Turkish Bow 4 Year Journey

nlb34
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 4:46 pm #1

Four years ago this month I started exchanging emails with Smith Lumber to explain how I was looking for straight grain freshly sawn sugar maple for a turkish bow I was interested in making.  Now four years latter I am wrapping up a working turkish bow, albeit not perfect but a working horn sinew composite bow.  For anyone who is interested I will walk through this journey over the next few posts
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nlb34
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 4:51 pm #2

Wood core:
This bow starts with straight grain hard maple, the wood bends best if it is still green.  After receiving the sugar maple the blocks are cut into billets and are submerged in water for one week.  After soaking the billets are boiled for one hour and then quickly clamped to the form, as to the forms I have gone through 4 different revisions before getting the shape that would work well.  This process has evolved over time as I learned several key items:

  • Round the inside corners of the maple in areas of sharp bends.
  • 1 hour boil time for 5/8" thick billets.
  • You must keep a vigorous rolling boil for the full hour.
  • Make sure the camp stoves are full of fuel so you don't run out during the hour.
  • Have all forms and clamps ready as you need to work quickly.
Fresh saw sugar maple, note the maple still felt wet.




Boil tray, heated with to camp stoves.



Plywood forms.
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:01 pm #3

Handle Joint

Once the billets have dried for several days on the forms they are removed and allowed to dry for 2 more weeks.  Once dry I take the belly side of the billets and square them up on a large bench belt sander.  The goal here is to have the tips 90 degrees to the belly side of the sal.  This can be done by eye sight and the sander.  I then check this by holding the sal flat on a table and holding a square up to the tip.  Now to splice in the handle a center line is drawn and cut lines are marked.  I make all of the cuts with a bandsaw.  Promptly before the fresh cuts can oxidize I apply two sizing coats of fish bladder glue and then one final thick coat to each part.  The parts and then held with light clamping pressure.


Handle layout.




Three piece core with handle joint.
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nlb34
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:08 pm #4

Horn:
I have worked with several different people in my quest of get good quality water buffalo horn, I have won and lost over the years, my advice is plan on spending some money and order more than one pair of horns, there is a good chance that some of them will be unusable.  The horn is cut out with a bandsaw and then reduced with the bench sander.  Once I get close to the dimensions I boil the horn for 10 minutes and then clamp the horn flat.  This is key for later during the horn/core glue up you want to be working with flat horn.


Raw horn.



Fresh cut and sanded horn strips, ready to be flattened.
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nlb34
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:20 pm #5

Horn Core Joinery:

This is a key operation to making a successful bow.  My first bow failed due to a poor glue joint.  The maple core and horn are grooved to increase the gluing surfaces.  Most everyone makes use of hand cut grooving tools, I too tried this but ended up having a custom router bit fabricated by Farrs Custom Carbide.  This router bit ensures that the horn and maple match up perfectly.  I have made sled jigs to hold the horn and core, I then run the jig up against the router bit.


Next the gluing surfaces need to be sized with glue.  At first I had a large problem with the joint developing small air bubbles.  I found it best to apply 20 coats of very thin glue.  One the sizing coats are applied then one heavy coat of glue is applied and the horn is clamped to the core.  As with the heat bending, this process needs to go quick so make sure you have everything ready.


Router bit, note the grooves are 2mm deep.




Core sled jig.




Grooved core.




Sizing coats of glue drying, note the parts are heated with a halogen lamp, but then are allowed to dry without heat.




Horn and core glue up.




Cross section from past failed bow.
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:27 pm #6

The horn and core glue joint is allowed to dry for several days and they the clamps are removed.  Next center lines are drawn on the bow and the bow is shaped to size.  Here is where keeping the full width throughout the bow is key, if there is any twist in the bow you should have enough room side to side to draw a straight center line.  I use a combination of a hand stitched rasp, belt sander and a micrometer.  The second bow failed due to an incorrect tapper in the sal.

Cores after shaping.



Kasan shaping



Bow dimensions.



 
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:36 pm #7

Sinew:
With the bow shaped next up is the sinew.  I have been using elk rear leg sinew, it is slow to process but I have been happy with the results.  The sinew is split into equal bundles and applied over three sessions.  I found it best to soak the sinew in warm water, then as I grab each bundle I squeeze out the water and dip the sinew into the glue.  Great care need to be taken to make sure no air bubbles are trapped under the layers of sinew.  After each layer of sinew is applied the bow is allowed to dry for 1 hour and then the tips are reflexed by pulling the tips together and tying them up.  After the third coat to sinew the tips should be touching.  Now the bow waits for 3-6 months to dry.


