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IPE bow stick documentation.


Ranala
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Decided to document the making of a bow with some pictures and writing. Both to be able to see my mistakes/progress a bit clearer and to (hopefully) get some feedback, so my next will be less of an (incoming) disaster. I am planning to only do a stick for now, but maybe I’ll find the energy/time for a frog.

I have a limited set of tools (basically only hand tools), slowly acquiring more for this project. If you have a recommendations for tools or I use them wrong/etc. please let me know.

6/11/21 - Bought a couple of planks of IPE from a local lumberyard and cut a very rough blank (19x25x80). Planks have relatively straight grain, but were of course slab cut (or at least the straightest that I could find).

14/11/21 - Planed the blank square and straight dimensions are +/- 11mm square for the stick and 25mm high for the head part. Added some pictures that show the blank from two sides.

 

 

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Edited by Ranala
The pictures were not good enough to see the grain.
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  • Ranala changed the title to IPE bow stick documentation.
5 hours ago, uncle duke said:

Does the wood plane easily?

I think so. Don’t have much of a reference to be honest, but today I planed 19mm down to 11mm and didn’t encounter too many problems. I do get a lot of green dust everywhere… I am glad I did this outside to be honest.

Question, how do you plane the piece of the wood just before the head?

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21 hours ago, Ranala said:

6/11/21 - Bought a couple of planks of IPE from a local lumberyard and cut a very rough blank (19x25x80). Planks have relatively straight grain, but were of course slab cut (or at least the straightest that I could find).

I am not a bowmaker.  But I have a question for the bowmakers here:  is the runout in this blank is acceptable, or is it going to be problematic for the longevity of the stick or for the making process? 

 

To Ranala: It's great that you're making a bow, and I look forward to seeing your project progress.

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  • 2 weeks later...

29/11/21 - Decreased the stick dimensions to +/-1mm above the final dimensions. Not everywhere as great as I would have liked, but my new plane(s) worked a charm. I also cut of the extra wood at the head which I used to measure the density. I did this by measuring the specific gravity of the solution the wood barely floats in. This gives me a density of 1.112 compared to water.

30/11/21 - Made the stick octagonal (well… eight sided). Had a bit of issue with some runout, but cleaned up all rough surfaces with a file so let’s hope it doesn’t break when bending.

I made a bending template from the stick I use (pernambuco, silver mounted). If anyone has comments on the template please let me know, the stick is not particularly high end, but serves me well and I thought “better have a template then none”.

Question, the stick feels a bit slugish, as in if I bend it it feels soft and doesn’t have too much spring. Is this because of the wood? The shape? Will it get stiffer after bending? I’ll just continue for now, but it would be nice to know how to know this in advance next time.

 

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On 11/15/2021 at 4:14 AM, JoeDeF said:

I am not a bowmaker.  But I have a question for the bowmakers here:  is the runout in this blank is acceptable, or is it going to be problematic for the longevity of the stick or for the making process?

I too noticed that this stick appears to have a ton of runout, which is generally not good for making either a well playing or long lasting bow.

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5 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I too noticed that this stick appears to have a ton of runout, which is generally not good for making either a well playing or long lasting bow.

Hmmm, yes it does have runout issues. I already identified pieces in my Ipe planks that should be better runout wise. What do you suggest? Scrap this piece and start over with a better blank or continue and accept that the stick will probably be less than ideal? It didn’t break while bending which surprised me.

Any comments on the process? I am posting this to get better not to show off my non-existing skills.

The camber is a bit wonky now that I see the pictures, should I fix this now? Or after I finish graduating the stick?

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On 11/15/2021 at 9:14 AM, JoeDeF said:

I am not a bowmaker.  But I have a question for the bowmakers here:  is the runout in this blank is acceptable, or is it going to be problematic for the longevity of the stick or for the making process? 

 

To Ranala: It's great that you're making a bow, and I look forward to seeing your project progress.

 

On 12/2/2021 at 1:24 AM, David Burgess said:

I too noticed that this stick appears to have a ton of runout, which is generally not good for making either a well playing or long lasting bow.

 

On 12/2/2021 at 7:28 AM, Ranala said:

 

Hmmm, yes it does have runout issues. I already identified pieces in my Ipe planks that should be better runout wise. What do you suggest? Scrap this piece and start over with a better blank or continue and accept that the stick will probably be less than ideal? It didn’t break while bending which surprised me.

