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Author Topic: Eastern Red Cedar Questions
Member # 40224

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With work and other commitments, I've been away for a while. I'm itching to make some bows again. A friend just gave me a nice seven foot eastern red cedar stave. I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone and have some questions for people with some experience with this.
1. I've read conflicting opinions. Which is better the sapwood or the heartwood?
2. I'm hoping for 45# @ 28" for target/3D and possibly hunting. Any opinions on length and width? Too long? Too short? Too wide? Not wide enough?
3. I want to make a recurve this time. Static or working recurve? Opinions on each? I'm thinking about 64" before recurving, any thoughts?
4. Which is better for eastern red cedar, sinew backing or bamboo backing?
5. I've read that sinew backing is not as good in the rain, snow and moisture. Does anything know if anything works to waterproof a sinew backed bow? Has anyone used Thunderbird finish on a sinew backed bow or even an unbacked regular selfbow for that matter?
I appreciate any help or opinions from anyone. Feel free to post or send picture of your eastern red cedar bows or recurve bows.


Posts: 20 | From: Canada | Registered: Nov 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mad Max
Member # 40137

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Picture will help, back, side, belly.
use "imgur" to post pictures.

I don't know anything about ERC but other do so hold on.

"nothing ventured ,nothing gained"

Posts: 1871 | From: Mississippi | Registered: Oct 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Trad Bowhunter
Member # 44167

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Whatever happens, at least cedar smells good. Post pics as you go please

Kimsha Mattawoman II 51#
Dale Phillips Nodebow 58#
USMC 2005-2010

Posts: 356 | From: (Southern) Maryland | Registered: Nov 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Trad Bowhunter
Member # 45723

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Sounds like a good candidate for an English longbow. Cedar can make one of those as a selfbow without much problem. Give it a nice rounded belly and a flat back. Then tiller as usual. Te last ERC I did was a small Viking style bow that ended up 60-62" ntn (I can't remember now)and pulled 40# at 27" and was unbanked. I left 2" past each tip and put a rawhid overlay on to keep the single side knock from splitting out and to add some scuff protection when using the stringing levers. It shot very well with minimal set. I left 1/4-3-8" of sapwood as a back and a heartwood belly. I shot it quite a bit as a self. then paper backed it to add a little insurance since it wasn't staying with me. And I didn't follow the grain on te back, just. It it so that there was a roughly even amount of sapwood for a back. It felt pretty quick for that style of bow at that weight. I think I made it 1.125" wide and did normal elb tapers. I made it bend in a circular tiller to even out the strain as much As possible. I've got another one just like that ready to tiller out when I get around to it.


Posts: 101 | From: Missouri | Registered: Dec 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Trad Bowhunter
Member # 40173

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People have been trying to waterproof sinew-backed bows for well over 2000 years. Nothing really works; at best you get water-resistant coverings.

Asian cultures used lacquer impregnated silk (both cloth and cordage), birch or elm bark (painted or natural) and wrapping/encasing in various kinds of intestine and thin leathers.

Nothing modern works any better -- people have been trying that for the last hundred years. Not rubber or silicone, plastic or paints.

Face it -- sinew-backed bows are only optimal if you live in this country in the prairie and western states, not east of the Mississippi.

Living Aboard the s/v ManCave

Posts: 684 | From: FL | Registered: Oct 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Contributor 2013
Member # 21858

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I second what ken said. I have two sinew backed ERC bows, and they're great (well in is in the process of being reworked) but they both were great anyway.

Sinew backing ERC works really well but here in very wet upstate NY the draw weight varies a bit from the dry to wet if it's not in a constant humidity environment. Some humidity won't hurt it any though. I don't worry about the rain because I don't hunt in the rain.

Haven't tried bamboo or other hard backing but I want to. As much as I seem to be complaining I have another ERC floor tinkered waiting for steamed in recurves and sinew.

I would think 64" is fine but I would keep it wide. 2" if possible.

Posts: 2984 | From: Albany, NY | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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