Archive for May, 2014

I finished a bow today – here are some pictures I took along the way.  Enjoy!


Here is the stave. Osage tends to be snakey and twisted so finding a straight line can be challenging. All that really matters is that the tips and handle are in line.


The next step is to scrape the back of the bow (the part facing away from you when shooting) down to one growth ring. The back of the bow stretches when you shoot it and if you carve through multiple growth rings it can split on that spot and the bow can explode.


At this point I took a several month hiatus to allow the wood to completely dry. Osage is awesome in that it darkens with time and sun exposure. Really old osage bows are a dark orange/brown color. Now I’ll scrape off the last bits of soft wood on the back of the bow.


Much better.


Having scraped at different times it gives the bow this cool patterning. Maybe it will work as camo when I’m out in the woods.


I use a glass jar to burnish the wood. This compresses the fibers, making it stronger and more resistant to scratches, dents and humidity.


Now comes the tillering process. The bow needs to bend evenly so that no weak spots form. As you can see the bow is very uneven to start with which made it a real challenge to tiller.


The area that looks like a hinge is actually much thicker than the other limb. I was hoping that as the bow is drawn farther it would look more even.


Much more even although still a little odd looking. A great trick for never over straining the wood – I put this whole set up on a scale and pulled the string down – never drawing it past 60 pounds. I would scrape and lighten up the bow and go another notch further down the tillering stick as the weight of the draw became lighter.


I’ll use a knife held at a right angle to scrape off the rasp marks and do the final tillering.


Now to clean up the handle.


Getting better, just needs oiling.


I don’t want the wood to absorb any moisture so I’ll rub bear fat on the entire bow and repeat this several times over the next few days and a couple times a year thereafter.


Much nicer.


Now I’ll make an arrow shelf out of some buckskin. Giving the arrow an exact spot to shoot off of every time improves accuracy.


Contact cement works well for this.


Now I’ll wrap the whole thing with a piece of buckskin.


Good enough for me.


Since I’ll be hunting with this bow I want it to shoot as quietly as possible. String silencers will help with this and beaver fur is perfect for it.  (Note: I didn’t trap this beaver – I had to buy a beaver pelt for work at the local mountain man festival so I got one for myself too!)


I’ll cut a couple narrow strips from the side of the pelt.


Creating a separation in the string. Putting on the silencers works best when the bow is strung – the tension helps it wrap tightly.


Sneak one end of the fur in there.


Then just wrap it around, being careful to pull back the fur as you wrap it so that it doesn’t get stuck under the wrapping.


I’ll do one more lower on the bow and it’ll be done!


The finished bow! I’m very happy with how it came out. It shoots fast and surprisingly quiet. The draw is about 65 pounds – a little heavier than I want so I’ll shoot it for a while and see if it comes down, then I’ll check the tiller and lighten it up if I need to. Thanks for reading!

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