Any comments on the process? I am posting this to get better not to show off my non-existing skills.

The camber is a bit wonky now that I see the pictures, should I fix this now? Or after I finish graduating the stick?

It's your first attempt so keep going. It's all good practice. Good work so far. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am sorry in advance for the butchering that will follow. If you are easily shocked please do not advance.

12/12/21 : Finished designing and printing my bow drill, works quite well to be honest, tried it on some scrap wood and it is relatively easy to keep the drill centered. Made a bow out of some scrap piece of wood and a string. I’ll probably strawberry it up on the stick. If you have got any hints on how not to make a mess. Please feel free to share. Otherwise I’ll just keep my fingers crossed (or maybe my toes as I don’t need those during the drilling)

14/12/21 : Made the stick fit the frog, which is a lot easier said than done… 

15/12/21 : Started refining the graduation on the stick (how the hell do you keep it octagonal?) and shaping the head (more like butchering). Added the head ‘white-and-black’ part.

Preparing to do the mortises. The back mortise should be relatively doable as I have done that before and it went relatively well, but the head mortise kind of scares me. My plan is to first drill a hole to the correct depth and then carve out the mortise with my chisel. The problem here is that I only have a long 4mm chisel, which is kind of unwieldy… (looking at getting a proper chisel from dictum, any recommendations/thoughts?)

Edit: Forgot to mention, but the stick is 40g and with the frog+button I intend to use it will be 56.4g (which with a silk winding will get me around 62-ish grams if I am not mistaken).

4AE1931F-C334-45A5-ADD3-A9CD25A91A88.jpeg

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CA58B434-A10D-4676-8960-D7399EB05E00.jpeg

82AF1280-EB6C-46B4-8282-D049A23940C7.jpeg

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Thanks for the update.

 

6 hours ago, Ranala said:

Finished designing and printing my bow drill...

It looks good.  Could you tell us how you made it?

 

6 hours ago, Ranala said:

...Made the stick fit the frog, which is a lot easier said than done…

Making the stick fit the frog is a lot easier than making the frog fit the stick.

 

6 hours ago, Ranala said:

...My plan is to first drill a hole to the correct depth and then carve out the mortise with my chisel...

 

Have you seen Rod Mohr's video where he fastens a tensioning cable to a peg in the round hole and uses it to assess the stick graduations?  I did this, and it seemed like a good idea, but it means keeping the head hole round until the shaft of the stick is pretty much finished.  (I never finished the bow.)

 

6 hours ago, Ranala said:

...I only have a long 4mm chisel, which is kind of unwieldy… (looking at getting a proper chisel from dictum, any recommendations/thoughts?)...

You could cut the blade of a long-bladed chisel to a more convenient length and sharpen it where you cut it off.

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15/12/21: Continued today with cutting and drilling the frog mortise. Repurposed one of the button screws I bought to make a drill to cut the 2.2mm hole after the mortise. Might not be the ‘best’ way, but I am not going to pay 40+EUR for a drill if I can avoid it. Next on the todo list is to cut the nipple for the button (hints are welcome on how to do this without a nibble-drill, otherwise I’ll just go ahead with a jeweler saw and  a chisel).

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38566FA3-0B05-4D52-BADE-8EE7DEA5F6E3.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Thanks for the update.

My pleasure!

1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

It looks good.  Could you tell us how you made it?

I bought a 10mm shaft, pillow bearings, a shaft to b10 connector, and a chuck in china (about 20EUR in total). I designed and printed the black parts on a 3d-printer and assembled everything (you could just as well make it from wood or metal or anything, this was just the easiest and most accurate for me). The shaft is slightly bent, so I might buy another one (note to self always buy 2 and discard the bent one…). If anyone is interested I can share the files to generate the printed parts (it is all parametric).

I also printed a head clamp, and the knife handle, if anyone is interested let me know.

1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Making the stick fit the frog is a lot easier than making the frog fit the stick.

Yeah, I am not even going to attempt making the frog…

1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Have you seen Rod Mohr's video where he fastens a tensioning cable to a peg in the round hole and uses it to assess the stick graduations?  I did this, and it seemed like a good idea, but it means keeping the head hole round until the shaft of the stick is pretty much finished.  (I never finished the bow.)

Yes, was planning on doing that, but first need to fit the frog.

