Quartersawing for Bows

Whether for archery, a chuck wagon, or a fiddle, bow-making starts with quarter-sawing. October 14, 2006

Question
A neighbor brought me a white oak log and he needed some bows thick by 2-1/2 wide. I cut three cants 2-1/2 by 7 and started cutting his bows. Two out of the three started crowning and one stayed straight. I'm sure there is some technique that explains this. I am new to this and I am trying to learn when quartersawing is necessary and when it is not. Any information is appreciated, as well as links to other sites with a good description and diagram for quartersawing.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
I sawed some bows years ago. I found out later that sawing wasn't the best way. Growth rings are used to rive (split) the wood to make a bow. The idea is to keep as many of the fibers of the wood intact as possible. Some are split, shaved and glued to make laminated bows. Some are carved and rived from a single log. Based on what I've learned, quarter-sawing would go against the making of a good bow.



From contributor B:
What kind of bows? Like the bows in the bed of a wagon that hold up the canvas? Like the bow an archer uses to shoot an arrow? Like a bow a fiddler uses to play a fiddle? Bows for a wagon are best flat sawn from clear wood and steamed bent as soon as possible. Bows for shooting arrows are quartersawn oversized with the grain running straight down the board then the bow split from the blank. Bows for fiddles are taken from quartersawn boards and local boys like the butt cut near the trunk for the best grain.


From the original questioner:
These were bows for a chuck wagon, and we did have good luck bending them that day. The problem I was having was that the cants were moving on me while I was sawing the bows. After I realized the problem I turned them 90 degrees and was able to get a consistent cut down the cant. Where can I get some more info on quartersawing techniques?


From Dr. Gene Wengert, technical advisor, Sawing and Drying Forum:
Search here at WOODWEB using the word QUARTERSAWING.