Bending a piece of wood to turn it into a bow seems an impossible task at first – any strip of wood will break the moment you try to bend it. However, the secret to making bows for archery lies in steaming the wood, until it becomes soft, and pliable. The task is far from difficult, and using a couple of tools, it can easily be done at home.
- Steamer box
Firstly, begin by placing the piece of wood you have chosen into the steam box. When buying the steam box, make sure the size is such that your piece of wood fits in comfortably. Once you have put in the piece of wood, ensure that the steam box is sealed completely, and that there are no openings anywhere other than the hole at the bottom of the box for the steam, and another opening which lets the water out.
Bring your kettle up to a boil, and then position it so the spout is inserted into the steamer box though the opening. Allow the steam to fill the box – this will help in softening the wood so it becomes more pliable and easier to bend without risk of breaking.
Keep the kettle on full boil and keep it inserted in the box for around 30 to 60 minutes, allowing the steam to continue pouring into the box and softening the wood. Meanwhile, keep checking the water level in the kettle, and make sure there is plenty of water in there – if all of it boils off without anyone realising, the activity could result in a fire.
Image courtesy: americanwoodworker.com
Once 30 minutes have elapsed, turn the kettle off, open up the box, and take out the wood (keep yourself at a distance so you don’t get a faceful of steam the moment you open the box). Bend it to your desired shape – a bow. If you feel and hear some sort of resistance in the wood as you bend it, do not persist; put it back in the steamer box, and let it steam some more, to make it flexible.
After you have formed the wood into a bow, use clamps and a fixed object to hold it that way, and allow it to remain this way for up to a week (or however long it takes the wood to dry). Once it is completely dry, remove the clamps – your strip of wood will now have conformed to the bow shape.
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