Day 1

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Blog entry by DaveC posted 02-26-2007 05:53 AM 4497 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Alright here is my first attempt at a blog. I will be building a wooden bow I will include pictures and step by step details as I go along.

Before I start I have to give credit where credit is due. Most of this info I learned from Dean Torges’s video “Hunting the bamboo-backed bow” I also learned a lot from the good folks at the “Leatherwall” traditional archery forum.

I highly recommend both sources if you want to make your own wooden bow.

Let’s begin.

First some materials.

I will be using Massaranduba for the bow (The reddish looking piece in the middle) It is sold locally as a 1×4 tongue and grove. This wood is a little oily and incredibly hard. 3190 on the Janka hardness scale (This test measures the force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood.) I should also mention that this wood is one of those types of wood that may cause allergic reactions. Dust masks and dust collection are in order here. Also if you get a splinter you WILL know it by the next day (ouch).

I should be able to get 2 bows out of this piece. The bow will be backed with bamboo. This will help to keep the wood from breaking when we bend it. (some called it nature’s fiberglass)

On the left, sitting on some really nice ipe (for another bow project latter) is my pattern.

On the right is my piece of Bamboo just the way it comes when I order it. (not sold locally)

The first order of business is to prepare the bamboo. You will notice that I have evenly spaced lines on my pattern. This is to help align the nodes of the bamboo some what evenly on the bow. I line everything up to get me the best layout then mark the center and the ends of the bamboo. Then I cut it to length.

Next I need to flatten the back of the bamboo. For this I will use my brand new jointer! I just love this thing.

Here is what the bamboo looked like before and after I flattened it:

Now I need to trace the pattern onto the bamboo. I clamp everything down and use a string to ensure that everything is straight and that the pattern is centered on the “hump” of the bamboo.

I cut out the pattern with the band saw, staying to the outside of the line. I will use the belt sander to bring it to the line.

I use a belt sander to sand the edges smooth down to the line. As well as thin and flatten the bamboo to its final thickness. You can see here the difference before I thinned it and after. The bamboo needs to be thinned downed to about an 1/8” in the middle tapering to about 1/16” on the ends.

Now the bamboo is ready.

I ripped the 1×4 material in half so I could get 2 bows out of it. This is a little risky because there is just barely enough material and if the board bows significantly when cutting it I may not have enough material to keep the bow centered. So instead of 2 bows I get NONE! This piece has really straight grain so I am going to chance it.

Looks like it will work out fine. Very little curve

Just barely enough room! I need that 1/8” excess on each side otherwise the glue will “fall out” of the joint during glue up. You HAVE to leave some room around the joint for the glue to puddle up otherwise you will end up with an ugly glue line with holes in it.

After cutting to length, I tapered the massaranduba from the center (actually 6” out from the center) to the tips on the jointer. This will help the wood bend in the form and will be less material I will have to remove by hand later.

Time for glue up. Forgive me but I forgot to take some pictures during this process but basically here’s what went down:

I ran a toothing plane blade (actually it’s a regular plane blade that I ground “teeth” onto with my dremel tool) over both of the gluing surfaces. Then I mixed up some Urac 185 glue. This is a 2 part urea-formaldehyde glue. It works great for this application. After spreading the glue liberally on both surfaces I put the wood and bamboo on the form and clamped it down. In this case I am raising the ends to put some reflex in the bow, while trying to keep the handle section relatively flat.

You’ve heard it before: You can never have too many clamps!

You can’t quite see it but the glue squeeze out is puddling around the edges of the bamboo. This is critical for a good looking glue joint.

Well that’s all for now. This will have to sit for at least 24 hours before I take it off the form.

-- Dave.

9 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4201 days

#1 posted 02-26-2007 06:08 AM

Very interesting, Dave. Looks like an interesting project and a well equipped shop. Just a few clamps I notice – you will need to purchase more because you never have enough clamps when you need them. LOL

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4338 days

#2 posted 02-26-2007 06:11 AM

Great Job! I can hardly wait for the glue to dry.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4351 days

#3 posted 02-26-2007 06:46 AM

very cool. Thanks for documenting the process. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4230 days

#4 posted 02-26-2007 11:27 AM

Hi Dave;
—-well I’ve bitten at the hook and a very good read it is, all complete with photos! Looking forward to what comes next as you keep unfolding and telling this wood story.
Thank you.

-- --frank, NH,

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4429 days

#5 posted 02-26-2007 05:06 PM

I found this fascinating, very nice blog, and I can predict that it will get a lot of reads, and a lot of search engine finds. I can’t wait either until your next chapter.

Making a bow is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and a guitar, and a violin, and a large clock, and a….....

I have been asked several times over the years to make bows for people that wanted to pay me for it, but I never had the confidence to take their money for something so technical on my first attempts.

I can’t wait for the next steps.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View DaveC's profile


39 posts in 4173 days

#6 posted 02-26-2007 08:21 PM

It took me about 3 bows before I was happy with the way they came out. (kinda like my first hand cut dovetails)

I am still learning, but my skills are improving with every bow.

-- Dave.

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3365 days

#7 posted 07-31-2009 06:20 AM

no pics. here either ?

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#8 posted 08-03-2009 04:24 PM

You must have moved the photos after posting

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DaveC's profile


39 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 08-03-2009 05:33 PM

My appologies. I was cleaning out my photobucket account and forgot that this blog was dependant on those photos.


-- Dave.

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