Flight bow

Hopefully a nice short Turkey Bow


**You can click on any picture for a larger view**


 I came across these plans, someone at "Tradgang" had posted a link to the recurve plans also found on the "Vintage Projects" site.

"Build a Distance Flight Bow Plans" can be found here


I looked at the plans and thought, these were made back in 1960, so this would be considered a "Short Bow" back then.

Looking at the plans they didn't seem to be much different from a "SuperMAG 48."

So I started up Google Sketchup and started laying it out to see what I came up with.

I also did a "Supermag 48" to compare...

Sketchup is a nice tool, you can draw and print to scale for making patterns.

Well here is what I came up with after laying it out and then taking pics from the flight-bow. pdf putting them in Sketchup adjusting them to scale and measureing everything again.


Here is the Flight bow


*Click the pics for a larger view*


*In my layout you will see I moved the center of the handle up an 1/8".*



Here is the "SuperMag 48" for comparison 



Right now I'm waiting on a couple of shipments from "Bingham Projects, Inc"..


Here is the total on materials I have right now.


Lams with shipping $25.00 - From KennyM on Tradgang

Black .040 glass 2 strips $29.00 - Bingham Projects, Inc
Smooth-on 1 pint unit $16.50 - Bingham Projects, Inc
shipping on that order $12.50

Riser wood Sapele 2"x2"x24" $11.99 + $6.99 shipping - Woodcraft


Decided to go with airhose meathod

72" of hose with caps and clamps $36.16 + $6.50 shipping - Bingham Projects, Inc


Total $144.64


Could have saved $6.50 by ordering the hose at the same time as the glass but wasn't sure yet.


This is my first Lam bow and hopefully it goes well.


I'm almost thinking about extending it out another 3/4" on each side to get a 49" nock to nock bow.

I'm going to do the form with these instructions



4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" ply wood for the form was a freebie!


Revised the bow again....


Took the limbs out 1/2" on either side, looks smoother.




 Well here we go again, revised once more. I put it to scale once more in Sketchup, figuring,


"The plans have been designed by Frank Bilson, one of England's foremost archers, and in his capacity as head of the Yeoman Bow Company, a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers. These then are the plans and specifications of the Yeoman Flight Bow (Copyright 1960)"


Once put to scale again I noticed the measurements and the arc of the bow didn't really line up have a look




 So once again I did some adjusting, trying to stay true to the plans. Here is what I came up with now.



Today was my deadline for design, I hope to start the form tomorrow.

How to print to scale in Sketch-up

*File is about 2MB and is in PDF format*

Here is the Sketch-up file for the form and handle lay out.

Bow lay out to scale

You can get sketch-up free here



Well I may have cut my deadline short. This being my first lam bow and not really having a template  for the riser. I decided to cut a test riser from some cedar I had. Decided to go with cedar for it's easy to work. Good thing I did, had to go and refine the riser some. I will cut this one out and see where I am with it. Here is a picture of the riser I cut out and the new riser template

 I also began cutting my template for the form, out of some beadboard I had left over. I need to smooth it up and make sure everything is right.

I got my template for my form done today. I printed it out from sketchup traced it on the beadboard, cut it close with a bandsaw at work ( I don't have one yet, I think a Oscillating Spindle Sander will come first). then finished it with 80 grit by hand.


 I also cut out part of the new riser today, it looks like it will work, hope to have it done tomorrow.

Here is the pic of the bow with the new riser.

I have the new riser roughed out and I like the way it looks and feels.

 Here are some pics of the new roughedout test riser, I colored it with a black marker to see how and where the black glass would lay.

I also started to cut out the form with a router, I should have read KennyM's post again. Things got real confusings fast, with the offset of the router base. They say things happen for a reason and before I got to far my router bit broke in half. That was my fault it had slipped down a liitle and the shaft was riding on the wood for a few seconds. Anyway I noticed it and fixed the problem and got about an 8" cut done when it broke. So I went and got a pattern bit, no offset to deal with. Here is the bit I bought "Porter-Cable 43325PC 1/2 inch Pattern Cutting Template Bit" I would have rather had the 1/4" but it's all they had.

Here is a pic I took before things went wrong.

I'll try to pick back up on it tomorrow evening or Saturday. I'll be leaving town for a couple weeks on Sunday.

 Well I wen't back to the template making, used the MDF again, it's just to easy to work. I laid it out with the offset of my router base to bit 2 5/8".

If it were a R/D Long bow I could have just moved the template down the 2 5/8", but it being a Recurve the curves had to be down sized. Once the template was cut out again I got to work cutting it out with the router.

Here is a pic after the second one was cut out. I used the half template for the first one. Cut one limb flipped it over and cut the other. Then since I had bought the template bit I thought I would use it. No more flipping and hopefully less chances for mistakes.

