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Chapter IV
Making the Bow
Part 1 of 10

FIRST of all, let me recommend the beginner if possible to have at hand a professionally made bow for a model to refer to. It will be found very useful during the making of the first bow attempted.

Next, I must emphasize the fact that every stick of bow wood is a law in itself, and that no absolute rule can be laid down for bow making. There can be no fixed standard that will apply to shaping every piece of bow wood into a bow. It is true, there are writers who tell us in set terms just how to take any piece of wood and shape it into a bow. However, these authorities neglect to tell of the number of staves destroyed in the process of producing the weapon they write about. These writers, being amateur bow makers, perhaps can afford such waste of material and time. But the professional, with a living to make and a reputation at stake, must watch his step, as the saying goes, and accordingly he works differently. He does only what he thinks to be absolutely sure of success, being of necessity very jealous of his time and materials. He uses only woods that he can rely upon, for it is up to him as a reputable maker with faith in his own work to guarantee every bow he makes. In the light of this situation, it logically follows that the methods of the practical professional bow maker must command the most respectful attention, to say the least.

Wood grains
Click for a larger image

A. Side view, shows "reed" of grain running down side of bow.
B. Front view, shows rift or chamfer.
C. Cross-section seen from side, showing annular rings, and perpendicular grain or reed.
        1. Back of bow.
        2. Belly of bow.
        3. Sapwood backing.

The average bow demands material in the rough having the following dimensions: at least 1 1/8inches square by 6 feet in length. This is for the average man's bow; for the average woman's bow, the diameter should be 1/8 inch less, and the length at least 5 feet 3 inches. But let me reiterate that there is no absolute rule, as bow woods vary so much.