Help please with unfinished long bow...

Discussion in 'Archery' started by Jonah L. Archer, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    So I got a bamboo backed, hickory long bow that is unfinished from 3Riversarchery.com for Christmas! It is this one...

    http://www.3riversarchery.com/Bambo...Blanks+Howard+Hill+Style_i8560x_baseitem.html

    I'm really excited about it, because I've been wanting a long bow for a while, but I'm not sure how to go about finishing it. It is 71" long, has the string notches cut, and from what I've READ it should be rough-tillered to about 70lbs. Also from what I've read, about all that's left to do is finish tillering down to my desired weight, shape the handle, and preserve the wood. Now on to the questions...

    1. Should I shape the handle first, or finish tillering it?

    2. The arrow shelf is very narrow (about a 1/4" wide)... Am I supposed to cut it deeper, or is it designed to be that narrow?

    3. If I am supposed to cut the arrow shelf deeper, is there a guideline for this?

    4. Is 71" long for a long bow? I'm only 5' 8", so am I going to have problems with a bow this long, or is longer better?

    5. Are there any guidelines to shaping the grip, or should I just go with whatever feels right?

    I am still pretty new to traditional archery. I hunted for the first time this year with a recurve and have only shot 1 long bow so far, so any advice or tips you experienced guys and gals can offer would be very much appreciated... Thanks in advance! ~Jon
     
  2. BobFLA

    BobFLA Tracker

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    The Bowyers Bibles will answer all those questions. You should find them in the library, if not, I have Vol 1 and 2 if you need to borrow them. That's one heck of a Christmas present! Good luck.

    God bless,
    Bob
     
  3. Soilman

    Soilman Tracker

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    There are quite a few good videos on Youtube. Just search for "how to make a longbow".
     
  4. cadyak

    cadyak Tracker

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    As someone who has about 6 or 7 pretty but broken risers laying around I would suggest just getting the handle where it will lay square and centered (if you are going to shoot split finger) in your tiller tree. Then work on your tiller. Once you have it very close go back to working on the riser. I used to have a bad habit of spending way to much time shaping the grip before tillering because it is more fun to me.
    The only plus is that broken risers make pretty nice knife blanks :)
    I agree that the bowyers bible are a great reference.
    Also the book/videos that got me started, "hunting the osage bow" by Dean Torges.
    Post some pictures as you go through the process. Good luck. making shavings is addictive
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  5. spyder1958

    spyder1958 Scout

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    You may want to check out primitive archery forum. Lots of good help there.
    You arrow pass should only need sanding. 1/4" should be fine, you can shape it to how you like, glue on leather or something like the soft velcro for the rest.
    Do you know how to tiller the bow?
    the longer the bow the smoothier the draw, increased draw length, ect. but the longer bows are hard to deal with in the woods. are you just using to shoot and practice or hunt?
    if you haven't shot much I'd keep it around 45 to 50lbs max.
    Also hickory is like a sponge in a high humidity area. sealing the wood and keeping it in a hot box of low hum place is a must. it will be slow, & sluggest.
    As for handle shape, do it last and what ever feels good to you. look at my post and you will see several designs.
    hope this helps, go slow, and pm me if you have any more ?
    Good luck
     
  6. postman

    postman Scout Bushclass I

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    I would leave the shelf alone, just sand it when you finish the bow. I'd do the tillering before I finished the handle, the handle looks quite square from the picture which should make it sit on the tiller tree more stable. I would do the tillering with a cabinet scraper taking small shavings at a time. If the bows already at 70 pounds, it won't take too much to get it down to 50. I'm 6' and make and shoot 72" longbows, so I think that at 71" that bow should be fine for you. The longer the bow the smoother and more forgiving it shoots, plus it puts less stress on the limbs at full draw. I hunt with them also and while they can be akward at times in the bush, once you get used to it you won't really notice it at all. Good luck!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  7. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    Thank you to everyone for all of the good advice...

    What would you suggest to seal the wood with?


    50 is the target I want to get to, but do I need to be careful drawing the bow to 28-29 inches when it is still at 70lbs?
     
  8. postman

    postman Scout Bushclass I

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    Since the bow is already floor tillered, drawing the bow should not really be an issue. Having said that though you shouldn't need to go to full draw until you are certain that the limbs are bending correctly. You also need to exercise the limbs, they need to be bent slowly and allow the wood fibres to adjust to the bending motion. When I build a bow, once I have it floor tillered I will put it on the tiller stick with an extra long string and just bend it slightly. Now stand back and look at it, see how the limbs bend in relation to one another. Take a pencil and mark on the limb any areas that appear stiff and then using a cabinet scraper remove some wood from that area. Just keep repeating this process until both limbs bend equally. Once you are happy with how they bend, start to exercise them. Bend them and release, bend and release going slightly farther every couple of bends. Watch the limbs while you are doing this, make sure they still bend equally. When you are happy with the way they bend its time to put the proper length string on the bow and set the brace height. The braceheight for the average long bow is around 6 to 7 inches. Once the bow is braced, go back to the tiller stick and stand back and look at it, make sure it looks even. Take a ruler and measure the distance from the string to the limb in various places comparing limb to limb. If they are okay take the bow off the tiller stick and holding like you are shooting it, exercise the limbs again taking the bow to about half draw. (Even when the bow is finished, because it is an all wood bow I highly recommend that you exercise the limbs for a few minutes every time you shoot it.) Now if you are happy with the way it bends and feels, its time to measure the draw weight. Its best to have some kind of a pulley system so you can stand back away from the bow as you take it to full draw. When you get it drawn to the desired draw weight check how many inches it is drawn to. If you are at your desired weight but not at the length then you will need to carefully remove wood from each limb equally and then try it again. A good rule of thumb is to try and be about a couple of pounds over as you will lose that in the final sanding of the bow. I finish all of my bows with polyurethane, usualy 3 coats. The best tip I can give you is have patients, do not rush the process. Have fun.
     
