Ad'lans Photo Guide to Making your own Bowstring

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Ad'lans Photo Guide to Making your own Bowstring

Post by Ad'lan » Fri Jul 27, 2007 3:02 pm

Well Now Boys, I've done my rough guide to making flint arrowheads. Next on the list is a Guide to making your own Bow.

However, before you can make your own bow, you need a bowstring. Making Bowstring is difficult enough to require a seperate thread, and some of the concepts can be hard to explain. It is definatley one of those things better explaind in person, But I'll try and explain it with Illustrative Photo's to help.

So, lets get started:

Image
Tools List: Hammer, Nails, Sharp Knife, Tape Measure, Wax (prefarably bees, but tallow will do). Of course, String Thread. I'm gonna use Dacron B500, but you can use ordinary thread. However it must be plain untreated thread, and you should work out it's breaking weight. I'll explain this more later. Oh and you need a Fence
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well, actually, and straight plank of wood you can hammer nails into will do, I just use the fence 'cos it's at a useful hight.

You now need to hammer in Nails, the distance between the nails will be the distance of the string. The Distance should be the Length of your bow, plus another 20". I'm 6', so my bow is 6', which makes my string is
Image This Long.

You also need to hammer in a third nail, this one 12" from one of other nails.

Now. we're gonna wind out the threads onto the nails, that will make our string. This string is for making a bow, so it needs to be extra strong and tough. I'll be making it at 50lbs (What I'd expect an adult male to draw after a little practice, and what I can draw comfortably for a few minutes). Now, This is where we need to know the breaking point of your thread. Your bowstring needs to have a breaking point of 6 times the draw weight of the bow, so the string needs to have a breaking point of 300lb. So if a single strand of thread, has a breaking weight of 5lb, we'll need 60 strands of it.

In this case, and because it's a string for making a bow, We'll be making it for really really rugged, means we'll use 18 strand, instead of my usual 12 strand. Dacron B 500 has a stretching point of aprox 25lbs.

So, what we're gonna do, is make 3 skeins of threads, each 1/3 the total number of threads required, so thats 3 skeins of 6.

So, tie one end of the spool to the nail
Image

And unroll the spoll a way, and around the other nail 92" away, and bring it back, 3 times
Image

Then cut the threads at either end, giving you 6 identical strands 92" long. One Skien
Image

Now, do it again, and again. Giving you 3 skeins, of 6 threads each, 92" long.

Now, there is one part of the bow string that suffers most, where it meets the top limb in a loop, it is particularly prone to wear. So we are going to thicken the ends of our threads, which is why you have the nail only 12" apart.

Make 3 skeins of 6 threads only 12" long, and this is what you got
Image
3 long, 3 short. If you are using ordinary threads, now you must wax them. warming the wax in your hands, and rubbing up and down the length of the thread from centre out woods, impregnate the thread with wax. If you are using the Dacron, or another modern bowstring material, don't worry, it's already been done.

Image

Now comes a tricky bit. tapering the threads. With both your short and your long threads, they need to have a distinct taper so they will marry together well later. the best way to do this is by taking 2 threads from a skien, and placing one end of one, 1" below the end of the other.

Image

Then, run the thread through your fingers, to ensure it sticks together and preseves the taper, the wax will hold it together.

Image

Then you take another thread from the same skein, and put it another inch below, continuing the taper. Then run it through your fingers again and take another thread, and so on...

Image
Till you have 6 taperd strands, 3 long, 3 short.

Now, take one long, and one short, and pinch them together, between finger and thumb you can hold them tightly in one hand, and marry the treads into each other with the other hand, starting like this
Image

And working from the centre of the taper to one end, then from the centre of the taper to the other end. Giving you this
Image
A solid thickend end of a single strand 92" long.

Do this to all the others, so you have only 3 long strands, thickend at one end. Then roll them up till you have about 18" left, sit comfortably, and put them parrallel on the ground infront of you, with the rolled end to your right.

Image



Then take the three strands firmly in your left hand, pinch them about 9" down from the end.

Image

Now comes the fun bit, and the bit hardest to explain.

Using your right hand, grab the strand that seems furthest from you, twist it hard away from you using your thumb and forefinger. then bring it across the other strands, sip it under your left thumb and hold it tight. To avoid getting a tangle at your rolled ends, bring your rolled end across as well, towards your self.

The take the next strand, which should now be furthest from you, and do the same twist it hard away from you using your thumb and forefinger. then bring it across the other strands, sip it under your left thumb and hold it tight. Keep doing this, and rearranging your skeins, but resist the temptation to open your left thumb, keep it tightly bound.

