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PostPosted: March 25th, 2011, 2:50 pm 
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First I have to commend Terry, Steve and Jerry for the terrific job they have done with their forums. They will be a hard act to follow.

Feel free to use this forum to ask any questions you may have about the process of building a laminated bow. Or if you have questions of what I do each day building Blacktail Bows.

I got my start by accident from the late Jim Brackenbury. I was 20 years younger but he was a hunting partner, a mentor, but most of all my friend. His philosophy was the same as the PBS. I would ask if I was prying his secrets and he would always say "if it promotes traditional archery I am all for it". I try to keep the same attitude and philosophy.

Over the last 24 years of making bows I have acquired a fair amount of knowledge in the craft. Some learned from others but most through trial and error. Anyone who has gone through the process for fun or does it professionally has their own way completing the task. My way is neither the best way, right way, or the wrong way. It's just Norms way and nothing more.
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Steve Hohensee

Administrator
Member # 44

posted February 03, 2010 07:07 AM
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Alright, someone pryed Norm came out of his cave!
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From: Moose Pass, Alaska | IP: Logged |

Larry Schwartz

PBS Member
Member # 93

posted February 03, 2010 08:34 AM
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Hi Norm,

I'll start the questions out with this one, would the "ultimate" limb for speed/efficiency and stability be made from bamboo and carbon, or would some other combination give better ?

Larry
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From: Annapolis, MD | IP: Logged |

Steve Hohensee

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Member # 44

posted February 03, 2010 09:30 AM
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You mean like Styrofoam (ikk)? And to add to Larry's qustion (if I may) what do you think when you consider those materials versus a wide shrt limb like in a recurve or some of the hybrids versus the longer narrower limbs in "old school" longbows. I suspect that what is best in a looong narrow longbow maybe of more consequence (or at least different) than what is best in a wide and wrapped tight recurve.
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From: Moose Pass, Alaska | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted February 03, 2010 07:30 PM
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I believe the reason you make such a fine shooting bow today Norm, is that you have been open to feedback and are willing to improve and refine what you do. I like "Norm's way" and am privileged to have a few that you have crafted.
One of the main things I gravitate to in a recurve is the grip. If it does fit the hand and allows a consistant referencing in the hand it is a keeper. Everytime I pick up a Blacktail bow it feels right.
Last year I built a recurve with lots of help from a friend. That experience made me much more appreciative of what Norm does. As we were deciding on what the limb veneers should be in thickness in order to achieve a certain poundage it seemed to me to be a bit of a hit or miss situation. I'm sure after making 100's of bows you have a formula or something. But I ended up 5 lbs heavy. With all the different exotic woods do you just sand the veneers down to such a thin veneer that the wood's properties don't play into the eventual out come of the poundage much? Or do you have to adjust the poundage sometimes after the bow is built? Not looking for any "trade secrets"..just curious after my experience.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
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posted February 03, 2010 08:57 PM
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Steve, You've seen my cave. Ya, a little messy but a good view.

Hi Larry, Great question. The ultimate limb in my opinion needs at least bamboo. Really though it has to be a top notch design first and foremost for the particular bow it is attached to. Bamboo and carbon can only enhance a good design. If the limb is poorly designed bamboo, and or carbon won't fix it.
I have my opinion about carbon. To simplify carbon is is a lightweight high strength material. It is used in a lot of applications besides bowmaking for the above mentioned properties. If you have a well designed limb with an all bamboo core and you think you can speed things up a tad by adding carbon you will probably be disappointed with the result. You basically traded one lightweight material for another. You can't just add carbon you are displacing some of the bamboo to replace it with the significantly more expensive carbon. From a business standpoint the word carbon added to the limb core makes a great marketing tool. I will say there are probably certain applications that may benefit from the use of carbon and some that simply don't.

