Monday, May 28, 2012

Custom Longbow: Sanding, & Sealing

I was able to finish the bow with enough time to make it "pretty" before needing to take it up in the mountains.  I am taking a Venturing Crew (17-18yr old Boy Scouts) into the Pike National Forest for 5 days.  There we will be teaching them wilderness survival, along with other fun stuff like building shelters, food / water procurement, traps & snares, and primitive weapon construction.  Making this bow was part of getting them excited about the primitive weapons, although they will not be constructing this type of bow, and will be sticking to bundle bows for the camp out.

Here is a pic of it strung up in all its glory.  I also installed "No-Glove" finger protectors on the bow string.  They work really well and allow me to shoot without a glove.  Also installed a rubberized grip on the handle.  It was a bit of a pain to get into place, but has a really nice feel to it.

With the shaping & tilling process complete, it was time to stain and seal the bow.  Before sealing I shot the bow around 30 times just to verify that there were no defects.  Everything went fine during that process, so I started sanding the bow with 220 sand paper.  Once all the major blemishes from the saw rasp were gone, I moved to 400 grit to get a really smooth finish.  As mentioned before, the bow is 60lbs @ 28in draw.  That being said, I have a 31in draw, so I don't really know what the draw strength is at that distance, but its considerably more than 60lbs.

For the belly (Red Oak) I chose a Maple Red stain, and for the backing (Hickory) I went with Ebony.  The Red Oak was very easy, as it just sucked up the stain no problem.  The Hickory on the other hand was much more challenging as it is a denser wood, and didn't accept the stain as well.  The back took it just fine, but the sides was kind of hit and miss.  I did two coats of each, and after giving it a few hours to dry, finished up with two layers of polyurethane to seal and protect the bow.  I am very happy with the results.  Here are some pictures of the bow unstrung from the side and front.

I had a few people ask me questions about the notch for the bow string, so I added some close-up shots without and with the string in place.  I added an extra layer of Red Oak to the backing so that I could cut a groove for the string.  Cutting a notch across the backing (Hickory) is not recommended as it could weaken the bow, and crack at that point.

With the stain and sealing completed, I went out and shot about 30 arrows from it.  Just as before it performed perfectly.  But I found out quickly my arm-guard was not up to the task of actually protecting my forearm.  It was about 2in too short, and I got some pretty nasty string slap a few times.  I now have a longer one that works great, and I haven't had any more bruising or welts while shooting.

That is it for the Longbow Construction pictures.  I will try and get a video posted soon showing the bow in action.  But it will have to wait until I get back from the mountains with the Boy Scouts.

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