Friday, May 25, 2012

Custom Longbow: Glue, Shaping, & Tilling

As mentioned in the previous post, I am making a 65in Longbow, with a Red Oak belly, and Hickory backing. I picked up the Red Oak 1"x3" board at my local hardware store for around $6.  The belly of the bow isn't as vital as the backing as far as grain direction goes, but I tried to find a board that had some uniformity to the growth lines.  The backing I ordered from 3Rivers Archery for just under $20.  I tried to find some hickory locally that would work for the backing, but couldn't find anything with the right growth ring patterns.  3Rivers is a supply for Longbows / Recurves, and has an awesome selection of just about anything you could need when making you own bow.  Once the hickory arrived, I began the glue and clamping process to make essentially one large piece of wood.

I gave it a good 24 hours to dry and set, then drew in my lines to cut off the excess wood.  I left myself a lot of room to work with as this is my first bow, and I didn't want to cut anything too close.  In the picture below my Shinto Saw Rasp.  These guys work great at rapidly removing wood from unwanted areas.  Great tool

Once I had the basic shape of the bow cut out, the lengthy but vital process of tilling began.  After shaving the bow down to what I though was a good level, I put it on my tilling stick and strung it up to see how well the bends were shaping up.  This picture is the bow with almost no pull applied to it.

Here we have a slight pull, and can start to see where the bend is uneven.  The right side is bending more than the left, so now you remove the bow, and shave off a bit more wood on the the stiffer side.

More bend overall, but still uneven.  Back to tilling...

Here we have the bow fully drawn at 28in.  It is now even, and the tilling process is done.  We removed a lot of wood, and the majority of the bow arms are less than 1/2in thick.

Here is a shot of the bow after the tilling process, and a light sanding.  I shot around 50 arrows from it to make sure there were no defects, and it performed like a champ.

With that completed, I will start the stain & seal process.  More pics to come.


  1. Heck yes Zaner. I am checking this blog everyday for awesome stuff!

    1. Won't be updated quite that often, but I will occasionally throw some crazy stuff on here.