Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Horn Bows => Topic started by: NorthHeart on February 15, 2018, 09:09:45 am

Title: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 15, 2018, 09:09:45 am
The first time i read about sheep horn bows i was immediately hooked, and knew it was just a matter of time until i built one.  I currently live in WY in the Shoshone National Forest where the natives built these bows and hunted with them.  I also happen to be 30 minutes away from Western artists Tom Lucas, who has built over 50 sheep horn bows in his lifetime.  As you can see this was simply meant to be, and i had little choice but to locate a set of horns, which i was finally able to do. )P(

Tom has been kind enough to walk me through the process and help me out.  He has also given me permission to post his method and pictures as we work.  I know there are other build along threads, some of which provided me inspiration up to this point.  I will build this particular bow using Toms method, however I'm up for all comments and suggestions.  It's possible that i'll be moving to MT half way through this build.  Toms goal for me is to at least get the horns straightened before i leave, then i can add the sinew later.

Hopefully when its done ill have a functional sheep horn bow of hunting capability.

Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: timmyd on February 15, 2018, 09:15:46 am
really looking forward to this one. Thanks for doing it.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: JWMALONE on February 15, 2018, 09:15:58 am
I gotta see this. Good luck and good shooting.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: Pat B on February 15, 2018, 09:30:57 am
240, I'm moving this to the Horn Bow section so you can get advise from others who build these bows.
 Looking forward to your build along.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: bjrogg on February 15, 2018, 12:37:33 pm
240 that's great and I will be watching. Very much enjoyed the video of Tom I watched.
Bjrogg
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 15, 2018, 09:09:09 pm
Ever since i joined PA website i've had problems with my account for some reason.  There was no "Horn Bows" section on my screen, i never even knew this section existed, now its like a whole new world to explore haha!  Thanks to Stickhead and Pat B for doing some kind of wizardry and getting me all squared away.

Now back to sheep horn bows!  Keep in mind as your reading this that i put opinions throughout that aren't necessarily my own based on experience, rather little tidbits of information that either Tom told me, or that i read somewhere else.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 15, 2018, 09:33:33 pm
The first step is to get your horns.  I was able to locate a set at an antique store.  You don't want a set that has been dry rotted in the sun.  This is why mounts that have been kept inside are good candidates.  Now keep in mind all this is/was all new to me, and i'm no sheep expert, so ill go through some of the concerns i faced when finding a set.  First off think of the horns cross section as a triangle.  What we care about is the side that faces up at the base and continues on back down the horn.  In other words, if you were to put your finger right in between the horns in the middle of the sheep's forehead, the surface closest to your fingers that runs up and back over the head is the surface that provides the bow limb.  The other 2 sides don't matter, you can salvage them for tip overlays or other projects, but if there are cracks and damage in them it is of no consequence to the bow. 

Lets talk wild vs domestic.  Your wild sheep candidates (to my best knowledge) include Bighorn, Desert, Dall and Stone.  I have read that the Dall are thinner and have less material to work with.  I was told that the domestic breeds are even thinner and have more curls, therefore you fight the issue of your limbs wanting to twist back into their original shape.  This is an issue with any sheep horn but apparently more so with domestic sheep horns.  The consensus was domestic might work, but expect a lighter draw weight bow(even having said this i have located a domestic set of horns i might end up trying just for fun).  A good set of wild sheep horns will run $300-$600.  You want to look for cracks that may indicate someone using a hammer to remove the horn, or cracks from where they have been fighting.  Now, the first thing i noticed is that all these horns have surface cracks, and some imperfections from fighting or just how the horn grew.  What were concerned with is true cracks running into the core of the horn.  I used an LED flashlight to carefully inspect down into the cracks to see how deep they went, some were almost 1/4" deep but angled in a manner so as not to go straight down into good horn.  This is the first place where having some prior bowyer knowledge helps, being able to identify what will "rasp out" and what might be a deal killer.  I was told by other sources its always a bit of a gamble and you never "really" know what you'll find inside.  Keeping this in mind, I spent the better part of 30 min analyzing the set, sweating bullets, and then eventually pulling the trigger and deciding to give them a shot.

The pics are a bighorn sheep(darker horn first pic) vs a domestic sheep(lighter color second pic).  I was actually told the lighter set was Desert sheep by the seller but Tom didnt think it so and i passed on them(im open for any opinions on this set from any sheep experts here).  As i understand it the color is not necessarily indicative of one being wild vs domestic it just happens to be the case on these pics.  I actually found another set of Bighorn or Desert sheep(not sure which) that is more of a light brown tan color, not the dark grey color.  I might actually pick that set up too for another bow. :BB
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 16, 2018, 10:01:14 am
The first thing we did was cut the skull in half down the middle giving us 2 separate pieces to work with. We then cut the horns in half length ways on the band saw.  Tom demonstrated and did the first horn by eye.  I did the second one at home on my band saw.  We marked my horn with a pencil down each side, we error slightly further away from the side which will serve as the bow, knowing that we can take more material off but not add back on if i ruin the cut.  Unless your skilled with a band saw you might wish to use a hack saw for this.  I just went slowly, constantly pausing to look at the underside where the blade came out.  If you use a band saw make sure you use a thin blade with smaller teeth that can cut hard material like horn without "catching".  I ran into an issue where the height of the opening where the band saw blade passes wasn't tall enough for the widest part of the horn to pass through, so i clamped the horn in a vise and came back from the other direction with a hack saw to complete the cut.

