up.

Remember, your stave was cut down "square" to 1 1/8 inches wide, 1 1/8 inches deep at the 4-inch grasp, or handle, then tapering to 5/8 of an inch by 5/8 of an inch at each end. With the top surface of the back of the bow left untouched, or in other words absolutely straight. Thus the taper of the flat of the bow was equal from each side of the center line that was laid out first of all. But with the back of the bow serving as the base for laying out the belly taper-marked on the sides—the angle is all on the belly side. The back remains straight as when the stave was still untouched. (See diagram.)