Steve's second question. There is alot left to opinion. I will try to keep mine out as much as I can. (ha) The old school narrow (and deep) longbow limbs as a general rule don't pull or feel as smooth as other limbs because, as the limbs load the thick belly portion is having to compress. The amount of course depends on the bows overall length and the shooters draw length. Newer and thinner hybrid designs and recurves utilize an uncoiling motion as they load. There is not as much compression happening so the limb feels smoother and they tend to recover quicker.
When referring to limb width opinions will vary but wide heavy limbs in a good design seem to shoot fine but have a more harsh feel (handshock) after the shot. This is due to the added weight coming to a stop after the shot.
As for recurve design in whats better, tight hook or more open? I would say neither is better. Both designs have pluses and minuses. A well designed tight hook or even static design can be a slightly better performer. But they tend not quite as user friendly. Harder limb to string and unstring also can be a little more susceptible to twist in certain cases. Open hook design may not perform quite as well however they are more user friendly and by design as the limb uncoils stress is more evenly distributed. Both of these designs can be made to pull very smooth.
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

ethan
PBS Member
Member # 125

posted February 03, 2010 09:17 PM
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Hey Norm, how about some pointers on doing an inlayed accent stripe. I think that really helps set a bow off.
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From: cumberland plateau, tennessee | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 03, 2010 10:35 PM
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Dave AKA Snag,
Thanks for the kind words about my grips. They haven't always been that way. I have bows floating around in circulation with some pretty bad grips on them. I credit input from customers that enabled me to bring the grips to where I am at today.
Figuring formulas can be difficult when starting out. There are many ways to do it. You will need to record everything that you put into your limb. I still record each set of limbs that I glue.
This is "Norm's way" condensed. I find it much easier to grind all of my veneers to the same thickness of .022- .023. It is much easier to vary the thickness of the tapered center core (bamboo in my case) to get the desired draw weight. I take measurements with my dial calipers at the limb tip, mid point, and the butt. I want all 3 of these numbers within .001- .002 of the same measurements of the opposite limb. This can be very difficult to do if you don't have good equipment. There are places you can purchase accurately ground tapered and paralleled core materials.
I will give an example of what I would have written in my log book. .090-.175-.122-.089 = 55# @28" 62" bow
The first number is the fiberglass thickness (one piece of .040 and a piece of .050 = .090. second number is butt of the limb thickness, third number is a mid point, and last number is the tip thickness. All three of these numbers are the 2 veneers added to the center core.
An overlooked and very important factor is the limb wedge taper and length, or in the case of a One-piece bow the fadeout section. You must be consistent when doing the final shaping of these or you will struggle with hitting weight consistently.
Yes, it is normal to make final adjustments bring the bow into desired weight and tiller. For my recurves a perfect glue-up is 8 pounds over weight. I weight my limbs before they are cut to shape or string grooved. In other words the limb is 1 and 7/8 " wide the entire length. When I cut and grind the limb to its finished dimension, cut string grooves, and clean up and round off limb edges, this process will remove 8 pounds. I don't like to remove anymore than 3 to 5 pounds above and beyond that.
I think for amateurs hitting the desired draw weight is the most difficult part. It can 2 -3 attempts to get the bow to your desired weight.
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 03, 2010 10:40 PM
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Ethan,
You crossed the line. You want me to reveal my only secret. I will send a PM with virus attached.
Just kidding. Will crawl out of my cave tomorrow to explain that one.
Take care,
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Larry O. Fischer
PBS Member
Member # 121

posted February 04, 2010 12:23 AM
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Norm,
How about telling everyone about "Bonnie" and how she wanted you to make "her" a special bow.
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From: Boise, ID | IP: Logged |

MViehweg
PBS Member
Member # 117

posted February 04, 2010 12:04 PM
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Norm,

When you mentioned hobbyist having a tough time hitting wt.. I remember Jerry Pierce having a small notebook with all the various, lam combinations of bows he had built over the years as a point of reference. This gave a starting point when trying to hit wt.... not near as scientific as your methods. I look forward to checking out your muley seminar with Jim in TN.
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From: Galesburg, IL | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted February 04, 2010 05:36 PM
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Well I guess we weren't off that much then. The bow hit 63# and I was hoping for from 55#-58#. I whittled it back to 60# by filing and sanding the limb edges and left it there.