After this we remove the remainder of the skull which runs up into the horn.  This is carefully pried out by tapping a screwdriver or similar device down in between the bone and the horn.  We take our time and work it slowly so that when we pry we don't crack the horn.  After we remove the skull from the horn we go back to the band saw and remove more material from the sides (working from the inside of the horn).  We eventually transition to a rasp for removing the final "lips" off the side.  The idea is to work it down flat to where the thickness is even all the way across.  Next we work the outter surface with a rasp to remove all the tiny cracks and imperfections so that we are left with solid usable horn.  I ended up using a belt sander in stead of a rasp to accomplish the same thing as Tom for the both the inner surface and outer surface.  Use whatever tool your most comfortable with.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 16, 2018, 10:07:24 am
Getting the horn down to uniform thickness.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 16, 2018, 10:11:06 am
This is what the horn looks like when its thinned down.  Id estimate thickness somewhere around 1/2"-5/8" of an inch or so.  Work the back side and underside almost all the way out to the tip of the horn.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 16, 2018, 10:23:29 am
Once the horn is thinned down we will soak it in hot water for 5days, 15days, however long it takes to get pliable so that we can bend and shape it.  The first picture shows a horn which needs to be thinned down more vs a horn thats ready to soak.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: wizardgoat on February 16, 2018, 12:03:41 pm
Nice to see you on here Shelton. Good luck on your build. Hereís a link to a build I did on here a while back. One thing Iíll add, thicker horn bows are much more stable than thinner cores in this style of bow, so try and keep it thick. This was my first horn bow, and itís still a shooter, but needs some ďlimb trainingĒ every now and then.
http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,53905.0.html
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: Parnell on February 16, 2018, 01:03:14 pm
Very fun!  Looking forward to watching this progress.  I have Tom's video somewhere.  Exciting post.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: bjrogg on February 16, 2018, 01:04:15 pm
Thanks for the build along here 240, very interesting and thanks for the link Wizardgoat
 bjrogg 
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 16, 2018, 01:26:57 pm
Nice to see you on here Shelton. Good luck on your build. Hereís a link to a build I did on here a while back. One thing Iíll add, thicker horn bows are much more stable than thinner cores in this style of bow, so try and keep it thick. This was my first horn bow, and itís still a shooter, but needs some ďlimb trainingĒ every now and then.
http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,53905.0.html
Hi Ryan. Now that i can access the horn bows section i get to check out your build!  In your experience, is the draw weight based more on the thickness of the core, or the amount of sinew on the back?  And regarding limb training do you mean that the braced profile changes, and then you work the limbs back to where they should be?  Ill be learning a lot about the characteristics of a horn bow with this build.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: wizardgoat on February 16, 2018, 01:46:34 pm
By limb training I mean the bow is very unstable and can sometimes show a weak limb, you can squeeze the weak limb against the string when braced and it will even itself out after a few squeezes. 
My second horn bow is much thicker, and much more stable. Draw weight is a combination of horn and sinew thickness of course, but amount of reflex is a big factor too.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: mullet on February 16, 2018, 06:21:04 pm
240, thank you for the build along. I was working in Pocatello last summer and went to the Shoshone Reservation Museum on some time off. I bought a book about the Sheepeaters and it was mostly about Tom and his bows and High Altitude explorations of the early campsites and soapstone bowls. A fascinating read.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: Traxx on February 16, 2018, 06:53:51 pm
I met Tom,years ago,,through my mother,who is an artist as well.We didnt discuss horn bows though,,mostly about Packing and Cowboyin...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 17, 2018, 01:15:06 pm
Mullet- no problem sir!

Wizardgoat- i read your build along and really enjoyed it.  I noticed you didnt soak the horn.  So for all your horn shaping you used dry heat?  With what, a heat gun?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 19, 2018, 06:02:58 pm
Another day working with Tom.  My horns which were soaking for about 6 days weren't flexible enough yet, so we did a set he was already working on.  We use a clamp padded with a piece of thin wood to hold down the front, then lash the rest of the horn down using a strong rope.  The horn lies flat to the 2x4 for the most part, however there are parts where it isn't perfectly flat and for this we go back after the lashing is all tied and we clamp over another piece of wood.  We do both limbs the same way.  The very tip of the sheep horn has a tendency to twist, so after its lashed we use a crescent wrench to straighten it.  Any sided to side discrepancy we fix by tapping the horn straight with a dowel.  I ask Tom why not just use a series of clamps all the way down and forgo the lashing.  He tells me hes been down that road and prefers this method because he can see what the horn is doing and make corrections easier.  He also mentions the lash method was probably how the Shoshone did it as he cant imagine another way they could have.  Its a shame none of their methods or secrets were kept alive by their descendants, the way i speculate it, Toms method is likely as close as well ever get.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 19, 2018, 06:14:52 pm
Notice the crack running down along the horn in the first pic.  This will be filled with thin CA glue, then over again with thick CA glue, finally hide glue will go down in it before the sinew is glued down.  If i haven't mentioned it before, the inside of the horn will be the bows BACK, to be covered in sinew.  The outside of the horn serves as the belly of the bow. 

After both horns are lashed they are set behind the stove inside the house.  It gets warm there, but not hot.  In the summer they could be left in the shop, but with temperatures here being below freezing, they wouldn't cure and would just freeze.  Tom estimates about a month for them to dry, emphasizing the importance of making sure they are fully dry before removing the lashing so they don't try and bend back.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build
Post by: NorthHeart on February 19, 2018, 06:22:31 pm
More sheep horns lurking in hot water, beckoning to become bows!  The water is kept on medium heat and topped off daily.  Its too hot to keep your hand in, but not boiling. 

Twice now i have seen these horns glued onto the skull serving as a mount.  We leave this glue/epoxy on as they soak, to be addressed later after they are flattened out.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: wizardgoat on February 20, 2018, 01:01:28 am
Coming along nicely! No I didnít soak them. I boiled for 8-10 minutes and straight into the caul. About 3/8 thick at that point
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Redhand on February 22, 2018, 08:31:41 pm
Great build along 240.  You are learning from one of the great ones.
When I was straightening the horns for my bow I soaked the horns in water for 2 weeks.
I didn't heat up the water I might have to try that on the next bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Aaron H on February 25, 2018, 09:25:32 am
Very cool!  You are lucky to have such a great teacher when it comes to this style of horn bow.  I am watching with great interest.

Also, does your screen name stand for Nissan, BMW, and Dodge?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 25, 2018, 09:52:57 am
I am truly fortunate to be learning from Tom, i agree.  I showed up at his gallery many times to both admire his work and show him my bows which he enjoyed discussing.  He said he could tell how enthusiastic and serious i was about the horn bow.  And when he said i could share his methods(and i asked him multiple times if it was ok) i knew pics and a buid along were in order.  He said he doesnt want to die with his secrets and would rather pass them on.  Pretty awesome.  So i go to his shop everyday im off work.  Next week we will be lashing down my horns assuming i can get off the mountain, as they are now soft enough.  He actually plans to hunt deer this season with his horn bow, which i must say is pretty darn cool.

Aaron H- yes sir!  Its in reference to 3 of the vehicles that had an influence on me when i was younger and in the "car tuning" scene.  I actually considered something more fitting when i signed onto PA, but im somewhat forgetful, and if i use the same screen name on all the forums then all i have left to remember is my password:)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: High-Desert on February 25, 2018, 10:48:11 am
What a great build along. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I was way off on your screen name, I saw it and thought it was a military reference to the 240 machine gun and search and rescue team.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 25, 2018, 02:32:07 pm
What a great build along. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I was way off on your screen name, I saw it and thought it was a military reference to the 240 machine gun and search and rescue team.

I like your thought process!  I tried for the Marines at 18 and again for the Army at 32.  I had Airborne Rangers on my contract and was medically discharged for an eye related issue.  Im currently looking into possibilities of the French Foreign Legion.  Being fully capable and being told i cant do my dream, well that simply doesnt work for me. 

But the next best thing has been pursing bow building and my passions related to the outdoors.  Being in the wilds of WY, and about to move to Montana, i suppose im doing ok:)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on February 25, 2018, 10:18:05 pm
Good to see you on here Shelton. Nice country where you live. I was in Jackson last week.  When I get my horns cut for the first time I soak them in cold water for 3 days and then boil them for no more than 12 minutes. without soaking them they do not soften in the boiling water to flatten. Then I just leave them strapped to a board for a couple days.
 I think of the few people who make bighorn bows Tom is maybe the closest to how the natives did it. I also use methods from 2000 years of written history of asian horn bow makers to my advantage. For example I use heat for much of the final tillering. From what I have seen Tom just scrapes his for the tiller.
 I'm looking forward to seeing your completed bow later this year.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 26, 2018, 09:42:51 am
Chuck, i appreciate the suggestions regarding horn.  My future bows might be a combination of Toms methods and yours.  I dont want to rush anything, however im all about saving time and getting better results if the 2 can happen simultaneously.  Thats efficiency.