1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

You could cut the blade of a long-bladed chisel to a more convenient length and sharpen it where you cut it off.

Hmmmm, I’ll give that a thought. I must say that the chisel actually worked quite well, so maybe I am just being over concerned with my tools…

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2 hours ago, Ranala said:

Next on the todo list is to cut the nipple for the button (hints are welcome on how to do this without a nibble-drill…

Here’s how I was taught:  With a jeweler’s saw make 8 cuts, one on each facet, deep enough that the back of the blade is flush (even) with the facet face.  Chisel or file off the waste wood down to the depth of the cut.  Repeat this as many times as necessary.  But when the nipple gets close to the right size, center it on the hole by putting the screw in the hole and rotating the button while pressing it tightly against the butt of the stick.  Remove the button and examine the end of the stick, looking for shiny spots showing where the button made contact.  Chisel or file away the shiny spots.  Repeat this until the “nibble” is finished.

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15 hours ago, Ranala said:

I am sorry in advance for the butchering that will follow. If you are easily shocked please do not advance.

12/12/21 : Finished designing and printing my bow drill, works quite well to be honest, tried it on some scrap wood and it is relatively easy to keep the drill centered. Made a bow out of some scrap piece of wood and a string. I’ll probably strawberry it up on the stick. If you have got any hints on how not to make a mess. Please feel free to share. Otherwise I’ll just keep my fingers crossed (or maybe my toes as I don’t need those during the drilling)

14/12/21 : Made the stick fit the frog, which is a lot easier said than done… 

15/12/21 : Started refining the graduation on the stick (how the hell do you keep it octagonal?) and shaping the head (more like butchering). Added the head ‘white-and-black’ part.

Preparing to do the mortises. The back mortise should be relatively doable as I have done that before and it went relatively well, but the head mortise kind of scares me. My plan is to first drill a hole to the correct depth and then carve out the mortise with my chisel. The problem here is that I only have a long 4mm chisel, which is kind of unwieldy… (looking at getting a proper chisel from dictum, any recommendations/thoughts?)

Edit: Forgot to mention, but the stick is 40g and with the frog+button I intend to use it will be 56.4g (which with a silk winding will get me around 62-ish grams if I am not mistaken).

4AE1931F-C334-45A5-ADD3-A9CD25A91A88.jpeg

B47F6044-2E26-488F-94B9-F326D0A8FDE3.jpeg

1D5D8D89-09E8-4BDE-A94B-0711028EDED3.jpeg

CA58B434-A10D-4676-8960-D7399EB05E00.jpeg

82AF1280-EB6C-46B4-8282-D049A23940C7.jpeg

 

15 hours ago, Ranala said:

I am sorry in advance for the butchering that will follow. If you are easily shocked please do not advance.

12/12/21 : Finished designing and printing my bow drill, works quite well to be honest, tried it on some scrap wood and it is relatively easy to keep the drill centered. Made a bow out of some scrap piece of wood and a string. I’ll probably strawberry it up on the stick. If you have got any hints on how not to make a mess. Please feel free to share. Otherwise I’ll just keep my fingers crossed (or maybe my toes as I don’t need those during the drilling)

14/12/21 : Made the stick fit the frog, which is a lot easier said than done… 

15/12/21 : Started refining the graduation on the stick (how the hell do you keep it octagonal?) and shaping the head (more like butchering). Added the head ‘white-and-black’ part.

Preparing to do the mortises. The back mortise should be relatively doable as I have done that before and it went relatively well, but the head mortise kind of scares me. My plan is to first drill a hole to the correct depth and then carve out the mortise with my chisel. The problem here is that I only have a long 4mm chisel, which is kind of unwieldy… (looking at getting a proper chisel from dictum, any recommendations/thoughts?)

Edit: Forgot to mention, but the stick is 40g and with the frog+button I intend to use it will be 56.4g (which with a silk winding will get me around 62-ish grams if I am not mistaken).

4AE1931F-C334-45A5-ADD3-A9CD25A91A88.jpeg

B47F6044-2E26-488F-94B9-F326D0A8FDE3.jpeg

1D5D8D89-09E8-4BDE-A94B-0711028EDED3.jpeg

CA58B434-A10D-4676-8960-D7399EB05E00.jpeg

82AF1280-EB6C-46B4-8282-D049A23940C7.jpeg

Is your cute doggy waiting for you to throw this stick?

