Home Forums Bows and Equipment BUILDING THE BOW Reply To: BUILDING THE BOW

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When you buy the piece of oak (I used 4’, you can make yours as long as you like) try to get a piece with straight grain, and look for knots. Bend it like it will be bent when finished (if it breaks, you don’t want that one). I suspect that some of the bows that broke were defective wood, that I didn’t notice. Really don’t have the skill to select well. Good Luck.

Read on the internet to cut the jig out of a 2 x 6 with a band saw. Not about to buy a band saw so I tried with the coping saw, and reciprocating saw. Neither was square, so the recurve went off at an angle. If you stare at the pic of broken bows long enough you can see the result, I don’t advise it. I also tried to use a 5 gal bucket to make the recurve, but found the bucket is NOT straight up, thus, again, the recurve was off.

This works: Find a scrap 1x 6, 2 feet long. Drill holes and insert dowels as pictured. The exact spacing is up to you, but you can place them pretty well from the picture, and I don’t think the exact curve is critical. Keep in mind that the more recurve, the more likely it is to go astray. The dowels (aka old broom handle) must be glued in and THEY MUST BE SQUARE. The curve you see on the board was the bottom of a 5 gal bucket. I started out trying to make a big sexy recurve, like DD. Didn’t work, The more the recurve, the more likely it is to turn out to the side. Best to try for B/C.

I toyed with the idea of tapering the thickness of the limbs but decided that making them consistent, symmetrical, etc. would be almost impossible, and would require a lot of work. We are going to do that with the fiberglass.

I did taper the width. The taper starts at the top (& bottom) of the riser and the ends are ¾” wide. That means you are tapering each side by 3/8” this has to be really, really accurate. You can do it with a plane, but I found the circular saw more accurate. Obviously you will have to sand out any waves. If it isn’t accurate, throw it out, (you have only lost $2.50) if you continue the recurve will be off. Oh, you only bought one piece of Oak? You actually thought it took me all of those tries, and you were going to get it right the first time!! FOOL!!! You may think that it would be a good idea to taper them more, like down to ½”. I thought so too. Go ahead, but keep in mind that the thinner you make the ends the more they are likely to twist out at some odd angle, after the bow is finished. I said after the bow is finished. The recurve may look fine until you have fiber glassed it put a string on and actually bend the bow.

I had planned in my mind to hang a pipe from the ceiling with the end catching the steam from the spout of the tea pot… Got the visual? Instead I put 2 quarts of water in the turkey roaster, put the limb on it and covered with aluminum foil. You can do what you want, but I suggest you steam the limb for one hour. The hour starts when steam starts escaping from the aluminum foil. Not really sure what will happen if you steam it for less. You can’t steam it for too long, but if you fall asleep, and the turkey roaster runs out of water throw it away and start over. After the hour, take it out and IMMEDIATELY put it on the recurve jig. It has to stay on the jig for 24 hours. Any less and you will loose the recurve when you string the bow… after you fiberglass it. Notice that I used the piece I cut off to taper the limb to space the end up from the base of the jig (on the right). Read that again, and look at the picture. If you don’t do that, the recurve will be off. Yes, that is a frog in the background. BTW steam is HOT!!!

After the 24 hours, you can steam, and recurve the other end. If you make a mistake, and recurve the wrong way (a big S instead of a big C) throw it away, it cannot be corrected (gory details omitted). Steaming/setting the recurve is a one shot deal, you make a mistake, throw it away. Isn’t it your turn to make coffee?


As I said earlier, I made mine out of scrap oak. Here is a pic, it is 8” long and the widest part is 1¾ “ wide. Nice door, huh. You can make it any way suits your fancy, just make it comfortable for YOUR hand, and keep in mind that the closer the arrow rest is to the center the easier it is for the arrow to go around it. This gives you something to do while waiting for the limbs to dry. I hope you have some kind of work bench that you can clamp it to (or a vise) while doing all of this sawing, shaping and sanding.

After the recurv is dry, you can put the riser on the bow. Mix up 1 Tbs. of resin, brush it on… WAIT!!!! When ever you are going to use resin you have to sand both surfaces with 6o grit sand paper and wipe down with a rag SOAKED with acetone (to get your greasy finger prints off). If you skip either of these steps it will come apart after it is finished. Notice I said “after it is finished” with all of the mistakes, you don’t know until the bow is finished, and you actually bend it. Then the the top recurv points, North, while the bottom recurv points South. Or it delaminates, or the wood breaks. NOW!! Make sure you have everything you need before you open the resin. Gloves, brush, gloves, fans on, stir stick, rags, floor protected, blah, blah. Run thru the steps in your mind to make sure you have everything, and know what you are going to do. Brush the resin on both the bow, and the riser, and clamp to your workbench (lightly, don’t squeeze all of the resin out) with the riser down. No workbench? Find someone dumb enough to hold it in her lap. Before the resin dries, you have to drill, counter sink, and put the 3 screws in. No, you don’t have to use resin, use your gorilla glue, pine pitch, or wheat paste if you want to, just keep in mind that I used resin, and if you don’t you may have your own gory details.

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