Home Forums Bows and Equipment Juniper Self Bow

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    • Michael Scott
      Post count: 80

      I started the process of turning a juniper log I brought to Texas with me from Montana into a self bow the other day, and was wanting a few opinions from some of the guys on here whether or not the wood I have will work. I got it split in half, and when it popped, I realized just how twisted the wood actually was. I knew it had some twist to it. Most junipers and cedars twist to some degree. This log has a full 180 degrees of twist in 8 lineal feet. It has been dry-stored for almost two years, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t need to dry anymore.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Dave Sigurslid, an experienced self-bowyer, once made a juniper bow, using Utah juniper. As I recall it was fairly short (Dave is 6 feet but has a very short draw, around 26″, and is a snap shooter), looked great and shot OK for a while though it was slow. It also took a serious set and eventually broke. Assuming a closeness of UT and MT junipers in characteristics, and given your badly twisted stave, I don’t think you have a lot to look forward to unless you plan to back the bow, and even then it will likely be slow. But juniper sure smells sweet in the wood stove!

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      Sounds a little sketchy for a self-bow, just going off the description, without pics.

      But juniper sure makes for lovely limbs:

    • Stephen Graf
      Post count: 2361

      I have no personal experience making a self bow from eastern red cedar, but a neighbor has one he made many years ago. I’ve seen him shoot it many times, and it performs as well as any self bow.

      He allowed me to shoot it, and that’s where juniper excels. It is so light that the bows shoot with much less back talk (thump).

      The bow developed a crack about 2 years ago, after being shot for 12 seasons.

      On the unfortunate twist – not that this will help you now, but when selecting a piece of wood to make a bow from, it is good to notice the bark. Usually a twisted tree has twisted bark. If the bark runs straight up the tree, it will be twist free.

      One remedy for your current situation may be to find two pieces in the log that are 40 inches long and straight. Then you could splice those together to get your full length. Not ideal, but at least you still get to make a bow.

      Don’t give up on it. If you don’t see the solution, stew over it a while. Put it away and come back to it later. Bow’s are like women, they have their own time table and all you can do is wait.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      Sounds like you have a walking stick there. Just too much twist to correct. Dan Z on this forum has made successful ERC bows and killed quite a few deer with them. Sort through his posts, you’ll see what I mean. Also, search “ERC” on the Primitive Archer website. You’ll find more info there than you can read in an afternoon.

    • Michael Scott
      Post count: 80

      What is an “ERC” bow?

      When I got the wood, it was free, as the tree had to be removed because they were cutting in a new driveway where I lived, so I just grabbed it up. I figured it had some twist, I just didn’t know how much until I got it split. So whether it winds up going to a bow, or going to firewood, really is a moot point. I figured that I would give it a shot and see where it took me. Still plan on trying something with it, regardless.

      As for making a laminate bow, will the twist affect the strips, and how thick would I need the strips to be?

      And last question (for now) is how do I go about posting pictures? LOL!!

      Thanks for the responses. Keep’em coming!

    • Robin ConradsRobin Conrads
      Post count: 907

      Michael Scott wrote: …And last question (for now) is how do I go about posting pictures? LOL!!

      Hi Michael. Glad to have you back!

      First, size your photo(s) to 640 pixels wide, or about 8″, and 72 dpi. I can’t begin to tell you how to do this on your computer because everyone’s software/hardware is different, but there might be some help files in your software that will tell you how to resize a photo. Or see below* 😀

      When you are typing your post, look below the text box and you’ll see “Attach File:”. Click on “Choose File” and find the photo on your computer. When you Preview you should see the photo (or a message if it didn’t work.) After you attach one photo, you get the option to attach another. Six is the limit.

      *Or see our FAQ’s about posting photos in the forum. That explains how to use Photobucket. It might be easier, it might not.

      Another option is to email the photo to me and I’ll resize it and send it back for you to attach to your post.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      ERC stands for Eastern Red Cedar, a type of juniper. (Common names can be so confusing!) I guess I assumed that’s the type of juniper you have, but of course it could be another variety. Still, sounds like a lot of twist.

      As far as making a laminate goes, that’s beyond my experience. Maybe Troy B. will chime in on this.

    • Michael Scott
      Post count: 80

      To be honest, Prowler, I was kinda thinking you were off your rocker saying the ERC was a type of Juniper, but I looked into it, and I concede that you are, in fact, correct. When I don’t know something for myself, I like to look it up. I now see wherein lies the relationship of the two. Thank you for inadvertently educating me.

      The juniper I have is actually the western version of the juniper family. And you are correct…this tree did have a lot of twist. Which kind of puzzles me, because where it was growing, there was nothing I could see that would have caused it to twist. It was straight as an arrow, from base to tip, so to speak. Just very twisted. Genetics, perhaps? I know these trees typically do twist, but accompanying the twist is usually a rather warped trunk, as well.

      When I found out this tree had to be taken down, I talked to the excavator operator and told him what I was thinking, and he agreed to cut it into 8′ lengths for me. The second length off of the tree has an atrocious number of knots and limbs, and when I tried to split it, it basically forced the ax head (my wedge) to fade out to the side of the trunk about six feet from where I started, giving me nothing to really work with. I may try and split it 90 degrees from the first attempt, and try to get something out of it. If that doesn’t work, it will become BBQ wood, I think.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      Michael Scott wrote: If that doesn’t work, it will become BBQ wood, I think.

      Right on, man. It’s tough to see a promising piece of wood crap out as bow material, but fun to see it become else useful.

    • wahoo
      Post count: 413

      Not a self bowyer but I do know Ed Scott made bows of juniper that shot great

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