Bamboo-Backed Hickory board bow buildalong

Discussion in 'Archery' started by sidmand, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Recently, I discovered a great lumber store that sells lots of suitable bow woods. I ran across this fine hickory board, and grabbed it up. Nice mix of heartwood and sapwood. I had it cut in half and came home with enough wood to (possibly) build 6 bows. I am going to start off this journey by making at least 3 Bamboo baked Hickory bows. And, I figured I'd post the build along here.

    Here is a pic of the two boards. Fairly strait grain, but since I'm backing it it will be strait enough. I haven't worked with hickory like this before, and I'm not entirely sure about the differences between heartwood and sapwood. But, if I pull it off, it will be a Calico bow!
    1-1.jpg
    First run at a layout, this is where the number of bows comes in. I do a simple layout, just rectangles at this point, and mark the back and belly as well as a centerline.

    1-2.jpg

    Another shot of the endgrain. These are quartersawnish/riftsawnish boards.
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    Another look from the top. Note the one with BACK on it on the one board. The edge had some tearout on it, so I marked it to account for that. When tillering later, that tearout will go away.

    1-4.jpg
    roughly 61 inches long. I wish now that I had cut the board a little longer, and had 3 6 foot pieces and 3 4 foot pieces to make some kid bows and give me some extra length to play with on the heavier bows, but hindsight and all that jazz.

    1-5.jpg
    Going to cut out the rough blanks. I have a very crappy jigsaw, but it's better than the absolute trash of a circular saw I have. The cuts came out rough, and I had to deal with that. That will be explained in the next post.

    1-6.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  2. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    So, now I have 3 blanks, and I have some 2 inch wide pieces of bamboo destined for the backs of those blanks. But, my garbage jigsaw (and my mediocre skills with it) have left the blanks pretty rough, and one is just way wide with excess wood. So, I'm going to get after it with my carving ax.
    2-1.jpg
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    Choppy chop, hacky hack, get it close to the lines without going over into the meat of the bow. Note my carving stump - that came from a standing dead oak in my yard. Harder than woodpecker lips.
    2-3.jpg

    It's all draw knife and a little rasping from here. I am just trying to get to the lines without running over. A little note on draw knife work - if you are getting tear outs, then turn around and work the other direction. I screwed up a lot of wood before I learned that trick.
    2-4.jpg
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    Somewhere along the line I put a dent in my 'BACK', so I had to make the back the belly. You don't want any damage to the back of your bow, even if your backing it.
    2-6.jpg
    What to do with all the wood chips? Fill up my shop clock to make a fine manly shop clock of course!

    2-7.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  3. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Now it's time to flatten out my bamboo. Not sure how big the culms for this boo were, but they had to big bigguns. They are about 1/4 inch thick right now - WAY to tick for the bow at this point. And, there are voids and such. For Titebond III, the glue I'm going to use, the mating surfaces have to be dead flat. So, back to the ole drawknife.
    3-1.jpg

    Since bamboo is super limber, I use a 2x2 in my vice and clamp the boo to it, using vegtan as a cushion.
    3-2.jpg
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    Ultimately, I want just north of 1/8 inch of boo. It will be right at 1/8 when I scrape the rind off the boo later.
    3-4.jpg
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    Its 2 inches wide at this point, or close to it. I keep scraping away, making sure to get/keep the surface flat and smooth. AND, finally, I get to right at 1/8 inch thick. NOTE: when the edges of the boo get this thin, they are like razors and can cut you bad. Be very careful not to run your hands/fingers down the side. It will bleed you!!
    3-6.jpg
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    At this point, I (me, you can do it later) go ahead and lay the blank on the boo, and cut it off close to the actual length. I leave a little bit for wiggle room. And I use my pull saw for a clean cut.

    3-8.jpg
    3-9.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  4. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Now it's time to shape the blank. First, I have to mark it up. SO, I usually work from the belly side. This bow will be 1 3/8 inch wide at the center, tapering to 1 inch wide by the time it's 6 inches from the tip, then tapering from 1 inch to 1/2 inch at the tips. I use a sharpie, and black out all the wood I want to remove with my rasp.
    4-1.jpg
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    I also like to go ahead and do a slight taper of the limbs, because I am going to put some 'perry reflex' into the blank. So, I go 3/4 inch tick at the center, and taper down to a bit over 1/2 inch at the tip. These pics show the side of the bow, and the wood I'm going to remove.