MViehweg, the man that helped me has a book like that. He must have around 40 pages of all the bows he has made. He lists the wood combos, glass and core thickness, etc. So we looked at a bow he had made that came in at where I was wanting mine to and figured it out from there. It still came in heavy. I just wondered if the exotic hardwoods that are made into limb veneers make much of a difference in the way a limb reacts.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Andy Lupher
PBS Member
Member # 132

posted February 04, 2010 08:43 PM
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When you are doing your glue-ups on a one-piece bows how do you keep things from sliding? I know plates can prevent propelloring, but whats the best way to prevent the wood from sliding when the hose is inflated?
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From: Maryland | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 04, 2010 10:25 PM
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Larry,
I am really surprised that you want bring up Bonnie on a public forum. For all those wondering Bonnie is Larry's cross dressing aunt or... ah... was that uncle. I guess I never figured it out. Anyway she pulled a 65# bow like it was nothing. Sight to behold, eyeliner and a 5 o'clock shadow.
Thanks for reminding me of her.... or.... him.

Ethan,
Still not ignoring your request of how to do the accent stripping. Thought I would get a photo and try to get it into one of these posts. Picture is much better than trying to describe with my limited English skills. Us cave dwellers are a little slow with the computer stuff as well.
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 04, 2010 10:36 PM
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Mark,
Good to hear from you. Yep anyone making bows needs to keep a log book for future reference. Jim Brackenbury would use 3 numbers and it served him well. glass thickness, butt thickness, and tip thickness.
Jim Akensen is putting together a power point for the seminar so it should be good. Although my public speaking skills leave something to be desired.

Dave,
I have found that Yew, and Juniper veneers will glue-up a couple of pounds lighter than all others that I use. If you do come out overweight there are proper ways to shave weight that won't take the integrity out of the limb.


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2011, 2:51 pm 
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Page 2

Andy,
Great question. I fought that very thing years ago when getting started as a beginning bow maker.
#1 is a good bow press and having the hose flat and proportionally equal over the entire surface when inflating.
#2 is a good fit of all of the components. The mating surfaces between the limb laminates and the riser section must be flat and the glue surfaces themselves prepared with a course 36 grit.
#3 (very important) The glue needs to be applied liberally between your clear fiberglass and its mating surface only. This helps prevent ugly air bubbles in the limbs. The rest of the glue surfaces you need to coat them wet only. Do not over apply the glue so that it literally is standing up on the surface. It will act as a layer of grease and when you begin to clamp or add air to your hose things start sliding.
#4 add the air in stages. With everything glued and in place. Give a small shot of air that will begin pushing everything together. You will start seeing the excess glue creep out and if some shifting has occurred you can manually push things around to get them back where they need to be. Once everything is back in place or is where it needs to be give another shot and watch for 30 seconds or so. If nothing has moved continue to give air in small stages until you feel everything is locked then top the hose off to the desire pressure. (I use 75#.)
Yes, you can use plates but they aren't full proof either. These steps should help and when you get real good you won't need the plates.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Snag

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posted February 05, 2010 10:27 AM
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This is great! Thanks for sharing some of what you've learned on your bow building journey Norm. Love this stuff!...and you do pretty well for a "cave dweller" in explaining it...
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Larry O. Fischer
PBS Member
Member # 121

posted February 05, 2010 06:13 PM
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Norm,
It was a shame how you and Kurt Phillips fawned over "her" during the Idaho Traditional Day, and I heard later how broken hearted she was after you stood her up. After agreeing to have her come over for a personal "fitting."
Go ahead and tell everyone how Blacktail was your second choice for the name of your bow company!
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From: Boise, ID | IP: Logged |

ethan
PBS Member
Member # 125

posted February 05, 2010 07:54 PM
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Norm, I may have to hear the....Bonnie explanation in person in Nashville! Thanks for all the tips, don't worry about not being able to post pics, I'm not up on that stuff either!
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From: cumberland plateau, tennessee | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 07, 2010 11:25 PM
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Larry,
Guess I will have to call Kurt and see if he remembers "fawning" over your cross dressing aunt Bonnie (or uncle.) Your memory is remarkable to the point of fantasy land. Thanks for sharing you have really made this forum with your honesty

