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Thread: R/D Longbow Build
R/D Longbow Build
I got a job at a piano company this summer doing some engineering/quality control type stuff. I met this guy upstairs who builds guitars during his lunchbreak, he is an incredible cabinet maker/ woodworker. I mentioned that one day I'd like to build a bow, and without hesitation he says "let's start next week." So I order the fiberglass, Smooth-on glue, and a set of plans from Kenny M, he's a guy on TradGang. Kenny is very knowledgable, and very generous with his information, he took the time to explain the building process to me. I highly recommend doing business with him if you're thinking about ordering lams/glass/glue/whatever build-related.
I won't pretend to know what I'm doing, I'm just going to post photos of the building process. I will be building this bow only on my lunchbreaks at work, so it will take a while. I plan on being done late August. Enjoy!
Today I finished up the router template for the bottom part of my caul.
Looks great! Can't wait to see the finished product, especially mine!
- Join Date
- Dec 2012
- Northern California
- Items for Sale
Right on! Building my own bow and harvesting a big game animal with it is def on my bucket list. Ill be following as well.
- Join Date
- Aug 2012
Way cool. Please keep us posted of your progress!
Today we screwed the caul template to a big chunk of maple to make the bottom half of the caul. Even though the limbs will be 1 1/2" we left the block for the caul at 1 5/8 for insurance purposes. I was routing it, and the bit chunked and grabbed some of the wood. My boss tried his hand at it, and the piece blew out.
So we dropped the template down about an inch, put bondo in the chunks that got cut out of the template, changed to a bigger bit, and went in for round 2. Success!
That's a pretty big piece of maple... I'm pretty lucky to have these resources at hand. Also I got the riser template built.
Hopefully monday at lunch I can have a riser built (walnut) so I can draw up and cut out the top half of the caul sometime next week.
The plan for my first bow is to do black glass on the front, rock maple limbs, and makassa ebony veneer behind clear glass on the belly. The riser will be walnut with some maple canines running through it. What do you guys think? Any better ideas or suggestions on the color scheme? Keep in mind, it's going to be a tool, not a hanger. No polyester finishes or anything shiny and impractical. Form follows function (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Have a good holiday weekend
Booooooo. What is this wait till Monday? You need to work thru the holiday and weekends till this is done.
On a serious note this is looking good. I will be following along. Looks like you are off to a good start.
That ebony looks incredible. Well done so far!
Today I got the bottom half of the caul sanded up and finished. My buddy helping me worked on figuring out the taper of the core lams and how we're going to make that work with a big drum sander. He made these shims from maple that go from 0.020" to about 0.080". The idea is to shim one long lamination so I can get the 0.002" per inch taper (from center) and 0.001" per inch taper on the lams. To put things into perspective, a piece of paper is about 0.002" thick, pretty precise measurements.
I did lots of work on the risers today and made some pretty good progress. I'm trying to make 4 bows, hence multiple risers, and multiple designs. As I mentioned before, I'm open for suggestions on any wood patterning/coloring. So here's the chunk of walnut I started with:
The dimensions that Kenny's plan calls for are 1.5"x2"x18". Since I like to play things safe, these blocks are 1 5/8"x2 1/4"x20". Maybe bordering on paranoia, but I just don't want to waste such beautiful wood! I also took the riser template, as well as an 18" diameter circle and laid out the riser, as well as the canines to run through it for support/sex appeal.
Here are the cutouts:
After I cranked out 4 of these, I spent some intimate time with one of the blocks, sanding and clamping, sanding and clamping (repeat for an hour) until there was no light showing through the pieces when clamped with a 1/8" piece of plastic. You'll see some gaps only on the very edges, I got careless while hand sanding some burns. You'll see marks on the board, I'm just going to plane that out. I repeat, no light shines through!I was originally thinking just a strip of maple though there for nice contrast against the walnut, but we didn't have any bite sizers. I went and grabbed a piece of bubinga, planed it to 1/8" and tried it on for size. Even gave it a lick to see how it would finish up.
My buddy mentioned doing 0.020" maple accents. What do you guys think?
I took a photo of the Ebony veneer I'll be using, this will be on the belly of the bow under a 0.050" layer of clear fiberglass.
Tomorrow night my buddy has O/T so I'll have an additional 2 or so hours to work on the bows. I hope to have the lams tapered (correctly) by tomorrow night.
Any thoughts/suggestions? If anyone has technical questions, I can help to the extent of my knowledge! I've been doing my homework on bow building!
I like the ebony! I think the maple accents are pretty legit too. Good work sir!
Looking really good. Cannot wait for the next update.
Goal reached! My buddy got all the shim measurements worked out so we put attached the shims to a phenolic board with regular double sided tape, and then attached the soon-to-be lam to the shims with the same double sided tape. With this set up we just about nailed the 0.002" taper.
I'm tentative to try and do any sanding, even the with 220 or 200 grit because right now it's close enough "for government work" as they say. After these boards get ripped there'll be enough material for 4 back lams. According to the charts for this bow design, I think two of the bows will be about 62# @28" and the other two will be about 67# @28".
Surprise surprise... I also got the riser glued up tonight!
I wasn't quite prepared for the smell of the glue... one of the parts of the epoxy was pretty pungent. It's Smooth-on EA-40. I'm excited to break it out of the clamps tomorrow morning and see how it turned out!
Planed down the riser I glued up last night, and it turned out great. You'll see a dark spot on the right side where the maple gets a little thin... but all the material in that will be used in the actual riser looks great.
I also got pretty lucky with my sanding and was able to glue up a second riser tonight. Here it is mocked up. Walnut with 0.110" bubinga. Sorry for the low quality pics, forgot my camera today.
I traced out the "tooth" part of the canine on a piece of bubinga, the one I'll hopefully finish up is for my brothers bow, it's going to be walnut, maple, bubinga, maple, walnut. Should look slick. Pictures to come.
looks nice, well done! The two strips of bubinga look good around the walnut!
- Join Date
- Dec 2012
Ooohhh...67#@28"...my magic numbers...thanks for sharing the build.
Alright, I decided it would be smarter to get a single riser finished up so I could keep moving on the top part of the caul. So I took the riser that I glued up last night and ran it through the planer a couple times, I think it came out pretty good, glue lines look good and the grain fits in really well with the laminations.
So after oogling, I put a rough cut on it and it started to look more like a riser should.
Check out this wood grain, I'm really happy with it, but really sad it will be covered up...
I put the riser on the caul and all the curves matched up nice.
As you can see the ends didn't want to match up with the curve, so after a few tricks and some gentle sanding, we put a 0.200" piece underneath to simulate the glass/maple lam. I think it's ready for glue up.
We've got the shims pretty much done for the 0.001" tapered lam, once we run that through the planer we'll have all the pieces. We'll just need to rip down the back and belly lams, cut the fiberglass to length, then make the top caul, then it's game time! I hope to have one glued up by next weekend.
Wow! That thing looks nice! Wood grain is pretty for sure, nicely done. So do you cut out the shelf before or after you glue the limbs, I am assuming before....?
Thanks man. You do it after, so you can have that nice 1.5" dimension to line it all up with. Also, some guys string it first and determine how they want their arrow to sit, that's usually the primitive dudes though. If you go to Kenny's custom archery website and go under form building, there's an unhighlighted link, copy and paste it, you'll see a completed version of what I'm doing, and he uses some nice zebra wood in his too. With overlays.