Step 9: Finish

Picture of Finish
After finish sanding I coated the whole thing with a wax finish I use on my firearms called variously "gunny paste" "one third finish" etc. a mix of BLO, beeswax and turpentine. Finally, you can wrap the handle with hemp twine, but I like the bare wood..

Very pleased with the result.
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thinking about making this, anyone know what would be the best wood for this project?
Osage Orange/bodark/bois d'arc, how ever you call it, is some of the best wood for making bows. Hell "bois d'arc" is French for wooden bow. If you can find a knot free length of the stuff, GET IT.
yew.....its expensive and rare so dont bother.......orange osage,lemonwood are easyily available in the USA i believe...........basically any dense hardwoods are capable of making reasonable bows..........ive read oak with a hickory strip glued on the back works well.............
The best wood for making bows is dead wood, Oak is the next best thing.
read the comments
afridave3 years ago
yesterday i broke my third bow on the tiller.........first one was oak which broke at 38 pounds at 28 inches....i was aiming for 40 pounds...........second one was imboia which i broke on purpose ...it was well over 50 pounds and about 29 inches when it broke
last one was iroko which i was very carefull with ...i was aiming at 35 pounds at 28 inches ........it broke at about 33 pounds at 28 inches.......

so im rethinking all of this.......ive been attempting the longbow concept that bends through the handle but yesterday i glued a riser on a piece of iroko and will attempt again with this new method.......i build as long as my wood will allow........the oak was 6 ft long..........the iroko are both 70 inches as i get two equal staves out of one piece of wood.......i think one of my mistakes is that im starting with my rough shape to thin and not leaving enough timber to reach my desired draw weights.......not sure what im learning but will get it right eventually.................i believe breaking bow may in the long run be more educational than it seems...... ...."a fully drawn bow is a 7/8 ths broken bow"
Jaygo afridave2 years ago
This build does not fully explain tillering. There's more to it than shown. He tillered to form but that's all.
A bow should be 'exercised' on the tillering bar, pulling it to varying degrees starting from light to greater bends as you progress. It wouldn't hurt to flex the bow at least a dozen times at each stage of shaping. In the end, it doesn't hurt to tiller a couple inches beyond your target draw. That can help prevent failure if the bow is over drawn. Such tillering can also reduce string follow.
Kynan4th5 years ago
i think i shall make a pyramid bow, ive got nothing better to do, but i reckon ill save up for some ash, itll be harder to work, but worth it if i succeed, but with the height thing, should i do longbow measurements? height of the archer plus a hand? because 6' 4" of ash, plus the handle bit, is gunna cost alot
Jaygo Kynan4th2 years ago
Check hardware stores for tool handles. Many are made of ash, hickory or other "white" hardwoods.

To the many comments about what type of wood to use, hark back to the beginning of this build along. He recommends a red oak board. You can find these anywhere lumber is sold, they are not expensive and just the thing to make a bow until you improve your technique. Learn to make a good bow first before going on to more exotic- and expensive- woods.

Another thought on backing came from another site. It recommended using layers of the drywall net stuff for seams and patching built up in layers with wood glue. It's durable, cheap and easy to make, and works.
i bought a rough cut board of ash with nice straight grain and free of knots for i think 8 bux. then they planed it for me. i am in the process of making the handle. it seems like its gonna be sweet though. i went with ash rather than oak. it seems like more ppl recomend it
i believe oak backed with a hickory strip is very good....i live in south africa and cannot find a piece of hickory for love or money.........
Tool Using Animal (author)  Kynan4th5 years ago
I'm gonna guess your, umm, short? ;-) because If i used the height of the archer plus a hand, If need an 80 inch long bow, yikes.

This bow is designed for a 28 inch draw, for it's 68 inch length, so if you measure your draw, and keep the ratio. ie. multiply your draw by 2.4 to get the new bow length, you should be fine.
cheerz :)
Jaygo2 years ago
Nice build! Some observations and opinions (whatever they may be worth).
In your addendum you comment on references to backing the bow. I agree that it is not necessary but, disagree that it adds nothing to it. You are correct that it can help prevent or at least minimize any failure. But, properly backed it can help reduce the string follow almost inherent in any bow like this.
A possibly better solution for your string wrapping of your string knocks might be rawhide. A simple source of that are dogs rawhide "chew bones." You can get them in various thicknesses. Just toss one in a bucket and unroll them when good and wet. Cut strings of the thinner stuff while wet and lash it on. As it dries, it will shrink and harden. When fully dry, anything you have attached thus isn't going anywhere! Native Americans used rawhide to fasten anything they didn't want to come apart. They even repaired rifle stocks this way some of which are still holding after more than a century.
One more observation. You tillered to form but that's all. A bow should be 'exercised' on the tillering bar pulling it to varying degrees starting from light to greater bends as you progress. It wouldn't hurt to flex the bow at least a dozen times at each stage of shaping. In the end, it doesn't hurt to tiller a couple inches beyond your target draw. That can help prevent failure if the bow is over drawn. Such tillering can also reduce string follow.
I added resin coat to one of my bows. Gave it a nice waterproof coat and contributed to its strenght.
theiceman5 years ago
great job with the bow... any thoughts on gluing several (maybe 3) layers of some type of cloth (silk, duck cloth) to the back of the bow to strengthen it and ward off splintering/cracking... that having been said, I personally like the finished look of the raw wood...  thanks for a great inst...
I agree.
The grain is beautiful in the pic.
Especially with the wrapping. It's such natural look.
great tutorial. i would go with dremeling out notches at either end of the bow for the string rather than gluing on pieces of wood. more accurate to originals. otherwise great
Vick Jr5 years ago
About what wood to use: here's a list of potential bow-wood species.