Ethan,
Will have a great story to tell you in Nashville.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 08, 2010 08:38 PM
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Ethan,
Got the image thing figured out. Not bad for a slow guy like me. Anyway you need to glue up a block with the pattern and colors you desire. Cut a strip a little over-sized the grind the targeted thickness and you have a strip.
Hope this helps.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

ethan
PBS Member
Member # 125

posted February 09, 2010 06:55 AM
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That makes sense Norm, I thought about doing that but wasn't sure if it wouldn't come apart when I flexed it. Thanks a bunch Norm. See you in Nashville.

Ethan
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From: cumberland plateau, tennessee | IP: Logged |

Andy Lupher
PBS Member
Member # 132

posted February 10, 2010 03:40 PM
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Norm,

Thanks for the info.. Have another question for you.. Is Diamond wood to brittle to be used in the feathered part of the fadeout?
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From: Maryland | IP: Logged |

Larry O. Fischer
PBS Member
Member # 121

posted February 10, 2010 04:14 PM
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Norm,
If you and "Aunt" Bonnie.... well you know, does that make us related?

Seriously, your Mentor would be proud to see how you have elevated the bowyer's craft! Thanks Uncle Norm see you in Nashville.
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From: Boise, ID | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted February 11, 2010 05:44 PM
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As long as you are telling some of your secrets, how do you taper the core? Or am I trending on thin ice?
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

grizzley21
PBS Member
Member # 198

posted February 11, 2010 07:17 PM
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hey,norm
that photo of the table saw, with the fence right next to the blade, like that, not very safe!!!!!, i have been a cabinetmaker for over 25 yrs. and i would never do it like that photo shows.there are different ways to do that. cut it oversize and run it in the belt sander for one. watch those fingers!!!!!! chris
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From: painesville, ohio | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 11, 2010 08:44 PM
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Andy,
Diamond wood works fine as a limb-wedge. Because of the way the wedge is sandwiched in the middle of the laminations it is nearly impossible to have it shear off inside the limb. The woods you want to avoid for wedge material are soft woods such as many in the cedar family. They split easy and will crush under the pressure of the limb bolt.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 11, 2010 08:50 PM
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Cousin Larry,
I am thankful I will get to Nashville a few days early to quench the rumors. It was so thoughtful of you to share the Bonnie story.

Anyway thanks for the kind words. I think you an I can both agree it would be nice to share just one camp fire with Jim. Miss him a lot.

Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 11, 2010 09:15 PM
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Dave,
Not at all. Great question. I will give a short explain but may try to post a photo later. Basically I have a master taperboard that I use for the entire process. I cut the blank bamboo laminations about .020 oversize in my tablesaw. Using the master taperboard against the fence it will cut the blanks on a matching taper. I use dial calipers to make sure they are oversize. I usually cut a very large stack then use sharpie to make several reference marks on the side of the stack of freshcut laminations.
I set up a fence on a very large belt sander I have that runs 36 grit belts. I adjust the fence and use the master taperboard mated with the oversized lam then grind the lam to the desired thickness. I want to be within .001-.002 at each reference mark to insure that I can accurately make weight on the limbs.
I'll try to post a pic. As my creative and descriptive writing skills are really lacking.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted February 12, 2010 01:17 PM
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You explained it very well...I'm just "wood shop challenged". So, I look forward to seeing it to fully comprehend it. Guess I am one of those people who learn better by seeing it done.
You know all this talk about how you build a bow is feeling like it is going to cost me...I'm feeling an order coming on...
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PostPosted: March 25th, 2011, 2:52 pm 
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Page 3