After quite a while of this twisting, you can give in, and look at whats in your left hand
Image
Nice, eh? a short bit of rope. But keep going, this short rope needs to be 4 or more inchs long.

Once you have this length of rope though. you form it into a loop
Image
And pinch the free ends together. because at each end of the ripe there will be 3 strands, marry one short strand, to one long strand, as you can see in my picture.

Then you should just have 3 strands, with a loop.
Now, you begin twisting again. take the three strands firmly in your left hand, pinch them, then grab the strand that seems furthest from you, twist it hard away from you using your thumb and forefinger. then bring it across the other strands, sip it under your left thumb and hold it tight. Keep going till you've run out of taperd length, and have reach the plain 16 strand section.
Image

Here endith part you
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Post by jamoni » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:57 pm

Cool!
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Post by Ad'lan » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:58 pm

Part 2: Finshing the Job.

Okay, so we have our loop and a short length of braided rope. Okay, Now we need to finish the rest of it.

Quite simply, pinch the bottom about 8 inchs from the end, and start doing exactly as before, twisting it hard away from you using your thumb and forefinger. then bring it across the other strands, sip it under your left thumb and hold it tight. Keep doing this till you run out of thread, and you are sorted. Tie a simple knot in the end to keep it in place, and your bow string is roughly done.

Image

Now, your string loop end will look a bit scraggedy because of the ends not tapering in properly. If I take a lot of time and care, I can do this, but It's not worth it. Cut off loose ends, and when we wax it, they'll go down lovely.


Hook your loop over a nail, and pull it taught

Image

Working from the ends to the centre, roll it round with your palm. Take care over this if it is a bow you want to get good accuracy out of. It isn't as important with a bowmaking string.

Now, we are going to hot wax soak the whole bally thing. If you use unwaxed threads originally, this is what you can do if you don't want to just outer coat them though this methord can make them harder to work.

Image

Heat a small amount of wax (half a candle), in a pot or tin (I use two chinese meal trays, with some water in between).

Image
Then you can soak the bow string in the melted wax.

You will need to remove this excess wax though, So I suggest either kitchen roll, or a good rag. simply wipe down and sponge off the excess The rag must be thick, because wax done like this gets incredibly hot, and you must change where you wipe it every so often else the wax builds up.

Once the whole string is done, the string is complete. Witha regular waxing, this bowstring is waterproof, and a decently oiled/varnished bow is shootable in any weather condition, provided your arrows flights are waterproof (I'd use untreated goose for this).

Roll the string again for roundness, and if you want you can add a string serving (I do, but I didn't document it this time, despite having thread ready, because I had to cook my little brothers dinner).
But a String serving is jsut a tightly bound length of colourd thread around where the arrow will be releasd from, to protect the string from chafing by the nock.

Image

A bow is nothing without it's string. Use wax plenty and often, and at the first sign of freying, change your bowstring, as a broken string often means a broken bow (and there is nothing worse than your favourite, handmade, self yew longbow shattering at fulldraw.) You cannot get away with using a simple length of cord or string for this, you really do need a specialist bowstring.

The bowstring I describe above is only one style, there are others, such as the famous flemmish style, with a loop at both ends, and it is wove stright from the distaff.


Expect the next one when I finally get round to getting more Seasond Bowwood, and give you guys a photo guide to bows, then a photoguide to arrows. And then a Photo guide to cobing the lot of them. :D


Now, I'm not an expert, I'm an ameature, and I've not been doing this 20 years and more, because I'm not yet 20. But I hope you guys like it.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by JRod » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:10 pm

Absolutely excellent post! Lots of info, lots of pictures, good explanations. Don't know if I'll ever get a chance to try this out, but thank you for posting it. 8)
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Post by IllicitDreams » Fri Jul 27, 2007 10:21 pm

Excellent post... I think you did a great job of presenting the info.

Now I just gotta get time to try it.

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Post by Jeriah » Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:05 am

That's totally awesome. However, I just use paracord; works just fine.
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Post by Ad'lan » Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:08 am

Really, whats the draw weight on your bow? You really are asking for a problem using Paracord.

Paracord of Sufficant strength would be to wide to knock an arrow on.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by BIGIRISH1000 » Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:39 am

I think this is the greatest post Ive ever seen on this website.

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Post by TheLastRifleMan » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:45 pm

Nice! If have done some cordage in my time (can't be helped, be involved in flintknapping and all) using natural fibers. This is good info right here, folks!
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Post by Ad'lan » Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:36 pm

Ah yes, my Aunt (now sadly departed), was a great steamstress, and made threads on a spinning wheel. I've had bowstrings made of Hemp, Silk, Jute and even Nettle. Natural Fibers are somtimes better than modern threads, as they take up the wax more readily.

