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R/D Build Along

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R/D Build Along

Postby undercontrol16 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:09 am

Good day everyone, It has been a while since I’ve posted anything on here but I figured that since so many people have been asking me what I’ve been up to and asking what all goes into making laminate bows I would simply make a build along thread and could just send people to this to look at.

While I have not been posting much hear lately I have still been haunting the threads and noticed that as usual there have been a lot of posts about how much it costs to make a bow and what tools are really needed. As a result, I will try to answer those questions also to the best of my ability and obviously with respect to my methods and skill level that is nowhere near a lot of the people on here.

The photos that I will be referencing throughout this build-along where taken over a month and a half and six bows, as a result many changes have taken place and I have not taken photos of all of them so bear with me if the “captions” do not quite match what is shown.

So let us jump in head first with the basic tools I used- (I will do cost after the listing and will simply say when I use them during the build-along but not now.

First, what I call the heavies, we have a 10” table saw, shop vac, 12” planer, 36” belt sander, and a 12” band saw.

In regards to costs for them, I have been table saws for 100$, planer was 70$, 36” was 40$, and the band saw was 60$, and if you do not have a shop vac already I am guessing you could find one for 20$. Mind you, these are all second hand prices which some of my stuff is and is not.

This comes to 290, so let us say 300$.

Secondly, are the handle tools. We have a broom, clamps, calculator, hammer, files, scissors, two boxes of 2 ¾” screws, one box of 1 ½” screws, aluminum foil, staple gun or tacks, calipers, 18” belt sander and belts, drill, drill bits, drill flutes, tape measure, hacksaw, light fixtures and bulbs, nonskid padding, saran wrap, smooth-on, heat tape, container, yardstick, and plastic spoons.

I am going to assume that most of these are things that people have lying around the house and as such, I am only going to do the cost of the ones that are specifically important.

As such, 2 ¾” screws 10$, 1 ½” screws 5$, calipers 20$, drill bits and flutes 10$, and smooth-on 30$, and lastly the belt sander and belts at 25$. This comes to 100$ so we are now at 400$.

For wood, I started with hickory, hard maple, and white oak for the bow wood. Each of these was about 15$ and 1-1 ½” x 8”x 6’. It looks like I will be able to make 12-18 lams from each one using the table saw. Also needed is a 2x8 6’ pine board, a 1/2”x 4’x8’ plywood and five 6’ 2x4s. These came out to 5$ 5$, and 8$ respectfully so know we have a cost of let us say around 450$. The rounding to include anything else that you might have to buy like belts or you cannot find something as cheap.

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Ok so now that we have that all sorted out let us get started on the fun part, not that shopping for tools is not fun.

Let us start with the hot box.

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Mine is a very simple one. After all it’s only goal is to provide an environment for the bow to cure between 150-180 degrees F. The plywood sheet I ripped into four 1-foot strips and then cut a foot off each one to use at the two ends. Then the other two-foot squares I diced up and used to brace the corners of the box. I then stapled three of the strips with foil and screwed them together. On the top strip, I ended up putting three light fixtures and 100-watt bulbs. I also had a fan lying around that put on the inside to keep the air moving and potentially make sure the box stays the same temperature throughout the inside. I then wired it up to an old plug that I had lying around.

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Next, we will start talking about the form. I did not mention in the start that I got a r/d design from Bingham’s and that is what I am making with this form.

There are many different types of forms that are used, mainly varying in how the pressure is applied. While I was thinking about how to make mine and what style (air pressure vs. rubber bands/clamps), I decided to try is something new, all screws. In most of the pictures that are going to be posted, the form there will look differently than the one below, which is the new “prettier” form that I made.

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Here you can see the old form in the bottom left corner and the new one in pieces in the center.

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The first step is to take the 8” board and trace the template onto the form and then cut it out with the band saw.

Then take the 2x4s and cut them into five pieces each. This part will vary with each template because the boards need to be at the right angles so that the top and bottom pairs are parallel and do not “hang off” the half it is on. With my form, there was a ½” gap between the “clamps” or so, more by the handle. On the 2x4s I counter bore drilled three holes into the sides of them about an inch so and then screwed them into the form that the 2 ¾” screws will sink in at least an inch into the form otherwise they will pull out when “clamped”. Then on the top I drilled four holes into the top form piece so that the screws and easily pass through the, (the threaded part) and then put a screw with a washer into each one.