    4-7.jpg
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    Rasping time! I love my Nicholson rasp - it can hog off much wood or can be pretty gentle. At this point, once again, remove the black but don't remove the wood past that.
    4-9.jpg
    4-0.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  5. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Now it's time to glue up the blank. Note that right now, I have not refereed to this thing as a bow, cause it's NOT. It will be nothing but a blank, bow-shaped object until it's tillered and shot at least 250 times. Till then, it's just wood.

    First off, I like to remark the center of the stave, and mark my desired center on the boo. With Bamboo, cause you got nodes to deal with, you sort of want to center the bow as best you can between the center two nodes on the boo. Then, I have found making those marks helps me keep everything lines up when I start gluing, cause the blank will slip around on the boo while clamping.
    5-1.jpg

    My reflex caul is a 2x6 than I cut into an arch. I stapled a poly yoga mat on top cause the glue wont stick to it. And, I like to lay my boo crown (arched side) down on the mat, then put the blank on top. This will eliminate cupping and keep the two flat surfaces together better.

    I coat each surface with a thinnish coat of glue and let it sit for a few to get tacky. This is called 'sizing', which gives the glue some penetration time into the wood and preps the surface some. Then, I put another coat of glue on the surfaces, and clamp the center and ends to the caul. Note that I am bending the bow BACKWARDS, away from where the shooter would be, to go ahead and build in some reflex. This will give the bow more power. A good glue here is important, as this is really stressing the glue line. YOu need a glue with really high shear strength. Titebond is good. Some epoxies are better (Smoothon and some others) and the Urea Formaldehyde glues are really good to. I have titebond, it's available almost anywhere, and as long as you have good flat surfaces and time, it will work.

    5-2.jpg
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    My main 'clamps' are old bicycle innertubes. I wrap the bow and the whole caul tightly with them, and secure the ends with spring clamps. I do use screw clamps at the tops and center. Don't tighten down crazy super tight, just enough that you see glue ooze out from the surfaces. You don't want to squeeze out all the glue - that's bad. You will get a starved joint and a failure, and it will likely fail when your bending the bow, and might result in a solid thump or an injury.

    5-4.jpg
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    More to follow later, after I let the glue dry for at least a full 24 hours.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  6. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Supporter Supporter

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    Watching...
     
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  7. scottmm2012

    scottmm2012 Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Me 2!!
     
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  8. Younghunter3030

    Younghunter3030 Scout

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    Me 3!!!!
    This is cool man!!! I have an ash board I bandsawed out and plained down with the big DeWalt plainer. I have a billion other things to do along with the bow but I am going to reading and watching closely to this!!!!!
    Noah
     
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  9. Pastor Chris

    Pastor Chris Keeper of the T.Darrah Tenkara Pass-Around Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Hardwoodsman Bushclass II

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    So very interesting. Great to see you back!
     
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  10. Gruxxx

    Gruxxx Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Me 3!! ;) Looking great! IMO, the hardest part about making bamboo backed bows is thinning and prepping the bamboo!
     
  11. jasam

    jasam Scout

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    Never done a boo backed bow. I reckon I’m watching too.
     
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  12. bumma

    bumma Supporter Supporter

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    This is great. I'm watching as well!
     
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  13. Zaveral

    Zaveral Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I've been wanting to do this for a while. I bought a few boards a couple of years ago and still haven't gotten around to it.
     
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  14. longcruise

    longcruise Scout

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    I'm following and enjoying it immensely.
     
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  15. Bryan King

    Bryan King Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Always wanted to get the bamboo hickory stave already glued, but haven't. Worry about my glueing it up. Thanks for putting this on, I love this kind of stuff.
     
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  16. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    GLUE LINES:

    Unwrapping is always fun. Right off the form I get a little bit of springback, but we ended up with a little over an inch and a half of reflex. Hopefully, If I tiller this thing properly, I will keep some of that.

