Fixing A Broke Bow

Bill Skinner
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Bill Skinner
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Joined: 3:00 AM - May 01, 2011

5:30 PM - Oct 08, 2018 #1

What is the absolute worst broken bow you have ever had to fix?  My Red Mulberry bow snapped a couple of days ago.  I had had it for over 10 years, with no problems.  I let a friend try a few shots, he drew it back, paused and released.  It snapped about 1/2 way up the top limb.  The bow is 68 inches long and draws about 40 pounds, I use it during demonstrations.  I had already fired over 200 arrows from it that day.  He didn't over draw it or snatch at the last moment, the bow just let go.

I figure to put some TitebondIII in it, use compressed air to push the glue into all the little cracks, clamp the snot out of it for a week or so, then wrap the whole area.  Worst that can happen is I'll lose some glue and some string if the bow breaks again.

If anyone has some ideas, let me know.  I'm open to suggestions.
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toxophileken
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toxophileken
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Joined: 4:55 AM - Jan 15, 2006

7:09 PM - Oct 08, 2018 #2

A photo or at least a description of the break would help.  It really depends on what you have left...

I've had a bow break in tension, with the belly remaining intact.  The break went across the back, and the two pieces of back peeled back (one piece towards the tip, on towards the handle).  Because the belly was intact, I had something to glue to.  I used TB3, then sinew patched and wrapped the broken area.  That bow is still shootable, and tiller didn't change much at all.  That bow lost a but of weight and some zip (not all because of the weight loss, which was minimal), but it is impressive that the fix worked.  It was about 86# at 31" before it broke...  A very exceptional bow from an accomplished bowyer.  Before the break, it was incredibly fast, and after, a bit below average (but still pretty good, because of the weight and draw).

Let's say you have a break where there is not enough surface area to glue and sinew patch and sinew wrap...  I have seen guys splice two broken bows together in the handle.  Gary Douglas calls his the "Frankenbow", and it shoots quite well.

There are a lot of creative people out there, with many creative solutions.  We'd all love to see and hear about their various fixes and problem solving adventures...

Just remember, likely a fixed bow won't be the same old bow anymore, and likely it will take more time to fix than to make a new bow, or enough time to make you consider just starting over on a new one.  Not always, but often.

Ken
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Bill Skinner
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Bill Skinner
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Joined: 3:00 AM - May 01, 2011

5:30 PM - Oct 11, 2018 #3

Oh yes, I kbon that.  I have another mulberry stave about 60% finished, it's floor tillered but still on the long side at about 75 inches.  It has the handle in and all I will have to do is shorten it to the desired length and then narrow the tips and finish tillering it.  I could probably do that in an afternoon, now that the weather has cooled off some. 

This bow is broken in half.  About 1/2 way up the top limb.  The wood split over an area about six inches, it is a pretty clean break and I want to see if I can fix it.

I also thought about cloth  or raw hide backing it after the glue up, too.  I know that will fix it and that the repair will probably last for another decade or two, I just want to see if this bow can be repaired with a simple glue/wrap.

FWIW, I live in the Black Belt, I can get Osage pretty easily, Mulberry not so much, anymore.  I have half a dozen staves in various stages of completion, and a lot of Osage out in the barn.  It's not that I can't get good bow wood, I just like tinkering. 
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toxophileken
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toxophileken
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Joined: 4:55 AM - Jan 15, 2006

3:41 AM - Oct 15, 2018 #4

How strong the glued joint will be is going to depend on how much surface area (assuming correct glue use).  If it split across from side to side, more surface area than if it split down the face/belly.

I would recommend wrapping the glue up with sinew, for sure.  

Cool you have plenty of access to osage!

Ken
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