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Part 3 of 7
A lopsided bow is a most disconcerting development sometimes confronting the beginner. Such a bow is dangerous, whether still in the making or finished. Yet we see them not only finished but sold, and wonder where they come from. Apparently there are even those who make bows to sell who do not know how to cure the malady when it appears, and still are not above sending out such sick bows to afflict un-observing archers.
The lopsided bow is a product of one or more of three faults. If the beginner has done roughing out his bow and, having placed a string on it, discovers that it has the appearance of being about to reverse itself, he may learn what is wrong by checking up on these three points: First, the bow may not be wide enough; in which case there can be no cure. Or it may not be quite straight; if so, it can be cured provided there is enough wood left to work on. Last, while the bow apparently is perfectly made, one side (not one limb but one side of both limbs) is considerably stronger than the other and the wood persists in lopping to the weaker side. In this case it is necessary to take off enough wood from the stronger side to equalize matters, when the bow will be found to bend straight when strung.
Before proceeding to regulate a wry bow, try coaxing it. Grip the handle firmly in the bow hand, or if necessary in a vise, and draw the bow up gently, slowly. Repeat this many times. In most cases the defect will be found to have disappeared for good.
Regardless of how it acts when first strung, every new bow should be thus gently and carefully broken in. If it needs regulating, having been braced it should be worked down with a scraper.
Some time ago a well known archer sent me a bow he had made, and wrote me that it had bested him. Try as he might, he said, he could not cure it of turning over.
The bow was a delightful piece of work. It was straight, it was equally regulated, and to all appearances should have been all right. The first thing I did—indeed the only thing— was to string it up and draw it gently, a little at a time, to the full length of the arrow. This the maker evidently did not know he should have done. Then I sent it back, and in due time was complimented on the wonderful job I had done without reducing the weight of the bow!
Bruises in the completed bow are rather commonly disregarded. They nevertheless may tend to weaken the weapon, and of course are unsightly. These blemishes, whether to be traced to carelessness or accident, detract from the pride the archer may take in his bow, and should be removed. The process is simple, except where the fiber of the wood had been severed in the denting. And even then a partial cure may be effected without difficulty.
First place the bow in the vise, with the bruise up. Cover with a piece of thick brown paper fresh from a soaking in hot water. To the wet paper immediately over the bruise apply a hot (almost red hot) soldering iron.
Move the paper along as it shows signs of drying, but of course apply the iron over the bruise. In a few seconds the scar will be found missing, the wood having come back to its original level. Should you overdo the steaming, there will be a bulge. Then you must await thorough drying and rub the spot into its proper level with some heavy piece of smooth metal or wood.
Yes, such little tricks do bring the professional bowyer an occasional bit of easy money; but more important is the satisfaction that comes from bringing pleasure to the archers.