    6-1.jpg 6-2.jpg 6-3.jpg 6-4.jpg

    Time for some more drawknifeing, this time just to clean up the overhanging bamboo, scrape some of the glue boogers off, and check to see what the glue lines look like. I don't want to see any big gaps or voids between the bamboo and the hickory. To my relief, it looks like this glue-ups a goodun!

    6-5.jpg

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    Everything will slow way down now, cause now we have to turn this blank into a bow. And, this take a lot of slow and tedious but 1000% necessary work. First thing is to let the bow sweat some of the moisture off. My concern with hickory is that it is a very hygroscopic wood - it sucks up moisture more than other woods. It needs to be super dry to work properly, so I'm going to stick this guy in the attic for a day or so to force dry it a bit. This will also allow the glue more time to set up.
     
  17. designtom

    designtom Scout

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    Like
     
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  18. dub

    dub BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    Awesome. Forgive the noob question but is the 'boo aesthetic or does it play a major role in the strength of the bow?
     
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  19. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Good question actually. It plays a major part in the strength of the bow. In this particular case (hickory board), I am using the boo because there is a good bit of grain run out on the boards. For a truly safe and good board bow, you want the grain on the board to run strait up and down the bow, from tip to tip, with no runoffs or at least no more than one or two per foot or so of length. IN this case, because I don't have that, I wanted to back the bow with something. I choose bamboo because hickory is great wood, but because it's a board with some heartwood, I wasn't real sure how strong it was in tension. I do however know that bamboo is wicked strong tension wise, so gluing it to the back (target side) of the bow gives me a really strong tension wood (bamboo) working with a fairly strong compression wood (hickory), which should give me a decent shooter, assuming I don't screw it up.

    I will be "trapping" the back of the stave a bit. What that means is that I will try to shape the bow stave into a trapezoidal shape, sort of like this /_\ That way, I hope to avoid having the super strong bamboo over-stress the hickory belly and cause crushing, which would lead to 'set' (non-correctable permanent bend that robs power). I purposely put some reflex into the stave to help account for some set, and I sort of hope that when I'm done, I will only have lost the reflex and I end up with a strait bow with no belly side permanent bend.
     
  20. bumma

    bumma Supporter Supporter

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    :dblthumb:
    Good stuff!
     
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  21. Pastor Chris

    Pastor Chris Keeper of the T.Darrah Tenkara Pass-Around Hobbyist Supporter Bushcraft Friend Hardwoodsman Bushclass II

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    How along have you been building bows?
     
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  22. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    Off and on for about 4 or 5 years. I learn something about it for every bow I make, and learn more when I break one. I've broken more then I've made ;)
     
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  23. sidmand

    sidmand Supporter Supporter

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    THICKNESS TAPERING:

    The bow is still VERY stiff, as in not really bending at all. So, I'm going to thin the whole bow down by about 1/4 of an inch. I have a little jig that I forgot to take pictures of, but it's just a piece of aluminum fro an Altoids tin that I cut out and bent over to be 1/4 inch wide. I lay it on the belly of the bow, and then trace out a line on both sides of the blank. If you remember, I tapered the bow already - so it's thicker in the middle than at the ends right now. So, what I will end up with is a blank that is about 3/4 inch thick in the center, and about 3/8 inch thick at the tips.

    Hard to see, but there is a pencil mark in the limb.
    1.jpg

    Little easier to see here.
    2.jpg
    I'm just using my drawknife to get close to the lines by 'faceting' each corner, which makes the belly side sort of pyramid shaped. Then, I flatten off the pyramid, and rasp it flat.
    3.jpg

    Both limbs tapered, I left the little peak there to show how much wood I removed, then flattened it out.
    5.jpg

    Who says you need a Tracker type knife for curls huh?!
    4.jpg

    Wood is still a little wet for real bending, and it's been so humid I might have to stick the blank under my bed to dehumidify it some in the AC. Will keep posting when I can.
     
  24. R Stowe

    R Stowe Hobbyist Hobbyist Supporter

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    WOW! This is an awesome thread. This piece of wood sure seems like it's turning into a fine bow to me.
     
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  25. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    this. is. so. stinking. cool.
     
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