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View Full Version : how do you make sinew backed bows?



keyub
08-02-2011, 11:45 AM
I've always had trouble trying to find decent tutorials, I've seen one man,
Ed scott, but does anyone else have some suggestions? I know some tools on how to make them, and please correct me or feel free to add any more tools.
Axe
Saw
File
And a tilering stick
Does anyone know the proccess.?

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 12:08 PM
I've always had trouble trying to find decent tutorials, I've seen one man,
Ed scott, but does anyone else have some suggestions? I know some tools on how to make them, and please correct me or feel free to add any more tools.
Axe
Saw
File
And a tilering stick
Does anyone know the proccess.?

It is in one of the traditional boyers bibles. I know you pound the sinue into smaller strands, dip them in hide glue, and lay them out on the back of the bow. Thats a crappy description, but its the long and short of it. the book also tells you how to make the glue. The books can be had on ebay or amazon cheap and are worth the $$.

keyub
08-02-2011, 02:48 PM
Oh thank you, do you have a link, srry for the trouble, but thankx again

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 03:01 PM
Oh thank you, do you have a link, srry for the trouble, but thankx again

To Amazon ? Sure, here-http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1585740853/ref=sr_1_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1312314954&sr=8-1&condition=used

And the folks here should be able to offer a better description then me.-

http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php

I prefer to use bows backed with skin from the fiberglass beast.

Timberline
08-02-2011, 03:04 PM
+1 on Traditional Bowyers Bible...it's the best source of info for self bows like that

arizonared
08-02-2011, 05:10 PM
Thanks for the link. I have been interested in this too.

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 05:34 PM
No problem. I have never done it, but from the sinew bows I have shot, they are worth the effort. One of the books even has a section on horn/sinew composite bows as well. Very interesting read if nothing else.

Vot
08-02-2011, 05:59 PM
I've backed a bow with silk and one with linen. Just dampen the fabric and stick it on with woodglue. It's about as difficult as it sounds. I haven't backed a bow with sinew, but I have processed beef and venison sinew. Strip the meat off the sinew, rinse it off and then dry it. It dries to something like fingernail texture. You bash it with a big stick on a big smooth pebble and it begins to break down so that you can peel strands off. It's hard work. The best thing to stick it to a bow back with is supposed to be gelatin from the foodstore. I've used gelatin to stick down whipping and it works on that fine. Sinew and gelatin is supposed to take a long time to cure though.
From what I've heard sinew backing works most efficiently on medium and short bows.

The guy in this link, Boomer, has some excellent YT vids.

http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/23601

I'd just make a low poundage sixty inch bow and go ahead and stick some sinew on it. Doesn't sound that complicated to me.

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 06:02 PM
I've backed a bow with silk and one with linen. Just dampen the fabric and stick it on with woodglue. It's about as difficult as it sounds. I haven't backed a bow with sinew, but I have processed beef and venison sinew. Strip the meat off the sinew, rinse it off and then dry it. It dries to something like fingernail texture. You bash it with a big stick on a big smooth pebble and it begins to break down so that you can peel strands off. It's hard work. The best thing to stick it to a bow back with is supposed to be gelatin from the foodstore. I've used gelatin to stick down whipping and it works on that fine. Sinew and gelatin is supposed to take a long time to cure though.
From what I've heard sinew backing works most efficiently on medium and short bows.

The guy in this link, Boomer, has some excellent YT vids.

http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/23601

I'd just make a low poundage sixty inch bow and go ahead and stick some sinew on it. Doesn't sound that complicated to me.

Sounds messy ! I forgot all about paleoplanet. I stopped going when the went to that yuku thing.

keyub
08-02-2011, 06:59 PM
Thank you so.much for the help every one , I've done quite a bit of research and I'm planning to build a bow soon, thanks again to everyone

Vot
08-02-2011, 07:22 PM
Good luck mate, and don't forget to post pictures.

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 07:23 PM
Thank you so.much for the help every one , I've done quite a bit of research and I'm planning to build a bow soon, thanks again to everyone

I look foreword to seeing it. May the force be with you.

Flintlock
08-02-2011, 09:13 PM
I've made several sinew backed bows using deer sinew and hide glue. The one on the right is rattle snake skin over sinew. What do you wish to know?

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q35/FirePiston/Cnv0393-1.jpg

squidbillie
08-02-2011, 11:19 PM
I've made several sinew backed bows using deer sinew and hide glue. The one on the right is rattle snake skin over sinew. What do you wish to know?

