Easy way to make a laminate bow

PLEASE HELP TO FUND ARCHERY INTERCHANGE

alanesq

New member
I have just finished making myself a laminate longbow and I have found a really easy way of doing it which I though may be of interest to anyone here who wants to have a first try at making their own bow:

I have added a section to my bow making guide so see this for more info (Its a bit rushed but I will add more detail later)
http://www.alanesq.com/The-Back-Street-Bowyer.pdf

Basically I glue up a laminate stave and cut out the rough shape of the bow with a bandsaw as normal but after this I use a power plane to get everything straight and flat (this works surprisingly well) and a router table with roundover bit to round over the edges on the belly
the big advantage of this is its very quick and easy and requires very little skill or experience with woodworking - the whole process takes minutes rather than hours

I would imagine you could cut the bow out with a jigsaw if you dont have a bandsaw (you dont have to be mega accurate as you can neaten everything up with the planer easy enough)
The power plane you can buy for under ?30.
The router table is a bit more specialised - I bought mine for around ?30 on eBay (you need a router as well). I dont think just using a handheld router is a very good idea as its so easy to make a mistake and trash the bow but it shouldn't be difficult to make some kind of router table rather than buy one
BTW - With both a router and power planer its vital you are always very careful to keep fingers well out the way - they dont take prisoners

I then find that because everything is so nicely straight and even it takes much less work tillering - in fact the bow I just made required almost no tillering at all

I leave the belly flat which I think is probably a good idea with the heavy bows I make but I suspect this could be improved a lot with a bigger router bit (or you could round it over more by hand afterwards if you wish)


Anyway; here is the bow I have just made in all its glory ;-)




Its Ipe, Purpleheart and Hickory
135lb at 32"
78" between nocks
28mm wide by 25.5mm at the handle / 16mm x 16mm tips
Sidenocks
 

dusty

New member
Having made my fair share of laminated long bows just a few points to think about
A power planer is a good tool but you can do a lot of damage with one
If you are not careful and try and take to much off
If the cutters are not sharp you will get burn marks and a uneven cut
It is a lot harder to square the timber up with a power planer than a hand plane
The wave field left on the timber can be a problem when gluing up

The way I make my laminates is using the following steps
Cut the strips 3mm thicker than you need Using a sharp hand plane and taking your time plane down till you are left just a little bit thicker than you need.
Then I glue some 80 grit sand paper on to a 300mm long 50mm wide 30mm thick piece of MDF I have with a handle on then.
Using the sand paper like a plane I give both sides a good sanding down to thickness
Using this method you will get a nice flat rough face that will make a solid glue joint
If you chose to use a power planner I would still suggest you sand the face as above as this will flatten the wave field
Hope this helps
 

alanesq

New member
Some good info there - thanks
I must admit glue lines are something I still need to work on

Good point about not taking too deep a cut with the power planner
I would suggest having a good practice before using it on the actual bow

I personally wouldn't worry too much about glue lines for a first try at making a bow - this is something to work on improving on subsequent bows
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
That's pretty impressive.
I'm affraid you may upset some of those who 'play up' how incredibly hard it is to make a bow of that draw weight!
I must admit I was a tad sceptical when I started reading, but the result speaks for itself, perhaps you are underestimating your own skill and subtlety with the power tools? I would think time and care jigging it up before pressing that power tool trigger is pretty vital.
I know my own big weakness is impatience, so I have to tell myself 'step away from from the work' at frequent intervals.
Nice work as always.
Some good discussion points/ideas, I've not actually done a laminated longbow, I'll probably have a go sometime with odd pieces/offcuts from staves I've got seasoning.
The nice thing about getting back into bowmaking is I'm actually looking forward to Winter for the fist time in years, so I can get out into the woods and hunt for timber.
How does she shoot (assuming it's a she, can't quite tell from the pic' ;) )
Del
PS, I hope this encourages more people to have a go at building a bow, the more the merrier I think.
There are a lot of people walking around spouting 'received wisdom' and too few who actually have hands on experience to share.
 

jeburf

New member
How comfortable are war-bows to shoot? TTBB says that bows which bend this much in the handle would be very uncomfortable, its this true or just an exaggeration?
 

alanesq

New member
Del the Cat: This is precisely my problem too - I am too impatient so I need to find ways to do it which are quick and simple otherwise I just wont bother
I can assure you I have no great skill with the power tools - in fact this is really the first time I have made real use of my power planer although I have had it for a while - I had not realise how good it is at quickly creating a straight bit of wood from my wobbly saw lines and its only the 2nd time I have used my new router table (still discovering what this can do)
I don't think heavy bows are really any more difficult than light bows to make. There is probably less room for error on the tillering, finding wood which will take the stresses is more difficult and the full compass tiller is more difficult than the Victorian style
There is no getting round that tillering is something you really have to force yourself to take your time with but everything else I think there is always an easy way to do it (making a really good performing, long lasting bow may be another story? but these bows are no problem for a beginner to make)
I really advise getting a winch when tillering a heavy bow - this has made a big difference to the process - before I was hanging from the rope and going through my hedge if anything gives way ;-)
Laminate bows are much easier to make than self bows as everything is perfectly straight - no wavy lines or knots to deal with. Even marking and cutting out is a lot easier.

