Red Oak Board Bow Backing Question

Tahlequah
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Tahlequah
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Joined: August 24th, 2012, 5:30 pm

May 10th, 2018, 4:55 pm #1

I am fairly new to bow making, but have made a few osage bows that have turned out well. Trying to expand on my knowledge and skill, I started a mollegabet style board bow (red oak) a while back and have gotten to the point that it needs to be tillered. I have some dried sinew and rattlesnake skins that I could use to back the bow, but not sure if I should do it after tillering or before. I have read that red oak boards can have a tendency to break if they are not backed, due to their drying process.

So, long story short, should I back the bow before or after tillering, or should I back it at all? At this point I am only in it for about $20 and some time, so I wanted to get some expert opinions before using sinew and/or skins.

Thanks for your time!
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Tahlequah
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Tahlequah
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Joined: August 24th, 2012, 5:30 pm

May 10th, 2018, 9:06 pm #2

To add a little color to this post, here are some pics of the skins and the bow in progress.

IMG_20180508_200938.jpg

IMG_20180506_121800.jpg

IMG_20180506_121835.jpg
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toxophileken
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toxophileken
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Joined: January 15th, 2006, 4:55 am

May 10th, 2018, 9:30 pm #3

Personally, I don't think it is worth the effort of sinew backing a bow if the back isn't sound to begin with.  So, I recommend (and have had it recommended to me when I asked the same question) tillering the bow out at least partially (say 1/2 to 2/3 draw) before sinew backing.  

This gives several advantages:  1)  If the bow is going to fail, it happens before you apply the sinew, and 2)  If you see a tiller change upon applying the sinew and allowing it to dry, you can blame it on the sinew, not the wood removal.  

Obviously, if you choose to sinew back a bow you can't tiller out before the sinew, apply the sinew first, as evenly as possible.

On that design bow, with a short bending section and long relatively unbending levers, I would guess that sinew would be most efficiently used applied to the bending area, feathered out at the width/bend transition to the narrow lever.  You will probably want to wrap it where it feathers out, to keep it from lifting.

Ken
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Mike H
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Mike H
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Joined: August 22nd, 2009, 1:44 pm

May 13th, 2018, 11:23 am #4

If you chose your board well to begin with, you don't need to back it with sinew at all.  Just tiller to the desired weight and length.  The snake skin would make for a pretty camo effect.  But this is just my opinion.
Atlatl hunting for whitetail: "So easy a child can do it!"
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Tahlequah
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Tahlequah
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Joined: August 24th, 2012, 5:30 pm

May 16th, 2018, 4:52 pm #5

Thank you all for the feedback. Update on the bow. I got the tiller to 22in and it started creaking on me. I suspect I went a little too thin when I was at the bandsaw. Live and learn. I have another board that might work, but it has really wide rings. all rings go tip to tip with little to no deviation. I think it has a total of 5 rings (maybe 6). I would suspect that you want tighter growth layers to equate to a slower growing tree but figured I should probably ask first.
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