4 nov. 2011

How to make tradtional arrows for selfbows


After I finished a few flatbows from maple and hazel it's time for a new challenge, making some tradtional arrows . First I needed some wooden shafts, straight and approx. 30 inches long. My brother is a pigeon fancier and he uses these shafts to divide the pigeonhouse into sections for breeding.
I got a few nice and straight pieces and cut it to the exact length:

straight wooden arrow shafts 

There were also a few nice pigeon feathers that looked promising, so I took them as well. On my way home I realised that there is a poulterer in our town, so I went to his hangar. When I asked for some large feathers he got a box full of goose feathers, but they were a bit battered, so I could only use a few. Then he went to another room and came back with a complete swan wing! 
When asked how much for it, he said I could take it for free if I showed him the result of the arrow build. Thats a nice deal!

complete swan wing for arrow feathers

The wing was in a beautiful shape and there were 20 to 30 feathers perfect for arrow making. First I cut some arrows and split them in two halves. Then I used a sharp hobby knife and cut them in the final shape:

Before glueing the feathers to the wooden shafts I neede some kind of fletching jig like this:

I googled around and found some tutorials on how to build your own fletching jig with basic materials. First I made a 3d model in Google Sketchup to get the correct sizes of each piece.
The jig consists of two pieces of wood with a groove to hold the arrow horizontally. There's a groove on both inner sides, so you can slide in two pieces of plywood which holds the feather.

3d model of the arrow fletching jig
the plywood holds the feather and slides down on the shaft

It took me an hour to make this jig from some scrap pieces of wood. The lines you see on the jig are there to align the feathers at an angle of 120 degrees, so they are distributed evenly around the shaft.

the pencil lines show the correct angles of the feathers

the first arrow being fletched

After a few minutes the first few feathers were glued on the shaft with superglue:

I used some black thread to decorate the arrow in a medieval style:

fletched arrow with thread in a medieval style

diy medieval english arrow 

My neighbour is going to make some arrowheads, so I will show you the finished arrows soon.

Any questions? Just let me know

Kind regards, Mark

2 nov. 2011

how to make a leather arm guard for shooting a bow


The last few days I have been quite busy with all kind of designs for my tattoo website and also some hobby art projects. I wanted to create a leather armguard, to match the handle wrap on my first maple flatbow. There were a few large pieces of leather left. First I made a did some measurements on my arm and created a full size template for the armguard. Here you see the high quality template, you can use it for cutting your own guard as well. I also added a finger tab outline, so you have a complete set for your bow:

 You can click the image and download the high quality picture. If you print it, make sure the line is 10 cm, then the arm guard and fingertab will be at the right size.

Simply trace the shape on leather and cut it with a knife or scissors. I punched some holes in the sides of the guard with this piece of equipment:

Then you can press some metal rings in the holes for a smooth finish. A piece of paracord is used to strap it around the arm. You can use a simple knot, or get the element/button from a raincoat that straps your jacket, not sure how you name it...

The final piece has some stitching done on the back of the leather and I added another strip on top for some extra strength.

If you want the template in an Adobe Illustrator .ai file, just send me a message and I will forward the file, so you can adjust it to your own wishes.

Kind regards, Mark

19 okt. 2011

How to create an arrow rest and leather arm guard


In the last few days I tested my bows and made some changes. The first hazel bow didn't have an arrow rest cut into the handle. When I first shot the bow it felt really good. It's really satisfying to shoot your own handmade bow. Unfortunately it wasn't really accurate, the arrows didin't fly in a straigth line to the target. I was hesitating a bit to cut an arrowrest in the finished bow, worried about weakening the handle and breaking it.

But after a few more shots this was the best option, so I first drew the shape of the arrow rest on the handle and used my jigsaw and rasps to get the desired shape.

On my other maple bow the handle/grip was not really comfortable, so I wanted to make a leather grip. My neighbour had a leather jacket that he wanted to get rid of so I was really happy to help him out :)

First I made a paper template and traced this on the leather. After it was cut I wanted to decorate it with a pattern. For some other projects, like my Maori powerkite, I use a Pfaff 1221 sewing machine. It's a powerfull German machine, that works through 3 layers of leather without any problem.

The sewing machine has a lot of different patterns built in, for normal sewing, but also for decoration purposes.
Here's some  image of the variety of stitches:

The final wrapped handle looks like this:

Tomorrow I will work on a leather arm guard in the same style, so please check back soon!

Kind regards, Mark

14 okt. 2011

Maori tribal flatbow finished design


Today I finished my selfbow from a maple stave. I made a Maori inspired design on the limbs with a black marker. The design is based on the Maori fern or koru, the national symbol used in many tribal tattoos. As a graphic artist I'm inspired by the Mauri Kirituhi style and I create tatoo designs and custom tattoos. You can find my tattoos and graphics on my website storm3d.com.
This bow is more of an arts and crafts project that I really enjoy when not drawing tatoo designs.

Once the designs were drawn on the bow, there was a really heavy contrast between the black marker and the white of the maple wood. To lower the contrast I decided to stain the wood with some brown shoeshine/polish. Finally I added 5 layers of clear varnish or lacquer and polished it for a smooth finish.

Here's a video of the final bow:

At my local bow I shot the bow for the first time and it was quite powerful, around 30 lbs at 28 inches. The draw starts really smooth, but at the end it has a sudden increase of drawweight. It feels a bit like a horsebow.
The handle has no arrow rest, so it's a bit tricky to position the arrow. I might add it later with a leather wrap around the handle section.

If you have any question on how to make a flatbow, selfbow or other projects I have been working on, just send me a message, or leave your comments below!

