recurve

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

Low, medium, and high wrist grips for a recurve

low-med-high-wrist gripsIn the previous post Grip Size of a Recurve I was asked what are good angles for low, medium, and high wrist grips. Well, I’m sure that this is subjective and arbitrary at best, so I made a simple illustration that might be helpful. You can probably print this out and adapt it for use on your own riser design, whether it is a recurve or longbow. Just orient the drawing on your blueprint to make a template, or transfer the outline to the riser block before you cut it out. There isn’t really much difference in the grip portion of either bow style if it is a sculpted grip, Continue reading

Grip size of a recurve

recurve gripIn the previous post, Grip size of a longbow, I listed some basic sizes for locator style longbow grips. In this post, I’ll provide the same information for recurves—the best ways to measure a grip and suggested measurements for small, medium, and large recurve grips.

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

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

Brent scores big with his Classic Take-down Recurve

Brent's buckMy friend Brent scored big on this nice 10 point buck this weekend (November 3) with a bow that I made for him. One of his Facebook friends said that “Brent scored on a nice buck with is “old school bow”…lol. As you and I both know, there is nothing old school about a fiberglass recurve, but in this age of high-tech metal compounds I guess that a traditional bow seems like something from the past. There is something really cool about “building your own bow” and killing a deer with it. It is even cooler when it is someone else kills a deer with a bow that you made. 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

How a recurve bow works

recurveWhat is a recurve?

A recurve is simply a curved portion of the tip of the bow limb. Recurves can either be static (rigid) or working (bending). Many sizes and shapes of recurves have been tried throughout archery history, and are still very popular on modern bows. Most modern recurves can be called “contact recurves,” because the string “contacts” the recurved portion of the belly surface of the limb. On some contact recurves, the string will stay in contact with the belly surface of the limb all of the way from brace height until full draw. Continue reading

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