AMK Sportsman

Bow Stave

BR-549

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Joined
Jun 29, 2015
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166
Location
Ohio
I have recently gained interest in making a self bow. I have a piece of osage orange that I am practicing on but there is a significant check (crack) and I don't think it is going to work out. I will continue to work it just for the practice.
I have access to other wood (i.e. hickory, hard maple, red elm, more osage) and I would like to hear from you on preferences.
I have done a fair amount of reading on the subject but would like your first hand experiences.
I intend to hunt with it someday so I want something that will last and perform well.
Thoughts?
 

Kaitum

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Jan 14, 2012
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633
Location
New Mexico
Fun hobby, I hope to get back into bow making someday. A number of years ago I made a fair number of longbows, Osage orange was always my favorite to work with. I've used hickory, red oak, cedar, and yellow birch as well. Hickory is a good choice and quite forgiving. Elm can be tricky due to the nature of its grain (it's also a pain to split).

The crack in your stave might still lead to a workable bow, just depends on its location and how you layout the bow. Sometimes making the limb wider around a crack will do the trick. Sometimes wrapping the section with sinew and hide glue will work. There are options. But you're right, it's good practice if nothing else. Remember, everything you do leading up to the tillering stage makes the stave look like a bow. Tillering actually makes the bow.

Jeff
 

tarheel

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Jul 7, 2010
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2,090
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Piedmont region of North Carolina
Have made a few in my youth mostly from hickory and one for my grandson more recently from red oak. I have a length of locust trunk which I'll split and if lucky get enough to make 4 bows, or at least four attempts. I thought I'd try a Cherokee style first and maybe a long bow later.
 

PatrickK

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Joined
Dec 19, 2014
Messages
74
Hickory and Osage are your best bets although you can make a bow of nearly anything if its designed correctly.
I have made a bunch of self bows, sinew backed bows, and a few bows backed with hickory. Your not asking for help with that stave but I will add my two cents anyway. If the check runs the same direction as the limb and doesn't run out of the limb you are probably safe. If it runs outside try filling it with super glue until you are done tillering and then wrap it as necessary. If you wrap both limbs and use something decorative it will look intentional.

If the check runs across the limb its not a check, its a crack of another variety and is much more likely to fail.

Hickory is much more susceptible to gaining water and losing draw weight than Osage. Not a huge deal but it will need to be stored somewhere dry when not in use. Osage is pretty hard to beat- tough as nails, doesn't change much with changes in humidity, looks cool, etc.

You said you want a bow that will be last and perform well. If you make a bow slightly overbuilt (a little longer or wider) it wont be stressed as much and it will last longer. With that being said, I have only ever had very highly stressed bows begin to show signs of failure before being hung on the rack permanently. The rest of my bows are going strong even after years of hunting and shooting tens of thousands of arrows through them.

Good luck.

Patrick
 
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BR-549

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Joined
Jun 29, 2015
Messages
166
Location
Ohio
Thank you guys!
You know, I never considered wrapping the limbs with sinew (brings up another ?).... now that you mention it, I may be able to save the stave as the check runs the length -not across. The worst that can happen is that it wont work and I would have to do it again- practice makes perfect. I have it on hold for the minute doing another project but I will be back at it soon.

I will definitely post pictures. Perhaps I can persuade some of you for more advice along the way. I am sure I will run into more head scratching moments.

As for the other question, have you fashioned your own sinew before? I tried it once from the ligament that runs from the back of the head and along the spine. That is the one most use right? Not sure what I did wrong, but it turned hard and useless. It was from a whitetail. If I am able to put an elk down this year I intend to save it and give it another try.

Something else I enjoy doing is brain tanning hides. It makes an awesome piece of usable leather as I am sure most of you are aware. Would like to make an elk hide quiver for my self bow. Ugh, not enough time in the day anymore!
 

Kaitum

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Jan 14, 2012
Messages
633
Location
New Mexico
You can use backstrap sinew (like you have) or leg sinew. Definitely save the backstrap sinew if you harvest an elk. The piece you have may still be useable. You need to shred the hardened strip into fibers. For backstrap sinew one way to do that is to take a thin board with a bunch of thin diameter nails in one end. Then 'take' or comb the strip across the nails. You're basically creating sinew threads. These thread bunches are what you soak in hide glue and wrap around or lay on the bow's back. This combing process takes some time so it's best done while watching TV or some other sitting activity. For leg sinew, once dried and hard, pound them with a hammer to crack the 'cord.' Then start pulling the pieces apart into thinner and thinner strips. Again, a tedious process.

Have fun.
 

BR-549

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Joined
Jun 29, 2015
Messages
166
Location
Ohio
Dug this photo up of when I started the bow. There has been a lot of things happen since I started to include moving so it has been on hold.

I did go get it out of storage last night and should be able to get back on it by the weekend. You can see one of the checks but there is also one from the other end that is not in the photo. The two together was my worry, but after your advice I think it will still work.

My wife found the draw knife at a garage sale for $1. It only had one handle so I rasp fitted a piece of pine. Not the best but it works.

Also a picture of my current project, a kennel/ end table for our new Golden Doodle puppy. Just prepped for staining. Once it is done I can get after the bow.

I am a novice at best, and have limited tools and space now but I enjoy the work.

Threw in a pic of the puppy as well.

Not a pro at downloading pictures either I see.
 

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