Tools of the Bowyer

I have been working on a bow-making tutorial for quite a long time now.  Trying to be as explicit as possible while not dumbing everything down is a tricky narrative to follow.  Just gathering the appropriate images of the process is time-consuming and difficult but truly, a good image is worth a thousand words.

The basic hand tools used on bow making.


9 thoughts on “Tools of the Bowyer

      1. Ciao ! Hehe I’m biased… i love my country because there are…history in cities, towns and around, sea ( wild Maremma and Versilia) mountains (i live near Appennino Tosco-Emiliano) , countrysides ( Val d’Orcia, Crete senesi, Chianti) … But i really love all the world! I’ve found another perspective Few years ago when I walked on Camino di Santiago…the slow tourism it’s the way to know the spirit of a land! In future i would like to visit north America with my wife and my daughter. Thank you for the info, i’ll read! Ciao ancora, Mattia

  1. Good looking tools. Only difference I have is take away the spokeshaves and add a farrier’s rasp. I just cant get a spokeshave to do what I want. Maybe I need more practice or a better spokeshave!

    1. I have actually mad a few red oak bows successfully. Like you, I had it lying around so I gave it a try. They worked fine but I don’t think you would want to go with a very high poundage with red oak. As long as the back is clean and down to a single growth ring you should be fine. Just a historical note; the natives in the southern California desert actually made serviceable bows from willow. If that worked, anything will.

    2. With my red oak board-bow Møllegabet, I rawhide-backed it. I got 55 @ 28, but after about 1000 shots it split just outside the backing.

      If you’re going to use a red oak board, get the straightest grain possible (as close to ZERO runout as you can find, and take your time looking), and back the entire limb. I’d still be shooting it now if I’d run the rawhide far enough up into the levers! I haven’t been able to find a suitable board since, and that was early last year.

      If you can harvest an oak or other “white-wood” stave wet, peel the bark.. then full stop. Do not work the back further; you already have the most pristine back any tree is capable of producing. The best time to harvest is early spring before the year’s growth begins, or late autumn when the growth ring has been laid down for this year.

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