Laminated Two Piece Oak English Longbow

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Laminated Two Piece Oak English Longbow

Target length of this Laminated Two Piece Oak English Longbow was 78″

Target draw weight of this Laminated Two Piece Oak English Longbow was 50#

I started by ripping two stripes from a red oak board to 1 5/8″. Grain looked good and ran full length. 

I reversed the two pieces so the original grain direction was opposite each other.

I glued the two pieces using titebond III and let it set overnight. Even though I had even glue run out everywhere, I might try adding more clamps next time in case the breakage was due to a loose glue joint.

I then cleaned the glue run out off and ripped the piece to 1 3/16″, leaving me a backing for another bow.

These dimensions are a little on the large size, but being my first longbow i wanted to make sure I didn’t go to small. 

Next I laid out the center of the bow and a 5″ handle. After that was marks for a 2″ taper (fade) off the handle. This taper was intended to be very slight. 

Next I laid out the tapered limbs. I went from the 2″ fade marks to a 1/2″ tip. My thought was to thin these to 3/8″ once in was closer to done.


I cut the tapers with the bandsaw.

I marked a taper on the sides. These would be just for referencing as I was working the limbs. I didn’t cut to these lines. 

Now I started to shape the back by rounding over the corners with the block plane. I did the same for the belly but went a bit more than just rounding. It was time to switch to the spokeshave.

An occasional check shows some nice straight lines. Its looking pretty good.

I’m using a spoke shave to reduce the limbs as I’m floor tillering it. Note how I’m supporting under the bow with my hand holding the spokeshave. This is because I’m working with a vise instead of a shave horse. It helps support the bow. Just watch for nasty splinters 

As I graduated from floor tillering , it’s starting to look good. The next pictures shows I’m pulling 50#. Since 50# is my target I’ll never pull over that, and I’m not close to my draw length, I’m still using the long tillering string.

Once the long tillering string is to long I cut the nocks in.

Here I’m using a 5/16″ chainsaw file 1/2″ from the end of the bow.

Now that I have the shorter string I can measure to make sure they are even. Here I worked the limbs on the stronger side and in stronger areas until they were even.

As the string gets shortened I continue to check from known distances on each side of center.

When the measurements are off from one side to the other they are worked to even them up. At this point I’m still using the spokeshave. I haven’t switched to scraping yet.

This next picture is the last tillering picture I got. Its at about 47# at 24″. You can see the right limb is still a little stiff. I started working that limb to get it evened up.


I snapped this picture just to show I was getting close. I was pretty happy at this point.


I had worked the right limb, then both limbs to get it closer to 50# and I was pulling to 50# thinking it would be my last time when BOOM!!   

That awful sound no bow maker wants to hear. The bow exploded into three pieces. The pieces were literally in 3 different corners of the shop. So much for this Laminated Two Piece Oak English Longbow!


I check the moisture content thinking the piece may have gotten to dry, although I didn’t know how it could have happened. The moisture content was perfect, so was it a starved glue joint, a bad piece of wood, or ???? Any thoughts, leave a comment. 

so not wanting to let it go to a complete waste, I made a bow rack out the the biggest piece.

It proves the saying ” if you ain’t breaking ’em, you ain’t making ’em” holds very true.


If you’ve made it this far, Thanks for coming along!





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