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Home > Books > Archery Tackle > Chapter V > How to make a bow (continued)
How to make a bow (continued)
Part 2 of 6

Laying Out the Bow.—Although the back at this stage is by no means in its finished form, smooth it sufficiently to take a pencil mark clearly and draw the center line as previously explained. The procedure for the layout of the back and sides is similar to the method followed in the making of the lemonwood bow, excepting that the layout dimensions for a yew bow are somewhat greater than for a lemonwood bow of the same strength. Assuming a finished strength of about 45 pounds, the layout dimensions of the back, Figure 6, are as follows: At the handle, 1¼ inches; at 1, 1¼ inches; at 2, 1 316; inches; at 3, 1⅛ inches; at 4, 1516 inch; at 5, 13/15 inch; and at 6, 58 inch. After the points are connected by lines, the surplus wood may be removed from the sides down to these lines, as previously described.

The corresponding depth dimensions on the sides are: At the handle, 1¼ inches; at 1, 1516 inch; and at 6, 58 inch. While the line 1-6 on the side of each limb is perfectly straight, if the stave is straight, allowance must be made for the possible bends in the back in order not to get any part of a limb too thin. In other words, the line 1-6 waves as the back waves. With the points on the two sides connected by lines, the waste wood is now removed from the belly with drawknife and spokeshave. The plane may be used to some extent, depending on the straightness of grain. The caution about taking light cuts is repeated here for the sake of reducing the risk of cutting too deep in a wood which is comparatively soft.

Following the Grain.—The shaping of the belly to its rough dimensions proceeds as before, after which the bow is turned over, back side up, and by means of the cabinet file and pocketknife (used as a scraper) the back is brought as nearly as possible to a condition where a single grainlayer of wood (annual ring) covers the entire surface from one end to the other. That is, the grain must not feather out on the back, or a broken bow may result. This is a little more difficult than it sounds. The grain may be so fine that one or two vigorous strokes of the file may be sufficient to cut completely through one layer. If a pin knot appears on the back it should be raised to compensate for this defect; that is, a small "wart," with the pin knot in the center, is left on the surface. Except for the final smoothing, the back is now, as nearly as later developments will allow, in its final form. The taut thread should be used now to replace the center line. Portions of the old center line which might still be visible are not to be relied upon.

At this juncture, it is desirable to place the horn nocks in position for testing purposes. The temporary self-nocks on yew might not stand up under the strain of a very stiffly drawn bow.