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The form then is clamped by simply drilling the screws into the bottom boards on either side. Since the screws are able to wobble and so they do not screw into the same place typically and can keep up uniform pressure. I have found that this way is more than able to get the glue lines thin enough for me.

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Something that was added after a couple rounds was (we as in my Dad and I who has been very helpful with this “new” project since a second pair of hands can help a lot, priceless) little scrap blocks onto the lower 2x4s on either side of the core form piece. This is so that when we cut the lams later to 1 ½” exactly they fit perfectly into the “channel” so that they cannot slide side to side simplifying the process a lot. To make sure that the “guides” do not stop the top form from going down during the screwing step to apply the pressure, I put a 3/8” wood “pressure strip” on top of the saran wrapped lams outside so that the pile of lams it taller than the “guides”. This way the pressure strip will not get glues to be bow. The 3/8” strip is thick enough so that 1/8” is in the “channel” so it does not move, while the other 2/8” is above them so the pressure can be applied without the guide blocks stopping the top form from going down. Sorry that is a little roundabout, but hopefully that makes sense.

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I believe that the next step is now to talk about the laminates that will be used. For these bows, I have started with a hickory backing, a hard maple belly, and white oak layer(s) in the middle that is also the tapered one.

To start we ripped a 1 ½” wide full strip off each one and left the rest of the board whole so that it would hopefully absorb less moisture. Then we took those 1 ½” strips on turned them onto their side which were typically an inch think and ripped a 1/8” or slightly more strip, only cutting off as many strips as were going to be used that day. In case you did not notice, my “shop” is outside, aka the garage, aka “land of changing humidity”, aka in Wisconsin…

The next step is then to make skids so that you can plain the boards on the plainer. Mine are simply scrap 1x4x6’ boards that I had laying around and I stapled that nonskid foam that is often used on glass tables or the like so prevent the lams from getting pulled in by themselves with no skid. Still looking into a better way to do that. The hickory and maple lams I only plain off the burns from the table saw if that, often I don’t plain them at all after the table saw and simply sand a hair after gluing but I try to make sure they are the same thickness. I change my thickness with the oak lam (s) in the middle. The skid I made to taper is simply two more pieces of the scrap 1x4’ board each 36” long and has a small wedge sandwiched on one side of them two causing a .003 taper.

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The only thing to do then to them after tapering is simple to cut the belly lam in half and obviously before tapering the oak lam as well. The lams pictured here were for a bow with four layers.

The final step before gluing is making the handle. I have found that I enjoy using pine as the handle and have seen no problems with it so far from the 25-80# bows I have made using this form. As a result, with a touch of sanding you have your first handle after making the form since you need to cut the handle area out.

After that one, what I do is take the template that is traced from the blueprint from Bingham’s and lay it on an old 2x4 and then spray paint over it. Simply cut and sand every off that has paint on it. Then I actually put the handle in the form, see how well it sits, and will sand it until it fits as tightly as it is going to. Sorry I have no photos of this at the moment.

Next is the smooth-on. While I love the results it gives, I hate using the stuff. How I measure the smooth-on is simply use four plastic spoons, two for each part, and take a scoop of that part on one and then use the other to push it into the mixing container. I just use an old cool whip container.

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Then pick of the spoons and start mixing. Make sure that spoon then though does not go back into one of the containers. I have found that about 3 ½ spoonfuls of each is about the right amount to glue up three “72 inch” lams and the handle. To put the glue on I just use the ten cents disposable plastic brushes so that I do not have to clean them. They also come in 1 ½-inch size.

Remember before putting the glue on the lams to tape the good side of the hickory and maple so that you will not have to sand the glue off them and they stay pretty. It is really hard to put the tape on after gluing them…

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After putting the smooth-on onto both sides of the handle and one side of each lam, I then lay a layer of saran wrap on the bottom of the form so that the glue does not get on it.

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The next step is to simply, with care and attention, lay the layers in the correct order on the form.

Then once all the layers are down I take the saran wrap and fold it over the bow and lay the upper part of the form on top. It is at this time that my Dad helps to make sure that it does not shift as I start to check to make sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and then check it again. Only after that do I start to screw the screws into the bottom part of the form.