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18/12/21 Cut the nipple, which went quite well (and figured out my button is bigger than the stick, whoops).

19/12/21 Used a string to tension the stick and shave until it would straighten out uniformly.

Cut the head mortise. Does anyone have some material regarding this? I had the feeling the mortise came out very uneven (on the inside) and it was really hard to cut a proper plug for it.

Added a winding (silk) and thumb leather (goat, and too short). Which went relatively ok although I have had silk windings come out better than this before.

(Re)haired the stick and called it a day, because my rehair was (slightly) too short.

20/12/21 Tried playing the stick, which felt like a wet towel. Decided to add a more aggresive camber as I figured out my head was way higher than the stick I used as a template. After recambering it actually played relatively decent, although I should regraduate it after adding more camber.

I really should do a proper rehair some of the hairs puled loose from the head knot. Does anyone know common causes for this? I did a tight knot, burned the end of the hair and glued the knot with superglue.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Ranala said:

...Does anyone have some material regarding [the head mortise]? I had the feeling the mortise came out very uneven (on the inside) and it was really hard to cut a proper plug for it...

 

I think plug fitting would be easier if the head mortise were longer.  The amount you left between the mortise and the frog end of the head is good.  If you don’t leave enough material here, that end of the head can break away under hair tension.  So I suggest that you lengthen the mortise in the other direction.

The shape of your mortise is generally crude.  I suggest that you refine it by making the sides straight, the corners sharp and the sides symmetrical with the long axis of the bow.  After cutting the general shape of the sides with a knife, I straighten them by filing with a small flat file.  Each corner should be formed by the clean intersection of two straight lines.  After filing (most of) each side straight continue the straight lines all the way into the corners with little sharp knife.

The shape of the face of your head is too triangular.  A traditional head has sides that are close to parallel from the frog end to the end of the mortise.  Then the sides curve inward to the far end.  There's nothing you can do to correct the head shape.

 

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24 minutes ago, Brad Dorsey said:

 

 

Once again thank you very much for your comments, they are very much appreciated. I’ll try (when I rehair this bow) to elongate the head mortise. I tried doing it with a small chisel, but will use my knife the next time I cut the mortise. Yeah, the head is one of the parts I think I kind of did bad on this bow, so will take care on my next stick to make it a bit more elegant (it is very crude now).

I forgot to say, but I varnished(?) it with plain shellac, that is enough, right?

Another question, the planks I cut my blanks from are 19mm in thickness, would it be silly to make the blanks 19mm and add height to the head by adding a thicker ebony liner? It would make cutting considerably easier since I don’t have a band saw. It would also be a lot less wasteful (especially since not all of the wood is suitable).

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29 minutes ago, Ranala said:

... I’ll try...to elongate the head mortise. I tried doing it with a small chisel, but will use my knife the next time I cut the mortise...

I use a knife followed by a file to trim the white tip and the tip liner; I use a chisel to shape the interior of the mortise.

 

29 minutes ago, Ranala said:

...I varnished(?) it with plain shellac, that is enough, right?...

Right.

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8 hours ago, Ranala said:

...some of the hairs puled loose from the head knot. Does anyone know common causes for this?...

I think that the major cause for this is the knot being tied too loosely.

In addition to tying a very tight know, I dip the hair ends in powdered rosin before tying the knot, I burn the hair ends, I put a drop of super glue on the hair ends, and I squeeze the knot flat with pliers.  Each of these things will help prevent hairs from pulling out.

You can practice tying knots with old hair that you have removed from a bow.  Test your practice knot by trying to pull a hair out.  If hairs pull out before they break, something is wrong.  I think the glue alone should hold the hair even if the knot is too loose, so I don't know why your hairs pulled out.

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  • 2 weeks later...

4/1/2022 Started on bow stick 2! Still no access to a band saw, so took out the old trusty hand saw and spent nearly 30 minutes to make two cuts… I tried finding a piece of lumber that has relatively straight grain and as far as I can tell it is OK? (Please tell me if this is as horrendous as the first). I tried to be ‘non-wastefull’ here, but I think, because of that, the head is now too small (19mm). I could attach an extra piece of wood there to make the head height workable, in the end it is just a practice piece.

I roughed out the shape 9.5x9.5mm and made the stick 8 sided.

 

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