Chapter 5: the Rough Out
Establishing the Front Profile
The goal of the rough out stage is to make an oversized bow shaped object that’s still stiff along the whole bending limb.
First we’ll establish the front profile of the bow by carving out the width taper. Then we’ll establish the side profile by giving the limbs a thickness taper.
It’s important to taper your limbs, otherwise they’ll only bend from the inner limbs, which will be overstressed. Tapering the limbs, and later tillering them will allow the entire limb to bend.
I’m laying out the tips to be 1/2″ wide. To start off, I’ll be tapering the ends of the bow down to that half inch width, starting around 10” from the tips. This will leave a slight corner that we can round over later on, for a smoother more aerodynamic shape.
Especially at this stage, it really doesnt matter what tool you use. I’m using a rasp here, just to show you how that goes. It takes a little longer and needs a little more elbow grease compared to the drawknife. But it’s much harder to mess up.
You could also saw out the tips, especially on a bandsaw if you have one. I’m using a farriers rasp. Another popular choice is a Shinto Rasp.
After carving the rough shape of the tips, you’ll have a slight corner left over. Round that out with a rasp or a file. I’m using a spokeshave.
the Thickness Taper
Now that we have the rough front profile of the bow, we can start to establish the thickness taper. I’ve marked the tip of the bow to 3/8” thick and drawn a line all the way to the end of the fades.
Now we have a lot of wood to remove but we can’t afford a mistake. Facet carving is a simple trick to organize the carving, and make it go by faster and with more control. The idea is to break up any carving tasks into facets.
Carving on flat wood with flat tools is tedious and effortful, but carving ridges is easy. If you break up the carving task into triangular shapes, you can carve on ridges most of the time, and have more control.
First remove either corner, all the way down to your guide lines on the side.
Once you have a crisp ridge down the middle, it can then be easily removed with a flat tool.
Carving the Fades
I cut out these fades with a coping saw, but usually I carve them out with drawknives, files, and gouges. Use whatever you’re comfortable with, it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t accidentally create a weak spot where the limb starts.
The base of the limb should be the thickest part of the whole limb, otherwise it will be a weak spot.
For now I’m blending the fades right into the base of the limb. Later on Ill carve them slightly longer, beyond the doted line in the drawing. Its important that your fades are strong enough that all the bending stays away from the glue joint in the handle.
Now I’m starting to mark out and shape the front view of the handle. Since we are narrowing it from the front, the handle has to be thick from the side. The fades should be a smooth transition between the two cross sections.
Roughing out the front profile of the handle.
Before moving on, clean up the front profile and make sure the width tapers gradually.