English longbow length

Centrehit

New member
I have been trying to find some definitive information for building a longbow for drawlength to length of longbow. Any info from where I can find this information would be appreciated.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
It depends on several factors.
Your draw length, but that will depend on your shootings style and physical size.
Typically 28" plus or minus an inch or so, but if you are going roving or want a warbow it will likely be upto 32"
Draw weight, a heavy bow needs more length.
A typical target or field bow will be about 35-55 pounds draw weight at 28" and between about 68" -73" long.
A warbow will be up to anything from 90 -150 pounds and up to 80" long.
If you want to build one, long is less stressed, so I'd suggest 72", and say 45 pounds. You can always take and inch off either end later.
Search for "Bowyers Diary" I have loads of longbow and warbow build on there, they are mostly self bows but there are some backed bows on there too.
The search engine on there works quite well.
I have a series of vid on youtube for making a Yew longbow and a Yew warbow plus loads of other stuff. If you search you tube for Del Cat, it should bring up my channel.
Del
PS, it also depends what wood you are making it from, Yew can make a shorter bow than Ash at the same draw weight.
 

Centrehit

New member
My friend wants a bow made and the dilemma is that his draw is 32” . He wants a bow of 40# ish . I have a lemonwood stave at 74” would this be long enough?
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
My friend wants a bow made and the dilemma is that his draw is 32” . He wants a bow of 40# ish . I have a lemonwood stave at 74” would this be long enough?
Yes it is long enough, but Lemonwood generally is backed with a thin slat of Hickory etc.
I'd suggest having a go with say 40# @ 28" first just to get used to the process, as first bows often end up under weight or explode!
Basically tillering a bow involves always pulling it to the full draw weight unless the curve doesn't look even. If you see any hint of a problem stop pulling.
So a 40# bow would progress as follows. First flexing with a long string (that just slips onto the bow).
40# at 10" draw.. if it looks ok, take wood off the belly to even up the curve and make it come back more. Back on the tiller.
40# at 12" draw .... ditto...
40# at 14" etc
40# at 16" ... it should be nicely curved now with the limb tips coming back about 5" which is far enough to get the bow at a low brace.
Back on the tiller braced... 40# at 20"
Getting close to finished now... narrow the tips, fit the nocks, taper in the last 8" of the limbs to get them coming round.
40# at 22" and so on until you get to 40# at 28".

With a laminated stave cut to dimensions, it would probably progress quicker than that, but slow and steady is the way to go. It can seem that you are making no progress and tempt you to reach for power tools... resist the temptation!

Something to note... with a 28" draw the limb tips only come back about 8".... so 3" of draw is just 1" of tip movement.
The two biggest problems with making bows:-
1. Getting your eye trained to actually see if the curve is even. (Getting your eye in)
2. Learning how much wood to removed to achieve the desired result.
Hope this helps
Del
 

Centrehit

New member
Thank you for your info. Bow building seems to be a dark area to find info,which makes it hard to have a go. Thanks I will precede with caution.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Thank you for your info. Bow building seems to be a dark area to find info,which makes it hard to have a go. Thanks I will precede with caution.
That's one reason I do my blog... it started as an aide memoire.
We have the internet these days, when I started there was very little and most of that was in books and American, based on Osage wood which is nothing like Yew.
Beware, there is no shortage of misinformation and armchair experts.
Read plenty, but become your own expert by doing it, trying it or experimenting.
I deliberately post what I do, not what "I've heard" or "I've read" ...
I also post warts and all, the failures as well as the success... we all have bows that explode, so fear not!
Good luck.
Del
 

geoffretired

Supporter
Supporter
Great thread!
I like your "warts and all " approach, Del.
I suppose it's a bit like learning to ride a bike. In the end you have to fall off a few times before the brain learns how to keep you in balance.
 
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