Now I do some final shaping. I use the rasp (Nicholson #50 patternmakers rasp) to get the bow shaped.
This is the basic shape the bow has through the whole length. Getting wider towards the handle. This particular profile is similar to the English style longbow. There are other profiles that also work well with this wood.
Now I break out the “secret weapon” of bow making. (Shhhh…..) The scraper shave! This particular one is call the bowyer’s edge sold by Dean Torges. The scraper shave allows me to effortlessly remove the tiniest of wood shavings from the bow.
Now I need to see how the bow is bending. Since I have not cut any string nocks into the tips of the bow I use a long string with pouches on the ends to slip over the tips. I put the bow on my tillering stick, pull the sting down, and hook it into one of the notches.
Not to bad!
I do a little more shaving of wood until I can bend it enough to put a string on it. I shape the nocks with a small rasp.
I used to mark these first. Now days I just eyeball it.
Now I put a string on it.
Now that’s nice!
And the string runs down the middle (more or less)
Now I continue removing wood and checking, each time pulling the bow a little farther.
The left side is looking darn near perfect. The right side has a stiff section towards the handle. And out towards the tips.
The tricky point here is that you can only REMOVE wood to get the bow bending properly and equally on both sides. Once you take it off you cant put it back on!
I don’t have a picture of it, but I place a bathroom scale under the tillering stick and as I pull the string down I watch the scale. This tells me how strong the bow is. I am shooting for about a 50# bow on this one. I will continue this process of removing wood, checking on the tillering stick, removing wood, checking ….. until I get the bow to pull its full length at the weight of about 60#. (You lose some weight from final sanding and “shooting it in” The key to this process is to proceed SLOWLY!!. If you take off too much from one side you have to take some off the other side to balance it out. My first bow ended up to be about 15#!
During this process I leave the handle section flat. It sits better on the tillering stick. After I get it close to final tiller I shape the handle.
After I shape the handle I shoot the bow to get a feel for how its performing. This also “breaks the bow in” As the wood fibers compress and settle in to their final shape.
Now its time to put on some overlays on the tips. This is optional for the most part, but I think it adds a nice touch to the bow.
I prepare some small strips of ebony, then use a scraper blade to prepare the surface.
Now to mix up some glue. For wood to wood I really like Urac 185. It has not failed me yet.
Apply the glue and we are done for today.