Knife scales for longbow tips?

knife scalesI’ve often admired all of the different types of exotic knife scales for sale at Ebay, and I’ve always thought that they would be the perfect size for use on longbow tips. So, I figured that I would get some and give them a try on my next longbow project. Recently, while I was shopping around Ebay to see if I could find any decent deals on bow materials or exotic wood blocks, I did a little search for knife scales and found a couple of sets that I think will work well. I found this nice retro-looking pair of mint green, linen micarta scales and this nicely figured pair of water buffalo horn scales and put down some fair bids in hopes that I would win.

If there was a “Buy It Now” price, I probably would have selected that option, because I can’t tell you how many auctions that I’ve lost and ended up without the materials I need. I’ve found it way easier, and probably less stressful, if the price is fair, to just “Buy It Now” to get what I want and be done with it. Luckily, I ended up winning both of the auctions and put these away for a future longbow project. I think they ended up costing about $15 per pair, shipped. I was happy with that because they are already cut to size. Sometimes there are collections of raw horn tips and pieces available, but those would have to be cut to size and ground flat in order to use them on longbows. That is a lot of work, and these knife scales are already cut to size. All I need to do is cut them in half or maybe into four pieces depending on the width of the longbow tips and rough them up a bit on the gluing surfaces. The mint phenolic ones are 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ x 5″ and the buffalo horn ones are 3/16″ x 1-5/8″ x 4-3/4″, which seems to be just about the right size. I think the mint ones will look great over brown glass. I just hope that I can find some matching mint colored fiberglass overlay material to put on the back of the riser. I think that would look great. I just don’t know if I can find anything like that. The buffalo horn should look good with about any type of limb…wood, fiberglass, or carbon.

I like to put long, thick, one-piece overlays on longbows, especially on HBOs (Hickory Backed Osage) or BBOs (Bamboo Backed Osage). I just think that they look cool. I guess this is mostly because they are simple. The ones in this photo have really narrow tips…about 3/16″ wide, and have back nocks. I think one-piece overlays look great with back nocks. They are really easy to string, too, when using the “push-pull” method. The string just slides right up over the base of the tip and into place. They’re also really easy to make. You just sand the sides down flat and cut the nock groove across the back and round it off towards the sides.

>Click each photo to see it larger.<

knife scales for longbow tips

Unfinished limb tip with phenolic glued on and partially shaped.

Finished limb tips on a couple of wood composite longbows. The top bow tip is osage orange wood and the bottom tip overlay is deer antler.

Jim Thorne

Bowyer and author at Build Your Own Bow!

Jim Thorne has been making bows since the late 1980s. With his creative, yet down-to-earth writing style, he has helped many bowyers learn how to “build your own bow.”

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