So let me make sure i understand.  After you cut the horn you soak it for 3 days in cold water, boil it for only 12 min and immediately strap it to the board, and then remove it in 2 days.  So that entire process happens in only 5 days time?   Do you ever encounter any issues with the horn "giving back" or twisting back to its original shape? 

Regarding heat for tillering...is this before of after the sinew is applied?  If after, do you not have to worry about scorching the hide glue and sinew from where the heat sinks through the horn from the belly side?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: wizardgoat on February 26, 2018, 01:28:41 pm
Once your at the final stage tillering, it takes less than 5 seconds with a heat gun  to get what you need.
Thereís a lot of bridges to cross with building these bows, cross them as they come or the whole process can seem very intimidating.
Iíve never soaked my horns, just boiled for 10 minutes and strapped it down to a form.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on February 27, 2018, 10:56:00 am
Ryan, I start with mine as thick and wide as I can before flattening them to cut the straightest section I can later. Like Shelton's size in his photos. If I don't soak that size it will not soften.

Shelton, it's important to use really good glue. You can make it yourself with clean sinew scraps cooked in water 120-140f for 6-10 hours covered. You add just enough water to just cover the sinew.  Hide glue forms more complex bonds over the course of a year+. If you use heat to adjust tiller it is important to let those bonds form for 6 months oor the sinew may slip. I don't use a heat gun. A electric burner or heat pad works better. Heat it slowly to penetrate the horn without making it brittle.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 27, 2018, 09:23:29 pm
You two men are giving me some extremely valuable advice, and it is highly appreciated.

I got some sinew scraps on the way from the trade section of this forum.  Chuck, why do you believe that sinew glue is the best way to go vs. glue made from hide or Knox gelatin?  Whats the difference i thought it was all the same stuff.

I just bought a used burner today(large flat type roughly 12"x20").  It adjusts 225 degrees up to 425.  Would 225 degrees be ideal for the horn, and to clarify are you saying to lay the horn/sinew bow on it or just horn?  And im still hoping you will confirm if you do all the initial steps discussed in your previous post in only 5 days time with no issues "giving back" or re-twisting of the horn.

I also bought a used crock pot today for making sinew glue:)  And a huge pan that i hope will fit my next set of horns...Chuck ;)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 27, 2018, 09:31:49 pm
Today my horns are soft enough to bend.  We clean the glue from the inner area now that is soft with a concave chisel.  Tom demonstrates how to bend the horn so you can tell its ready, and he uses his pocket knife to show how soft it is.  If your new to horn bows as i am, this is the only way i can explain it, at first its hard as concrete, after soaking it has the consistency of rubber...its mind boggling i had to bend the horn 20 times before i mentally accepted it wasnt going to snap in half.

I get the privilege of having Toms help while i lash them down.  We us the methods mentioned previously to accomplish this.  Now they will sit by his fireplace indoors for about a month.  The next step will be to narrow the horn to bow dimensions and then to splice them together.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 27, 2018, 09:33:26 pm
See my hand in the pic.  Promise i did some work this time not just watching.  In fact i lashed all the horn with a bit of help holding it down and tying knots courtesy of Tom.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: hoosierf on March 01, 2018, 07:26:37 am
Great build along. Thanks so much for the investment of your time. I see that the horn is lashed down with what will become the back up?  Any reason for that orientation?  I would have guessed you would be able to get it flatter with the belly side up.  Thx
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on March 02, 2018, 10:37:13 am
As far as the memory of the horn and some twist coming back the answer is sometimes. Some horns stay straight and some retwist. After the first straightening I find where the bow lays in the horn and cut that out. Then remove some twist with a table sander to try and get it as straight and flat as possible. Then reheat and shape the bow again.

You don't want to put the horn or sinew on a burner. Hold it above always moving it to slowly heat it for a few minutes.
Ryan is just braver than I am using a heat gun. I heat slower just in case.

For homemade glue sinew is just easier as hide scraps are kind of greasy. I once only had a small amount of my glue and mixed it with knox and it worked well. Making glue is pretty time consuming. I also buy it. The best I have found is from Brooklyn Tool and Craft. I can't put a website here but you can look it up. I get the 315 g strength but have been told the lower GS glue is just as strong and some prefer it. Any half ass hide glue will work on wood for sinew backing but horn does not accept glue like wood and also bends further so is under more stress. The best glue should be used for the first layer on the horn. The next layers are bonding to sinew and stick easier.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 03, 2018, 08:47:28 am
Great build along. Thanks so much for the investment of your time. I see that the horn is lashed down with what will become the back up?  Any reason for that orientation?  I would have guessed you would be able to get it flatter with the belly side up.  Thx

There is one thing i can come up with.  The cross section of the horn naturally slopes down at each side.  By lashing it with this side "up" (which will be the back), the rope can pull down on the sides and flatten the curve a bit.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: wizardgoat on March 04, 2018, 11:01:34 am
My last horn bow probably had 15-20 small heat gun sessions, and very little horn removal.
I use the low setting on my gun, and it literally take 3 or 4 seconds to get what you need.
I only aim it at the horn, and gently flex it as I heat it. As soon as I feel it give a little I clamp it down.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 08, 2018, 11:17:33 am
No work could be done on the horns this week as they continue to dry naturally.  I did stop by Toms gallery and had a look at a few pieces that were being put back into the display case from a recent photo shoot.  I bought his biography, and as i learn more about his life it makes the privilege of learning the horn bow from him even greater.  Ill be Montana bound at the beginning of April.  If i am very lucky (and the horn cooperates) we might even have sinew on the back.  We shall see.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 23, 2018, 11:05:38 pm
Just a recap, i'm working on 2 sets of horn bows for myself.  Some of the pics are of a third set that Tom is building for a customer.  My large horns soaked for 14 days and were then strapped to a board.  My smaller set soaked for only 9 days and were strapped down.  For 25 days we let them dry near a fireplace in Toms care.  Without the fire you may wish to go a bit longer just to be safe. 

Next we cut the edges off the horn, leaving us with the bows limbs.  Tom prefers to lay a measuring stick down the center and mark with a pencil down each side, leaving approximately 1-1/8" wide limbs.  He prefers to cut outside the lines to be safe using his bandsaw.  I do mine, and go "extra safe" leaving them 1-1/2" wide.  I got them thinned down in thickness somewhat comparable to his.  He likes using a rasp.  Im a bit more comfortable with a belt sander, being very careful to leave extra material until he can check my progress.

Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 23, 2018, 11:08:30 pm
cutting and thinning....
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 23, 2018, 11:10:09 pm
A good days work.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: DC on March 24, 2018, 10:01:14 am
At this point, they look to be 1/2" thick, can you bend them by hand, over your knee? Do they bend at all?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 24, 2018, 11:33:13 pm
DC-they are still quite stiff and i would be afraid to try and bend them on my knee at this point.  But they do flex a bit when you rasp over the part hanging over the edge of the vice.

