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Making Lemonwood Bows

Nine-tenths of all good bows made in this country are Lemonwood. Lemonwood bowstaves are different from yew and osage staves. They are sawn from the spar. The trees grow straight and round and the grain runs true, making it possible to saw out staves with the grain running from end to end. While it may be better to make a Lemonwood bow with the grain running flat, in practice it doesn't seem to make any difference whether the grain runs flat, diagonally or some other way. This is such a hard, dense, close grained wood, that the direction may be ignored.

In my shop Lemonwood Bowstaves are prepared in various ways. There are plain square staves, square staves backed with rawhide or fibre, roughed out or semi-finished plain staves, and roughed out or semi-finished staves backed with rawhide or fibre.

Staves are also selected for quality, as you will see in the catalog. The Blue Ribbon Staves are the cream of the crop. From these staves self and backed bows may be made. Your bow may be plain ended, that is, have the notches cut into the wood itself, or you may tip it with cow horn, stag horn or fibre.

Semi-finished bowstaves have a good portion of the preliminary work done. Their general outline is that of the finished product. Square staves must first be planed to the approximate shape of the bow. If you are going to make a plain self bow, the first work is done on the back. Staves from us have the backs marked. No work need be done on the back of a rawhide or fibre backed stave, since the backing is smooth and ready for sandpapering and polish. A self bow is one that is made of a single piece of wood, without backing.

The tools needed are—two small steel block planes, one set fine and one set very fine, (and they must be sharp), coarse and fine wood rasps, fine wood file, six inch round rat-tailed file, coarse, medium and fine sandpaper, steel wool, jackknife and a scraper. (The Hook Scraper No. 25 made by the Hook Scraper Co. is excellent.)