How to Restore an Old Long Bow

How to Restore an Old Long Bow

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A longbow is an earlier form of bow design, most known by the English-style longbow or otherwise referred to as a self-bow. These bows were adopted by the English from the Welsh in the early 13th century and traditionally made from yew wood, according to If you have an old longbow and it needs restoration, a few time-tested methods for restoring the bow are available with the help of modern tools. This process can vary depending on the bow's condition.

Items you will need

  • Bow tiller

  • Bow stringer

  • Linseed oil

  • Pot

  • Water

  • Rags

  • Leather conditioner or oil

  • Razor blade

  • Horn and hoof glue

  • .0000 steel wool

  • Hot knife

  • Heat gun

  • Stripped cardboard or grocery bags

Step 1

Inspect the bow for signs of wear such as cracking, splintering, separated glues and warping. Note any markings on the bow such as near the arrow rest or sight marks.

Step 2

Unwrap the handle if wrapped. Look for a seam to determine if the bow was spliced together and glued. If the bow was spliced, look for glue deterioration.

Step 3

Pour linseed oil into a pot and bring it to a boil. Allow the oil to cool. Dip a rag into the oil and wipe the full length of the bow.

Step 4

Sand down the bow lightly using .0000 steel wool. Do not scrub hard. Scrub lightly, just enough to strip the surface finish.

Step 5

Scrape away any old glue — if any — with a sharp knife or razor blade. Inject horn and hoof glue into the scraped areas and smooth it out flat. Be careful to keep the glue inside the seams and not on the bow.

Step 6

Hold the bow's tip (horn knocks) in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Twist the knocks off slowly to inspect them. Make new knocks if needed to match the old ones. Apply horn and hoof glue to the bow tip and place the knocks back on. Allow the bow to dry for 24 hours.

Step 7

Soak stripped cardboard or paper grocery bags in water. Place a hot knife onto the paper to make steam. Suspend the bow over the steam to remove any dents in the wood. Allow the bow to dry for 24 hours.

Step 8

Apply a generous amount of leather conditioner or oil to the bow surface. Place the bow into a tiller. Heat the bow using a heat gun to undo any warping that may have occurred. Leave the bow in the tiller in the straight position for a few days.

Step 9

Wipe any oil off of the bow. Apply a new wood finish or protective coating to the bow and allow it to set in and dry for a few more days. Reattach the string using a stringer then wax the bow string. Test the bow for accuracy and performance.

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