Today another session of thinning, to remove the inner "flaky stuff", and to match the outer surface accordingly.  They are getting close to the point of being ready to splice.  Tom gave me the option to leave the tips natural or wack them off.  I told him i never built a horn bow before and for him to decide.  He said they just get in the way and hang off the end, this is because we will be using the thicker part down away from the tip for our nocks.  Tom has had bows in the past where the tip was too thin and when shot the string flew past the limb and "debraced" the bow.  I looked at a picture of one of his earlier bows where he left the tips full length, and then sinewed horn pieces on each side near the tip to essentially widen the limb and prevent this.  Ive also seen sinew wraps made into donuts to accept the string loop, and i imagine one could just keep wrapping the area in question to make it thicker, but with that also comes more mass near the tips, by cutting the tips off we remove mass.  In the end i told him these are "Tom Lucas" style bows.  We cut off the tips.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: hoosierf on March 25, 2018, 01:57:08 pm
Cool, cool, cool!
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: burchett.donald on March 25, 2018, 06:51:22 pm
   Enjoying this build...Out of my league, but learning... (-P
                                                                                          Don
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Parnell on March 27, 2018, 09:13:25 am
Great thread.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Redhand on March 27, 2018, 04:02:57 pm
Great progress 240!
These bows take a lot of time to build.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 29, 2018, 10:44:05 pm
Thanks for the comments guys.  I'm glad y'all are getting as much out of this thread as i am by making it. :)

Now comes the first part that has really given me some grief, getting the splices right so that each limb mates up properly to the other.  Not to make anyone shy away from this, and if your experienced with splices this might not be anything new to you.  Both limbs should butt up flat against one another, but i went a bit too deep on one horn making it convex as opposed to flat.  It was then that i heard the dreaded words of Tom Lucas..."oh my"...followed up by the worse yet "my, my, my" and its at this point that one realizes they have wandered far astray from the path.  Luckily for me there was enough material so that my mistake was fixable by the master.  Yes, again i am humbled.

Note-i am not sure how else to explain this, but you will be working down one angle of your splice on the "belly side" of one limb and on the "back side" of the other.  Remember, your inside of the horn is the back of the bow which will be covered with sinew.  The outside part of the horn is the belly.  Always keep this in the back of your mind, as its easy to get confused as your building your bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 29, 2018, 10:57:01 pm
I want to pause a minute and really make a point.  The splice was the first step that made me really slow down and pay attention more than ever, especially after my close call.  Your splices must be good, or don't continue further until they are. When viewed from either side of the limb they must be even, not perfect but very close.  Some small gap or "daylight" is ok, but only just a little bit, as the hide glue will fill this area when its clamped.  Also, on my second bow i found it much easier to do the rough work by marking the horn and then laying it on a belt sander with a medium grit belt and applying pressure slowly and cautiously, checking my work frequently. Once you realize the spot where you need to remove material to close the gap, apply pressure only to that area.  Or, clamp it in a vice and use a file or rasp for the fine fitment work.

If you elect to use a sanding belt, remember to rough up the surface with a ferrier's rasp or similar so it is not too smooth...this way the hide glue will stick.  Tom calls this "giving it tooth".
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 29, 2018, 11:09:20 pm
Once your splice job mates up nicely the next step is to splice the handle together with hide glue.  Tom uses a double boiler so that the glue doesn't burn.  He also only used distilled or bottled water, never tap.  Here is one part where i was too slow to capture a proper picture.  He simply dips the one horn in at one splice surface(yes it drips messily down the other side, no worries), then he dips his bare hand in the glue and quickly coats the other side...and fastens them together with 3 small C-clamps.  We use light pressure so that the hide glue just barely squeezes out.  Do not use more pressure than just enough to hold them snugly together or you risk squeezing out too much glue.  Within the time it takes to do this(30 sec to a minute) the glue is already starting to gel and harden up, Tom says this is ok.  After you glue it up use a stick or your hand to spread more glue along all 4 side edge seams.  Let it dry for a day.

Note-the first pic is without glue, use your small clamps to see ahead of time how its gonna fit together BEFORE you glue it up.

Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 29, 2018, 11:45:55 pm
Now its starting to look like a bow!  Note the natural deflex shape, ohh so pretty.  Tom assures me that by the time the sinew is added it will attempt to pull it back into reflex, but that comes later.  Be careful, don't flex that center section just yet, we still need to add a horn plate on the belly side only in order to reinforce it, then we will wrap the entire handle area with sinew.  In order to make your belly handle piece, you need a flat piece of scrap horn.  Tom uses curved scrap from the side of the horn we cut at the beginning, heats it by holding it it 2-3" over the electric stove while constantly flipping it, and then clamps it between two 2x6's in a vice until its flattened completely out.  I did not witness this part, he already had a few done this way.  Cut your handle piece roughly to the dimensions of the bow (approx 1.5"x 4.25") to be safe.

Then the work begins.  You have to work down the now glued-up handle section of your horn bow in a concave manner naturally following the contour of the belly.  This one is hard for me to explain, so hopefully my pics can.  Then you make the horn plate convex to mate up to it.  Hold it up to a window or something light behind it to check the gap, remember only a little light or space can remain(like a millimeter or less).  Then thin down the ends of the plate so that it will flex a bit when you clamp them down with your small clamps, allowing them to mate up nicely to the belly surface of the bow.

Note-the second pic still needs signifigantly more material removed.  The 3rd and 4th pics are a different bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 29, 2018, 11:52:47 pm
Making the horn plate for the belly side of the handle.  In the 3rd pic this is the rough version which must be thinned substantially more, especially at the ends so it can flex a bit when clamped.  It will end up 1/8" thick or so, and obviously a bit thicker at the middle.  Overlap the ends of the splice a little bit as pictured.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 30, 2018, 12:03:22 am
So now you've got the belly side of the limb splice worked down and ready to accept the horn plate.  For this step, Tom puts the handle plate on the same way as he spliced the limbs together.  Dip it in the hide glue and then rub the spliced horn belly with glue...again all messy like.  Then use your 3 clamps and repeat what you did before, applying light pressure to just barely squeeze the glue out.  Let it set for a day.  Its freezing outside, so we set ours indoors by the stove, not too close just so its warm.  3 bows side by side, ready for the next step.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 30, 2018, 12:26:18 am
On my smaller bow one of the tips was a bit off to one side.  We rotated it over a hot stove for a minute or two, then with gloves on, applied pressure by hand to bend it back the appropriate direction just a bit.  On this bow Tom gave me the option to add the small slivers of horn to each side, effectively allowing us to make the strings nocks a bit further out than we could other wise, for slightly longer bow.  If we do in fact go this route we will sinew these little "side slivers" onto the limb.  More to come...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on April 02, 2018, 02:47:24 pm
Thanks for sharing your journey on these bows.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: GlisGlis on April 04, 2018, 08:55:41 am
great reading and watching! thankyou  :OK
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:30:23 pm
We work the handles down being mindful of the splice.  Grip it snugly in a vice, applying the vice clamps from the belly and back.  Later, we flip it width-wise and hold it by the sides of the limb close up near the handle, so that the handle sticks out past the vice and so that you can work on it without too much moving of the rest of the limb.  Furthermore, you can place a block of wood underneath the limb extending outwards so that when pressure is applied downward it helps support it.