There are two bottoms and a top cut out. For the top I just measured up 10" then cut it with a skill saw. It went well and they matched great. Then third was going great until about the last 3".

Broke bit again!!! I thought this being the third time I have ever used a router, the first two times was the failed attempts two days earlier on this form. It could just be me and it was I choose the wrong size shank for the job. I'm just glad it happened at the end. That brings the cost up another $25.00. I would suggest to anyone else to use a 1/2" shank bit when cutting 3/4" plywood.

I finished it off with a hand saw and will sand it smooth. Here they are all cut out.

I glued and clamped the bottom together, I glued it with Elmer's Probond wood glue it says it resists heat. Since it will be going in the heat box I thought that might be a good thing. So I will return in two weeks and unclamp it and then glue and clamp the top.

After reviewing the days events I'm thinking I'll have to reroute the tops again to get the 1 1/2" clearance when installed on the bottom. If so I'll need to take about another 1 1/4" off them. I'll check it out when I get back in a couple weeks. I hope I'm wrong.

 *Well, I have returned from my trip.*

I unclamped the bottom of the form and then glued and clamped the top together.

I still need to do the final smoothing of the bottom, and recut the top to get the clearance needed.

Then I need to build a heat box.

This Lam bow building is a lot of work, in the preparation phase.

I have 3 weeks to get this rolling before leaving again for 6 weeks.


My trips usually bring me a little extra money, so I bought a "Rigid oscillating spindle sander".

I wanted a oscillating spindle sander and a belt sander and this is both in one machine.


Back to the form I'm almost finished with it, after I smoothed it up on the spindle sander, needing more practice with the sander, I went back the the old ways of a sanding block. I borrowed some of my daughters sidewalk chalk to find the high and low spots in my form.

To get the curve where the risers is I just put the sand paper in the block around the curve instead of the flat side.


Here is the form with the top and bottom, note the top has not been cut to accommodate the belly side of the riser.

Now it has I traced my riser template onto the top, made a cut with a hand crosscut saw then took it to the spindle sander.


I now need to cut out the riser and do a dry run with everything installed to see if I'm going to have enough space between the forms. I have a little over a 1/2" right now, normally the correct space will be from 1" to 1 1/4", depending on the number of laminations used. This may just be me thinking to hard but since I'm glueing up a 2" wide bow with a 2" air hose I thought I might leave it shorter until I check it out.


I did sort of a dry run on the form with the hose, I think opening it up to an inch will be fine.

That is my test riser in there.


and the over hang. The form is 2 1/4" wide.

I'll open it up to and inch just to make sure everything stays inside the form.

 I rough cut the riser out, I'm using "Sapele".


Here is the rough cut riser with the test riser on top of it.

Here is the rough cut riser with my template glued to it.

and another.

Now I just need to sand to my template. Here is the riser sanded and fitted to the form, or actually I fitted the form to the riser.


I also got the braces on the form.

The top of the brace is bolted on and the bottom has quick disconnect pins.

So the form is finished, the riser almost ready, just need to do a dry run with everything in the form to double check everything.

Need to finish up the Heat box and I'll be ready. Here is the link to the heat box.

Heat Box


Okay, it's been awhile so here we go again. I almost have everything ready for glue up at this point.

I started to make a template to know how long to cut my glass and tapers. I used some clamps I pick up awhile back and think I will get some more and use these instead of an airhose. More on that later.




Then I needed to cut my glass and tapers to 50", my tapers where 36" plus a little to thick on the butt end. To get where I wanted to be .060, I cut 4" from the but ends.

Those are the Red Elm lams and some packing and other boards I was using while cutting. You can almost see the 4" marks.



Ever wonder how they will ship two 72" pieces of glass to you? I thought since I was paying extra for shipping it would come in a 72" flat box, I was wrong.



The finished bow will only be 1 3/4" wide but I'm glad I ordered the 2" glass. Once I got it out of the packaging, one piece had a hughe splinter pulling up from the edge and running about 1/8" toward the center of the glass and about 6" long. It was in a place that was not able to be cut off, but will be gone once the thinning from 2" to 1 3/4" begins.

Next I started doing dry runs and checking everything out.




2" blue painters tape on the back of the glass.

Oven heating up.

A note about doing a dry run, the dry run acts alot different than when the actual glue up begins. Once you have the glue on the lams and glass they enjoy sliding around, now throw some plastic wrap on that and you can't really see whats going on. Take your time I used Smooth-on and spent about a total of, guessing here, 20 to 25 mins getting everything glued and clamped in.

Time for the glue up, so I laid everything out.