Norm;
I've always thought that the smoother the surface, the better the glue joint.
I can understand leaving it rough for more gluing surface area, but can't you see the sanding lines through the glass.
Are you sanding the glass with the same 36 grit?
See you in Nashville.
Thanks
Jim
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From: Minnesotah | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 15, 2010 11:03 PM
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Dave,
Here is a photo of a stack of bamboo tapers with the reference marks on them.
By the way I have an order form sitting on my desk waiting for the call
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 15, 2010 11:22 PM
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Hi Jim,
If your surfaces are too smooth and you apply the kind of pressure needed for limbs you will leave no space for your glue. You need a certain amount of roughness to the surface for the epoxy to grab and hold on. The fiberglass gluing surface is sanded with 36 grit from the factory. Just picture putting a dab of glue on a plate glass window. You will later be able to remove it with your fingernail. Now rough the glass with some 36 grit. You will need a hammer and chisel to remove.
Many of the veneers I use will not show the 36 grit scratches. The ones that do show marks I will do a secondary grind with 80 grit to clean them up. Also if it is a veneer that I will be applying stain I will regrind the stain side with 80 grit. Staining a 36 grit surface is a no no. The 80 grit will clean things up yet still leave a glue-able surface.
I have found that 36 grit is really the only way to grind the oily woods such as Cocobolo. These oily woods will plug the finer grit belts.
Great to hear you will be in Nashville. Look forward to seeing you.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 15, 2010 11:33 PM
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Chris,
Sorry for my slow response. My opening Post was put in for a reason. "My way is not the right way, or the wrong way it just Norm's way and nothing more."

That being said, I have been building bows for nearly as many years as you have been making cabinets. I have experimented with all different methods of cutting the 30 plus veneers that go into each bow. I still have all ten digits because what may appear dangerous from the photo may not be the full story.
Yes veneers are cut oversize and ground to the proper size.
Take care,
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Brad G.
PBS Member
Member # 135

posted February 16, 2010 02:35 PM
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quote:
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Originally posted by Norm Johnson:
The first number is the fiberglass thickness (one piece of .040 and a piece of .050 = .090...
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Norm,
This is probably a pretty basic question, but is the thicker glass going on the back or the belly of the bow, and is that a general rule of thumb? I'm getting ready to build my first laminated bow, and admittedly don't know what the heck I'm doing, but I guess I just figured you'd use the same thickness of glass on both sides.

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"How, given the canine teeth and close-set eyes that declare the human animal to be a predator, had we come up with the notion that oat bran is more natural to eat than chicken?"
Valerie Martin, The Great Divorce

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From: Central Illinois | IP: Logged |

Larry O. Fischer
PBS Member
Member # 121

posted February 16, 2010 07:59 PM
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Norm,
Yes, another hunt with that crusty old bowyer is in the future, but not too soon I hope! Until then we will have to keep his memory alive.
Larry
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From: Boise, ID | IP: Logged |

ethan
PBS Member
Member # 125

posted February 16, 2010 08:47 PM
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Norm, I glued up a "in-lay" accent stripe, but as I was running my strip through my thickness sander it snapped in a couple of places. I was able to fix that by laminating two very small pieces of maple on either side of the inlay strip. But do you think I put to much pressure when glueing the block up and it forced to much glue out? And should I be concerned about having a bad joint and a failure in my handle?

I bet you didn't expect to have this much headache when you signed on for this huh?!!
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From: cumberland plateau, tennessee | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 17, 2010 12:56 AM
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Brad,
It is perfectly normal to use differing glass sizes on your limbs. In fact it is necessary at times to hit the desired draw weight.
I always put the thicker glass on the belly of the limb. When finishing your limbs you need to sand the surface of the glass just enough to prep it for finish. However should you need to shave a few pounds to hit desired weight you can safely remove a very small amount from the surface of the belly glass. You never want to remove from the back of the limb. You will unknowingly expose the fiberglass strands that run lengthwise down the limb. The back side of the limb must stretch some as you draw the bow. Over time these exposed strands will fracture leaving ugly streaks and in some cases small glass fibers sticking up like porcupine quills.
Good luck with your project!
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted February 17, 2010 01:13 AM
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Ethan,
If they fractured on the glue joints then you could possible have a dry joint but I suspect that is unlikely. If the fractures were just the wood then it may be a wood problem. You will learn over time that inlay stripes can be a pain in the rear. When making your raw parts certain species of wood do better if you cut them cross grain and others do better cut with the grain. Some are just plain brittle no matter what way you cut them. After I cut mine I hand feed them between a small fence and a big grinding wheel (shown in a previous post). That way I can control the pressure needed to grind them to size. Yes I still break a few. Try setting your surface grinder to remove very tiny amounts with each pass and do more passes.
You should never want to rely on wood striping for strengthening your riser. These inlay stripes should be decorative only. Fiberglass backings mixed with other forms of reinforcing material should be your strength security.
Sounds like you are having fun!
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Brad G.
PBS Member
Member # 135

