How to Make a Fiberglass Longbow

Written by kasandra rose
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How to Make a Fiberglass Longbow
Longbows are only one kind of bow. (Men bow shooting. Amateur competition in the sanatorium image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com)

Bow-hunting originated as a tool to get meat and fish for food, clothing and shelter. Archery also figured prominently in warfare from the Middle Ages down through history until the last days of American Indian wars. A few intrepid souls still hunt with a bow and arrow although it's now considered a sport. Other enthusiasts compete in archery contests. No longer a simple branch strung with sinew, modern bows boast of fibreglass reinforcement and sometimes even sport a complex series of pulleys. To construct this longbow, the last steps require an assistant.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Poster board
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hobby sander
  • 2-by-6 board
  • Measuring tape
  • Band saw
  • Belt sander
  • Drill
  • Hole-cutting kit
  • Ash laminate
  • Wood glue
  • 4 C-clamps, 4-inch
  • 14 C-clamps, 3-inch
  • 1 C-clamp, 6-inch
  • 18-inch piece 1.5-by-1.75-inch hardwood
  • 36-inch piece1.5-inch-wide lamination
  • 2 sections 0.05-inch fibreglass sheet, 6-foot
  • Hobby rotary saw
  • Blue painter's tape
  • 6 feet of 1/8th-inch aluminium strips
  • 2 sections rubber moulding, 4-foot
  • Hacksaw
  • Knife
  • 2-part epoxy glue
  • Tongue depressor
  • Disposable container
  • 6-foot bamboo core
  • Seam roller
  • Towel
  • Hotbox
  • 220-, 400- and 1,000-grit sandpaper
  • Lacquer
  • Brush

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Trace the curve of the bow onto the poster board. You are tracing only one curve; you will use the pattern twice. Cut the pattern out with the scissors. Sand the edge smooth with the hobby sander.

  2. 2

    Cut the 2-by-6 board to 6 feet with the saw. Measure to the centre of the board and mark it 2 inches from the back edge. Place the curve pattern on the board at the centre. Trace the pattern onto the board. Flip the pattern over, align it at the centre mark and draw the bottom half of the bow pattern.

  3. 3

    Rough-cut the board along the pattern, slightly outside of the line, with a band saw. Sand down to the line with the belt sander.

  4. 4

    Measure every 3.8 inches from the centre mark along the board and make a mark 2 inches from the curved edge.

  5. 5

    Cut a 1.75-inch hole centred on the centre mark of the wood template with a hole bit on the drill. Switch to a 1.5-inch hole bit and drill holes at each mark. The final holes may extend through the back edge of the wood template.

  6. 6

    Glue a piece of ash laminate to the curve of the bow template using wood glue and C-clamps. Allow the laminate to dry.

  7. 7

    Measure 30 inches from the centre of the bow, mark a line across the template and label it 60 inches. Mark every 1 inch beyond that, labelling it 62, 64, 66, etc. Repeat all this for the other end.

  1. 1

    Draw an 18-inch riser template on poster board. Use the centre of the wooden bow template for the back of the riser. The top of the riser is flat in the centre 5 inches and then tapers away in a graceful curve to thin ends.

  2. 2

    Transfer the riser template to the 18-inch piece of 1.5-by-1.75-inch hardwood.

  3. 3

    Rough-cut the riser with a band saw. Cut slightly outside the line. Sand down to the line with the belt sander.

  4. 4

    Place the riser on the wooden bow template and match the centres. Look sideways where the template and riser meet. Sand any areas that are touching if light is showing through the joint. Continue to sand lightly until no light shows through between the bow template and the riser.

  1. 1

    Tape the shiny, smooth side of the 6-foot fibreglass sheets with blue painter's tape. Cut 4 inches out of the centre of one fibreglass sheet with a hobby rotary saw. Cut sections of laminate to match the two fibreglass sheet pieces.

  2. 2

    Trim the curved edge off the rubber floor edging and cut it to 3 feet with a knife. Cut the aluminium strip in half with a hacksaw.

  3. 3

    Mix equal parts of epoxy glue in a disposable container using a tongue depressor.

  4. 4

    Cover the work surface with waxed paper. Lay cling film beneath the bow.

  5. 5

    Lay the pieces to the bow out in front of you on the work surface. Apply glue to the 6-foot fibreglass strip with a tongue depressor and spread it with the seam roller. Apply glue to the laminate. Press the glued sides of the laminate and the fibreglass together and align the edges.

  6. 6

    Apply glue to the exposed side of the laminate. Press the glued side of the bamboo backer to the laminate. Align the edges.

  7. 7

    Place the glued pieces on the wooden bow template, bamboo side up. Apply glue to the bottom of the riser. Position in the centre of the bamboo. Place a towel on top of the riser and secure the riser in place with a 6-inch C-clamp while your assistant keeps all the layers lined up properly.

  8. 8

    Apply glue to the shorter pieces of fibreglass sheet cut earlier and to one side of the matching pieces of laminate. Press the glued sides together. Apply glue to the exposed side of the laminate and the sides of the riser. Position the laminate on either side of the riser, matching the outer ends to the ends of the bow.

  9. 9

    Wrap the plastic sheet around the bow and tape it loosely. Place the rubber on either side of the riser with the aluminium slats on top of that.

  10. 10

    Secure everything in place with C-clamps all down the length of the bow, alternating sides while your assistant keeps everything aligned. Place everything in the hotbox for six hours to dry.

  1. 1

    Remove everything from the hotbox and unclamp the bow from the template. Trim the bow to 2 inches longer than the finished length. Cut the nocks 1 inch deep on each end and exactly in the centre tips.

  2. 2

    Sand a taper onto both ends of the bow on both sides; adjust the nock to centre if needed while tapering.

  3. 3

    Locate the arrow shelf in the centre of the bow. Cut out a 1/2-inch notch in the right side of the bow with the radial saw, then sand a smooth curve into the shelf from above. An arrow should be able to just rest on the shelf.

  4. 4

    Sand the fibreglass starting with 220-grit sandpaper, 400-grit sandpaper and finally 1,000-grit sandpaper. Lacquer-finish the bow by spraying with a high-gloss lacquer. Allow the bow to dry before using.

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