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Anyone here build bows? Bowyers unite!!!
#1
Just wondering if anyone here shares my fascination with longbows, recurves, horse bows, etc.

I like to build bows and traditional arrows in my spare time.

Here is a longbow I finished a few months ago. Its design is based on the Holmegaard bow. It is tillered to 45# at 28" and is about 66" from tip to tip. It is carved from red oak, and has a leather cord handle wrap.

I put a backing of fibreglass tape on this bow, because of the unusual design I didn't trust my skills to make it a self bow. My next Holmegaard will be a self bow.

What makes the Holmegaard intriguing is its design. The outer 1/3 of the limbs are static. The inner 2/3 are the working limbs, and those stiff outer limbs act as levers, effectively boosting power and speed. This design is best illustrated in the first picture. You can see that the inner portion of the limbs are wide and flat, and taper down to the "levers" which are not flat, and therefore do not bend much, if at all.

The Holmegaard bow (named so because it was discovered in a place called Holmegaard) is the one of the oldest bows ever discovered, dated about 9000 years old. What's interesting about it is that the bow predates warfare, agriculture, even things like cloth and the wheel. The people that designed the Holmegaard were incredibly primitive. Just hunter-gatherers, and yet the Holmegaard design is one of the most complex selfbow designs in the world. It is also incredibly efficient for a selfbow, although it is surpassed in that category by recurves.


I am currently hunting for a decent piece of hickory to make my next bow: A recurved self bow. Should be lots of fun! Anyways, here are the pictures of the aforementioned bow, as well as some pics of my (also handmade) arrows:

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snakeman21, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Sep 2012.
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#2
It looks great! How does it shoot, and where did you learn how to make one? I doubt I'd be good at it, but would love to learn how to make one.
Shadowline, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Sep 2012.
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#3
Nice work, your workmanship shows competence. Please keep us posted with pictures.

Thanks for sharing.

List of archery terms (I need it frequently):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_archery_terms
Subject matter expert on questions no one's asking.
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#4
Shadowline;19150 Wrote:It looks great! How does it shoot, and where did you learn how to make one? I doubt I'd be good at it, but would love to learn how to make one.

Actually shoots very well.

As to where I learned to do it, the answer is Google. There is a myriad of information out there if you look for it. There are a few forums dedicated to traditional bows, and several people post nice build-alongs and photos, as well as tips and advice such as how to build a tillering tree.

When you're first reading about all the factors you need to control to make a decent bow, the task seems quite daunting. But as you build it, you realize that while it does take some skill and careful crafting, it is not as difficult as it seems. Probably the easiest design for a beginner to attempt is an American flatbow.

You don't need to spend an arm and a leg to do this, either. No power tools were used to build my Holmegaard. Actually, the hardest tool to get was the most important one: A drawknife. You simply cannot go to a hardware store and pick one up. You also don't want to go to an antique store and pay $40 for a simple carbon steel blade with a handle at each end. I just put up an ad on craigslist asking if anyone had one lying around that they were willing to sell.

The point is, building bows is a hobby that doesn't require much of an investment. The raw materials are cheap. Sure, you can use staves that cost you $100. But if you're very picky and now what to look for, you can select a perfectly good board from Lowe's that will perform beautifully. Arrow shafts? Wooden dowels. Once again, discretion is key. When I buy shafts, I usually spend a couple of hours in the store, going through literally hundreds or even over a thousand dowels, inspecting them for relative straightness, grain orientation, and a vague idea of spine weight. After going through all those hundreds of dowels, I may come home with between 10 and 20 workable shafts.

All of the tools I use--tools for carving bows, straightening arrows, fletching arrows, making arrowheads, the whole shebang--fit into a little bathroom sized garbage can. The only one that is big is the tillering tree that I built from a 2x4 and a piece of plywood. All the tools you need are pretty cheap, and common enough that you probably already have most. The only exception, as I mentioned, is the drawknife. Some of the tools are things I made, too. For example, the arrow straightener I use for correcting minor bends is simply a chunk of scrap wood with a hole drilled in it. My fletching jig is just a piece of cardboard with a hole in the center and three equally spaced slits leading away from the hole. The scale that I use for measuring draw weight is actually a luggage scale I had lying around. It is basically the same design as a fish scale and it goes up to 80 pounds.

If you are good at it, you can go to the Home Depot, get yourself a board of your desired type and select a good one. Spend $10 on the board and maybe $5 on a few good dowels. Then you can turn around and sell the bow and arrows for a few hundred dollars, easy.
snakeman21, proud to be a member of pa2a.org since Sep 2012.
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#5
I just stumbled across this thread and I am glad I did. That bow looks great and you should definitely be proud of it! Great job and keep posting those photos.

GB
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Certified Range Safety Officer. Proud member of the NRA, GOA and GSSF. PA2A since Sep 2012.
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#6
snakeman21;19799 Wrote:...
You don't need to spend an arm and a leg to do this, either. No power tools were used to build my Holmegaard. Actually, the hardest tool to get was the most important one: A drawknife. You simply cannot go to a hardware store and pick one up. . ....

Drawknife, eh? I have several that were handed down over generations, and I'll have time in the near future...Hmmm....
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