We also glue our slivers of horn to the outer 3rd of the limb to thicken it so that the string comes to rest at an area of great thickness.  The outer thirds of our horn bows will not bend.

I mark a circle around any thin areas of the limb so as not to remove any more material there as the rasp slides by.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:33:53 pm
................
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:37:03 pm
We straighten the tips more over the stove.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:38:43 pm
We glue down and secure the side piece on each limb...opposing sides.  We lash it just to look at it.  Then we work the limb side a bit so they mate up nicely, then glue it with hide glue.  Later the edges are worked down so that it blends right in and you would hardly know its there.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:51:16 pm
Small gaps like on the side pieces can be filled with TB commercial hide glue.  For the important hide glue for the back sinew we use the hand made stuff.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:53:56 pm
We finish the other bow handle.  These 3 sets of handle lashings you see are to secure it for added insurance so that the splice doesn't come apart while were working on the bow, and so that there is even less possibility that it will pull apart when the back sinew starts to dry the bow into reflex.

I have been pulling apart a lot of sinew to get ready for the upcoming step of sinewing the back.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 02:58:24 pm
We roughen up the back of the limbs all the way out to the tips to prepare it for sinew.  We go in between the handle sinew wraps and even file it slightly, so that the back sinew will want to stick.  We don't use alcohol or acetone or anything to prep it, we do however try not and touch it so our hands to not contaminate it. 
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 03:33:00 pm
The big day arrives for the back sinew to be applied.  By the time i arrive Tom had already done his bow earlier that morning.  Next we do mine.  3 layers total.  The bow is strapped over a board into deflex and tied off at the tips.  For sinew soaking, Tom prefers NOT to put it in water, but to lay it in bundles between two damp towels overnight.  It is fully hydrated but not over hydrated.  When you squeeze it no water drips from it and your finger is left just barely damp. 

We have hide glue already warmed up on the double boiler.  The hide glue is hot to the point its almost too hot to touch, it gels pretty quickly when its applied.  We size the bow one limb at a time right before the first sinew goes on.  He dips the sinew bundles in the hide glue then light wipes them off to leave some glue on.  He doesnt work it into each strand with his fingers or anything, at least not to the extent that i have done when doing my sinew/wood bows with TB3 wood glue.  Obviously it wont matter, as Tom is not one to take short cuts.

My sinew bundles are not so nice an uniform as his are, so they don't go down quite as smooth, he says that wont matter.  He flattens them to cover the entire width of the limb, then overlaps the next section 3-4" over the first.  The last layer is essentially built up down the middle, left a bit higher and narrow.  Out of all the work we have done so slowly and carefully up to this point he is working super fast here.  He explains that with the gelling of the glue there is not time to go slower, or for any delicate work like using a comb or such.  The overall process takes him less than 10 min.  He is very adimant about doing it this way...he does not like a cold joint(where you come back later and apply the hide glue over already hardened glue). Its thick and messy, but it should lay down and flatten out as it dries.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 03:34:39 pm
.....
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 03:36:11 pm
......
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 05, 2018, 03:39:50 pm
Here is my bow freshly sinewed next to Toms.  If youve been following along, its the flatter(less deflexed) and longer of the two that we are building for me.  You can see the difference between mine and his, partly because his glue has dried out a bit more and flattened.  And partly because his sinew piles were more uniform in length and better organized than the ones i provided.  Again he assures me this is aesthetic and mine will function just fine.  The bows will dry for about a month before removing them from the form they are strapped down to.  We will do my other bow tomorrow hopefully.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: DC on April 06, 2018, 10:32:14 am
Why are they tied into deflex? Most sinew bows I've seen are pulled into reflex to dry.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 06, 2018, 04:50:49 pm
DC-Tom doesnt like them reflexed.  Says they will still pull into a bit of reflex after talking them off the boards anyhow.  But they will be easier to string, and will be less likely to debrace after the shot when the string comes back forward.  Maybe ill experiment with letting them reflex a bit more on future hornbows that i build.

Today we sinewed my second bow.  Time to let it dry.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: GlisGlis on April 07, 2018, 04:09:06 am
cant wait for the sinew to cure.
this is a super interesting thread  :OK
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Oglala Bowyer on April 07, 2018, 01:45:15 pm
It looks like both bows have all the layers of sinew on already. Is this true?  Some people will add a layer and wait a few days before another is applied and continue this until they have 5-6 layers. How many layers have you put on?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 08, 2018, 11:19:16 am
Oglala- yes both my horn bows already have all the sinew applied, 3 layers total, overlapping at the ends.  Im told this should be enough for a 40-50# bow, and by adding more layers we risk having a super heavy draw weight.  Tom prefers to do all layers at once so that they adhere appropriately and the glue from one layer absorbs right down into the next.  This means we have to work fast, and the sinew job isn't as pretty as some iv'e seen where people do multiple layers one at a time, or slowly apply each strand.  I guess we will see how it turns out when its dried. 

Since i choose to use Toms help from the beginning, i wanted to complete these bows using as much of his advice as possible.  I know that it can be frustrating to a mentor whenever an apprentice wants to do something his own way that he has no experience with, like these horn bows.  One of the issues he had was that my sinew was not prepared as neatly as his, so the completed sinew job was a little less nice(he was fighting tangles with mine) than on the bow he was making for a customer(the third bow in some of the pics).  However, in my own defense, I never realized that there was a better, neater way to process sinew into more organized strands like his.  Now i do. So if the sinew back doesn't turn out as good as it could have we know why.  He did the best he could using his method and my poorly organized sinew bundles.  He does however leave each bundle where its obvious he layered them, says that's normal on his bows. 

There is another question i have regarding sanding down the sinew.  Tom never sands his, but as previously mentioned his final layers usually look a bit nicer than mine. I personally have sanded sinew on my wood bows down so that it looks nicer and applies more even stress on each limb.  I know that sanding through sinew probably somewhat reduces its benefits, but what i'm referring to are the outer layers...or somewhere where its vastly uneven and thick.  Also, i will not hesitate to add a strip of sinew in where there is a void after the fact.  But i mainly use TB3, and am still a novice to hide glue.  Ill be interested in looking at how others apply their sinew on horn bows. 