posted February 17, 2010 08:53 AM
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Thanks, Norm. I had never heard that before, and Lord only knows how long it would have taken me to figure it out on my own.

I have to say, having the opportunity to ask a professional, such as yourself, questions about bow-building is just another illustration of how cool this site really is!

--------------------
"How, given the canine teeth and close-set eyes that declare the human animal to be a predator, had we come up with the notion that oat bran is more natural to eat than chicken?"
Valerie Martin, The Great Divorce

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From: Central Illinois | IP: Logged |

Larry O. Fischer
PBS Member
Member # 121

posted February 26, 2010 05:26 PM
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Norm,
Cannot believe you backed out on attending Idaho Traditional Day. we had a "blind" date already for ya!
cousin Larry
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From: Boise, ID | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted March 01, 2010 08:32 PM
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Cousin Larry,
Sorry, circumstances did not fall in my favor for attending the Idaho Trad Day, well on second thought those circumstances may have been a blessing.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Greg Szalewski
PBS Member
Member # 30

posted April 03, 2010 08:54 PM
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Norm,
Nice meeting you and getting a chance to talk. I know you were quite busy. Thanks so much for all you did for the banquet.
I am making a bow much the same as the one I did for the banquet for myself and want to get a smooth finish. I used super glue on the last one to fill. It worked but was a lot of work. I did 2 coats and then used 240 grit to just take off the high spots then 2 more coats ect. This was the best I came up with. Is there a more efficient method or material for this?
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From: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted April 03, 2010 11:30 PM
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Greg,
Thanks for the kind words, was great meeting you as well. The time put in on the banquet is a labor of love for this organization.
The bow you donated was one of the nicest youth bows I have ever seen.
Before I can answer your question I need to ask you what type of finish where you using on the bow?
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Greg Szalewski
PBS Member
Member # 30

posted April 04, 2010 01:48 PM
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Thanks Norm, I have been using spar urethane but that doesn't hold up the best so on the bow I am making now Joe Lasch is going to spray it for me. He uses Krystal by ML Campbell.
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From: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin | IP: Logged |


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2011, 2:52 pm 
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Page 4

I'm sure interested in any advice you have on filling pores Norm. Some woods certainly are a challenge!

The Krystal product that I am spraying calls specifies not to exceed a final thickness on the finish of about 4 mils. They also make a level sealer product that I have been told can be applyed up to 10-11 mils thickness and then the Krystal final coats over the top of that.

Your finishes and fills are the best I have ever seen, so any tips or advice is sure appreciated!

--------------------
www.prairietrad.com
Bow Hospital
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Snag

