Boo Ipe Fiber Saga Denoument … Maybe

I think I’m done messin’ with my erstwhile Frankenbow turned Feenix wonder bow. It’s draw weight is out of my left arm’s zip code and I’m afraid if I touch it to the scraper or sander again it will be once too much.

I’m going to fine sand it. Finish it. And leave it. Feenix is a working bow that’s a bit too heavy for me, at least at this time. It shoots very well. Looks OK enough. Why bother it further? I have other bows that need making.

I’m calling this project a success. Thanks to my inexperience, impatience and ineptitude, I was able to experiment with three substances I knew very little about outside of what I’d read. Now I know more.

The substances are:

ipe slab
This is a piece of ipe. Not all ipe comes with a shadow, as this one seems to. Like it? Anyway, ipe. It by the way does not rhyme with Yipe! It’s pronounced ee-pay.

Ipe, a very dense Brazilian hardwood often used to make decks because of its decay resistence. Some people, I’m told, don’t like its smell when sanded or cut. Apparently the cutting/sanding process makes some people itch. I like the smell, a sort of burnt tea aroma and it doesn’t make me itch.

fibe slab
This happens to be red, electrical grade (whatever that means) fiberglass. It is what I got when I thought I ordered clear. When I first saw it, I worried that it wouldn’t work for bow-making purposes. It appears to work fine. I presume it’s paintable, but I haven’t tried doing that yet. Maybe next time.

Fiberglass … does make me itch. But bowmakers who are not uber traditionalists have good reasons for using this stuff. It’s strong. Works well on back and belly. Can be used with lots of varieties of woods that might otherwise not function well in a bow. I assume it could be used with any wood. I don’t know.

bamboo slabBamboo. “Nature’s fiberglass”. Its good qualities outweigh its bothersome ones. 

Bamboo. One of the authors of Bowyer’s Bible calls bamboo “nature’s fiberglass”. It is wonderful stuff. Like fiberglass, it can make you itch. It slivers easily and those suckers can hurt. But otherwise, it’s easy to work with. Makes great bow backing — and cores, according to more experienced people. I believe it. Is there nothing boo can’t do? It is strong. It can overpower lesser woods and team up with stout wood like ipe to make a very strong bow. Based on others’ and my own experience, go thin with the stuff on backs. Thin.

Here’s what the three substances look like when they’re working together to make a bow:
ipeboofibe substances
That’s boo on top, fibe on the belly, ipe in the middle and boo on the back, the low part in this picture.

OK, that’s it for the Feenix for now. Here are parts 1, 2 and 3.

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