Frankenbow: Fiberglass to the Bowyer’s Rescue

fiber sheet
Three by six sheet of electrical grade fiberglass. Note its non-see-through lack of clearness. Probably not Gordon’s Bo-tuff class. But if it works …

Maybe to the rescue. Or I spent a lot of money for nothing. That’s right: I may have screwed up my first fiberglass order. (“I said ‘bow’, not ‘boat!’)

I purchased the fiberglass from McMaster-Carr. Sixty bucks for a 36″ x 72″ sheet. Thought I ordered clear. Told the guy at M-C that I wanted clear. It came red. I neglected to inquire about shipping costs. It ships flat. Freight. Don’t ask. OK, I’ll tell you: it costs more to ship than it costs to buy.

Nevertheless, compared to what a strip of 2″ x 72″ bo-tuff costs, I save about $13 to $16 per 2″ strip. So if the stuff works, it’s good enough for a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing in the first place.

Fast forward to last week. I leave it to you to figure out how to do that. Anyway, last week I applied the fiberglas to a bow — just to see what would happen.

Here’s the rest of the story….

Based on Sam Harper’s expert advice and extolation of bamboo’s many charms, I determined to build me a BamBow. In this case, the boo would back a hardwood called ipe.

First thing I did was, per Sam, ground down the 2″ wide boo strip to 1/8th inch. Then I trimmed the boo to a 1.5-inch strip. Then I glued that to a 3/4″ thick, 1.5″-wide ipe (eee-pay) board stave. The glue I used was Smooth On EA40. Gooooood stuff. I cooked the lam job in this:
This here is a JenUwine 3bulb Shiny-side. It’s a breech-loading, completely  propane and uranium free lam roaster. I plan to sleep in it during the winter months.

After cleaning up the glue drips, I had me a good ol’ Bamipe stave. Or Ipeboo. And I commenced shaving wood off the ipe belly. Lots of wood. Lots and lots and lots of wood.

When I was able to bend the bow to about target draw length (28″), I’d shaved the ipe so thin you could just about see through to the boo. Not really, I’m just saying. Couldna made a tongue depressor out of that ipe it was so thin in some spots. But….

The bow shot nice. (!) It’s principle drawback was handshock that rattled all the way down to your ankles. And then, as I’m shootin it ….

I hear a “tick”.

I inspect and see on the upper limb maybe 8-10 inches down from the tip the ipe separating from the boo base. The pic here only really shows where I marked the two spots.

ipe lift shopt
The two carefully drawn semi-circles indicate where the ground-way-too-thin ipe separated from the bamboo back. These were not the only two locations where lift occurred. In fact, on one side in particular, long sections were lifting away at the edges. Ipe smells good when you sand it. I thought I’d just toss in that detail. A note of joy in an otherwise dismal caption.

Then I noticed a whole slice had peeled away. Mind you, the bow was shooting fine — at around 54# @ 28″. But I figured it was only a matter of time till she blew. So I figured it was scrap.

Educational Moment: Know why I had to scrape the ipe so thin? You do, don’t you. And you’re right, careful reader. While I ground down the boo to 1/8 inch at 2 inches wide, I cut a quarter inch off each side to match the ipe width. Bamboo is round. Curved. Thicker toward the center of the strip. So in reality, I had maybe a quarter of an inch of boo at the edges.

Boo is strong. Ipe is dense and strong. The bow was almost all boo and still drew over 50 pounds. Zadgooks!

Terminate education mode.

So it was scrap. So I had nothing to lose. Because…

I had a bow going nowhere and a bunch of fiberglass of questionable bow value. I thought why not? Why not glue the questionable fiberglass to the ruined bow? Stone two birds with one skill.

I cut a strip of fiber, cut it again in the middle and glued each half to each limb, running the fiber from the limb tips and right up the ends of the handle. And I cooked it. And I’ll be dipped…..

I got a 80# @ 28″ ballistic whippersnapper. (note: my weights are, till I get a proper scale, highly suspect. All I can say for sure is that the thing pulls harder than a Clydesdale. Thought my elbow was going to eject when I got that string to my lip. I’m still seeing stars in my periphery. And….

I really like the looks of this thing.

back 1

belly 1

One new problem … guess what the glass did to the tiller?

To be continued…



4 thoughts on “Frankenbow: Fiberglass to the Bowyer’s Rescue

  1. Pingback: bow making complicated by fiberglass tiller killer

  2. Pingback: Lighten Up! Scraping Bow Wood Off the Sides | broke stick

  3. Pingback: Boo Ipe Fiber Saga Denoument ... Maybe | broke stick

  4. Pingback: BrokeStick Breaks Another Bow | BrokeStick

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