After that just lay it in the heat box, and turn it on. Since mine is not quite as hot as I would like it to be I just let it sit overnight, about 8 hours.

Now while it is cooking, clean up after yourself. I know I make a very big mess while doing this stuff and a reminder always helps.

Here is one right out just after the wrap was taken off.

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Now the next part is to find the center line of the bow and mark at the ends how wide you want the tips to be and then to connect those dots to the dots that mark the end of the fades or in my case an inch or two past just to leave them a little stronger. Next use the band saw to cut off that extra wood and then use the 36” sander to clean up the edges that might be a little marred from the blade. At this point is also when I cut in the string groves and start testing to see if either limb came out a little bit stiffer. If one limb did, I then make that limb the lower limb since I shoot one over two under and tend to strain my lower limb more than the top.

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After establishing which limb is which I mark out the basic cuts for the handle, which I will also take off with the band saw. Then I finish out the handles using files, a moto tool, and the 18” belt sander.

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Then after all of the shape is established I use a palm sander to get an even sand and then I had sand using 180, 240, and 320 grit after which I wipe it down this mineral spirits and then stain and/or polyurethane the bow with three coats.

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I have found with the blueprint that I brought at a .003 taper is just about right for the bending in the limbs though it still is bending a bit too much by the handle. That is something that I plan to try to address in my next attempt and I will inform you about it afterwards.

One last word on cost, this time in the form of work hours. The hot box took about two hours to make, the new form has about four solid hours into her. The lams for one bow with cutting and plainning take about two hours to make. The handle, lets round up and say an hour. The gluing takes about two hours total for me. The roughing out of the shape, both the limbs and handle, takes about an hour, as does the rough sanding for the shape. The final sanding then takes about two hours. Working the of the limbs takes about two since next to no tillering is needed. In addition, the staining/polyurethane coating, putting leather on the rest, and cutting the nocks all together take about an hour too. None of these times includes drying or curing time since I do not have to do anything and would add about sixteen hours to the cost. Not including the time needed to make the form or hotbox since they are reusable the total time then comes to about twelve hours. Depending on how valuable you consider your time simply multiply that by twelve by my reckoning to get the labor cost.

Looking at the material cost, we can see it comes mostly from the wood and glue, since everything else can be used on multiple bows. The wood boards as I said I can get 15 lams of so from each one so if I got each board for 15$ then the wood that goes into each bow is let us say 5$. With a quart of smooth-on I can make five bows about so that is 6$ of glue. Moreover, for wear, let us say 10$. Let us round this up to 25$ in material costs each time. Now obviously it is needed to recoup some of the startup cost too so, for me again, tack on another 25$. This then comes to 50$ per “repeat” bow.

This means that if you saw each hour is worth 10$ the cost to start up and make one bow is 670$. However if you ignore the start of cost and are looking at producing many bows the cost drops to 170$ most of which is in labor.

At this point, I feel that I should make it clear that while I make a bow here and there for friends, I do not do this professionally, simply as gifts, and have no clue what overhead would cost or what you have to charge to make a living doing it. I simply approached the problem from a purely basic and materials cost standpoint. I do believe that the 300-700$ charged for a bow is exactly the cost that it needs to be due to all the labor and materials that go into them once you start making more complex and beautiful bows.

In addition, here are two pictures of the new dozen and a half arrows that I made. The difference with them is the fletching. As you can see I did a spiral ¼” rabbit fur. I have found that they fly just as well as normal fletchings and are far quieter. There is very little resistance since once shot the fur nearly lies down but still provides the spiraling stability.

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I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading this and that it was clear what I was trying to get at. I tried my best to keep the words simple and the pictures clear, but if any part was confusing just ask, and I will be more than happy to lift any fog on what I do. With that, that is the process that I, a five-year bowyer but still learning new things every time, uses to make my r/d laminates.

