Bow Making Catastrophes and Woodworking Digressions

See that bend? That's zebra wood belly with crysaling. The last six bows I built had limbs with hinges so bad they make this thing look almost straight.

See that bend? That’s a zebra wood belly with crysaling. The last six bows I built had limbs with hinges so bad they make this thing look almost straight.

Here’s what happened:

(Short version)

Started making bows May 2013. By October: Made 20; Sold 3; Broke 10 or 11; Gave some away; Kept some.
Stopped during hideously cold winter (my opinion) because the 4B* is about as heat-able as an open field.
Restarted bow making June 2014. Made 6 new-style (for me) bows.
Each. One. Failed.
And failed in precisely the same way.
Each time one failed, I thought I’d figured out why. After the sixth failure, I decided I needed to step away for a couple weeks. Do something different.

This was different: I saw a video about making headboards with pallet wood. I thought, “I can do that.” And I did it.
The headboard got unexpected rave reviews. That was the point, I think, at which I became a woodworker. Maybe scare quotes should hedge “woodworker”.
I continued working with pallet wood. Some of the stuff looks really nice when you clean it up.
I’ve been doing that ever since. Ever since … let’s say late August.
Will I make bows again?
Yes. I certainly plan to. And I really do think I know what caused the problem.
By the way: the problem? One limb bent perfectly, the other — no matter the weight of the bow — hinged like a boiled elbow. Ugly.
Why did I quit blogging about making bows?
I wasn’t making them. And I’m lazy.
Will I keep blogging about bow making?
I don’t know. There are lots of very good bow making sites out there. You can find a few of them if you rummage around this site. Any one of them will help you far more than I can. I don’t call the blog “BrokeStick” for nothing.
But I do love making bows. And I like woodworking. And I like wordworking.
*4B = Bow Building Barn

Samick Sage Saga Part II: The Lancaster Whine

Sage 1
The Samick Sage takedown recurve bow. Huh … Looks like a moustache.

If I could go back in time I would order the bow online, probably from my beloved 3Rivers Archery, probably with 45-pound limbs.

As it was, I drove an hour and a half to Lancaster, PA. It was raining and freeway-boring most of the way. And then of course there was the drive back, in heavier rain. On the bright side….

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Samick Sage Saga

Sage sigI began building bows because I didn’t want to spend $400 or $500 on a bow until I was sure archery would hold my interest.

So I built one. And got hooked. Especially on the building. I like shooting them, too. A lot. But building, making something wonderful, natural, and dangerous, and that functions properly: that thrill just gets better.

I plan to build more. But…

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World Archery TV on Youtube

Don’t worry, this woman’s neck is not being broken by her coach.

A brief scan of World Archery TV failed to uncover any love for traditional bows, archers, or wood arrows. But, if you enjoy watching serious-looking people take turns squinting through peep sites, fingering releases, and popping shafts into yon tiny bullseye, WAT could be what you’ve been waiting for.

Me personally, I need to be in the mood. But ….

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Bow Limb Lamination Grinder — Build One

pad 1 pieceThree-quarter-inch-thick MDF (Medium Density Fiber — no idea what that means, but there you have it) cut from a 4’x8′ slab purchased from Home Depot or Lowes for around $35.

If you started here and didn’t go directly to the design source of this machine (Jim Thorne’s How to Build a Simple Lamination Grinder), you probably want to see what happens when a inept dilettante tries to make and use one of these things. Ha ha! I shall not disappoint!

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Shop Class As Soulcraft

Shop Class

Hey, where’s the next installment of the grinder thingy?

Well, it got delayed by a dead well pump and assorted worse stuff.

Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work is all about making bows, even though it never mentions bows, archery or bowmaking. (It’s been a while since I read it so I’m not absolutely certain of that.)

What you will find is a frank look at skilled manual labor by a motorcycle mechanic with a PhD in philosophy.

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