The Archery Library
Old Archery Books, Articles and Prints
Home > Books > Archery Tackle > Chapter V > How to make a bow (continued)

Chapter V

How to make a bow (continued)
Part 1 of 6
b. making a lady's or boy's bow

The Procedure for making a light bow suitable for a woman or boy corresponds in every way to the details given for the construction of a man's bow and they should be followed exactly.

Selection and Layout of Stave.—We will assume that the bow to be made is to have a strength of 30 pounds at the full draw of 25 inches. We will select a good lemonwood stave 5½ feet long and not less than 1 inch square. Of course, all the dimensions of this bow will be less than those of the 45-pound bow. In laying out the stave, place the mark d 1 inch above the center c, Figure 6, and e 2½ inches below c. This will make the grip 3½ inches wide. In the penciled layout of the back, make the width 1 inch at d and e, 1 inch at 1, 1516 inch (full) at 2, ⅞ inch at 3, 1316 inch at 4, 1116 inch at 5, and ½ inch at 6. On the sides, mark a depth of 1 inch at d and e, 1316 inch at 1, and ½ inch at 6. As with the larger bow, connect all points with lines. From now on proceed to make the bow according to the directions given for the 45-pound bow, remembering that, in testing its strength, the full distance to be drawn is 25 inches and the fistmele is reduced to about 5% inches. In Table I, Chapter IV, will be found the dimensions of a 35-pound lemonwood bow in the writer's collection. They are given as a guide and must not be taken to be correct for all 5½-foot lemonwood bows of that strength.

c. making the yew bow

Sooner or later the desire of the enthusiast to make a yew bow will become so insistent that he will lay aside all doubts concerning his ability to do so and proceed with the task. The following information, it is hoped, will be of value to those who are yet to make their first bows of yew.

Selection of Stave.—A 6-foot stave should be at least 1¼ inches wide to produce with certainty a bow for the man of average strength. As a rule it will be necessary to rely on the dealer in bow woods to select a good yew stave, and usually he will do his best, though he is not infallible. In most cases, a good piece of yew will be of fine grain but not all staves of fine-grained yew make good bows. Only staves which have been air-dried over a long period of time, usually several years, should be used.

Another requirement of a good stave is that it shall be free from knots, excepting only, of necessity, a few pin knots, for which compensation can be made. The back (sapwood) particularly should be most free from blemish. Still another requirement is that the grain shall not wave and twist to an unreasonable degree. An absolutely straight grain in a yew stave is a rarity.

The Spliced Joint.—Because a good 6-foot stave is not so readily found as shorter lengths, it is a rather common practice to split or saw a wide 3½-foot billet in two and join the ends with a glued splice, as illustrated by Figure 9. Either splice B or C makes a good joint, but B is more difficult to make properly; on the other hand, it has the shorter splice which, therefore, may be concealed by the wrapping on the handle. The saw cuts forming the ends for splicing run from the belly to the back of the bow and are made on the ends which were side by side in the billet.

The making of a spliced joint requires skill; unless the amateur has it to the necessary degree, he should either have the work done by an expert or he should secure a single full-length stave. In either event the treatment from then on is the same.

Preparing the Back.—Remembering that the sapwood is the back of the bow, plane off the sides of the stave just enough to smooth the surface for marking purposes and to note the flow of grain. Good yew has a sharp line of separation between the sapwood and heartwood. Using this line as a guide, draw on each side of the stave another line in the sapwood ¼ inch from and parallel to it the full length of the stave. Carefully preserve in the penciled lines the natural undulations of the grain. With a drawknife and spokeshave remove the bark and surplus sapwood down to these penciled lines while retaining the natural curve of the log in the form of a slightly crowned back. The hand plane is not of much use here. Humps in the wood are not to be cut through but followed in contour throughout. Figure 15, A, shows a portion of a roughed-out yew bow stave with the undulating layer of sapwood a quarter of an inch thick.