Since I was in need of a new recurve for bowfishing, which is as good a reason as any when youíre justifying a new bow, I decided to grab my camera and try my hand at a build-a-long. Iím sure some of the more seasoned bowyers here have better ways of doing thing than what Iíve shown here, so please feel free to speak up. Iím always looking for a better way to do things.
Youíll notice that Iím not wearing eye, ear or breathing protection in any of the photos. Those things were removed for the photos only, since working a camera with all that stuff on is a royal pain in the rear. Always wear proper protection when doing woodworking. Now thenÖ
Weíll start with the limbs. I want this bow 62Ē long and pulling just short of 60# at my 32Ē draw length. For that combination of length and weight Iíll use .040 clear fiberglass and a core consisting of two actionboo laminations, one .060 parallel and a .100 thick .002/inch taper. And since I donít like the light color of natural actionboo, I stain my laminations with Minwax.
All limb materials are properly cleaned and laid out in the order theyíll be glued together. From bottom to topÖglass, taper, wedge, parallel, glass.
Once the pieces are glued and stacked on top of each other, theyíre put in the form.
The top of the form is bolted down and the fire hose is inflated to 70 psi. After 8 hours in the hotbox at 180 degrees, the limb will be properly cured.
Once the limb has cooled to room temperature, itís removed from the press. The glue thatís squeezed out during the lamination process is very sharp. Be careless here and youíll get cut quick and deep (been there, done that, ruined the t-shirt). Thick leather gloves are a must
The limb profile is traced from a template. A beltsander is used to reduce the limbs to proper dimensions.
Now weíll move on to the riser block. For this bow I decided to use a combination of cocobolo and bubinga with purpleheart and maple accent stripes.
Grinding accent stripes isnít too difficult with a drill press, sanding drum and a simple jig. I also thin down my pieces for overlays with this grinding system.
Riser pieces are rough cut on a bandsaw.
After that, theyíre clamped to a template and a sanding drum with a roller guide is used to get gluing surfaces to exact specifications. If the curves are inconsistent, not only will the glue lines look horrible, but they stand a good chance of failing. A course grit sanding sleeve leaves the surfaces rough enough to glue up properly.
Always do a dry run before glue-up. After youíve slathered Smooth-On all over everything is a poor time to realize youíve made a mistake (done that too). I usually clamp everything together and use a spotlight to check for gaps. If everything looks good, Iíll glue the riser block together and put it in the hotbox for 8 hours at 180 degrees to cure.
Once the riser block is cured and cooled to room temperature the excess glue is sanded off and the block is squared up. Then itís cut to accept the limbs, and those surfaces are squared and flattened up on a jointer.
A drill press comes in handy for attaching the limbs to the riser block. This part always makes me nervous. Right here is were your limb alignment will be dead on or a total mess.
A tap is used for installing the bolt inserts.
The limbs are bolted down, rough string nocks are filed in and the bow is strung. After a few minor adjustments, the tiller seems straight.
For tip overlays Iím using black linen phenolic sandwiched between pieces of cocobolo. Small c-clamps and CA glue set them up quickly.
Now itís time to rough shape the riser. After cutting to rough dimentions on a bandsaw, I go to a a drill press with one-, two-, and thee-inch diameter sanding drums.
Once the rough shape is where I want it, itís time to move on to hand toolsórasps, files, scrapers, sandpaper and emery cloth.
Riser inserts are installed, the wood grain is filled with CA glue and several coats of Thunderbird are sprayed with an airbrush. After that cures, itís just a matter of buffing everything out, bolting it together and going through the tuning process.
When it was all said and done, I hit weightó58# @ 32Ē. And since no bow is truly finished until it serves its intended purpose, itís time to take this recurve out for a little pre-spawn carp action on the Fox River. The waterís a little cool, but the sunís bright today and the breeze is mild. If Iím slow and quiet, and my aim is true, maybe the fish will cooperate and Iíll break this bow in properly.
Way 2 Go Jason. Bow looks great, you proved it shoots great by that carp ya got, and thanks for sharing it all with us. I still tell people about the conduit deer cart that I made from your prototype several years ago. Keep 'em coming.
-------------------- President Life Member New York Bowhunters, Inc. >>>>------------------------> Posts: 1406 | From: New York | Registered: May 2003
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That was a fantastic build-along. Very nicely done. I'm sure it's a lot of work to photograph and document the process from start to finish but I for one, appreciate the effort. Thanks again, Mike.
Posts: 176 | From: Kansas | Registered: Jun 2004
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Really cool build-a-long. Thanks for sharing with those of us who are kicking around the idea of trying to build our own.
Posts: 1107 | From: Willow Spring, NC | Registered: Sep 2005
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