I have not shot it yet, my problem is I dont really have anywhere I can practice so I usually have to wait until I go to a rove or something
My only local shooting opportunity is my target club but the field isn't big enough to try for a long distance shot
My hope is this will be better than my other bow as its shorter and has much thinner tips


jeburf: You may feel the bow bending very slightly in your hand when you draw it but apart from this I don't think there is any real difference
Drawing a heavy bow you have to get used to the idea that drawing a bow is something which requires an awful lot of effort - this is something other types of archers seem to have a morbid fear of doing?
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
"Don't really have anywhere I can practice"
I know the prob' , Mrs Cat doesn't like be shooting in the garden...and there appear to be some holes in my garage door :eek:
Del
 

WuW

New member
A very nice looking bow!
Tradition is great but if modern tools help then it makes good sense to me.
I tried working purple heart for a knife handle once and it was a nightmare!
So since we are all agreed that patience is a virtue that most of us lack, my question for you Alanesq is...when are you going into business manufacturing and selling these babies?
WuW
(P.S. I have never managed to open the application form for the EWBS-dunno if it's my computerer or me!?!)
 

alanesq

New member
Sadly I cant report how well it shoots as I can't pull the thing !!

I could draw it ok straight off the tiller no prob. but when I tried last night from cold there was no way !

Its a good 5lb lighter than my other bow but I guess a lot heavier at lower draw lengths ?
which probably means it would perform much better than my old bow

I think get it back on the tiller and get the tips bending is the way to go?
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Sadly I cant report how well it shoots as I can't pull the thing !!

I could draw it ok straight off the tiller no prob. but when I tried last night from cold there was no way !

Its a good 5lb lighter than my other bow but I guess a lot heavier at lower draw lengths ?
which probably means it would perform much better than my old bow

I think get it back on the tiller and get the tips bending is the way to go?
Dunno if it's just me, but I always find a bow seems much harder to draw when there is no arrow on it! I think the arrow (and ideally a target) somehow focuses the mind and puts the draw onto 'auto pilot'.
It may be interesting to hold a dinner plate up in front of it whilst on the tiller and see how circular the arc is.
To my eye it could work a bit more further from the grip, but I wouldn't presume to say what's 'right'. (I don't even think there is necessarilly a 'right')
Del.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Actually I had Already had a play doing this with a photo I took of it on the tiller
Hey that good, it's surprising how good one's eye is, it's only a whisker inside that curve isn't it? Although I s'pose it depends where you make the centre of the circle....? My maths/geometry isn't really up to it. The closer the centre of the circle is to the nock the 'fuller' the curve (for want of a better word) I s'pose a flat bow can be almost a semi-circle, (the centre would be between nock and grip I s'pose).
Nice graphic...
Del
 

alanesq

New member
Yes - I was very surprised how close it is as I thought it was miles off
The last 10" of the tips don't bend at all, I think I might be brave and have a try at getting them to bend at a later date

I would guess there is an optimum amount of segment of a circle the bow should fit?
i.e. a bow which fits half a circle will be very whip ended, a bow which fits a very small part of a circle will not bend much at all
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
I s'pose the curve could be best characterised by the length of the bow divided by the distance from the centre of the circle to the belly (radius of the circle).
So that's Bow length over radius (of arc).... I'll have to try it with mine which is more whip ended than yours. We can compare figures... it might turn out to be a useful descriptor of bow style/shape, or the figures may turn out so similar as to be meaningless :eek:
Del
 

alanesq

New member
I have just had yet another go at the bow - thinning the tips right down
its now 130lb at 32" but I think the tiller is better
first time I have dared thin the tips on a bow enough to get them bending !

 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Looks nice, more even :) ..... Be interesting to see the two pics overlaid, I bet it's a pretty subtle change.
I was talking out of my backside about a number to express the shape, it would need to be bow length times the radius of the circle as an increase in either is a gentler curve, then maybe divide by draw weight as one would expect a high draw weight to need a gentler curver. The higher the number the tighter the curve.
Or maybe just look at the darned thing :eek: !
Del
 

alanesq

New member
Had a try here to merge the two
the lighter colour limbs are the most recent - the darker the first pic I took when I got it to 32"

 
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