Making your own bow from one piece of wood can be an incredibly enriching experience. The procedures I will outline below are those that I have followed over some 6 years to make bows that I now shoot and hunt with exclusively
My bows are made mostly with hand tools but I do use a stationary belt sander to remove some wood and in the finishing process. The sander is not necessary. The hand tools I use are a draw knife, scraper, pen knife, Stanley Shurform Plane, and a coarse and fine wood workers rasp. You wil also need some coarse, medium and fine sandpaper.You will also need some way to keep the stave immobile as you work on it. When I first began, I used a wood workers vice. I wrapped rags around the bow to keep the metal jaws from damaging it.
The back of your stave must be reduced to one continous growth ring unless you are making a board bow. For hickory, ash and oak once you remove the bark with your draw knife, the back is ready for the bow making process. Boards for bows have been discussed in other of my web pages. Black locust and osage must be prepared in a different manner. They must be reduced to inner growth rings. The sapwood in both of these species is the lighter wood and the heartwood is the darker wood. I have had success reducing the locust to the ring just above the heartwood while osage must be brought down to the heartwood. I have not really discussed using osage because my interest in bow making revolves around materials the local New Enland Indians used. Osage is not native to this area. For the beginner, my suggestion is to use a board or ash, oak, or hickory tree staves. The back of the bow must be in pristine condition or the bow will fail. It must have no nicks or cuts. Email me and I will provide you with suggestions as to where you may purchase the above.
Copyright 1999 George C Tsoukalas