Sinew split up into even bundles.




Applying sinew, note the use of the halogen lamps to heat up the parts.




Pulling in some reflex after applying sinew.




Finished core.
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nlb34
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:44 pm #8

Opening the bow:

After the sinew has cured for several months the bow is slowly opened up with a tool called asa gezi.Care needs to be taken to make sure that bow limbs are evened out and are not twisted.  This is done with pressure, heat, and removing material.  Once the bow and kasan eyes are opened up the bow can start to be "exercised" with the use of tepeliks.  The limbs are bend over the tepeliks and tied in place.  From here it becomes magic as the bow is tillered to shape.


Bow being opened up with a asa gezi.




Tepeliks in place as the bow limbs are "exercised".




7" brace height.




Tips and nock details.




Tillering at 20".
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nlb34
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October 5th, 2013, 5:54 pm #9

After four years of working on this project I have several partially completed cores that I stopped working on due to glue joint flaws, poor shape, or other later identified flaws.  I completed two bows that broke while opening and tillering.  As for this bow there is a twist in one of the limbs that I am struggling to remove, additionally I removed too much material and the bow turned out very light.  Right now it is 30 pounds at 26" draw.

I still will call this bow a success as I have learned an immense amount of knowledge about building these bows. I currently have three sets of limbs that were previously bent and are ready to join.  Additionally on my last order for horn I purchased 10 pair which will provide me with many future horn bow projects.  These are amazing bows, it is unbelievable how all of natural materials can come together and make such a item of beauty.


Finally I should note that the series of posts above serve more like a coffee table book than a serious how-to guide, I am by no means anything but a beginner at this.  I do hope someone browses through the pictures and decides to build a horn bow too.  The only real advice I have would be to buy Adam Karpowicz's book, it it simply the best.


Thank you for  this great forum to share my work and progress in.
Last edited by nlb34 on October 5th, 2013, 7:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Thumper1945
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October 5th, 2013, 7:05 pm #10

Excellent process protrayal and photos- well done.

Gary
"Your job is to ask how, my job is to see that you do the job yourself"
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toxophileken
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October 5th, 2013, 8:22 pm #11

Wow! What an amazing project! Thanks for sharing.

Ken
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toomanyknots
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October 5th, 2013, 10:21 pm #12

toxophileken wrote:
Wow! What an amazing project! Thanks for sharing.

Ken
Heck yes. The joint between the horn and core is fantastic.
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village bowyer
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October 10th, 2013, 1:46 am #13

That's some really fine craftmanship going on there.
                                                                                          Hamish.
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toxophileken
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October 10th, 2013, 2:14 am #14

Bheggeseth, I hope you will keep these photos up - this is going in the tutorials.

Ken
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Beadman
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October 12th, 2013, 8:42 am #15

Absolutely awesome bheggeseth.I've got two Turkish myself in progress.One curing from sinew and one ready for sinew.They are done according to the video of Jeff Schmidt.Everything done down to the tee his way.I have Adams book too.After reading of your struggles I don't hold much hope of a success for my first few time attempts.....LOL.I will find out when I pry the limbs apart and farther into tillering it.Anyway Very educational display you posted here.Thanks for sharing that.
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aussie yeoman
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aussie yeoman
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October 15th, 2013, 2:11 am #16

Terrific work.

How much did it cost you to have the custom router bit made?
Articles to help the new bowyer, with Australian bowyers particularly in mind:
http://www.tharwavalleyforge.com/index. ... /tutorials
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Thimosabv
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Joined: December 25th, 2005, 5:03 am

October 15th, 2013, 11:36 am #17

Fantastic work. The picture of your grooved core is by far the best I've ever seen. Many forget this very important step. Well done!
 
Last edited by Thimosabv on October 15th, 2013, 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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leehongyi
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October 16th, 2013, 5:45 am #18

bheggeseth, you are also here!
how many bows have you successfully build in total?
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leehongyi
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October 16th, 2013, 5:49 am #19

I have tried boil heat bending last night and successfully bent two elm strips. It seems like boiling is more effective and faster than steam method.
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wakolbinger
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November 27th, 2013, 4:06 am #20

So awesome. Crazy it only pulls 30 pounds at that, it just looks so powerful. Thanks for taking the time to show us some of the process.
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