  9. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    Great information, Thank you very much! I will be starting on this very soon and now I have confidence that I can do it right. Thank you again!
     
  10. postman

    postman Scout Bushclass I

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    You my friend are welcome. Make sure you post some pictures of it when you are done. Forgot to mention a couple of things, before you sand the bow you will need to scrape the wax like surface of the bamboo. If you want to sand the nodes down, don't worry it won't affect the bow. If you decide you want the bow to be darker, I find that leather dye works very well on the bamboo giving it a very rich coffee color. I use the Fiebings leather dye in light brown.
     
  11. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    I was planning on a dark hickory wood stain... would this work ok? Will the bamboo take the stain as well as the hickory? Also, I'm assuming that 550 cord is strong enough for a tillering string...(I know it's not for a finished bowstring, wouldn't even consider it!) is that correct?
     
  12. KS49

    KS49 Scout

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    Don't overdraw the bow when tillering. Only draw to the weight you intend or a bit less until you are near the end of the process. The safest procedure is to remove some material (scraper and/or rasp) draw until your scale reches the desired weight, look at the shape of the bend. Keep doing this with a tillering string attacjed until you are gettimg a good bend and the nocks are down a good 8-10 inches. At this point you can string the bow and keep following the above tillering procedure until you reach drawlength at your target poundage.

    The benefit of this method os that you never overstress the wood.

    Take ot slow. Near the end, you'll want to take off too much wood. Whwn this happens, stop and go soak your head in a bucket of oce water. The difference between a 50lb and a 40 lb bow os onlyabout 1/64" of wood.

    Ken S
     
  13. postman

    postman Scout Bushclass I

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    So, how's the bow coming???
     
  14. MrKnobbie

    MrKnobbie Scout Bushclass I

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    I suppose my imput is a bit late, and all I can do is reiterate other but...
    Tiller first. I can't pull a "floor tillered" bow until it gets down to the 75lb range anyway. pull to 8-10 inches first, then move up to to 14, then 16, then 18-20, etc. I don't even start checking the wieght until I think I'm in the low 70's (I draw 27.5 inches and like a 50-56 lb bow). This is when I start using a short brace, like 3-4 inches. I don't go to a high brace until I'm almost ready to finish, and don't draw to 28 or farther until I'm real close to done.

    I don't think that design is meant to have a bigger (deeper center cut) shelf. Add a wedge to the handle if you really need after it is finished.
    I fear if you cut the shelf much you might weaken the handle.

    tips don't need much mass. rounded, smooth on all sides, tapered to match the bow, and enough to keep the string from slipping off is probably all you need. too much mass can cause hand shock.

    I got a great finish using some spray laquer. Sand up to 350 grit. The bamboo will accept stain if it is lightly sanded (be careful here) and it is stain (not other stuff too). It won't be anywhere near as dark as the hickory using the same stain in my albiet limited experience.

    FYI-do you have/ have you made a tillering gizmo?
    You can take pictures, upload to your computer, and use the oval making funtion on Paintbrush to check the uniformity of the tiller.
    I also use a hand plane for the early work rather than giving myself a new bout of tendonitis using a scraper and a rasp.
    Remember to shoot it in (100 arrows should be oaky) before you finish.
    71 inches is fine for anyone so long as it doesn't scape the ground when aiming. It will stack less than a 60" bow, at least in theory.
     
  15. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    Slowly at the moment... I'm still building a tillering tree (something I wasn't planning on to start with) but should have it finished by Friday, and then the fun can really begin. I originally had plans to use a friends tillering stick, but he neglected to mention to me that he sold it. After doing some research, a tillering tree seemed to make more sense and almost as easy to build, so there I am! Thank you for asking and I will keep you guys updated when I get started!

    Your input is right on time. The whole post was excellent, but the two tid-bits that I highlighted are of extra special interest to me. Thank you very much for your input!
     
  16. tim martin

    tim martin Tracker

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    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  17. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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  18. Jonah L. Archer

    Jonah L. Archer Guide Bushclass II

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    Well, I got my tillering tree done today. Put the bow in it, and found out that the lower limb is not flexing nearly as much as the upper limb, but I only made a little progress on it before my daughter woke up from her nap. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to put a couple hours of work into it tomorrow. If I do, I'll take some pics and get 'em up! Thanks again for everyone's help!
     

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