Gonna try a little longbow build-a-long here with some pictures. I want to carry this one through to the finish which hopefully includes a successful whitetail deer hunt in the next few weeks.
Building a bow is fun project for sure. I just generally don't have much time to get it done. I found some time recently so here goes!
I built this form by copying my favorite "D" profile longbow. The Northern Mist Baraga. I have built 1 other longbow and 2 recurves to this point. So, saying that you know I'm a rank amateur at bow building so the information here is strictly for the novice. I heartly welcome criticism from those who are more skilled so I can do better myself in the future.
I have found nothing more gratifying than killing my game with the equipment I've built. So far, knock on wood, all of the bows I've built are still holding together and shooting fine. I built the form and heat box about a year ago when making the first longbow. The form can be tricky and you need to take your time to make sure it's cut symetrical and square to the front and back. As you can see, I'm going to use the fire hose method with the heat box to cure the epoxy.
I'll try to keep up with this on a nightly basis. To this writing I'm actually putting the finish on. Please enjoy and remember I'm very open to constructive criticism.
Since I had actually cut out the riser a few months ago I don;t have any pictures of the lamination, glue up, layout, or cut out process of the riser. I also cut and ground the laminations a while back. The lams are made out of vertically laminated bamboo flooring. Some extras that a friend of mine had left over from a flooring job. They started as 38" x 3-1/2" x 1/2" flooring boards that I cut the tounge and groove off of and then cut them down to 1-1/2" wide strips. I then resawed them to 3/16 thick on the table saw. I made a platten to go through my Performax drum sander. One for flat grinds and one for tapers.
I ground the laminations in pairs since they were only 36" long and then cut the ends on 45's and glued them end to end to form 1 long lamination. This seemed to work out real well.
Here I have 2 black fiberglass lams at .040. Two parallel flooring lams at .075. One red glass lam for a decorative touch at .032. and one tapered lam that went from .130 at the butt to .035 at the limb tip.
Acetone to clean the lam surfaces and glueing surface of the riser. Smooth on epoxy and some plastic wrap to cover the form.
Glue up can be a mess with one person. It probably took me 45 minutes by the time I mixed the epoxy till I had everyting lined up in the form.
I might add that getting the poundage you want at the length you want can be a real chore If this is your first couple of bows. My goal here was a 62" bow and 50#@28".
I will say right now, a quality custom bow is, in most cases, is worth what you are paying for! Period.
Apex, this is the first time using the glass lam in the middle. I just wanted to give it a try and I've seen that Black widow has been doing it for years without any ill effects. With the colors I'm using it does add a nice touch. Honestly, I have the bow to the point now where I'm just adding the finish. I've shot it a bit and I'm very pleased. I will say that there's no discernible added shock from the glass lam. I was actually expecting this question as I would have asked the same. All my bows are experimental at this point. My hats off to you for the excellent work you do!!
I might add here that I purchased all materials other than the bamboo lams from Bingham's. A great source for the amateur.
The riser block is gray coreflex/superaction that I ripped down and added a 1/4" black phenolic stripe and 2 1/16" red and 2 1/16" white stripes for accent. As you will tell, I really like the black/red/white look in a bow.
Moving right along, here I have the laminations glued up and placed in the form over top of the plastic wrap. The plastic wrap helps to keep excess glue from running down over the form. I use a fiber reinforced packing tape to hold the lams and riser in place before placeing the top part of the form on. The lams can slide around here a bit so you need to be careful and double check everything before putting the top part of the form on.
One thing I forgot to mention is that I placed blue painters tape over the face side of the black glass to prevent excess glue from messing up the finished side. I also mark the Smooth-On cans for the date purchased as I understand the shelf life is about a year.
Good evening to all. Tonight we put the top half of the form on and cook the bow. A sheet metal pressure strip goes between the top glass lam and the fire hose. The clamps mearly hold everything together while I apply 60 pounds of pressure into the hose. This really forces the excess glue from in between the laminations to give you a nice glue line. I'll also stick some small wood wedges around the riser area between the fire hose and pressure strip where the angles are sharp and the hose doesn't quite lay flat. This helps to maintain pressure in this area for good glue lines.
After 6 hours in the oven I turn it off and let it cool down inside before opening the box. After taking it out of the form this is what I have.