Bow Building Book – Traditional Bowyer’s Handbook

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Bow Building Book – Traditional Bowyer’s Handbook

bow building bookIt’s finally here! My new bow building book, Traditional Bowyer’s Handbook, will guide you through the entire process of building a wood selfbow. The book starts off with a chapter on finding bow wood. No mater where you live in the country, you’ve got something close by that will make a bow. This chapter discusses many different species that can be found throughout the country and gives insight into how these woods can be used to make a great shooting bow.

The vast majority of my bow making experience has been with Osage, pacific yew, Eastern redcedar, persimmon, hickory, and a few other species. There are many, many more that I have very little or no firsthand experience with. For these species, such as ocean spray, vine maple, etc. I’ve included descriptions by a number of very knowledgeable bowyers from across the country.

Each of the woods we will discuss have different bow making qualities and, if we take those qualities into account, they’ll all make good bows. In order to help you decide which wood is best for you, I’ll rate each with a difficulty level (high, med, low) and give an explanation for the rating. Because there are often regional variations in common names, I’ll also include the globally accepted Latin names in parentheses just so we’re all on the same page. We’ll start with the most well-known, and go from there. Clay Hayes – Traditional Bowyer’s Handbook

In addition to all the basics you’ll need to start and finish your own wood selfbow, this bow building book has chapters showing how to build a two piece take down selfbow, a flimish twist bow string (without a jig), wood arrows and more. This new bow building book is available through Amazon (click here). Signed copies will be available here on the website in early December.

I’d really like to thank the guys that contributed to this books section on Bow Woods and elseware. Below, you’ll find links to their sites. Check them out, there’s a lot of knowledge there.

Weylin Olive is a bowyer, archer and bow hunter. He is the owner of Swiftwood Bows which specializes in high quality bows made of yew, osage and other premium bow woods as well as passing on the craft and tradition to others. He lives in Western Oregon where he lives close to the land with his wife and two children. He loves to be out in the woods chasing elk, stump shooting and looking for more bow wood.

Ryan Gill is also known on various primitive and traditional archery sites as Twistedlimbs, named for the character selfbows he enjoys making and hunting with.  From flint knapping to bowyering, Ryan does a great job capturing the original skills and adding a modern twist to appeal to the “modern” primitive archer. He makes and sells primitive archery gear on his website and also takes custom orders.  He specializes in primitive bows, knapped arrowheads chipped from flint, chert, and obsidian, matched sets of river cane and bamboo arrows, fur quivers,  atlatls, and just about anything else primitive. Check out his site at Gill’s Primitive Archery.

Jim Rempp is an excellent bowyer based out of Missoula Montana. He owns and operates Hamstring Archery, building custom bows and giving bow building lessons.

Andy Ponce owns and operates Addictive Archery, a Traditional Archery Supplier specializing in custom arrows of all materials, including footed wood arrows, carbon and aluminum. Each arrow is hand made and finished for the highest quality. If you’re looking for the right arrow for your Recurve, Long Bow, Self Bow or Compound Bow, Andy makes some of the best arrows around. All the products in our store have been tested and are items we personally use. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us. Check back often as our inventory is expanding.

Mark Smeltzer is owner operator of, His goal is to provide all archers , whether it’s a laminated glass bow or a selfbow the highest quality possible, best shooting bow possible. My laminated glass bows are a proven design that is fast, quiet and stable. I will not settle for less than perfect on the quality of the craftsmanship of my bows. I know that if you compare my Talon, Gazelle or Cobra to any modern glass bow out there you will be sold!

By | 2017-11-20T14:13:07+00:00 November 20th, 2017|Primitive Archery, Traditional Archery|2 Comments

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  1. Ron Marcella January 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Hey Clay I am just getting into building of self bows and for Christmas my wife bought me your Traditional Bowyers Handbook, this is an awesome read with a great deal of information. It is only January 3rd and I have already read it cover to cover twice. 🙂 I have a good friend that builds top quality laminate bows and I have been around it for a few years so I have all of the basic knowledge however I am going to start (as per your recommendation) by building a couple of board bows, then move to a Hickory Self Bow as I have good access to Hickory on my property and as you have taught me already, I don’t have to worry about following a growth ring with Hickory so it should be just a little bit easier to start. Once I have been able to build a few successful Hickory bows I want to move on and build Osage Self Bows. I am just getting started building bows and it might be a little later in life as I am 57 years young but I am excited like a little kid at Christmas to get started. Thank you for all of the great information and keep all of the You Tube videos coming I have watched everyone to date and thoroughly enjoy them. Shoot Straight..

  2. admin January 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Thanks Ron and good luck on your bow building journey. It’s a fun one with lots to learn!

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