Hickory Flat Bow


Dave Markowitz
November 22, 2012, 12:51 PM
Back on August 20th I placed an order with GIBow.com for two of his unfinished "Classic Hunter" 64" hickory longbows. Before ordering I'd read mixed online reviews of GIBow.com, which gave me a little pause. However, at $114.95 shipped for two bows I decided to chance it. Delivery was expected in 8 to 10 weeks. I finally got them the other day, on 11/19.

Incidentally, I checked GIBow.com the other day and the website now says that he only sells items that are already in stock, only accepting custom orders from vendors or bulk purchases. Earlier this month the site was down for maintenance, so I'm guessing that he was so backordered he didn't want to take on any more business.

The bows came packed bound together with cardboard over the tips, all covered with a heavy duty plastic sheath-type packaging, with no padding. They came undamaged, thankfully.

The first bow has a left handed grip with a draw weight of 50#, while the second one has a primitive, ambidextrous grip, and a draw weight of 45#. Each bow came fitted with a well-waxed brown Flemish twist string. The string came unserved and without a nocking point set.

The bows are of the American flatbow style. I.e., the limbs have a rectangular cross section, not the D-shape of an English longbow.

One of my friends is planning to buy the 45# ambidextrous bow, while I'm keeping the LH 50# bow.

I inspected the bows carefully before stringing them. The tiller is even on both bows and the grain looks OK.

Along with the bows I ordered a set of faux copperhead snake skins to use as a backer. They look OK although I'm sure that real snake skins would look better. They would be more expensive, of course. I'm not impressed with the "snake skins" and left them off for now.

The unfinished bow:


To finish the 50 pounder, last night I lightly sanded it to 400 grit, then wiped it down with a clean paper towel wet with mineral spirits. After the bow dried I sanded it again with 400 grit paper and once more wiped it down with mineral spirits. I then gave it two coats of Watco Danish Oil with a medium walnut tint. I let the oil dry overnight.

This morning I cut a piece of leather and glued it to the arrow shelf. I also cut a piece of "Super Pad" silencing material and applied it as a strike plate. Then, before stringing it, I added otter fur silencers to the string. Once strung I served the string with some artificial sinew to both protect the center of the string, and also to fatten it so my arrow nocks snap onto it. I also made a nocking point with a shorter length of the artificial sinew.

I set the fistmele at about 6.5" by twisting the Flemish string to shorten it.

A closeup of the riser:


After letting the cement holding the arrow rest on dry for awhile, I did some shooting. It feels like it might be a little heavier than 50# but I expect it to settle it a bit. It shoots fast with little to no hand shock, depending on how tightly I grip the riser. It is dead silent.


After I was done shooting I brought the bow inside and gave it a coat of Sno Seal, which is a beeswax based compound intended for waterproofing leather. I've used it on other wood items before and it works nicely in this application. Other options for finishing the wood would be another coat of Danish Oil, tung oil, or a spray on polyurethane clear coat.


While I was a bit disappointed in the longer than expected delivery time, I am very pleased with the bow itself. It feels great in the hand and shoots well.

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November 25, 2012, 10:16 AM
Looks like a bang-up job!

November 25, 2012, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the write up and eval

November 25, 2012, 02:08 PM
Nice job and review. The last bow I made was an osage job.. Turned out very nice for my first attempt with that tricky wood. I credit much advice from the guys at the Primitive Archer site...

At any rate, I've been planning to do a hickory bow "from the tree". Cut and split a suitable log, dry the stave, the whole thing.
The Primitive Bowyer's Bible series advises that mid-late June is the time to cut your log, as the bark will strip away with little effort.
Maybe this coming Summer I'll give it a go.

November 28, 2012, 07:28 AM
Thanks for a great review and the detailed step by step process. I learned a lot.


Dave Markowitz
November 28, 2012, 08:45 AM
Thanks all.

Fred Fuller
November 29, 2012, 11:35 AM
Looks good!

Ran across this on a 'free Kindle book list" the other day - don't know how long it will be available free, but when I linked it, it was:


Bow & Arrow, Archery Set for Scouts (Illustrated "How to Build" Guide #1) [Kindle Edition]
Jose Eduardo C. Delgado (Author), Bong Saculles (Editor)

It appears to be a more basic guide than would lead to a hardwood self bow, but everyone has to start somewhere. And the price is right...

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