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The Flat Bow
Part 5 of 9

Another thing to remember when making a recurved bow is that the handle is not to be glued on until after the ends have been steamed. It is well also to leave enough wood on the ends to allow for some cutting down. Before beginning the steaming, the bending form shown in Figure 23 must be made. A piece of 2-in. plank will be required for this. After cutting the end of the plank to the radius shown, fasten a loop of band iron, as shown at A in Figure 23, to the plank with a couple of stove bolts. This loop should have enough opening to hold the end of the bow.


To prevent the bow end from splitting while it is being bent, place a piece of strap iron 1 or 1 1/2, in. wide by 1/16 in. thick and 12 in. long over it as shown in Figure 24. For lemonwood, the loop should be placed as at B, in Figure 23, and the lemonwood should be steamed for at least an hour. Next put about 2 in. of water in the boiler, and put one end of the bow in. Yew, Osage, locust, or hickory require from 30 to 45 minutes of actual steaming.

Get the form ready and have the clamp properly set. If clamps are not available, use rope to tie the bow to the form. After the end has been properly steamed, put it into the loop, place the piece of iron over it, and with an even pressure bend it to the form as shown in Figure 24. The bending should be done smoothly, without haste, but there is no time to waste or the wood will cool off and the steaming will have to be done all over again - or probably it will be necessary to make a new bow.

If rope is used, wrap it around the whole plank.

Allow the bow to remain on the form for four hours or longer. Steam and bend the other end in the same way. Then glue the handle in place. The bow should then be hung up somewhere to dry for about a week to be sure all the moisture is out of the ends.

The bow is then ready for the nocks which should be carefully cut or filed with a rat-tail file and the rest of the end worked down to shape. Then file the string groove and the bow is ready for tillering and working down to a proper curve. It is a bit harder to string a recurved bow than a straight bow, but with a little practice the knack will be acquired. The beginner should be careful not to get his fingers under the string.

Next, sight the bow as shown in Figure 25, to see if the bending has been properly done. If not, the bow may have to be steamed over again.