The Legendary Longbow

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Published on: Sep. 18, 2013

have success, just by being thoughtful with layout. Trace pattern on stave.

Step 3 — Rough Out Shape

Rough cut out stave shape (3a). A band saw or hatchet work equally well but care must be taken with either to ensure you don’t get too close to your layout lines. A quarter-inch gap between your layout marks and your cut line is appropriate for the rough-out stage (3b).

Step 4 — Fast Wood Removal

Use a shaving horse (or workbench vise) and a drawknife to continue fast wood removal. A shaving horse is a comfortable tool for holding the stave in place, but a bench vise is useful too. Use leather to protect the wood from the vise jaws. Drawknives should be sharp, and work better on low humidity days.

Tip: If your bow has a wide-limb design (1.5–2 inches), don’t drawknife the full surface of the belly. Take a third off the right side then take a third off the left side. Finally take the resulting ridge down the center. It is three times the passes but it reduces the effort for each pass.

Step 5 — Slow Wood Removal

Using a shaving horse and finer scrapers, such as a spoke shave, rasp, and cabinet scraper, continue to slowly remove wood closer to your longbow outline. Use a cabinet scraper and sandpaper to finish. Steps 2–4 can take two to four hours. Step 5 can take an additional four hours.

“Patience is a top priority here. It will take as long as it takes, and rushing is a mistake,” says Hendershott. “If you get to feeling impatient or hurried, it is better to take a break and come back to the project when you are feeling more relaxed. Taking 1/32 of an inch too much off the belly of your bow can turn your hunting bow into a youth bow, by significantly reducing the bow’s draw weight and strength.”

Step 6 — Test Draw and Fine Tune

Archery shops and vendors who deal in traditional archery gear can supply strings or string-making materials. The next step is to add the bow string and check the initial draw weight based on your draw length. Tillering is the critical step that makes a bow more balanced and a better performer. A tillering tree or tillering stick holds your bow in the drawn position at various distances and allows you to

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