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posted April 05, 2010 11:27 AM
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Good question Joe.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
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posted April 05, 2010 01:09 PM
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Joe and Greg,
Great question. I did a google search to see what type of finish Krystal is. It is a conversion varnish. I used conversion varnishes extensively for nearly 15 years although not this particular brand.
Remember this is Norm's method Ha! What worked for me is to skip the wood or pore fillers. Start first with a very light application as sealer. (If you spray heavy and cause runs or sags it will cause color bleeding with some woods.) Give the finish time to flash (couple mins. or so) Then come back with a heavier coat over top. Spray thick but not to the point of runs or sags. Let dry 24 hours then sand all surfaces with 220 remove any accidental runs or sags and recoat heavy again. Do this every 24 hours until you have 3 to 4 good build coats. Always sand between coats or you will have adhesion problems) Don't keep recoating the fiberglass surfaces on your limbs only one heavy coat is sufficient in the beginning. Too much build on the limbs and you will have cracking issues on your limbs over time. Conversion varnishes are not flexible when they become too thick.
So now that you have 3 to 4 build coats you are going to sand with 220 and really remove alot of material to the point of almost back to bare wood but not quite. You will find that alot of the pores will sand out. If your build coats were too thin then you may not be getting rid of the pores.
This is a process that takes some practice.
Now you have sanded the finish back to a thin surface and have removed most of the pores you can respray more build coats as needed to fill the remaining pores. A common characteristic of conversion varnishes is that when you spray the pores full it will shrink in the 24 hour drying period and the pores become visible again.
When you reach a point that you now have all pores filled using the build and sand back process you are ready for a final coat. You will need to sand the bow with 320 in preparation for a final coat. (Conversion varnish will not fill 220 scratch marks)
If you find a stubborn pore or two after you have sanded with 320 you can spot spray and sand these pores until they are all filled.
Getting back to the limbs even though you should not have continued to respray them you will have some overspray to sand off from sraying the exposed wood on the limb edges. Just make sure you use the minimal amount of finish possible on the glass surfaces. For the final sand them with the 320 and coat thoroughly so that you fill the 320 sand marks.
Conversion varnishes done right will come out smooth as glass. Your goal is to create a uniform skin over all of the bows surfaces. Oversanding some areas and undersanding others will cause you to lose uniformity. Also inconsistency with your spraying will cause this but good eye for sanding can fix bad spraying.
Good Luck!
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Greg Szalewski
PBS Member
Member # 30

posted April 05, 2010 07:13 PM
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Norm
Thanks so much for the help. Your detailed explanation is quite helpful. I will be getting to those steps soon.
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From: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin | IP: Logged |

Joe Lasch
PBS Member
Member # 21

posted April 06, 2010 07:20 PM
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Great explanation Norm! Thanks for going into great detail. It's the little things like you describe that can really make a difference.

While we're on finishes, do you have any comments on the plus and minuses of conversion varnishes versus other options? As you mentioned, Krystal is a catalysed conversion varnish, and from what I understand is similar to Fullerplast. Another finish I am familiar with is Thunderbird epoxy which is used by many bowyers.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of one over another? I've also heard of automotive clear coat being a great bow finish. Are there any others that are being used by bowyers?

My guess is that like most everything there are trade offs somewhere, whether it be price, ease of spraying, durability, toxicity, etc. Or is there one that is clearly superior to the others?

Thanks!

--------------------
www.prairietrad.com
Bow Hospital
Packs, Quivers,Tents

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From: Lake Mills, WI | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted April 07, 2010 05:02 PM
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I was thinking of trying to spray some arrow shafts with conversion varnish. But I guess that wouldn't work because it isn't flexible..? A man I use to refinish cabinets said it is very durable. But for what he uses it for he isn't concerned about it being flexible or not.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted April 08, 2010 11:44 AM
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Joe,
I used conversion varnishes extensively for many years. My favorite was a Sherwin Williams product.
Conversion varnishes are what a would classify as a medium durability finish. They really are designed for fine furniture and cabinetry. They don't do real well under extreme wet conditions. While they will protect the bow the constant wet will deteriorate the finish more rapidly. It is not very scratch a chip resistant either.
It is very user friendly and will adhere to anything. Also easy to come back later and touch up a bow that has seen some hard use.
Epoxy's really are the pinnacle in durability and longevity. They are impervious to wet conditions and require some very rough handling to scratch or even chip. They will withstand years and years of normal to hard use.
The down side to epoxy finish is they are not user friendly. They require a very rigid set of procedures to get a good result. The satin or flats have alot of flattening agents in them. These agents make the finish very cloudy so all build coats must be done in gloss and the final done in the flat or satin. You will get one try to get it right. If you had a bad top coat you will have to sand it off and it is a chore to sand a finish that is as hard as epoxy.
I see alot of amateur use epoxy's and not get a very good looking final result. But they are usually happy and the bow is protected. So no harm done. For me it has to be as close to flawless as i can get or it will come back to bite me. Epoxy in most cases is triple the price of a conversion varnish. For me it is well worth the additional price.