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q35/FirePiston/Cnv0393-1.jpg

What did you make your glue out of, how much sinew did it take and will cow sinew work ? and not that it matters, but I heard they were pretty fast for a self bow. Do you have a guesstimate on there speed ?

spyder1958
08-03-2011, 01:34 AM
http://www.prairiewolf.net/index.cfm
Welcome to Prairie Wolf. We are your source for information on primitive wilderness living and outdoor survival skills

John McPerson Gives a very good step by step to bow making and backing with sinew. I have his book I bought in 1993, Naked in the wilderness. Very good info. The military is sending special trainies to his class.
Spyder out

spyder1958
08-03-2011, 01:53 AM
I've made several sinew backed bows using deer sinew and hide glue. The one on the right is rattle snake skin over sinew. What do you wish to know?

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q35/FirePiston/Cnv0393-1.jpg


Nice work there flintlock. Love the snake cover. I have some white and live oak curing to try my hand at a bow and have been saving a Ga. rattler skin to cover it with.
Whats your average time spent on building your bows?

Vot
08-03-2011, 05:00 AM
Flintlock, these bows are beautiful. I really admire your skills.

keyub
08-03-2011, 08:18 AM
I live in an oak, silvervmaple, and pineforest, what wood would you guys suggest? I know paste is the best, but I don't live near any so I have to make do with what I have. Thanks again everyone's

squidbillie
08-03-2011, 08:23 AM
I forgot thees guys

http://www.hideandfur.com/inventory/Dressed.html?Google

If it walked, crawled flew, or swam you will most likely be able to find its skin here. They used to sell sinew.

squidbillie
08-03-2011, 08:34 AM
I live in an oak, silvervmaple, and pineforest, what wood would you guys suggest? I know paste is the best, but I don't live near any so I have to make do with what I have. Thanks again everyone's

All except for the pine. I admit, I only have one bow I made my self, and it was from a red oak board from home depot. It is a good shooter, and the guy who helped me build talked me into backing with raw hide. If you look at PA you will see those folks making bows out of just about any type of wood.

sadiejane
08-03-2011, 09:28 AM
so far, i've only backed one bow with sinew. it still sits in the rafters curing. been up there maybe 3 months now. figure by fall, when the humidity goes down, will drag it out and work on it some more.
i did the backing in two sessions. it was a learning experience. the first session, i got so frustrated i only got one layer on. didnt know if i'd ever sinew back another bow, but i was determined to finish the one i'd started. i had read everything i could get my hands on, and watched vids.
a cupla weeks after the first session, took it on a second time. this time had things set up much better. more "assembly line" like. lots of extra towels, some wet. several extra bowls of water, for my hands and to thin down the glue when it got too thick. i used knox gelatin. cheap and easy to work with. it's about $1.29 for a box of 4 envelopes at the grocery. i used two envelopes for the entire process. did as jim hamm suggests, and had lots and lots of sinew ready(more than i needed in the end-which is better than having to stop the process to pull apart more sinew...)separated in various lengths and placed inside a magazine until i had enough. then spread out those bundles. had the bow well elevated on two stacks of 2 x 4 scraps. so i didnt have to touch the bow except to lay the sinew. and could easily get around the edges. the second session i got two good full layers added on top of the first.
so all these words suggest, even if you find it difficult or frustrating, dont give up. keep at it. when you figure out a system that works for you, its really rather simple. no way around the messiness. but that can be minimized with a good system.

the bow in the rafters has nicely reflexed as the sinew/glue has cured. i am really looking forward to finishing it up and seeing the results.

have fun!!!

squidbillie
08-03-2011, 09:31 AM
so far, i've only backed one bow with sinew. it still sits in the rafters curing. been up there maybe 3 months now. figure by fall, when the humidity goes down, will drag it out and work on it some more.
i did the backing in two sessions. it was a learning experience. the first session, i got so frustrated i only got one layer on. didnt know if i'd ever sinew back another bow, but i was determined to finish the one i'd started. i had read everything i could get my hands on, and watched vids.
a cupla weeks after the first session, took it on a second time. this time had things set up much better. more "assembly line" like. lots of extra towels, some wet. several extra bowls of water, for my hands and to thin down the glue when it got too thick. i used knox gelatin. cheap and easy to work with. it's about $1.29 for a box of 4 envelopes at the grocery. i used two envelopes for the entire process. did as jim hamm suggests, and had lots and lots of sinew ready(more than i needed in the end-which is better than having to stop the process to pull apart more sinew...)separated in various lengths and placed inside a magazine until i had enough. then spread out those bundles. had the bow well elevated on two stacks of 2 x 4 scraps. so i didnt have to touch the bow except to lay the sinew. and could easily get around the edges. the second session i got two good full layers added on top of the first.
so all these words suggest, even if you find it difficult or frustrating, dont give up. keep at it. when you figure out a system that works for you, its really rather simple. no way around the messiness. but that can be minimized with a good system.

the bow in the rafters has nicely reflexed as the sinew/glue has cured. i am really looking forward to finishing it up and seeing the results.

have fun!!!

