Monthly Archives: October 2013

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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Bow Limb Lamination Grinder … What?

base piecesEight cuts of MDF. They will form the base of the grinder.

BrokeStick bow building got to the point where it needed a lamination grinder — a device that would not only grind a stick of wood to a desired thickness, but grind a taper into it as well. Didn’t need to search far and wide. Fortunately, a guy named Jim Thorne (AKA jwillis) built one and was generous enough to share the design with the world.

But does it work? Especially in the inept hands of the BrokeStick cohort?

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How to Make a Continuous Loop Bow String

string tools and materialFrom left to right: homemade serving jig, bowstring wax (with beeswax barely visible behind it), Brownell’s Dacron B-50 string, waxed, from 3Rivers Archery, which I love.

FYI: The string referred to in this post is the one I made for the walnut bamboo longbow in this series. The critique of that bow follows this string thing because one needs a string to shoot the bow for critique purposes.

If you really want to learn to make a bowstring, fly to the bottom of this post and check out my string mentor, Nick Tomihama’s videos. The videos below are the ones I watched before attempting my first string.

On the other hand, if you’re killing time or want to wade in to string making, read on…..

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Bamboo Walnut Longbow Build, Finish Lines

When we last left the bamboo walnut longbow build, we saw how linseed oil brings wood color to life.handle finished profileBehold, the handle and fades. The limbs are walnut backed with bamboo. The too-thick yellow chunk is yellowheart. And the stripey stuff is aptly named zebrawood, AKA zebrano. If I were to build exactly this bow again, I’d make the yellowheart layer no thicker than the bamboo. I’d also do something truly crazy: extend the handle woods into the fades.

Previous stages in this build: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

After the linseed oil bath, another color treatment remains. This time, the bamboo gets it. A baptism of fire. Very dangerous business…..

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Walnut Bamboo Longbow Build: Final Filings

profile longLong skinny objects that aren’t fashion models are not easy to photograph, especially in a barn. Here’s the walnut-bamboo flatbow/longbow at the need-to-carve-the-handle phase.

This post continues the walnut-bamboo flatbow type longbow build. Part 1 and Part 2

The handle is glued up and posing for photos. At this point, photography is a form of procrastination, rather than a distracting chore. Because the next step feels really dangerous…..

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Frabjous Day

3Rivers tapeLove to see this packing tape. It means another shipment from 3Rivers Archery has arrived. In this case, more Dacron B-50 and a jazzy nock serving widget — birthday swag from St. Roslyn herself.

Note: I mention 3Rivers Archery Supplies with some frequency. And that’s because I like and trust the shop. I mention Sam Harper a lot, too. Neither 3R nor Sam knows me and I receive nothing but satisfaction when linking to them. I discovered 3R while reading Sam’s bow-builds.

There are other sites that cater to traditional-style archers and builders. Bingham Projects is one such. I take it from builds I’ve seen online that Bingham is known for it’s bow kits. Since I just learned that they sell Smooth On EA 40 by the quart and gallon, I’ll probably be ordering from Bingham very soon.

At some point, I’ll post a list of online suppliers. They’re not hard to find. Lancaster Archery Supply is another I just thought of.

I feel pretty secure in mentioning Bingham and Lancaster because lots of trad archers show warm regard for them.