selfbow

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

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.

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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

How to make a simple bow

a simple osage stick bowWhen I was a young boy, my brothers and I used to make a bow out of a hardwood stick and a piece of string. This was always a fun project. Sometimes I like just messing around and decide to make a bow out of a stick harvested from the woods behind my house. You know, not every bow has to be what I call a “glam” bow…a glamorous, fiberglass laminated bow. Primitive bows made from natural materials have a beauty all of their own. Plus, they are cheap and easy to make. If you have always wanted to learn how to make a bow, but don’t have a woodworking shop, or expensive shop tools, you might consider learning how to make wood bows first. Continue reading

How to install buffalo horn overlays on limb tips

horn tip close upHere’s a build along for adding those sexy buffalo horn overlays to your limb tips. I think they look great and make a good bow look even better. There’s just something about polished horn on a trad bow that makes it look really professional. Adding layers of horn, antler, or linen phenolic to your limb tips will make your bow limb tips more durable for use with high performance strings, stronger to avoid scratches and denting by rough use while hunting, plus…they just look fantastic. Horn tips are good for both an old bow needing tip repairs or for that new bow you are making. They look good and work great on all types of bows: self bows, wood laminate bows, and fiberglass bows. They are simple to install yourself and this build along will show you how. Click “Buffalo horn limb tip build along” to see the rest of the build along.

Grip and shelf location

riser with arrowsA question that appears often in many of the internet bow making forums is “Where should I locate the grip and shelf on my bow?” I’m sure there are as many opinions about this as there are bowyers, so I’ll give a simple explanation of what I think is important and you can decide what is best for you. I think the two most important things that should determine the location of the grip and shelf are bow balance and shooting style…meaning whether the archer intends to shoot “split finger” or “three fingers under.” Continue reading

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