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Friday, November 14, 2008

Bushcraft Bow by Jim Dillard

Most commercial gift bows are made at least in part of some kind of plastic. They are designed for one-time use and usually are transported around the world using fossil fuels. And then when we finish with them, they usually end up in the local landfill. To the rescue is the bushcraft bow, a natural and unique bow to adorn any package - and it's great knife practice to boot.

Step 1 Select a clear piece of kindling. Just about any length will do.The one pictured is 14" long because that's the length of my firewood. This wood is spruce, but many woods will do including aspen, willow, some pines,birch and others. Most woods that are not too hard and that have a fairly fine grain will work. Usually, a better curl is produced if the wood grain is cut at a 90 degree angle to the knife. On one edge of the kindling trim the wood into three facets. On the first photo the facets are colored for clarity. Your knife may be any solid knife with a full Scandinavian bevel.It needs to be sharp and well stropped.

Step 2 Mark the middle of the kindling with a pencil. Then with the bevel of the knife flat against the facets, begin carving curls from near the end of the stick to within 1/4" of the middle. Stopping in the middle is the hard part. This is where good knife control is essential. Carve the left facet, the middle and then the right one. Then repeat until you have an impressive mass of curls. If the wood isn't too dry, you can actually arrange the curls as they are cut to form a consistent and symmetrical set.

Step 3 Turn the stick to the other end and carve the three facets in the same manner. Go slowly and be careful. If you go too far you will cut off the curls you made on the first half of the stick.

Step 4 Using your knife and a baton, trim off the part of the kindling stick that has no curls attached to it. You will need to follow the grain to determine where to start your knife. Learning to read wood grain is yet another valuable bushcraft skill.

Step 5 Using a saw trim off the excess stick to the base of the curls. Be careful in the last few saw strokes to avoid damaging the curls.

Step 6 There you have it - organic, low impact, and burnable. The package in the photo is wrapped with my favorite recycle bin wrapping paper, and the bow is tied on with cordage made of beach grass. It is all absolutely free, and after making a dozen or so bows, you will see a noticeable improvement in your knife skills.

1 comment:

Ionatan Waisgluss said...

Really cool! :D
I'm subscribing to your blog!
--ioni