Yew is the traditional wood, but i've read that Orange Osage works well too, and is easier to find. I know that American ash and lemon wood also work. Any kind of hard wood is good (in terms of species and physical properties). It should be as untreated and dry as possible. See this great page on making a longbow for more info. You can also use a high-compression wood and make a cable-backed bow (literally glue a high-tension reinforcement to the back)

Quick question: what did you use for string?

Great 'ible by the way. I shall begin work on my bow with the next trip to the hardware store!
First off this is an awesome bow. Yours looks a lot better than mine. I was just wondering what size string did you get for yours?
Thanks, I picked a 67 inch AMO string off of ebay from this seller
P4nz3r5 years ago
Solid 'ible!
I'm actually working on a very similar bow out of a small oak tree I cut down for it.  is it worth putting in any more work if the wood cracked while drying, or should I just scrap the project and use your method instead?
Kynan4th P4nz3r5 years ago
oak trees take an age to grow, so if i were you id try my hardest not to waste it, though i would have thought oak isnt flexible enough for a bow
Nattwood5 years ago
hey, ive started carving up the wood now that its seasoned and am just wondering if a handle like http://www.dryadbows.com/instock/images/WBBinstk06.jpg because i much prefer the arrow pass being carved in the wood and the pistol grip looks much more comfortable for shooting with, cheers.
Tool Using Animal (author)  Nattwood5 years ago
In this design the handle is rigid, so the shape, with the exception of the fades, is pretty much a personal choice. I might be concerned about how much material was removed for the arrow shelf, but other than that......
Nattwood5 years ago
Hey, great instructable you got here, just wondering if a wood like red gum would work well? because the only kind of oak in abbundance at my hardware stores is tassy shee oak and that stuff, although heavier then pine, doesn't seem all that strong, however red gum is big and strong and native to my area so not unfairly priced, so quite easily accessible? One last thing though, im only 17 this year so i wouldn't be doing this, but how would an ebony bow go?
You've probably heard of ebony bows, but the truth is that the ebony is usually treated in some way so that it becomes stronger or more elastic. It's good for decorations, but otherwise, unless you lot's of money to spend, i wouldn't recommend trying to make a working one.
Hi Nattwood, I am in Oz too. I tried lots of different woods to make bows when I was your age. I didn't try red gum specifically but I never found a eucalypt that didn't break. The best wood I found was lemon wood (see below).

i got some big ironbark that we're pullin down, and its eucalypt so it should be good rite? and if so whats the best part of the tree, cause otherwise its all firewood, so i wanted to know which would be best part of tree to keep a 3m chunk of.
Tool Using Animal (author)  Nattwood5 years ago
Hey, I did some poking around the net, redgum is a eucalyptus right?  If so Eucalyptus has similar characteristics to red oak, so it should work okay.  Ebony has a low modulus of rupture (it's brittle) would make a poor choice.
cool, the ebony was just a wondering, but the gum is good cause of the construction goin on around they're pullin down a bunch of em, big ones too, been around since ages ago.
 im about to start with a wood im quite sure is red oak (or at least similar). i will probably make it more proportionate to my height (5'2)
spainenins5 years ago
is a birch wood good enough for a bow like this?
JohnMichael5 years ago

Very nice!  I am tempted to make one, though a fifty pound bow is probably too much for me.  Do you have any information or suggestions on scaling the draw weight of the bow down accurately?

I would suggest keeping the length and outline as suggested here and simply thinning more in the tillering step until you have the desired draw weight, that way you'll end up with a harmoniously looking bow in which the wood is under less stress.

This is likely to happen with the first attempt anyway, as it's very easy to overshoot the thinning if you don't go slow enough.
yutzwagon5 years ago
 So very, very scared to try this... but I think i will this Summer. Woulda simmilar design be a good choice for a longer bow? say... 6'6"? Longbows are supposed to be the height of the archer plus a hand, right?

Another question, what other methods of making a knock are there? I'm not too keen on the astetics of the one in the 'ible, but if It's safer I'll probably still go with it.
Tool Using Animal (author)  yutzwagon5 years ago
Longer is better, within limits, it reduces the stress on the wood, give it a  try. Since you don't like my primitive nocks (Boo!), try nock overlays.
aapch15 years ago
this was a very, ver, VERy impressive instructable, I would have never thought to use boards, i've always used bamboo, from shinais, they worked (only about 20 lb draw) but this, Im definitley going to give this a shot, but are there any other kinds of wood? would cedar work? or even maple?, i know maple is a hard wood, thats what the english used, but i want your opinion
I have made linen backed maple and oak board bows before.
Maple functions well and is easy to work. Offering high success rates for first time bowyers.

In my unscientifically substantiated opinion... I believe that oak makes a more efficient bow. 
Tool Using Animal (author)  aapch15 years ago
Maple should be fine, cedar is a horrible choice, it's a soft wood.  I used the red oak because it's cheap and available, I spent all of $8 on the wood for this project.
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