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How to make a bow
Part 7 of 8

Making the Horn Tips.—After the coat of shellac is dry enough to be handled, we turn our attention to the nocks. They were previously made directly on the wood to permit testing of the bow while the shaping progressed. However, while often omitted from the less expensive bows, separate tips for the nocks are usually recommended because they are more safe and add an ornamental touch to the ends of the bow. Of the different materials used for this purpose, horn of cattle is generally favored because of its toughness, durability, and the readiness with which it can be worked. A pair of cow-horn tips ready for the ends of the bow may be bought at reasonable cost, but in many instances the amateur bowyer wants the satisfaction of making every part of the bow. To those who have this praiseworthy pride of craftsmanship, the following directions are given:

FIGURE 14. Reaming a Horn Tip Clamped Between Wooden Blocks
FIGURE 14
Reaming a Horn Tip
Clamped Between
Wooden Blocks

Cut off about 3 inches or so of the tips of a pair of cow horns. Using one as a pattern, carve out hollows in two blocks of wood, Figure 13, in such manner that when the tip is inserted between the blocks, it fits closely half in one block, half in the other, while the inner faces of the two blocks almost touch but not quite. With this device each horn may be clamped rigidly in a vise without damage so that a tapered hole to fit over the end of the bow may be bored in it, Figure 14. The shape of the drill generally used is such that it will bore a hole like that shown by the dotted lines of Figure 7. The hole should be 1⅛ inches deep, 716 inch in diameter at the opening and, with a curving taper, should come to a point at the bottom. The drill cannot be purchased out of stock but may be made to special order.

FIGURE 13. Grooved Blocks for Clamping Horn Tips
FIGURE 13. Grooved Blocks for Clamping Horn Tips

As an alternative, a 516 inch hole 1⅛, inches deep may be bored in each horn tip with an ordinary drill and the hole then reamed out with a Greenfield Repairmen's Reamer No. 5 after 1 58; inches have been ground off the end of the reamer. This will produce a straight tapered hole 716 inch at the top and 516 inch at the bottom.

Shape the ends of two sticks of wood to fit into the holes of the horns and glue them in place with ordinary liquid glue. These sticks will be useful to hold on to while the horns are being worked. After the glue has set, proceed to file each horn roughly to shape with the cabinet file, following the illustrations of Figure 7 as a guide. Finish with pocketknife, small mill file, and ribbon emery cloth. Use the 4-inch rattail file to form the sloping grooves or nocks, placing each groove c below the end of the wooden tip d. These horn ends should be so formed that they will lean slightly backward when fastened in position. When finished, remove them from the supporting sticks, first placing them in boiling water to soften the glue. So shape each end of the bow that not only will it fit accurately into the tapered hole, but also will go clear to the bottom of it. The end may be covered with chalk for each trial fitting and the tip rotated back and forth over it. The chalk will be rubbed off on the high spots, which may then be reduced. Thus gradually the end is formed to a perfect fit.

Cement the tips firmly to the bow by first slightly roughening the ends and then by applying a glue such as "Sure Grip," in which the evaporation of moisture is not an important element to its hardening. The glue container is simply placed in boiling water until the glue liquefies, and after warming the parts to be joined, the glue is applied and the parts fitted together.