Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mini PVC Crossbow Tutorial

A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story about getting distracted while trying to write a short story and building a crossbow instead. I ended up putting that story plus a mini-crossbow tutorial up on Amazon's Kindle and also featured the crossbow in the video below.

Since my regular website is now down and I'm working on a new site, I've moved the original crossbow tutorial here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Hui Hou! Goodbye Hawaii!

As some of you may know, I'm moving from my tropical home in the island state of Hawai'i to the mainland. So right now I'm writing from my brother's house in Washington state. Everything is looking good so far and I'll try to keep all of you posted on my whereabouts as I travel.

Before I left I managed to build 2 final bows, my 15th and 16th bows of the year. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

The first bow was a gift for a friend who had wanted to build a bow with me but I ran out of time. The second is a bow for fellow PVC bowyer Hawaiiarcher84 on Youtube. Both are wrapped in vinyl and stitched up the belly side. It's a technique that has been my favorite for finishing bows, but due to the time-intensive nature not one I use very often. One of these days I'll show you all how to do it.

That's it for now, I'll see you all next time!


Goodbye Hawaii, you've been good to me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Big Brother Bow

Sometimes when building bows, you get really attached to one of them. That is the case of my 12th bow of the year, the 50#@28" schedule 80 horsebow with schedule 80 siyahs. I didn't really like it much at first but it has grown on me. So much so that it is one of the very few bows coming with me.

Some of you know I'm leaving the island state of Hawaii and moving to the mainland next month. On the way, I'm going to be visiting my older brother and his family in Washington state. You could say that he's really my big brother as he stands at 6'5" compared to my 5'9". And while we are both very different, we are alike in some ways as brothers are.

Since I'm bringing my new favorite bow with me to visit my brother, it seems only fair to bring its big brother along too.

I'm calling it my Big Brother bow, my 14th official bow of the year. It pulls 50 pounds at my brother's 31 inch draw and is 48" long nock to nock. It's a little longer than my bow and started at 51" compared to my bow's 48". All in all it's a fast little bow and while it safely takes a 31 inch draw, it's still only around 46 inches strung. If all goes well my brother might get bitten by the archery bug.


This bow is a good example of how to scale a bow design up or down to fit a certain weight or draw length. My two latest PVC bow books (Simple PVC Bows and Take-Down Archery) have charts that show how to get certain draw weights and lengths by changing the length of the starting pipe. This bow was scaled up using the same idea as the charts.

Basically I use a simple rule of thumb that applies to most bow designs and sizes. Keep in mind that as you get very close to or very far away from a pipe's comfortable length (the length is performs best at) this rule of thumb won't work as well.

Adding or subtracting 1 inch from the starting length of pipe will change the draw weight by about 2.5 pounds (give or take about 2.5 pounds or so). If you want to keep the same draw weight but change the draw length, add or subtract 1 inch from the pipe for every inch of draw. So this bow went up 3 inches to increase the draw by 3 inches. The 3 inches extra also dropped the weight at 28" to about 40-45 pounds.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shooting a 35# Horsebow With Red Oak Siyahs

It was a lot of fun helping my friend build his first bow. It pulls 35 pounds at 28 inches and is a snappy little bow. Check out the finished bow in action!

I'm always willing to help people build their own bows and show them how to make PVC bows. If you're ever in my area (or I'm in yours), let me know and maybe we'll make a bow or two!

-Nick T

Getting Back to Basics - One Loop Bow String

One of the things I like doing the least when it comes to making archery tackle is building strings. They are essential as the main transmitter of energy from bow to arrow. Without a string, a bow is without life.

That said, they are a pain to make especially when it comes to PVC bows. Back when I used to carve, scrape, chisel, rasp, file, grind, and sand wood into bows I would spend hours of work. After the long and tedious process of teaching wood to bend, half an hour making a string doesn't sound so bad. Yet when I can whip out a shootable PVC bow in half an hour, spending the same amount of time on a string turns on my procrastination mode. As a result, most of my bows only have strings when they need to have strings.

Yet at this last gun show, I met a viewer of mine and he gave me a present. It was a 3-bundle counter-twist (Flemish) string with only one loop. Seeing that string snapped me back to my early days of building bows, before I got good at the two loop Flemish string.

Back then I used to make very long one loop strings for all the steps in the tillering process. I could adjust the length with a timber hitch and go from long-string tillering, half-brace, brace, and initial shooting all with one string. Cut the loose end off and you have a permanent string that is tied to one nock of your bow.

For some reason when I started building bows out of PVC pipe, I completely forgot this old method. I used only the two loop Flemish and continuous loop (endless loop) strings, probably because they were "real" bowstrings. While those strings are great, there is nothing wrong with the one-loop string. It makes a great primary string that can be made quickly and made in advance because the length is adjustable. It also makes for a great backup string to keep in a pocket, bag, car, quiver or bow case. The best part is that it can be made from the same low-stretch, high-performance materials as the other types of string.

Hopefully this method of string-building makes things a little easier and quicker for you. Try it out and let me know what you think!

-Nick T

P.S. - If your bow has siyahs or you need larger loops, check out Tim Piatek's tutorial on tying a Turkish string loop here. I first saw that style of loop on bows from Mongolia, but it's a popular style of tying string loops. It allows a very tough loop of rawhide or thick rope to be used to protect the bow's nocks while still retaining the performance of a thin string.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My First PVC Pipe Sword

Tim Piatek, one of my fellow PVC bowyers on Youtube, has been coming up with all kinds of ideas for PVC bows. He seems to have a fascination with the bows of the Ottoman Turks and his style has been greatly influenced by them. On top of his many bows, he's been playing around with the idea of PVC for prop, practice, and costume weapons.

Tim posted a tutorial on making a short sword which inspired me to try out a PVC sword of my own. Here is the result.

I was pleasantly suprised by how good this short sword feels in the hand. It has good balance and while the blade is pretty flexible, it is still rigid enough for swinging around and blowing up watermelons. Since the sword came out so nice, I had to make a handle and sheath for it.

The blade started as 2 feet of 3/4 inch schedule 40 electrical conduit, the handle is 3/4 inch schedule 40, and the sheath is 3/4 inch SDR-21 thin wall PVC pipe. I really like how it came out and will probably be making more in the future.

If you want to check out Tim's work, his channel is here. He's also authored and self-published a Kindle e-book on making PVC swords. Being an author myself, I like to support others who write and publish. You can find his book on Amazon here. While it is fairly short, it has a good amount of information, pictures, and instruction to guide you through building your own PVC sword as well as tips and suggestion to modifying the finished sword.

Back on Blogger!

It's been a while since I've been on Blogger. This past year I've been trying to get things together on my website, but a couple issues have brought me back here. So I'm happy to announce that the Backyard Bowyer blog new has a home here on Blogger.

As for, I'm working on turning that into a simple website about me and my work as well as a basic starting point for future PVC bowyers. Before I start tearing things down, I'm going to relocate some tutorials and key posts from the site to here. Another hope is that I should be able to post on a more regular basis.

Well that's it for now! I'll see you guys next time.