I pick up both bows from Toms place tomorrow as i depart for Montana.  I will post pics on how they look as the sinew dries and flattens down to the bow more.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on April 09, 2018, 11:17:31 pm
I'm going to give this build-a-long a A+. This is the best step by step I have ever seen for these bows. I'm not going to question someone's methods just because I do it another way. I will say, if you want a smoother sinew application you can use a comb to comb all the fibers straight before dipping it in sinew. If need be you can use the comb while laying it on the back too. One of the reasons I don't apply all the sinew at one time is I use 3 to 4+ ounces of dry processed sinew( 8 layers). When this much sinew dries it will draw up into canyons on the back. I try to do it in 3 applications over 3 weeks.
 I saw someone question the deflex application. This will decrease the early draw of the bow but I have read an old accounts of this method being used on old plains bows. I can not remember the exact region. I would need to go back and find this info.
 Nice work! This will help anyone in the future make one of these bows on the first try.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Oglala Bowyer on April 10, 2018, 06:36:15 am
No judgement here Chuck.  I was just curious about the sinew application because Iíve seen others use the ďall at once methodĒ and the ďone by one methodĒ and wanted to know what the difference is.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Aaron H on April 10, 2018, 11:12:01 am
Excellent build.  Thanks for taking is along.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on April 10, 2018, 12:14:52 pm
+1 about this thread.It's fun to read because it's presented well.The question about the deflex position for a period of time.Horn is more elastic than wood and sinew can move it easier.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on April 11, 2018, 10:35:01 am
I hear you Oglala. All at once has only worked up to 3 layers for me. More I have issues with but it sounds like the total backing is only going to be 3 on this bow. The comment was not aimed at you. More at me seeing things done another way than how I do it. I'm personally taking notes here to add to my bag of tricks.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Oglala Bowyer on April 11, 2018, 11:16:32 am
I'm thinking of using a combination of both for my horn bow project.  Slight deflex followed by the one by one approach.  That way I feel I can work at a safer pace for myself.  I'm thinking of using 5-6 layers of sinew.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Redhand on April 11, 2018, 04:43:46 pm
I would have to agree with chuck this is a A+ build along. 
Thanks 240 for taking us along on your journey to a great bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 14, 2018, 12:02:59 am
I'm going to give this build-a-long a A+. This is the best step by step I have ever seen for these bows. I'm not going to question someone's methods just because I do it another way. I will say, if you want a smoother sinew application you can use a comb to comb all the fibers straight before dipping it in sinew. If need be you can use the comb while laying it on the back too. One of the reasons I don't apply all the sinew at one time is I use 3 to 4+ ounces of dry processed sinew( 8 layers). When this much sinew dries it will draw up into canyons on the back. I try to do it in 3 applications over 3 weeks.
 I saw someone question the deflex application. This will decrease the early draw of the bow but I have read an old accounts of this method being used on old plains bows. I can not remember the exact region. I would need to go back and find this info.
 Nice work! This will help anyone in the future make one of these bows on the first try.

Thank you very kindly Chuck. :)

About tying these bows into deflex...did the old accounts of plains bows pertain specifically to horn bows...or just wood?  Id love to see the literature if you can find it.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 14, 2018, 12:10:15 am
Guys, i picked up the bows from Toms house a few days ago, and i am now permanently living in Missoula, MT.  Indeed the sinew flattened down quite a bit.  Also i noticed that this method of splicing seems to make one limb come in at a slightly steeper angle at the "fade" area near the handle.  We will see how this affects tillering.  Here are the pics with side profile shots.  Next step is to cut them loose in a few weeks to a month...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Oglala Bowyer on April 14, 2018, 07:36:36 am
Interesting.  IMHO, It looks as though the one with a kink off the fade appears to not be on the board evenly. Perhaps thatís the reason it kinks?  I can only guess from my standpoint.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on April 14, 2018, 08:08:31 am
It's cool to see though no special clamps,forms,or other tools besides a good farriers rasp and a vise to get there to this stage.Bracing those really high reflexed bows is an adventure that's for sure.Hence the deflexed position at first.I made a peg board myself.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 14, 2018, 10:13:49 pm
You nailed it BowEd.  Deflexing these bows on the board has definitely caught some flack, and i get that.  I too was skeptical myself.  But i figure listen to the man whos built them most his life and take his advice.  When i remove them we will see how much they go back, if at all.  And in the end how they perform on the shot will be my determining factor.  I plan to chrono them for comparisons sake to my wood bows.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on April 15, 2018, 07:17:04 am
I truely believe after taking them off the form and I'm sure Tom has told you too along with Chucks' experienced statements that it will reflex good yet.Horn is way more elastic than wood.I''ve only done wood core sinewed horn bows.
The thing too about being so reflexed when dry is that even though it gets braced it can be quite a bit more unstable and a person will have to babysit it until it settles in.Using bicycle rubber innertube sections to help hold it in tiller good.It's just all the process of making these type bows.It's a good thing and completely different adventure than making a regular wooden bow.A lot of useful experience is gotten and learned from making these bows.
In Tom's video there's something that bothered me though.He said he's never seen a wooden bow shoot as fast as a all horn hornbow.This really is'nt true.The old unmerciful extractor of truth chronograph does'nt lie.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 21, 2018, 07:26:22 pm
Over the last few weeks i conversed with Chuck Loeffler a bit, and decided to deviate slightly from my original plan by removing the bows from their braced position on the wood blocks.  I am also going to add a bit more sinew after taking into consideration the current horn/sinew ratio.  I do believe Toms method of tying the bows into deflex while they dry has value.  I surmise they are easier to brace with a lesser chance of them debracing on the shot, which is exactly what he stated. I also suspect less chance of the limb tips twisting with them lashed down into a fixed position.  We will see in the future whether i made a wise decision.

After unlashing, the longer bow did indeed give back to a lesser deflexed state, though still not reflexed.  I added another layer of sinew 1.5 weeks ago, and now i am getting a bit of reflex.  I did this by sanding the sinew, sizing with hide glue and then adding more back sinew.  The shorter bow remained almost the same after it was removed.  I believe this is due to the shape of the horn, particularly how the splice "angled" one limb back a bit so to speak.  I am probably going to add a bit more sinew to this one as well.  Not sure if it will dry into reflex but maybe a bit less deflex.  Then i'm going to wait some more and see what they both do.  Today i lashed the handles more.  I did a fairly rough job, i will likely sand it down a bit and do a nicer final layer in the future.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Mounter on May 22, 2018, 08:54:01 pm
cant give you any advise but i am watching with great interest.....  luv what your doing
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 22, 2018, 11:34:57 pm
cant give you any advise but i am watching with great interest.....  luv what your doing

You got it man, i love sharing this journey of the horn bow!

In Tom's video there's something that bothered me though.He said he's never seen a wooden bow shoot as fast as a all horn hornbow.This really is'nt true.The old unmerciful extractor of truth chronograph does'nt lie.

