longbow

Contrast is good when making bows!

Contrast is goodI have to admit that I am an artist first and a bowyer second. Yes, making bows is an opportunity to unleash my inner mad scientist, but it is also a chance to express my artistic ability. Whenever anyone asks me what I do, these days I just say “I am an artist” or “I am a designer.” Most people understand what that means. I’m wired as an artist and so I see the world through an artist’s eye, always searching for beauty, unity, and an attractive and satisfying solution.

I think everyone knows at least one artist…that eccentric aunt or uncle who paints, Continue reading

String nock files for making bows

nock filesWhen I first started making bows, the best instructions that I could find said to use a “6” rat tail file” for cutting in the string nocks at the limb tips. The 6″ file made a pretty wide string groove that had to also be pretty deep in order to keep the string from slipping out. I remember one time taking a new osage self bow I had just made to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. My tall, younger brother pulled the bow back pretty far and the top string loop came right off of the bow, sending the bow flying across the room full of people, hitting a bookshelf with awesome force, and making a huge clattering noise. Continue reading

Grip size of a longbow

longbow gripThe grip on a longbow is usually smaller and more refined than the grip on a hunting recurve, a target recurve, or even a compound bow. Obviously, the most comfortable grip size is determined by the size of your bow hand and your personal preference for the way the grip feels. Plus, we all know that men, women, and children have different hand sizes. In this post I will describe the best ways to measure a grip and suggest some measurements for small, medium, and large grip sizes. Continue reading

Interview with Ken Rohloff of WhippenStick Custom Bows

Ken RohloffKen Rohloff is the founder of WhippenStick Custom Bows. Ken is a custom bowyer and creator of the bow he calls the “Whippen Stick” custom bow. I first met Ken at the Leatherwall traditional archery forum probably in the early 2000s when he posted a few longbow pics. Immediately, I noticed how his bows stood out from the rest, not just because of the beautiful wood choices, but because of their refined, balanced design features, and obvious superior craftsmanship he had used in their construction. I later got to know Ken better at the Pirates of Archery traditional archery forum where we both posted a lot and had a lot of interesting discussions about making bows. Continue reading

Five common styles of longbow grips

longbow grip stylesIt might seem like there are a million different types of longbow grips/handles, but I think they can easily be classified in five categories of common styles: 1) straight or “Hill”-style, 2) dished, 3) humped, 4) locator, and 5) sculpted/recurve style. Although each has its own definitive shape, you can probably make about any longbow design with any of these grip styles depending on your preference. In this blog post, let’s look more closely at each of these styles.

Continue reading

Interview with Bill Howland of Brackenbury Custom Bows

Bill HowlandThis is the first of what I hope will be a series of interviews with custom bowyers. There is so much to learn from these bowyers who work full time doing the craft. I hope you find this information useful in your bow making!

Bill Howland is the owner and bowyer of Brackenbury Custom Bows, Nine Mile Falls, Washington. He has owned and operated the company since August, 2001. The company was started by the late Jim Brackenbury who died in 1991. Bill continues the production of several Continue reading

Is this the best rasp for making a longbow or a recurve bow?

Universal Bowyer's RaspProbably the best rasp in my tool box for making bows is the “Universal Bowyer’s Rasp,” also called the “UBR10,” designed and sold by Dean Torges. It is really useful for making all types of bows: recurves, longbows, and self bows, but it is especially good for self bows and wood-backed bows where you tiller the bow by rasping and shaving the belly.

I just want to say right away that I am not trying to be a salesman for this rasp. I don’t sell it on this site, nor do I get a commission for selling it, or referring people to buy it. I just like it…a lot…and that’s good enough for me. Continue reading

Applying the designer’s “rule of thirds” to tip design

Tip proportionAnyone can glue on some tip overlays and shape them into a suitable bow limb tip, but do they look good? As a graphic designer, I’m always interested in making my bows look good and have good proportions. This applies especially to the limb tips.

The designer’s “rule of thirds” goes something like this…a photo, painting, or design usually looks better when you put the focal point one third of the way from the edge than putting it in the center. The following quote from Wikipedia explains it like this… Continue reading

Splitting an osage log into bow staves

osage orange stave endA straight Osage Orange log is like a log of gold to a selfbow bowyer. As you probably know, Osage trees don’t usually grow very straight, so finding a clean, straight one is a rare find. My friend Brent brought one over to my house this weekend for us to split into staves. It was about eight-to-10 inches in diameter at the base and almost perfectly straight! He cut it down on his farm in northern Boone County, Missouri, and he wants to make a bow out of it since it grew on his property. That’s pretty neat. If he doesn’t get one made, then hopefully I can make one for him. I hope to make one or two out of it, too. 😉 Continue reading

Thoughts about bow balance and vibration

Daniel shootingI have developed a little different theory about bow balance than what seems to be understood and taught in most archery books, articles, and what you read on most archery forums. Most people are just doing what they have been taught, what they have read, or what they have been told by others. Dean Torges’s article about dynamic balance really got me to thinking about this after reading his article that appeared in “The Bowyer’s Journal” magazine a couple of years ago… Continue reading

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