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Old 5th July 2017, 05:02 PM   #15
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: California
Posts: 467
Default working life of a bow

Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
Estcrh, thank you for sharing this image and the photo of your bow. It is nice to see that kind of weapons. I wonder if your bow can be still used. Though I understand that special care must be given to the limbs if you try to put a string over an old bow. A risky procedure.
Do you have an idea of the age of your bow?

Somewhere in my reading I encountered an old Turkish adage stating that the lifetime of a bow is twice that of a man. 'Have been looking through my references for the citation but haven't found it yet, will advise when I do. A lot of my knowledge of these things comes from a colleague, Peter Dekker in Amsterdam, I have forwarded this thread to him and hope that he will contribute something soon.

We both know a fellow in Taiwan who makes Manchu bows in the traditional style, and what's more, is able to restore the performance capabilities of antique bows (that is, assuming that the organic materials have not been consumed by rot, or riddled by insect or worm). It seems that on old bows, what tends to fail with age is the animal or fish glue that holds the laminae together -- exactly the problem that plagues antique string instruments as well. Renew that, with the proper level of skill, and a bow can be brought back to life! Some of these glues can also be rejuvenated in themselves, without having to replace them with modern material (violin restorers do the same thing). Hopefully Mr Dekker will chime in soon on this thread with a more detailed explanation.

I haven't shot any of these old bows myself, but have handled a good number of these in collections. More than a few appear to have been damaged by idiots who have tried to bend them in the WRONG direction. You can tell from looking at what points the laminations have separated.
Haha, on one occasion a collector who showed me his damaged bow told me that's exactly what a "friend" of his tried to do. These weapons were not designed to flex "either way"!
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