What wood did you use ?

sadiejane
08-03-2011, 12:23 PM
What wood did you use ?

osage orange

squidbillie
08-03-2011, 12:25 PM
osage orange

Thats what I figured. Know of any made from white wood ?

Flintlock
08-04-2011, 08:44 PM
What did you make your glue out of, how much sinew did it take and will cow sinew work ? and not that it matters, but I heard they were pretty fast for a self bow. Do you have a guesstimate on there speed ?

I bought granulated hide glue from a local wood craft store. Its very easy to prepare and works great. I've only used deer sinew. Cant comment of how cow sinew may work. Deer sinew is easy to obtain from deer processors during hunting season. They usually toss the legs into bins and you can collect all the sinew you need in a short time. I dry the sinews then pound them between two large cobble stones, seperate the fibers and trim and feather the ends. I make individual bundles of sinew fibers with each bundle representing one sinew. I applied two overlapping layers of sinew fiber bundles on each limb. Its important to squeeze out as much excess glue as possible as it is not very flexible and will crack under strain when dry. Its also important to not let the glue get too hot, else the sinews will curl up like a melted rubberband and not be usable.

I let the bow dry for about 6 months then used a rasp, file and sandpaper to smooth the surface. The bow woods were hickory and iron wood ( American Hornbeam ) and the staves were split from logs using stone and wooden wedges and a section of tree limb as a mallet.

The Bowyers Craft by Jay Massey provides good guidance on the sinew backing process.

briarbrow
08-04-2011, 09:32 PM
I have only made one on osage. It was on a finished shootable bow that need a few # to be a legal hunter.

A few months back I got foolish with my "core" and snapped it overdrawing it without enough massage, as I kept it strung backwards with 4 inch reflex. I was shooting it @ 24" draw and it felt so springy I drew a couple more inches and:23::58: pow

Still I would get the bow bending good to maybe 3/4 full draw- not perfectly tillered but about where you would be 3/4 done with self bow..

I used a wood mallet and comb to separate fibers, and now is the right time of year to do it as hot a spot as you can stand to sit in. granular hide glue. yep

Like Sadie is saying have a couple buckets to wash your hands in and rags as you use your fingers to squeegee as much glue out as you can. when you think you have waited for it to cure long enough wait half again more unless you have perfect conditions. Tiller and shoot;)

Sinewing is just decopage

I would choose wild sinew if you can. would you rather send a fleet foot marathoner with an urgent message or a couch potato- if its not an accurate analogy the mindset behind it is
best of luck

keyub
08-05-2011, 09:45 AM
thanks sooooo much everyone, again just, thank you

TopherBean
10-19-2011, 10:22 AM
Sorry to raise the dead here. This thread just lead me to a purchase of The Traditional Boyers Bible through Amazon and I just wanted to give a big thank you to all that contributed!

Looking forward to a delivery in the next 4-14 days :4:

riverjoe
10-19-2011, 10:53 AM
Sinew is one of the few backings that add performance to the bow from what I read . Rawhide is so much easier tho. I put on the rawhide just to prevent breakage but it may actually detract from speed I think .

It is imperative to use hide glue since all commercial glues do not shrink along with the sinew BTW .

sadiejane
10-19-2011, 11:37 AM
not my words, but this discussion came up n primitive archer regarding the use of cow sinew-
" I have used elk, deer buffalo and allot of cattle sinew, I agree with foot it is just as strong and I have had no problems with it at all. Sinew is sinew, if it is strong enough to hold a muscle to the bone that is moving a 1500 lb cow through a field is is certainly as strong as the sinew moving a 175 lb deer.
I believe preparations of sinew, surface and glue used are more of a factor then anything. In all the bows that I have sinewed I have had one lift off the surface and the was due to lack of surface preparation. That I have never had any fail by breakage. Also the soak time of sinew and sinew prep (Strands straight and refined) is very important on the amount of shrinkage and reflex that it will put in a bow"

i thought it made pretty good sense....

btw the sinewed bow i mentioned in my previous post-well, i pulled it down outta the rafters(its been curing about 5 months) and started working it. shld be a bow by next week. will post some pix when its shooting