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Home > Books > The Flat Bow > The Flat Bow - Part 2 of 9
The Flat Bow
Part 2 of 9

If the ends are checked, cut them off. A bow of this type may be 5 ft. 4 in. long if made of hickory, and from 5 ft. 4 in. to 5 ft. 8 in. if made of lemonwood. Measure off 1 in. one way and 3 in. the other way from the center of the stave. This is for the grip or handle. Then measuring from the center of the handle, divide each limb into thirds, and then measure off 2 in. from each side of the nearest mark to the handle. Next mark off the width of the grip, as shown.


The grip should be at least 1 in. wide. For a man's hand it may even be wider. Draw two parallel lines the length of the grip, and then connect the ends of these lines to the ends of the lines marked A, in Figure 3. Be sure that the lines A are equidistant from the center of the grip. From B, Figure 3, draw lines to points located 1/8 in. from each side of the center line at the ends. The exaggerated sketch in Figure 4 shows how the layout should appear.

Now, with a plane or spokeshave, work down the places marked A-B, to form a graceful curve. This will give each limb a long leaf shape, as shown in Figure 5.


A piece of walnut or mahogany may be used for the handle, but any hard wood will do. The piece used should be as wide as the grip, about 1 in. thick and 8 in. long. The good mechanic may glue this piece of wood with its center to the center of the belly side of the grip on the bow. and trim it down later. It may be shaped, however, as shown in Figure 6 before gluing, rounding it and the hack to suit the individual grip.



The final shaping of the bow now begins, but before it is started, a rig for tillering the bow must be made. Tillering means bending the bow while in the process of making, to determine whether or not it is bending properly. The simplest method is with a tillering stick fashioned from a piece of wood 7/8 by 2 by 24 in. shaped as shown in Figure 7. In tillering, the center of the handle of the bow must be placed into the hollowed end of the stick shown in Figure 7, and the string pulled into the notches. See Figure 8.



Chalk lines are drawn on the floor as indicated in Figure 8, and when the tillered bow is laid down as shown, the irregularities of the bow are readily seen.

Another and better way is to fasten the tillering jig, shown in Figure 9, to the wall.

This jig is better than the tillering stick if more bows are to be made. It takes but a minute to lay the bow on the support, hook on the string and pull - a little way at first, and as far as one wishes after the bow gets worked down more. Lines are drawn on the wall for gauging the curve.

The bow must be trimmed down carefully with a sharp spokeshave until the sections shown in Figure 10 have been obtained. The back should have a slight arc, while the belly is rounded more. Now file the nocks as shown in Figure 11. This is done with a small rat-tail file, first rounding off the ends of the bow. Do not run the nock around the back, as this weakens the bow at that point. Next get a strong piece of cord about 1/8 in. thick (no thicker) and loop the ends over the nocks so as to have about 3 or 4 in. clearance at the grip. The proper bracing of the bow will be taken up later. Put the bow on the tillering stick or jig, whichever has been made, and pull to 12 in. This will give a first idea of how strong the bow is.

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