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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finishing a longbow

So as many of my friends know, I purchased a longbow at our local Renaissance Festival from a bowyer who was new to the faire. He was selling what he calls "You Finish Longbows," which are hickory longbows that essentially you need to sand and stain, and decorate however you like. These are real longbows--mine was a 53 lb. draw weight, which was more than enough to hunt with.

I finished it up (pictures are on my facebook page) taking inspiration from Legolas' bow in Fellowship of the Ring (pre-Lothlorien). I loved the way it came out.

Unfortunately, I think there was a flaw in the wood and after only my fourth time using it, I gave it a backwards shove to straighten it (as you're supposed to) and it just split. I contacted Justin, the bowyer, explained the situation, and sent photos. They said they'd never seen that happen before, and replaced the bow with a nice new one.

I should give them a shoutout while we're here:

Anyway, I've been working on the new one and thought I'd keep a log of my progress. You can see photos of the bow here:

Currently it has been sanded, and the first coat of stain--Ipwswitch Pine--has been applied. My plan is to attempt a sunburst finish, similar to what you see on some guitars. For example:

The steps I'm following are as follows:

1. Sand, apply Ipswitch Pine (already done). Let dry overnight.

2. (Wednesday) Using masking tape, mask off the center of the bow, folding edges of tape under to allow for just a little bleed. Apply Sodona Red stain to the edges and sides. Lift tape and feather edges with a dry brush. When it's time to wipe off excess stain, lift tape slightly to allow for bleed smoothing. Let dry overnight.

3. (Thursday) Check to make sure the bleed is looking decent. If it's not working, strip the tape, do the entire bow in red, and have done with it.

4. If the bleed looks decent, tape off a bit more, again folding the tape down for bleed. Leave the grip un-taped. Do the grip, sides and edges in Ebony. Lift tape and feather edges with dry brush. Again, lift tape slightly when it's time to wipe off excess stain to smooth bleed. Let dry overnight.

5. (Friday) Varnish with Krylon satin finish clear polyurethane. 2 coats.

That's the plan. After that I am considering doing gold gilt on the edges. I may also have Sindarin script done on it (by someone more talented than me). I just need to come up with something good. I have a couple ideas.

Anyway, that's that. More as I progress.

Oh, I should also clarify: all three of the stain colors I'm using are Minwax stains.

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Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mary Magdalene.

I'm not a mad bible thumper--Sophia, however, is my inspiration and always in my heart