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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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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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