Fiberglass Brings Broke Stick Back from Dead … Sorta

Remember this guy?broke reflex

The zebrawood belly chrysaled (lots of tiny cracks) about mid limb, rendering the stick broke. With nothing to lose but time, I decided to do some surgery. This is what happened…..

They all hurt, the broke ones. This one hurt, too. About as bad as all the others. Maybe a bit more. It was my 17th bow. You’d think by 17 you’d do better.

Actually, you might not. Breaking ‘em’s part of the game. You ain’t breaking ‘em, you ain’t makin’ ‘em, as the saying goes. Still, it sux when it happens.

The plan, after a period of mourning, was to cut the riser wood out and apply it to another bow. Instead….

The bow hung around in a corner of the 4B* until one day I picked it up and gave it good hard stare. Funny, I thought, it doesn’t look like it’s ready to surrender to the bandsaw.

I’d been reading about tapered lams. I’ve been trying to get a fix on limb thickness. I finally found some info on a bow site. Then I did a little BrokeStick Math. Then I fired up the bench sander**.

I’d say I didn’t know what to expect, but I never do, so that part was normal. I eyeballed the taper. Ran a caliper along the limbs till I felt like I had come to the intersection of Good Enough and Whatever. I braked at the stop sign.

Then I brought out the paste, glued a strip of fiberglass to each limb belly, wrapped it up and chunked the works in the 4B bow oven.

The night was cold-ish and rainy. October. About t-shirt and fleece cold. Far as I know, the temp in the oven, warmed by three 150-watt bulbs, never rose above 140 degrees. But the bow was in there for about 11 hours. In any case, it worked. So if you’re wondering how much leeway you have when you’re curing glue in a lamination oven, I’d say you have quite a bit. I’d tend to go longer time than higher temp. My rule of thumb is 6 hours to 160 degrees. But the glue I use, an epoxy called Smooth On EA 40, seems to cure fine at lower temps if you leave it in a bit longer.

fibe fade close shelfWith the fiberglass glued on I can finish the riser.

fiser finishedA not good photo of a pretty decent looking riser — by BrokeStick standards.

fiber reflex strungHere’s the revivified broke stick all strung up. Not a bad tiller.

In fact, the tiller looked good. And the bow shot good. For around 450 arrows.

Then it broke again.

fiber break

The fiberglass cracked up right where you’d expect it to — the same spot on the limb that chrysalled in the first place.

So what have I learned?

Don’t give up until going on is stupid.

Not that I’ve learned to spell kwit, but I’m putting this stick out of its and my misery. It shot incredibly well. Weighed in at 57# at 28″ and looked great for a frankenbow.

Could I patch it and wrap it? Sure. And, OK, maybe I will. But for now, it’s resting comfortably in the Lost Cause Corner where dead bows go to serve as a lasting reminder of ineptitude and/or bad luck.


* BrokeStick Bow Builder’s Barn
**Which I love

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