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grumpygrumpy
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FIBERGLASS

“Where are Olivia’s feathers?

“What?”

“Where are Olivia’s feathers?”

The flat pidgin was from Olivia. It has turned out that the third grade class (girls only – they don’t talk to boys) is now searching the roads for dead birst to fletch Arwen’s arrows. That explains why Olivia’s mom burst out laughing and turned away from me the other day. Strange, when I say “Get your shoes on.” She doesn’t hear me, but when she is watching TV, and I am talking to someone on the porch, she hears every word. Not so sure I want to pich her up from daycare, might be a good idea to stay inside, move to the city, change my name, and shave off my mustache…SAL

In the previous chapter I forgot to tell you that I made the riser just 5”. Since it is a short bow, I wanted to make the limbs as long as I could, and it didn’t need to be any longer. OK, it isn’t sexy, kinda short & plump.

This is the hard part. I doesn’t take all that long, and doesn’t require sitting there and staring at it for hours on end, like the recurvs. Putting the fiberglass on only takes an hour or two. This is where I had the most good ideas that didn’t work. AND after it is fiber glassed you can actually find out if it works ( ie if you did anything wrong). There is also the possibility that I told you wrong, in which case you can sue and get back all of the money you paid me…. Which is nothing. You can’t sue me for the time, or the material, because I don’t have either. I used the resin you get at the big box store, it is polyurethane, you can get epoxy resin at a marine store, or on the internet (make sure it is fresh). I read somewhere that the epoxy is more flexible. I started out putting fiber glass on the belly and back of the bow. Belly is the side toward you when you shoot it, the back faces whatever you want to kill. ALL of the fiberglass on the belly delaminated. NO exceptions. Actually fiberglass is better at stretching than compressing.

I believe that native Americans prayed a lot when making their bows. A word or two to the lord of fiber glass (or whatever spirit you think listens) may be in order here. Just remember that most spirits have a sense of humor.

As I have said, you need lots of ventilation. You wouldn’t be here if you had a lot of brain cells, so let’s keep all we have. That means outside or you are going to need an exhaust fan(s). I did the fiber glassing in the bathroom, with the fan on, and a fan in the window.

The first step is to prepare the fiberglass cloth. The best tool to cut it is a rotary fabric cutter (mine was made by Fiskars – you find them in sewing baskets) next best is a utility knife with a sharp (new) blade. You also need a straight edge. Since we are going to cut 2” strips an aluminum 4’ wallboard square worked for me, as it is just 2” wide. Spread the fiber glass fabric on a flat surface (NOT the dining room table, apiece of 2’ scrap wood), and cut 2” strips. It tends to unravel, do your best to NOT pull the loose threads. Handle it carefully, and put it aside. Assuming you are going to make a bow the same size, and draw as mine, you will need: 1 strip 10”, 1 @ 16, and 5 @ 24. Put these aside away from little fingers.

Get everything ready. Resin, mix containerS, brusheS, gloveS, cover the floor, turn on the fans. I put a bucket on my work bench, and put the bow on that.

Mix 2 Tbs. of resin with hardener.

WAIT!!! Back up. Remember to sand the back of the bow, and wipe down with a rag soaked in acetone!!!

Brush resin on the bow in the back of the riser, and place the 10” strip on it. Smooth it out and push out any bubbles with your fingers (tried with a wallpaper seam roller, didn’t work). You are wearing gloves, right? You want it to stick out over the sides, we trim that off later. Rule of thumb here is “If it is clear, don’t fear.” Now brush on another coat of resin, enough for the 16” strip. Same routine you did with the 10” strip, and again with the first 24” strip. Centering each over the center of the bow. The fabric has to be SOAKED with resin (no bubbles), and wrinkle free.

Now the 4 remaining strips go on the limbs starting at the tip, toward the center of the bow. You will have some overlap/build-up in back of the riser, that gets sanded down later.

This is the kind of thing where you have to be methodical, yet fast. Got that? Not that I want to put any pressure on. It is messy, you will have to mix several batches of 2 Tbs. of resin. Your mixing stick and brush will get messy, and you will have to replace them. Your gloves will get sticky, so you can’t put anything down. Remember methodical, and fast. You DO have extra stir sticks, mixing containers, brushes and gloves, right. If there is someone looking over your shoulder and making comments, tell them EXACTLY where to go, and SLAM the door. Did I tell you to have a trash bucket handy? Remember methodical, and fast. SAL

When you are finished, go wash the dishes, clean up the sink and stove. NOW the fiber glass should be at a stage where it is just a little flexible, not hard yet. At this point, if you timed it just right, you can slice the fiberglass off the sides of the limbs easily with the sharp (new blade) utility knife. If not, you can LABORUSLEY sand it off later. If the fiberglass is wrinkled, or has bubbles on the back of the limbs, you can sand them off later. Now go to bed. DON’T YOU DARE FLEX IT NOW!!! IT WILL COMPLETELY DELAMINATE!! WAIT AT LEAST 24 HOURS!!!!

Good Morning!!!!

I made the notches for the string with the same file I use to sharpen the chain saw (do a lot with that little file). You can also use the bastard file to clean up, fine shape the sides, and back of the bow. Have you waited the FULL 24 hours? The first bending of the bow is a very personal thing. If it breaks you don’t want little ears to hear what you are going to say (Remember being called to the principals office for swearing when you were a kid? It could happen again.) , and you want to prepare yourself for “I told you…” OK, put a string on it and put some flex in it. This is the moment of truth. If it flexes too easy, you can put additional layers of fiberglass fabric on the back. If you cannot flex it you need exercise. If it breaks/delaminates you did something wrong, or the wood had a week spot. Cest’ La Vie. The spirit is laughing. Try again.

If it works, don’t get cocky. It could break after 3 arrows, 30, or 300. Rest assured that someday it WILL break. Remember that every time you shoot an arrow. SAL

Tinning: Why is one limb bending more than the other? Beats me, maybe you didn’t put the fiber glass on right? Like 3 on one limb and one on the other? Blame that person looking over your shoulder, or whoever demanded privacy in the bathroom in the middle of fiber glassing. It could be that the wood isn’t consistent (blame God). Most bowyers remove material from the limb that doesn’t bend enough. You can if you want, but I didn’t. I put more fiberglass on the limb that flexed too much.

At one point I decided it would be more camouflaged if I stained the wood before fiber glassing. Didn’t work, completely delaminated. Have no idea why, should have worked. Now that it is glassed, you could stain the belly, but why bother, critters aren’t going to see that side anyway.

Oh, we tried to take pics, but all Arwen could get is the back of my head (we have a small bathroom) and you don’t need to see my bald spot.