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Making your own bow part 5: Construction of a bow laminating press for a longbow

In this article, the fifth in his series on how to build your own bow, Cleve Cheney gives instruction a how to make a bow press with which the bow is given its shape and parts of the bow is laminated together.

In our last article we constructed a curing oven. When we glue laminations together they are forced together by air pressure. We have to construct a laminating press (also known as a "form") to be able to do this. We will begin by constructing a longbow press and later on a press for the limbs of a take-down recurve.


  • 4 sheets of marine plywood 1820 x 280 x 12 mm thick
  • 1 strip of Formica (or equivalent) – 1830 x 44 mm
  • Bostik contact glue (1 litre)
  • 1 length of 40 mm rubber-lined fire hose 915 mm long (available from Bingham Projects if you cannot find it locally)
  • Four 8 x 75 mm round mild steel bar
  • Ten 10 mm diameter x 100 mm bolts with nuts and washers
  • Ten 240 x 30 x 5 mm thick flat bar
  • 1 strip 2 mm thick x 1840 x 44 mm galvanized iron


  • Take four sheets of marine plywood (1) and glue them together with Bostik. Clamp the sheets together whilst drying (2) - see figure 1. You should end up with a thickness of about 48 mm.
  • Trace the shape (profile) of the longbow onto the form and cut along the line with a band saw (preferable) or jigsaw figure 2 (3). It must be cut at right angles. This is very important. Your form now consists of two halves (4). See figure 2.
  • Cut ten lengths of 5 mm flat bar 240 mm long (5 for each side of the form). Drill two 10,5 mm diameter holes in each flat bar. Line up the holes in the bar and mark where holes are to be drilled through the form. Drill holes through the form. Ten 10 mm bolts will now be passed through the flat bar and form and bolted to hold the form together (see A in figures 3 and 4).
  • Cut out the shape of the bow handle from the laminating press (5). Cut two 20 mm lengths of 8 mm brass round bar. Drill 8 mm hole 10 mm deep and insert brass end spacers to the length of the completed bow as shown above. Glue them in place (6) – See figure 5.
  • Glue a strip of formica to the top and lower half of the laminating press as shown (use Bostik). This is to provide a smooth surface (7). A strip 2 mm thick x 1840 x 44 mm galvanized iron must be cut to fit between the brass spacers (8). See figure 6.
  • Now we must make the pressure hose used to compress the laminations together. Cut pressure hose 915 mm long. Insert aluminium plug in one end and valve into the other end. Use hose clamps to keep the plug and valve in place. To avoid leaks you can stick the plug and valve onto the rubber hose with Bostik. You can have the plug and these made locally or order them direct from Bingham Projects in a kit. See figure 7.
And there we have it. We have a curing oven and now we have constructed a form to mold the bow in. In the next article we will get to laying up our first bow.

About the Author

Cleve Cheney

Cleve Cheney

Cleve Cheney,  hunting and environmental editor of Africa’s Bowhunter is a very well known figure in bow hunting and in conservation circles in South Africa. Cleve Cheney has been in conservation for 27 years, of which 20 years were spent with the National Parks Board – most of it in the Kruger National Park. During the time spent in the Kruger National Park Cleve culled no less than 50 elephants with a rifle and he has hunted most African game during culling operations.

Cleve has also been an avid bow hunter for 22 years and he has an extensive technical knowledge on bows, arrows and broadheads. Cleve is also an accomplished bowyer and has built many recurves over the years. He began offering bowhunting education courses more than 15 years ago. Until recently, Cleve was a lecturer at the South African Wildlife College where was a lecturer and instructor. He has a diploma in Nature Conservations and a MA degree in animal Physiology. Over the years Cleve has written more than a hundred articles on tracking, hunting, survival skills, and bow and rifle hunting. He started an 18 month long professional hunters course at the SA Wildlife College where he trained the first group of professional hunters.

Cleve has trained many bow hunters and his educative articles on how to hunt African game, as well as many other articles on different aspects of archery bow hunting an bush skills has been published in Africa’s Bowhunter, Game and Hunt magazine, Universal Hunter and many other magazines. He has been the lead article writer for Africa’s Bowhunter for more than 14 years.

His book on tracking, The Comprehensive Guide to Tracking: In-depth information on how to track animals and humans alike, is probably the most in-depth study on this subject available. For those who want to learn more than the basics, this book is a treasure trove of tracking information, insights, methods, and knowledge. The book is divided into logical sections: teaching yourself to track; understanding wildlife behavior; identification of tracks and signs; gait patterns and pressure release; blood trailing; tracking specific animals; track, stalk, and approach; bird, reptile, and invertebrate sign; man tracking; and dangers in the bush.


Traditionele lang en recurve boë deur Johan vander Merwe. 083 544 7042. Pasmaak vir jou

CUPIDAPRIL09Pierre de Wet
073 151 1992
Marble Hall

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