11 okt. 2011

How to create the handle grip of a flatbow


Today I wanted to finish the handle section of my selfbow. This one piece bow is made from a maple tree, cut in 4 sections and dried in my dryer/hotbox for a few weeks.

But I ran into a slight problem, the handle section was too thin for a comfortable grip, so I had to come up with a new plan. From an other laminated bow project (unfortunately broken...:( ) I kept some wooden strips, that were already glued together. It's a 1,5 inch block of meranti and a thin strip of oak in the center.
It seemed quite easy to glue it onto the existing bow, but I don't have a beltsander, so it took me a lot of work to flatten out the surface manually.
After half an hour of sanding it was finally done and I glued on the wood. Here you see a picture of the handle with the fades already cut off:

Then I used my rasp to smoothen it for a comfortable grip. I have quite a rough rasp, so there were a lot of cuts and bumps in the wood that needed some sanding.
After an hour of intensive work the final grip looks like this:

It's a nice contrast between the light color of the bow and the brown layers. I'm going to create a Maori inspired tattoo design on the limbs with a black marker. If you want to see some pictures, please check back soon or subscribe to my blog.

Any questions or tips? Just let me know.

Kind regards, Mark Storm

8 okt. 2011

Maori koru logo design for "Koru Ironworks"


Last week I received an e-mail from Mark, the owner of the British company "Koru Ironworks" in Bedfordshire. He makes really nice railings, gates and other fences. He asked me if I could design a business logo for him with the New-Zealand Koru or Fern symbol. Mark is a Kiwi, so he wanted something with a Maori influence.

The colors that he wanted me to use were black and grey for the font/lettering and green for the koru logo.
The shape of the logo should be quite basic, no gradients and not too detailed, because it has to be printed on clothing and business cards.

Here are 3 sketches that drew with pencil and the lettering and composition is added in Photoshop. The lines are not really sharp and crisp, but the final design is made in Adobe Illustrator, so the vector logo can be scaled without losing any detail.

The last logo is my favourite, but I just sent the design to my customer, so I will keep you updated on this project.

Kind regards, Mark

6 okt. 2011

Final maple selfbow design, finishing the bow.


Yesterday I posted some images of the maple tree staves and how I started on making a flatbow/selfbow. The rough shape of the bow is ready, now it is time to tiller the limbs by using my tillering tree.
It's made of a simple 2 by 4 inch beam with markings every inch. The top of the tillering stick holds the bow in a horizontal position.

Before you start to tiller on the stick, you should floortiller the bow, so you can see if the limbs are bending. If the limbs are too strong, you should remove some wood on each limb and tiller it again:

Here's a video on how to tiller your bow. This is part 4 of a series, you can watch all episodes on youtube:

After a few hours of tillering the limbs were bending pretty evenly, so I sanded the bow with different increasingly finer sandpaper.
Finally I wanted to put some color to the almost white bow and decided to use brown shoeshine. A couple of coatings were rubbed in and it was finished with 4 layers of clear lacquer.
I wrapped the handle with a piece of brown leather and the top and bottom of the handle with nylon string.

The bowstring is made of two red strands twisted together. The bow has a drawweight of 30 LBS at 28 inches. Here are some pictures of the final bow:

I'm working on a new bow at the moment, so maybe I can show you some more pictures soon.

Kind regards, Mark

5 okt. 2011

How to make a maple flatbow from a cutdown tree


In one of my previous posts I showed you how I made a hazel bow for my son. This flatbow was made from a branch of hazel with a diameter of roughly 2 inch.

The bow building bug really got me, so I wanted to build a full size bow of 68 inch. I was really luck to get offered some nice trees/trunks with a diameter of 8-10 inches. My parents just moved to a new place and in their garden there were some maple trees. Nice straight ones of more than 3 meters. Once they were cut down I picked them up and tried to split the logs using an axe and some wedges.

This was some really hard work and it took me over one hour to split the 3 trunks in 12 staves. Only half of the staves were suitable for bowmaking, the other pieces were twisted too much and will be used as logs for the fireplace.

Here are a few pictures of the staves I cut:

Before I could use the staves, they needed to be dried. Normally it would take a few months, but to speed up the process I made a heatbox/hotbox from insulation board, duct tape and a few 75 Watt bulbs. The temperature gets up to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 Celsius) and it takes down the drying process to around one or two weeks.

Here is a perfect description on how to make a hotbox on Poor Folk Bows

Once the staves were dry I drew the layout of the bow on the stave and roughly cut out the shape with my drawknife:

I used my draw knife and rasps to get both limbs down to the width and thickness that I needed and then put it on my tillering stick to see if the limbs were bending equally.
Here's a video on how to make and set up your tillering stick:

And here's a nice video on how the actual tillering process works.
You can see more videos on the website of Derek Hutchinson, a British bowyer

That's it for now, I will get back with new pictures of how the bow design progresses.

Any questions? Just let me know.

Kind regards, Mark

28 sep. 2011

Making a hazel flatbow with tribal tattoo design


A few weeks ago I found some really nice movies and blogs on how to create your own flatbow from a piece of hazel. The idea was to make a bow with a low draw weight for my son, so he could play around with it.

Here's a really inspiring blog:

Dels bowyer's Diary

So I went out into the woods and harvested a few pieces of hazel:

First I debarked it with a drawknife and let it dry for a few weeks.

Then I cut it to the a size around 50 inch. After some cutting and using the drawknife alot, the bow was ready to be sanded and then the fun part, adding a maori inspired tribal tattoo with a black marker.
Some nocks were added from a darker wood and I cut out some grooves for the string.

The final piece looks like this:

Hope you enjoyed it and I'll get back soon with some other tattoo inspired products/projects.

Kind regards, Mark