rawhide string tutorial

Pamunkey
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April 14th, 2005, 1:39 pm #1

Last edited by Pamunkey on January 23rd, 2008, 4:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Pamunkey
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April 14th, 2005, 1:42 pm #2

Last edited by Pamunkey on January 23rd, 2008, 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PaleoAleo
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April 14th, 2005, 2:10 pm #3

Excellent Wil! I like the way you did that with no words! The photos just lay it all out.

You have me wondering now whether there is a real lot of difference in weight/mass between a rawhide string and other materials - say linnen or dacron. Have you ever weighed a rawhide string? I'm thinking that when dry, it might be pretty darn light. Having never made one, or seen one up close and personal, I don't know.

Tom
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Bowjunkie
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April 14th, 2005, 2:11 pm #4

Great thread!

I plan on making some rawhide this weekend from a couple of doe hides I have in the freezer. I wouldn't mind trying to make a string with it. I also have several squirrel hides that I'm gonna turn into rawhide too with the same purpose in mind. But first, I have some questions if you don't mind

I wondered what the best way would be to create a loop. I like the method that you pictured above.

How wide did you cut the rawhide strip? How long? Ever make a squirrel rawhide string? Should you cut the strip wider?

Do you 'prestretch' the pieces any between wetting and twisting together? I noticed that if you wet a 1/4" wide piece of doe rawhide and pull it, you can stretch it almost into a cord of about 1/8", less after it's dried.

Approximately what diameter bowstring did you end up with?

What draw weight bow is such a string suited for?

Could I use it on a 65 - 70 pound bow?

Ok, that's enough questions for now. I don't want to overwhealm ya
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Pamunkey
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April 14th, 2005, 2:25 pm #5

Ok- here goes.
I cut the neck skins off some salted deerskins I had. I soaked them in fresh water overnight, changing the water frequently (probably 5-6 times) until I was fairly certain all of the salt was removed and they felt like fresh skins. I then removed what flesh was still on the skins, put them in a solution 2 capfuls of Red Devil lye to 4 gallons of water, and let them soak until the hair was slipping. I then gently pushed off the hair, taking care not to damage the grain, and soaked the skins in a solution of about 2 gallons of water to a box of baking soda overnight, and then I soaked them again overnight in about 3-to-4 gallons of water to a pint of white vinegar (this process neutralized the lye, and made the skins like fresh again). I tacked them out on a board to dry, then cut them into a roughly circular shape. Then, I soaked the circles of rawhide until they were slightly soft, but not floppy, and cut them in a or so wide strip, spiraling inward (incidentally, a small 6-3/4 circle yielded a strip about 12 feet long). I then soaked a strip in water overnight until completely soft, and pre-stretched it by hand; this allowed me to see any uneven parts of the strip, and even it up with scissors. I doubled the strip over, twisted about 3-4 together at the fold, and pulled one leg of the string to be back through the loop formed by the fold, making a permanent loop (the picture does a better job of describing that than I can). I hung the loop over a nail in a tree, inserted a stick to hold the loop open, tied the bottom end to a paint can, and spun it to twist it tightly. I let it dry that way, and the string retained its twist. I then lightly sanded the string to make it more even, and put a coat of beeswax on it to give it some moisture protection. The resulting string is about 3/16 or so in diameter.

Will
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Pamunkey
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April 14th, 2005, 4:03 pm #6

Tom- I've never weighed one, so I don't know. According to Tim Baker's excellent chapter on strings in TBB, I think animal strings have more mass and more stretch than vegetable fiber strings, making them less efficient. Still, rawhide is pretty tough stuff, and I think the average modern-day abo is more likely to produce a viable string from it than from sinew or plant fibers. I'll have to weigh this one on my reloading scale...

Bowjunkie- Al Herrin gives great instructions on groundhog and squirrel rawhide strings in his book, "Cherokee Bows & Arrows". I got the idea on forming the loop from him, BTW. There are numerous examples of rawhide strings on bows in the first volume of "Encyclopedia of Native American Bows, Arrows and Quivers". I think squirrel strings are made basically the same; you just use more, and thinner, plys. When I pre-stretch the soaked string, it straightens out the natural curve and makes the strip less wide, and makes uneveness in the strip more apparent. I have no idea how heavy a bow such a string will accomodate, although John McPherson says it'll handle a 50# bow with no problem (I've used one on a 47# bow with no problems). I do know that deer rawhide was traditionally used for the belt on foot powered lathes in the Appalachian mountains, and that it held up well to such use- hope this helps.

Will
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Bowjunkie
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April 14th, 2005, 4:49 pm #7

Excellent info, thanks.

I just went outside and caught my lab chewing on one of the hides I have out there thawing out. You shoulda seen the look on his face when he saw me roundin' the corner. LOL
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NorthernArcher
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April 14th, 2005, 11:59 pm #8

Do you think that it would be possible to make a rawhide string of about 1/8" diameter (instead of 3/16") that would hold up to a 50-55# bow? What if I were to use three or four thin strips from squirrel hides?

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coyotebow
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April 15th, 2005, 9:30 am #9

sweet post. ive used deer, woodchuck, squirrel,fox and musky for strings. the squirrel and chuck were the best. a rawhide string is pretty heavy compared to flax or dogbane. i think a 1/8th string would break before the bow was braced but you could try it. the best strings ive made only lasted 100 or so shots. i only use them for hunting and use linen for 3d shooting. squirrel is the easiest to try because of the availability. just walk the road and you'll find dead ones just make sure they dont stink. lol. i use 5 for a string. ive even used them without removing the hair if they are summer kills. speaking of stink i wonder how skunk would work. it would be a great cover scent. lol peace jamie
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Bowjunkie
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April 15th, 2005, 1:13 pm #10

Woah, wait a minute... only a hundred shots? That ain't gonna work. Where/how did they fail?
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Pamunkey
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April 21st, 2005, 5:19 pm #11

Tom, this 65.5" string, approximately 3/16" diameter, weighed 290 grains on my Hornady reloading scale. The piece of rawhide from which it was produced was approximately 9-3/4" in diameter.

Will
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gabo
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May 19th, 2005, 2:33 am #12

i just see little red "x"s
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gabo
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May 26th, 2005, 12:25 am #13

i only see little red x's
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Conlaoch
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November 15th, 2005, 7:13 pm #14

any way we can archive the pictures on some of these old threads?

specially one like this where it was a graphic tutorial.

Conlaoch
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nugget28659
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January 13th, 2008, 8:25 pm #15

I cannot see any of the pictures
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Pamunkey
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January 23rd, 2008, 4:49 am #16

For those of you who have asked, I've re-posted the pics. They're not very exciting- they were taken with the photo function of my old camcorder before I had a digital camera- but you can get the idea.

Will
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toxophileken
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January 23rd, 2008, 6:40 pm #17

Thanks, Will!

Ken
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WilltheIceman
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January 24th, 2008, 2:03 am #18

Great tutorial....cleared a few things up for me !
Thanks !
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Quest for fire
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February 11th, 2008, 4:59 pm #19

I wonder if buffalo rawhide would work?

Great pics B:T:W: the way you made the loop is easy to see.
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SleepingWolf
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March 13th, 2008, 8:59 pm #20

AWESOME!!!!!!!
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
- Greek Proverb
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