I didn't get any pictures of the actual glue up, I was busy trying to hold everything together and my helper was getting tape and holding plastic wrap. When the actual glue-up started I found out quick I needed more hands it was a good thing I had my 3 year old daughter at home with me that day! To get the riser pressed down in the form and held in place I used strapping tape. I pressed it in by hand and things where slipping and sliding. My helper said "Dad, do you need a piece of tape?" I said "Yeah, cut me a piece about a foot long." it was then I reliezed  what I just said and needed more hands. I looked over and she was trying her best to get the end of the tape peeled back and she had the scissors at the ready. Once we got things worked out and the bow in the oven, we took a break and went swimming.


*The form does need 8 (4 per side) braces on it, I went with the 4 for now and added a rachet strap in the middle of the form before adding the air to the air hose. I went with 60psi in the hose. the other 4 braces should be places near the fades*

I cooked the bow for 6 hours at 150 degrees fahrenheit. Here is a picture of it after glue up.

Note the gap!!! left side belly of riser..

This is the opposite side of the riser where the gap is. No gap.

There were a number of things that need to be changed. The belly/back of the riser for one thing needs redesigned. I got some gaps in the glue up that I did not get in the dry runs.

Lesson # 1

I thought about this one in the beginning. I used the airhose method, the air hose is 2 1/2". I was glueing up a 2" recurve, to get equal pressure I could really only have a 1/2" gap between top and bottom form. I had about 1". I had gaps on the belly of the riser in the dips.

*I'll get a picture up that will explain this a little better. The blue painters tape when pressed will become slightly darker than the unpressed tape. On the belly of the bow you can see where the air hose pressed. At the end of the curves where tthe gap is about 1/2" you can see that it pressed the full 2" width.

Fix for lesson # 1

Come up with a clamping system.

Lesson # 2

Reduce tight curves, on the back of the riser I made a hump thinking it would help in getting lams and glass to accept the dips, in the back/belly of the riser.
I had gaps on the belly of the riser in the dips.

Fix for lesson # 2

redesign belly of riser..

Lesson # 3

Even though you are laminating there will still be spring back of the material once the glue up is done. I'm talking about the curves once the bow was cured I removed pressure and the limb tips sprang back about a 1/4" off the form.

Fix for lesson # 3

Account for some spring back in the form design.
Exaggerate the ending of the curves.

Lesson # 4

Dry and wet runs are different.

Fix for Lesson # 4

Go with your gut...

When I think of more I'll add them, I'll add pics later also.

I also learned the bow that is pictured in the PDF file is not the bow that is described in the text.

That's not true, the bow is pictured twice, the first pic of it being drawn..and then again where the finish is being applied.

I think the bow will be fine with the gap on the side, once the handle area is cut in. I'll get more pictures as I go.


Next thing to do is check the limbs for straightness and verify my center line. I use the weighted string to check my limbs and the center line I drew on the glass before I glued it up. Drawing the center line on the glass after I put the painters tape on before glue up, was a smart move I think.

Next is the limb layout,  The limb taper 1 3/4" to 7/8".

Lesson # 5

Using packing paper as a template, or any other thin paper is not a good idea. When bending the template into the curve it allows it to twist. I found this out after I had used it.

Fix for Lesson # 5

Use something like poster board.

Poster board in the picture.

Sand to the template.

This is part of the twist from the thin paper template. Alot of time could have been saved my using the poster board.

I used left over glass and lams for tip overlays.

After a little work and beginning tiller.

Tillering involed more than I thought it would. I was under the impression glue it up, cut it to profile and it's done. I was wrong, tiller didn't take long about an hour. I took the string off my supermag and strung up the turkey bow. The limbs were a bit twisted, I made sure my string nocks were even, this brought the string closer to center. The string was still off center, so looking at the bow from the belly the string would be off center to one side. To correct this I sanded the opposite side. Going slow and after sanding alittle I would pull the bow a little and check it again.  Here it is braced and pulled to about 27".

Picture makes it look a little strange, of course I'll get more up later.

I still need to shape the handle, tips and apply a finish.

Almost finished with the handle and tip shaping, here are some pictures.

I may have to reshape those not sure if I like it. Looks better without the string.

And another full draw picture.

Just need to smooth everything up, put the fine touches on the tips and handle, and apply a finish.

Finished sanding the handle area, getting all my dirty hand prints off the applied a coat of tru-oil, then shot it a bit to make sure the handle feels good. I used the old endless loop string from my supermag, the nock point isn't right. We'll get to making a string and set-up later, I was only making sure the handle was a good fit and limbs are tracking. It shoots as expected, I also checked draw weight and hit excatly what I was after 45# at 28". I also stuck on a bear hair rest that had to be trimmed.