I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

In Lieu of Apoplectic Rage

I have several times over in recent days pulled up the new post window and started writing about this that or the other bit of gun grabbing stupidity, but every time it was either too angry, incoherent, or otherwise unfortunate to hit post on. There are lots of other people doing good work in tracking the idiocy without my ham handed forays.

Since I am currently without the sd card reader I need to upload pictures of the Enfield of happiness, I am rather starved for typical post content. However, there is an admittedly niche subject some might be interested in, so it's better than nothing.

I have never been much of a woodworker. I have a workbench in the basement at home, but most of the tools on it are designed for plastic model work. Despite this, on a link from someone in #gunblogger_conspiracy (I don't remember who, else I would credit) to poorfolkbows.com, run by Sam Harper, I became.... intrigued. The red oak board bow build seemed simple enough, and archery has always interested me (despite not being particularly engaged in it at any time) so I decided to give it a go.

Archery, for all that it interests me, has never been particularly a hobby of mine, mostly due to having the childhood physique of a pile of wet spaghetti. At Boy Scout Camp when I was 12 or 13, I wanted to get the archery merit badge, but even the youth bows they had were utterly beyond my draw strength. However, as I am now 20 and have been rock climbing for some time, my physique is a bit more robust. I figured it was possible to get back into the realm of archery.

So, in my naive starting enthusiasm, I wandered to Home Depot and bought myself a nice straight grained piece of red oak and a couple basic tools. Since then, I have been back to Home Depot several times over and have spent far more money than I had anticipated, but it's ok, because, with the exception of a few dollars here and there (drywall tape for backing that I didn't end up using, and a truly lousy hacksaw) all my expenses thus far have turned out pretty well. What I couldn't get locally, I've been ordering piecemeal online. I've been finding it very interesting to watch this all come together slowly.

I now have the gross shape of the limbs and riser of the bow done, and I have my backing material cut to shape, though not glued yet. (A pair of women's silk pants I got at Goodwill provided the material.) I have most of my materials for the rest of the project together, with the exception of my bowstring. Until that comes, I am somewhat restricted on how much progress I can make on the bow itself. So, having seen the truly painful prices of even unfinished arrow shafts, I have started to make arrows as well. This is probably the point at which I have truly jumped the shark.

I have no idea how well this project will turn out. My woodworking skills are amateur at best, and I've made a handful of mistakes (all correctable thankfully) already. I can say though that, though I knew this already, there is a certain... wonderful feeling to working with your hands. Every blister that pops up from spending too long with the file is a sign that I am doing something. Seeing a couple pieces of hardware store lumber start slowly to turn into a functional tool is fascinating. The funny thing to me is that even if I don't get into archery particularly, I will probably keep up with bowmaking, or at least woodworking of some sort. It's a wonderful sense of your own capabilities to see what you can make with your own two hands and a couple hand tools. Pictures will go up of the final product once I've, well, made it final, as well as a handful of progress shots too.

I'd like to offer a big thanks to Sam Harper for his most excellent build-along, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in building bows. Granted, having not finished yet, I can't vouch for the final product, but his instructions are clear, well written, informative, and somewhat entertaining.


  1. Yup. You get it.
    It's not about the money saved or spent, or the popped blisters and tired hands, it's about BUILDING.
    This is why I am focusing on the degree I am.

    Good on you for doing what many engineers won't even think of trying.

  2. Life lessons my friend -- one that my father in law shared with me (and seems to work on hobby projects as well) "No home improvement project is ever completed without at least 3 trips to the hardware store".

    Saved this novice home owner/repairman many hours of frustration at my inability to get it all figured out. What I eventually learned is don't learn how to fix an item; learn how to use the tools correctly to fix something.

    What you are learning on this project will be invaluable later; especially if the AlienZombiePodPeople Apocalypse hits

  3. +1 on what TRE and Bob said, but also
    It's just plain fun.
    Creating dangerous pointy projectile launching systems rocks.

  4. Hey Scribbler,

    Good chance for you to show off that project at the blog shoot scheduled for May 26th.

    Just saying.


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