Building The Big Bad Wolf

The creation of a bow involves a number of stages. It's kind of like an insect going through stages and suddenly becoming a butterfly. Here are some pictures of Big Bad Wolf at each stage...



Stage 1 - Rustling Wood

I start by going through my two wood storage areas and deciding what will go into the bow I'm consideriing. BBW ended up with zebrawood for the riser and back lam, lamboo for the two core lams, and honey locust for the belly


Stage 2 - Sawing

I cut the selected wood into billets 2" x 36", from which I then resaw slabs .200 thick to make the laminations.

I also saw out a 2" x 2" x 20" block and rough cut the riser from that.



Stage 3 - Grinding

The laminations have been ground in the drum sander to the thicknesses I want in the bow, and the riser has been final sanded, with the fades run out paper thin. All of the pieces, including the glass, are lined up and ready for gluing


Stage 4 - The Layup

The pieces have been glued up, stacked on the form and clamped.


Stage 5 - Cooking

The layup goes into the oven for five hours at 160 degrees.


Stage 6 - The Larva

Man, at this point you wonder if you know what you're doing! This is just plain ugly, with hardened epoxy oozed out all over.


Stage 7 - Chrysallis

A half hour on the belt sander and another half hour on the drum sander has produced a very nice Hill style bow blank, all smooth, square and even.



Stage 8 - The Unveiling

This is really kind of Stage 7A, but it's so exciting I always think of it as separate. This is where you can finally peel the tape off of the back and see what your bow is going to look like. I'm predjudiced, but I think BBW is going to look pretty good...



Okay, normally at this point I'd be showing finished bow pix and crowing about how well it all went. Unfortunately, it didn't go all that well in the grinding out, finishing and especially tillering stages. I ended up with a pretty bow that shot OK, but just didn't look good...



Here's the bow at the problem stage. you can see that the upper limb is curved much more than the lower. If you held the bow vertical, the string would be at about a 15 degree angle. It still shoots fine, but it just bugs the whatever out of me, so I'm going to build another as quickly as I can.


Next day... I started Bow 2 last night by grinding the lams. However, I couldn't live with knowing that this one wasn't right, So the morning was devoted to fixing the problem. It wasn't an easy job, and very nervous making. I ended up with a 62" bow that checks out at 48@28 and 42@25. I had to shorten and trap a limb, and sanded the glass quite a bit, to get it down to that weight.It's definitely too strong a bow for me, but at least I know it's a bow pretty much as it should be, and not kind of weird.

At first I thought it was really too strong a bow for me, and I almost let it go to someone else, but I'm getting used to it and for hunting, it may be fine. It certainly spits an arrow out! I'm not shooting quite as tight with it now as I was before. You can see how my group opened up here as I was strainging a bit to reach my anchor. However, since this picture I've been practicing with it and things are looking okay.




Oct. 3... I had a very productive day... Got the new bow, which I'm tentatively referring to as Big Bad Wolf II, out of the oven and off the form. It came out very well... good joins, good fades. I hit an acceptable weight first try... 40#, and then proceeded to do the finish shaping up, testing as I went. I was trying to go a bit gingerly as I was shooting for 38 and usually lose 4-5 in the finishing, and that's what happened. I ended up at 67" (not that far off my preferred 66") and 35# at my draw, a little lighter than I wanted. That's actually probably a good thing. It's a good firm draw, but not overly so and I can handle it. I'm not sure if gaining 3# over the bow I was planning to take, Out of the Closet, was worth all this trouble, but it does represent a gain of 10%. If someone was shooting 50# and moved up to 55#, everyone would consider it significant. I wish I'd had a hair more poundage to work with. I'd like to have fined the limbs down some more to get a more graceful appearance, more Hill than flatbow, but this is where the bow said, "Hey, stop! We're done..."

These two make an absolutely beautiful pair of bows, so it was a fun, if tiring, week well spent. I've been shooting Wolfie I and getting used to him. They will be fine
as far as bows for Texas goes... a pair of wolves going after the Three Little Pigs...

The Wolves...

BBW2 (Wolfie 2) on the right, BBW 1 (Wolfie I) on the left.

BBW 2 is three lams instead of four, has the zebrawood back cut on the face grain rather than the side grain, and has a walnut back instead of the honey locust.