BowEd i agree with your comment.  The bow design is just as important as its materials IMO.  Assuming they make it to the shooting phase these horn bows will both see chrono action.  I love my chrono.  It takes my "oh this feels fast" sentiment and puts it to the test.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on May 23, 2018, 11:45:19 am
Well you know bows like your making there could be past to generation after another in the durability catagory I think.Doing 1 horn bow is a big effort.Doing 2 is quite a bit more yet.Thanks for taking us on your journey.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on July 10, 2018, 03:22:52 pm
Sheephorn bows continue to cure into reflex. More sinew was added to the limbs as well as the handle area.  I want to be darn sure that splice holds.  I also wrapped the limb ends for good measure. Gonna give it a bit longer then start slowly and gently flexing them.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: DC on July 11, 2018, 10:24:05 am
Lookin' good, I'm waiting on this.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: GlisGlis on July 11, 2018, 11:59:00 am
 (A)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: hoosierf on October 02, 2018, 07:11:09 am
Mike, how the bows looking?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on October 24, 2018, 11:23:02 pm
Visiting my buddy Tom Lucas this week as i hunt Elk and Antelope in WY. He demonstrates how his latest bow bends, purposely left a bit stiff in the outer thirds due to a natural imperfection in the horn, leaving nothing to chance. I'm about to continue construction on mine now that everything is good and cured😈 We discuss the different ways to accomplish nocks for the string, such as cutting them in vs building them up with sinew.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on October 24, 2018, 11:24:01 pm
and more....
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on October 26, 2018, 08:30:15 am
Your horn bows look very good.Interesting difference in profiles also.Look forward to seeing more of your process.
Is the third one down in front of the display Toms' bow?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on October 29, 2018, 08:56:42 pm
BowEd-good point regarding the different profiles.  And yes Sir, the 3rd one down is Toms.  You can see the difference on how mine took reflex when i took them off the deflexed form and allowed the sinew to dry into reflex.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on October 29, 2018, 09:05:46 pm
I started removing material off the short hornbow today.  I want to get it flexing enough to brace it.  Tom explains to me that he does all tillering by removing material from the belly, he does not use any heat for this.  He doesn't call it the faceted removal method per se, but describes it similarly.

Just a recap at this point.  The difference in my bows vs Toms so far is that i added way more sinew, and also allowed my bows to dry into reflex.  Im certain they will be more challenging to brace up.  And Tom warns of the higher probability of "debracing" on the shot and possible bow breakage.  We will find out in due time.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: BowEd on October 30, 2018, 01:23:55 pm
You are correct in saying the higher reflexed bows will be more touchy to tiller,[especially horn as it's not as stable or more elastic than wood]but when balanced good and settled in they should be good to go.In the past I've used a peg board to help with tillering and bracing of highly reflexed bows.
I'm sure Tom has his own methods to help you out with that also.So you will use a scraper or pocket knife to remove materials to edge your way into a good balanced tiller then while keeping the belly faceted or rounded?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on November 11, 2018, 08:21:10 pm
More material is removed off the shorter of the two bows.  It wont be much longer until it's ready to brace.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on January 23, 2019, 06:16:23 pm
Picked back up on the horn bows today. Swapping the Ferriers rasp for the draw knife held perpendicular to the horn really suited my taste, dust now becomes shavings. The short bow is a low brace, got some significant limb twist on one end, probably gonna try some gentle heat bending, but no telling if itís gonna become a bow or just a horn that looks like a bow. The larger of the two is looking a bit more promising with no twist in the tips so far, just slighty offset. I spent about 5 hours today and 5 hours yesterday to take them from really thick horn to something that flexes. Much of the sinew on the back and the ends I have decided to remove. Live and learn as you do these things, ya know.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on January 23, 2019, 06:18:38 pm
longer bow pics...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: JNystrom on January 24, 2019, 12:28:05 am
Looking good! Live and learn, i think we all know that feeling...  :D

To me that sideways twist isn't looking too bad. There is no other material better for heat bending/manipulation than horn and sinew. You can do wonderful things whenever you have a twist in hornbow. Its not nearly the same case with wood bows, not even with horn-wood-sinew composites. Only problem might be that the bow will want to twist in the future, but i wouldn't worry it too much.

Good luck! Gonna be a bunchy bow, what kind of poundage and draw are you after?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on January 26, 2019, 08:00:32 pm
JNY-have you built a few of these yourself, it sorta' sounds like it:)

Here is what i did today with a heat gun. Quite a bit better, no? This was my first time bending horn...OMG it bends exactly as much as you set it to...i noticed ZERO giving back.  In fact i over shot it on purpose the first two times and over corrected it!

I have heard of the horn "giving back" to the twist after corrections, a couple members had warned me of this.  I suppose we shall see., huh?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: JNystrom on January 27, 2019, 12:40:02 am
Great! It's magical.  ;)

JNY-have you built a few of these yourself, it sorta' sounds like it:)

I might have, in previous life... In this life i have built couple of wood-horn-sinew composites. And more to come.

I have bow here that was really twisted and i gave it multiple heat straightenings, but now after half a year, it hasn't changed at all. I think it comes down to if you don't use enough heat, then the bend will undo.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 12, 2019, 12:58:26 pm
Work on the horn bows continues slow but steady. I worked the limb dimensions down a bit after removing the sinew on the ends(became obvious it was way too thick). Braced the small bow and heard a little splitting sound as the string separated the sinew from the back of the bow about and inch(I got lucky). Glued it back down and promptly rewrapped the ends. I have decided to build up the nocks with sinew on the ends. More will be added since it shrinks after it dries. I am deciding now if I will reflex the handle ďset backĒ so that itís easier to brace. Looks sexy too. A bit intimidating to do this with the sinew already on the back but I know it has been done this way by a few others.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on February 18, 2019, 08:54:48 pm
JN, keep in mind you have a wood core to keep the twist out. Horn and sinew alone tends to return
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 24, 2019, 03:50:25 pm
Bent my short Sheephorn bow into the 5 curve profile. Got it initially tillered to brace at 3.5Ē and flexing it out to 12Ē. I have never held a bow in my arms like it was my baby until now :OK. But i must remember itís not a bow yet, Ill need to draw it further and make sure the string stays on, which is my main concern at this point due to narrow limb tips. Still Iím thankful that itís even made it to this point in its life.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 24, 2019, 04:04:46 pm
For the method of bending the shape i used a form and a heatgun(carefully).  I must give credit here to Wizardgoat, i used his form shape as guidance for making mine.  Also i know Chuck uses forms of a somewhat similar design, so thanks to both these gents for paving the way.  If it weren't for deflexing on the form, im not sure that this particular bow would have a chance of holding at brace with out flipping around, as the string attempts to slide around the narrow limb area near the nocks.  This is still my biggest fear, and i may still use more sinew to try and build this area up even wider.  I had to make 3 strings just to get one with small enough loops to go over the horn.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on February 26, 2019, 09:31:58 pm
I heated the larger of the two bows into a similar shape. It is now at brace too.  We will see what happens from here.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on March 04, 2019, 06:32:37 pm
You've done a great job! Like I told you you can reheat the bow with the sharp hinge bends but this time use clamps on every inch of the limb to keep one spot from hinging. It either happened from that spot heating to bending temp first or maybe a slightly thinner spot. Check it with a caliper and even out that bend. I think the safest way is wrapping the limb with a heating pad and clamp to shape on the form
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: wizardgoat on March 04, 2019, 09:13:45 pm
Coming along great, I agree with Chuck, although Iíve never used his heat pad idea.
My last horn bow had many heat gun sessions, very short blasts then quickly clamp.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 05, 2019, 11:21:04 pm
I heated the bigger horn bow on the lower limb in order to make the deflex a bit more smooth.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on March 05, 2019, 11:26:08 pm
Big day today. Baby shoots her first arrows...the smaller sheephorn bow that is. I needed a tiller check from a veteran eye and my buddy James Rempp was happy to help. Often as he flexes a bow he tells me itís a bit stiff here or there. You can imagine my surprise when he says ďnice job, letís shoot it!Ē I told him to go ahead and be the first! Did you know that after all the research and work I had still never actually shot a horn bow! Well he really enjoyed shooting it and then later this evening I shot it too. So smooth and sweet! Thereís still some work to be done here and there, but I am happy to see an unbelievable amount of hours and learning lessons transfer into something that works. Just wow!
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Deerhunter21 on April 22, 2019, 12:22:50 pm
I know this ended a little bit ago but I never got to say congrats! You built a good bow! good job!
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 22, 2019, 07:11:41 pm
I know this ended a little bit ago but I never got to say congrats! You built a good bow! good job!

