A few years ago I hit the sports outlets / pawn shops and archery outfitters looking for a decent (nothing fancy) recurve bow for target shooting. No one had any traditional bows for under $300. Well they did but they were for grade schoolers and even these were $50!! Many were quick to try and sell me a $2000 tactical assault compound bow. If I had any idea this was the current state of archery I would have never given my old bear compound away.
I gave up the search and pondered making a bow but was afraid attempting this long commitment to perfection might turn me against the sport. For the equipment and man hrs I would be better off to buy a $300 bow.
However very recently I started the quest again and I discovered that survival or PVC bows were an actual thing.. Thanks in great part to the backyard Bowyer and his fantastic work I am back into archery making my own bows and strings.
This may turn into a small series or what I've learned entering the PVC bow making world but to start with and at the very least I wanted to share a quick cheap and easy string jig that I've thrown together.
This is not ideal for making high pound bows but if your curious about making bow strings (it is a bit of an art) and don't want to make an elaborate jig or drop a lot of cash, you can throw one of these together for under $10.
Step 1: Gather Parts
The assembly layout pic above is the basic idea of what we are making.
Plumbing parts you will need to gather:
- At least 2ft length 1/2" Sch-40 pipe
- 4 x 1/2" elbows
- 2 x 1/2" Tees
- 2 x 1/2" thread to 1/2" push adapter
- 2 x 1/2" by 3/4" saddle mount Tee
- A 5ft length of 3/4" Sch-40 pipe
- 2 x 3/4" Tees
- length of 3/4" wooden dowel at least 1ft
Step 2: Cut Your Assembly Lengths
Once you have your parts:
Cut 4 x ~8" pieces of the 1/2" pipe.
(I halved two 17" sections because this was the longest scrap pieces I already had)
These lengths are a bit arbitrary they will just set your distance available to you serve your end loops.
Cut 2 mating pieces from the 1/2" pipe ~1.5"
Cut 4 x 3/4" dowel rod sections ~3" long.
Now start building.
Step 3: PVC Assemble!
Make the swivel assembly:
Take your tees and join them to the tread / push adapter as shown above with your 1.5" connection pieces.
Next cut your ~17" sections of 1/2" pipe into half. Attach an elbow to each of these 4 pipe sections and attaché this sub assemble to the previous swivel assembly.
Check your layout and fitting and glue the assemblies together as seen above.
Finally thread the goal post looking units into the saddle fittings. Your 2 final swivel assemblies should look like the later pic above.
Step 4: Final Assembly
The final assembly is just snapping the swivel assemblies onto the 3/4" pipe length by way of the saddle clamps.
Insert the wooden dowel sections into the 1/2" elbows. The fitting will be a little loose use glue or o-rings or high voltage rubber tape etc to make a nice tight fitting.
Cap the 3/4" pipe with your 3/4" tees.
I did not add legs to my unit yet I wanted something was easy to store and lightweight to work with.
For a stronger unit simply increase the PVC sizes to 1" and 1.25" etc..
Step 5: Final Notes
The key to making a great continuous loop string is your strand numbers on either side must be the same and you must maintain the same tension in every strand while looping. This you will find is the ART in this method of string making but with a bit of practice becomes easy enough.
For the later reason this jig is not the greatest as mentioned earlier because it does flex a bit if tension is pulled very tight when looping.
The pics above show the jig in the serving position and the looping positions respectively. The saddle clamps allow for infinite setting of loop lengths. Mark the 3/4" pipe in 1" increments representing true length of your looping ends to save time in set up.
If you have string lengths you make often set the jig and drill through the base pipe and the saddle to place a through pin.