-Mo
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby MOUNTER » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:17 am

Very interesting... The form idea is pretty cool. Are you using hickory for the backing, white oak core and maple belly?? What are you using for the riser? I'd love to see some strung and full draw pics.!! :)
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby BullMtnArchery » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:51 am

MOUNTER wrote:Very interesting... The form idea is pretty cool. Are you using hickory for the backing, white oak core and maple belly?? What are you using for the riser? I'd love to see some strung and full draw pics.!! :)

X2 - Would like to see full draw pics. Looks like like the bow that is in the picture on the deck railing has some woopty doo to the limbs past the fades, this could cause a hinge, tillering and stability issues. Also you mentioned you get 15 lams from each board. How are you tapering your lams?
"Never mistake kindness for weakness"
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby Jon in Montana » Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:08 pm

I don't mean to be critical, bro.... but after seeing how you make your bows I'd really hesitate to shoot one. The idea of a 2 piece, solid form like that to apply pressure will only work if the riser and limb dimension are PERFECT every time, and those dimension cannot vary from one bow to another. If you change taper rate at all, the form will not apply even pressure. Looks to me like that's why you have wavy limbs.

I'd also caution you on using pine for a riser. It's cheap, but that's pretty much the only good quality it has for bows. It's gonna break sooner or later. Hickory is not very expensive, and it's just about bomb proof with a good grain. PLEASE at least switch to hickory.

Sorry for being critical. I just don't want to read you obituary on a forum due to bow breakage.

P.S. With the costs you outlined and the fact that you have the big tools, spend $50 on an air hose setup or spring clamps or even bicycle inner tube for you glue up.
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby undercontrol16 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:44 pm

Yes these bows are made with a Hickory back, white oak belly, and hard maple belly.
The light weight bows only had pine risers for sake of ease and time but now as I am moving in to weights above 30# I am using hickory, some with hard maple accents.

The "woopty doo" (lol) that is mentioned is not from the pressure but due to a poor job cutting the form.
I will do my best to post full draw shots soon where it can be see that the bows are curving properly. The bows have been shooting fantastically with next to no tillering due to the tapered lams.
I just bought a 1.5"x6"x6' hickory board and expect to get 20 lams from it at .125" thick each and a .125" thick blade.

No need to apologize I can see where you are coming from.
Each screw is set independently and as such those at the end are able to sink more than those at the center. I will also post pictures of the glue lines both at the fades and at the ends soon so that it can be see that the lams are getting "equal" pressure and that the glue lines are the same in both locations.
But on that note yes this form can only work with one riser base shape.
As far as the lam thickness, it can change but there is no need to change taper when it is found that .003" works perfectly on this design.
And as said above the wave is from a poor job cutting the form.
I am also looking into a " inner tube" form design or another for the future to limit the need to more forms.

Thank you guys for taking the time to read this post :)

Mo
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby MOUNTER » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:26 pm

Cool Man!! Thanks for the build and just know that no one was trying to make you look bad,just trying to save you some heart ache and or pain!! I had a riser blow up in my face before... It's not a pleasant experience! ;)
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby undercontrol16 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:16 pm

:) Like said no worries if I give advice I'd better be able to take it too.

I've been building selfbows for 5 years now and just started lams this summer. I will be turning 20 in the Fall and learn new things with every post I read it seems. I've been a member of TG for a couple years now and only recently (as you can tell) came over her as well to meet this great group of people.

I've never had a handle explosively fail on my boardbows they would simply start to seperate from the board from the stress (aka poor tiller) and I haven't had one fail on the lams yet but as I said moving to Hickory (with Hard Maple and Ash accents) for the heavier bows.

-Mo
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby jporter@work » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:41 am

Just my 2 cents, but I'd tend to take a good look at glue up if I were having riser separation like you mentioned in your last post. The riser in the last photo looks like the fit could be better as it has a pretty thick glue line at last inch or so of the riser. You could be squeezing the glue out of the areas on each side of the gap as it fills the voids at the end of the riser. This is another reason for even pressure in clamping. Keep up the work and enjoy the trip.
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Re: R/D Build Along

Postby undercontrol16 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:15 pm

Good point on the glue squeezing into the void. Hahaha clearly I need to post some photos soon.

I see what you are saying but the riser seperation I was talking about was with my board bows and the TB3 handles which were glued and clamped on. Those bows also didn't have the best tiller and had some bend in the handle still. These risers are attached as seen above with the form and with smooth on and heat treated. But yes the handles could be better and the fades are still something I am working on.

Truely thank you guys, for your advice and attention. :)

-Mo
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