Wish I had taken the time with her to learn some of here skills, she and my mother taught me basic machining, and hand stiching, and how to use a distaff, but not how to do advanced stuff, or use a spinning wheel (we have 3 still on the farm, plus lots of broken ones).



To keep your bowstring in good condition, wax it plenty and often, excess wax is hard to do, and will just flake off.

I didn't go to the timber yard today, so the first I can manage will be monday, and I might be on a camping holiday then.

However, the Bowmaking Post will include wood selection, from a standard timber merchants. This'll be the first time I've sourced my wood from a commercial timber merchants, so I hope I find somthing useable.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by phoenixmastm » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:33 pm

Dude, this is awesome. I'm tempted to start downloading everything from the threads and compile it into a .pdf file. :D
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Post by Ad'lan » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:45 pm

8) That would be Bloody Hardcore. Go for it. :lol:

I am going camping, so no Bowmaking Article for at least 6 days. But, at least this means you will have time to make your bowstrings.
:wink:
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by ninja-elbow » Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:18 pm

Looking forward to the bowmaking article. Are we doing longbows? I'm interested in comparing my "experience" with your teaching. I made mine from a book (Traditional Bowyer's Bible) and only made 1 so am anticipating.
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Post by Ad'lan » Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:22 pm

Yeah, I make english D belly Longbows. I've not made one in a few years, and my last one shatterd, so I hope I can do it well.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by ninja-elbow » Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:56 pm

OUCH! Shattering bows scare me. I hope yu went unscathed. A friend of mine had a flatbow (Holmgard style) fail on him when it had a hinge break. No injuries but it scared the Hell out of all of us when we heard it go at full draw.

Good luck with the new bow - watch your grain!!

edit:
You can see my junky yet useful oaken longbow here:
http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... c&start=24

Scroll about halfway down. It's oak, leather backed with sinew at a few stress points. 27lbs. draw at 28 inches. It's good for small game and target practice. I named her "Sweet Butter". She's ugly but she has been working for 8 years now - she don't quit.

I made a string like yours - linen thread and beeswax.
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Post by Ad'lan » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:43 am

Funky, a flatbow's what I call it. You mentiond trouble with shaping it? I'll get up some designs for a tiller, which lets you see it come compass.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:01 pm

The main problem I had with the little bow was shaving the oak stave down with nothing but a knife. That honestly was 4 months of work. I was in a medieval recreation group and was tasked with making a bow with just a knife. :( Never again!

For tillering, I just made a tiller stick with notches every 2 inches out to 28. I stopped there because that is all I wanted to draw the bow to. Nothing fancy at all.

I would like to make a good English longbow from yew. I need to get some better tools though. I can find a yew stave for $60 (US) locally.

The bows I now have are my Sweet Butter and an Hungarian made Mongol bow. :arrow:
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Post by Ad'lan » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:07 pm

Tiller sticks are good, I prefer a pully tiller, because then I can see how the bow bends from a distance.

BTW: Whats your mongol recurve made out of? Modern or Traditional Materials? Because I know traditional sinew backed Bows suffer very badly in the wet (one theory for them not continuing their conquest of western europe was the change of climate from the arid Asian Steppe.)
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Aug 10, 2007 2:58 pm

I bought my bow from an American dealer of Kassai Lajos bows back in 2000. I beleive the Kassai line has changed since then but mine is closest to the "Wolf II" model. It draws to about 30" and is at 67 pounds. It still has the delron string and I'd like to replace it with a natural fiber string at some time.

Most Kassai bows are a combo of fiberglass and ash. Mine is such, the belly is of fiberglass covered in leather.

I will take some pics of it this weekend and post for you.
Last edited by ninja-elbow on Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Ad'lan » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:01 pm

I'd assume the leather to be purely decorative?

If so, build a decent waxed string, waterproof your fletchings, and you have a bow you can submerse, then shoot with no ill effect.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by ninja-elbow » Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:19 pm

Yep, leather covers unsightly looking fiberglass on the Mongolian recurve.

Fletchings? Your talking a whole different world there. I took a class on shaft and fletchings. That is a pain but well worth it when you can turn out your own arrows.
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Post by Ad'lan » Sat Aug 11, 2007 1:30 am

The only way to build arrows truly spined to your bow is to do it your self, by hand.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Post by SamuraiBobX26 » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:40 am

Awome article. Can't wait to see more.
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