Thank you for saying so Deerhunter!  But i still have more to go, and the lessons continue. 

I haven't seen much info regarding the actual performance of sheep horn bows(fps and such).  I plan to do some testing to gain insight on both bows.  The short bow was drawing around 39# at around 16", 525gr arrow around 102fps.  Certainly wasn't gonna break any records, but i was thankful it was shooting and still in one piece.  Wanting to push further, i added another layer of sinew pulling it into more reflex and resulting in what would obviously be a higher pound bow.  But keep in mind how narrow the limbs were near the tips. It started tweaking the limb in this area due to the force necessary to brace the bow. Also the string loops were starting to slip down the nocks and actually debraced the bow when i attempted to string it.  So i put it back on the form to induce more deflex in the limbs with heat, only this time the sinew lifted from the horn in one area, all the way across:(  I don't know if its because i heated it too much, or if i simply exceeded the amount of times that hide glue will allow one to continue making heat corrections. In an attempt to repair this i injected hide glue into the crack with a syringe.  I doubt it will be as good of a bond as original but it was about all i could do at this point.  Also, this occured in an area where very little flexing occurs, so i still have hope. After all this i wrapped the entire limb with a light layer of sinew to hold things down.  The tiller still appears fairly close and this was the lower limb which will be stiffer anyhow.  Also i added more sinew to my nocks to keep the string on. 

At this point the draw weight is up, and i think i'm still ok on my horn/sinew ratio though its probably close.  Now i have some choices to make so that i can brace the bow without the limb tips tweaking from the force.  Either heat it again in the form to induce deflex into the limbs which should reduce the distance the tips have to travel to brace.  Or possibly build side plates to reinforce the tips and wrap it them with sinew.  One thing thats for sure is i keep learning about the horn bows, and thats as important to me as the bows themselves ;)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on April 22, 2019, 07:13:26 pm
Current profiles.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 02, 2019, 08:31:53 pm
The small sheephorn bow is back with some zip! After separation of the sinew from the back in multiple areas I decided to wrap both limbs with sinew down the entire length. I used heat to re-tiller the bow and get some of the reflex out because the stress was causing the ends to start twisting at brace. I believe I finally found the balance between gaining more power and what the bow can handle without over stressing the limb tips. My old speed was a 525 gr arrow at 102fps. Itís now shooting an average of 137fps. The specs are 45# @ just shy of 18Ē. Now the question is one of how far it can be drawn safely? Iím sure even more speed and power lie there waiting, tempting me. I remind myself itís my first sheephorn bow ever, I deviated from original design concepts half way through the build, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. I am elated to see it come this far, and I now consider it a bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 02, 2019, 08:34:32 pm
I also cut grooves in the nocks which really gave me confidence that the string would remain where it belongs.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 06, 2019, 09:15:53 am
Latest numbers. Drawing around 49# at 18.5Ē shoots 525gr at 143fps. 455gr goes 153fps. A couple days Iíve tested these numbers for consistencyís sake. Each time I braced the bow I had to make slight corrections to get positive tiller from the upper limb. I did this with either a bit of heat on the upper limb, or by simply pushing and holding the string up to the belly of the lower limb a few times at brace (to flex the upper limb more). It seems to be holding the shape better each day, requiring less correction upon stringing it. Iíll continue to keep shooting and monitoring it.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: JNystrom on May 07, 2019, 02:00:57 pm
Good job! Actually you got pretty decent fps out of it, cause as i've understood these tiny bows lack a bit of that long power stroke. :D
"It seems to be holding the shape better each day" - exactly! I've noticed the same thing, when you keep a longer brake from bracing a hornbow, it might take a lot of time to correct it, sometimes with heat.

For the next one i would try to make it bend more from close the handle up to the tips.
By the way, did you sinew bind the bow fully, or just in the nocks and handle?
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on May 12, 2019, 07:39:54 pm
JNY-i fully bound the bow, in order to hold the sinew backing down.  I believe i did a few too many heat corrections or simply got it too hot and it started to separate in some area along the limbs-i didn't trust it.  Now i do :OK
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on June 17, 2019, 09:22:39 pm
I did some work on the large horn bow over the past few weeks. Currently 72# at 19.5Ē. 😲 Quite a different bow than the smaller one. More to come...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on June 17, 2019, 09:27:57 pm
Just received some water buffalo horn and sinew for my attempt at a composite.  But ill hold off on that for now, as there is still work to be done on these sheephorn bows  :BB
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: bassman on July 18, 2019, 03:52:53 am
Excellent bow build along. Nice bow.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on August 11, 2019, 02:15:58 am
Only after Iíve shot a bow hundreds of times, and added the art, will I consider it ďfinishedĒ. Tiller adjustments on this one, which is my first sheephorn bow were required now and again, via pressure by hand on one limb, or with gentle heat. I decided to keep the art simple for incase alterations are necessary down the road. Oal braced 33.5Ē ntn. 51#@18.5Ē, 520gr arrow at 145-150fps. Done.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on August 11, 2019, 02:17:01 am
more pics...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on August 11, 2019, 02:18:05 am
last pic...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: gorazd on August 11, 2019, 09:34:28 am

Very nice bow !  )P( Congratulations !
What is the the finish on the sinew (red and black) ? 
Is it just paint ?





last pic...
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: Pat B on August 11, 2019, 09:42:33 am
That is an extremely nice sheep horn bow. You did an excellent job on it.   :OK   8)
 I've never made a composite bow or a horn bow but I was wondering if it is necessary to wrap the entire bow in sinew. Seems to my uneducated eye that that extra weight would restrict the cast of the bow. Maybe that's just the way they have always been made.  ???
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: NorthHeart on August 11, 2019, 12:56:28 pm
Thanks gentlemen!

Gorazd- first i coated the bow with TB3, then i used artist grade acrylic for the paint.  I finished it off with spar urethane.

Pat B- it is not usually necessary.  However, i added heat after the sinew was already on, and i got away with it a few times but the sinew started to separate from the horn in some areas.  I bound the entire bow so i would never have to worry about that again. (SH)
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: gifford on August 11, 2019, 04:44:39 pm
That 'build along" was quite a journey in bow making. I knew the horn bows were complex to build. Kudos to you on your efforts and the photo documentation was outstanding. Thank you for taking the time to do it for all of us here on Primitive Archer.
Title: Re: 240's sheep horn bow build with Tom Lucas
Post by: loefflerchuck on August 12, 2019, 12:50:24 am
Nailed it!