Dave,
The lacquers we use on our wood arrows is even less flexible than a conversion varnish. It is difficult to spray arrows and to dip would require a lot of waste because you have to throw away whatever you mixed after the dipping is done.
If you dip over your cresting the conversion varnish will more than likely make a mess of your nice cresting. Try it and let us know. We like guy willing to do the dirty work first.
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted April 08, 2010 07:00 PM
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That's why I'm asking questions first before diving into it.... Sounds like I'll just keep with the stuff I'm using now. It works great, but I'm always looking at other materials to see if there is something better.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted April 22, 2010 01:04 PM
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Norm, do you use a gravity fed spray gun? I just bought one on the recommendation of a furniture refinisher that does great work.
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted April 23, 2010 11:17 AM
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Dave,
I currently use a regular siphon gun right now but have used a gravity feed in the past. I get good results with both. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

Snag

PBS Member
Member # 12

posted May 18, 2010 07:03 PM
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Norm,
I have a bow that I am thinking of trying to checker the grip...with lots of practice first! But it has an epoxy finish on it. After I do the checkering can I spray a conversion varnish over the epoxy? Or are they not compatible?
Thanks, David
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From: Eugene, Oregon | IP: Logged |

TimZeigler
PBS Member
Member # 171

posted August 17, 2010 09:20 AM
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Norm,

Can you discuss methods of glueing up some of the oily exotics that are out there. As you probably guessed, I'm getting ready to use some of it in my latest build.

I plan on cutting the riser for the accent pieces, and sealing all of the wood glueing surfaces with superglue, and then sanding flush. I'm not sure what to do with the limb cores other than some light scoring and wiping it down with a clean lint free rag. Any suggestions?

Thanks
Tim

[ August 17, 2010, 02:31 PM: Message edited by: TimZeigler ]
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From: Summerville, SC | IP: Logged |

Norm Johnson
PBS Councilman
Member # 5

posted August 19, 2010 04:49 PM
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Hi Tim,
Sorry for my slow response. I have been away from the PBS site for a while.
To answer your question. You don't need to be concerned with the oil content of the wood before glue up. Just use the same epoxy you plan to use for your limb glue-up. Most are using Smooth-On but there are other epoxies that work as well. The key is a good surface that has been sanded to it's preglue-up dimension with a 36 grit belt or spindle. Another key is a good fit. A bad fit or wide gaps are not very strong. The epoxies that I have used seem unaffected by the additional oil of these woods. Limb cores just need to have the same 36 grit preparation and be dry and clean. Wiping with a rag can be dangerous in the fact that the wood will grab small particles of the material and if they are bright color they will show up in the finished limb when using clear glass. Good air pressure will do a pretty good job of cleaning. Stay away from denatured alcohol or acetone. They can cause the oil to run and bleed which will ruin the look of the veneer. You can use alcohol or acetone on your fiberglass but again don't wipe the glue surface with a rag. Just blow them dry. I personally don't use superglue anywhere in the process except to repair small cracks or defects during the finish stage.
Hope this helps,
Norm
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From: Reedsport, Oregon | IP: Logged |

TimZeigler
PBS Member
Member # 171

posted August 20, 2010 08:50 AM
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Thanks Norm, thats the kind of info I was looking for. I know its been a widely controversial subject, and scouring the internet only returns mixed reviews as to use acetone or not, seal or not, epoxy or other glues. I appreciate the input and I have better feeling now about glueing up the material without fear of it coming apart in someones hands. I'll be using smooth-on for the glue up.

Thanks again,
Tim


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