A glued wood bow is a wooden bow composed of several wooden slats, glued and pressed into shape. Glue wood arches are needed, for example, for rose arches, arched bridges, pergolas or for the runners of rocking chairs and the construction of furniture. Experienced do-it-yourselfers can also build it themselves if they have the appropriate materials and tools.
What does a hobby craftsman need for a glue wood bow?
Since you have to cut a certain number of thin wooden lamellas with a maximum thickness of 5 millimeters for your glulam bow, you will need a good band saw or sliding table saw for this and possibilities for dressing so that the lamellas become nice and even. The most suitable wood is oak, ash or beech. The wood should not be too dry, so that it does not break during bending. If the wood is too dry, you can soak the cut lamellas in water for a few hours or make them malleable with steam.
After that, it is advisable to first clamp the lamellas without glue for at least 24 hours or better longer in the prepared mold and let them dry. In this way the wood already takes the right shape, but is still flexible. Before unclamping, you should mark the apex of the arch so that everything will be back in the right place when gluing it together. To clamp the wood, you will also need a larger number of screw clamps and wooden blocks, depending on the length, which will go between the screw clamp and the lamellae, so as not to damage the wood of the future bow.
Here you can learn more about the material glued wood.
Band saw or circular saw
suitable wood such as glulam or glued laminated timber
small paint roller for a clean glue application
8 to 10 screw clamps and wooden blocks
1 Shape for the bow
Water or steam if necessary
What shapes are there for glulam arches?
For a simple glued wood bow, a simple shape is sufficient, which you can easily cut yourself beforehand. All you need is a suitable board with a rounding in the shape of the future glued wood bow. In the middle of the curve and in certain distances the board gets holes, in which later the screw clamps can be easily clamped, without damaging the bow wood. On the other side blocks protect the bow from impressions. With this simple form you can easily make simple arches.
For wood with multiple bends, A and B shapes are more suitable, which still have a corresponding counterpart to an A shape. With this form, the wooden slats to be bent come between the two forms and are then pressed firmly together. To make sure that even the outermost lamella doesn’t tear, you should always cut one more lamella for your project and clamp it to the outside of the arch without gluing. This has proven especially useful for beginners, because if the wood cracks, it happens exactly at this slat. This additional strip of wood is therefore also called a sacrificial strip.
How the wood is bent?
DIY tutorial: it’s imperative that the finished sawn strips of wood are elastic enough so they don’t crack, this is very important to the success of your bow project. When selecting the wood, you must make sure that it does not contain any knots and that the grain has continuous annual rings, otherwise it is guaranteed to crack when bent. If the wood is too dry, you can soak it in the bathtub or steam it to make it more pliable, but it should not be too wet for processing, unless you are working with waterproof glue. Be a little more generous with the length when cutting the lamellas to size. You can still shorten them after bending.
The bending itself is done from the front side. After gluing the lamellas neatly and placing them on top of each other, place them in the form or on the form and carefully attach a screw clamp in the middle of the face at the apex to the form and to the block on the other side, so that the future arch lies well between them. Then follow the left and right the other screw clamps. This way, the pressure is evenly distributed to the ends of the bow. With another block and a rubber mallet you can bring the individual slats into shape, so that the bow is nice and even. The result will be best if the bow has a week to dry.
After drying, the arch is cut to the required length. Then the finishing work is done mainly with simple hand tools such as planes, scraper or sandpaper. With them you can smooth your bow and bring it into shape. Whether it is worthwhile for you as a hobby craftsman to make a bow from glued wood yourself depends on how well equipped your hobby workshop is and how much time you can invest, because the procedure is already somewhat time-consuming and is only worthwhile if you intend to build several bows.
How much does it cost to build a bow using the DIY method??
Sometimes it is better to buy a finished sheet.
With a band saw and the right saw blade you can save material, because there is less waste than with a circular saw. DIY is fun, but in the end it should not cost much more than a purchased end product. The price for a bow can not be determined in such a general way. It always depends on the material and size. 2 bows for a four meter long arch bridge cost about 300 euros. Smaller bows are available from about 80 euros. On the other hand, it will probably be difficult to handle projects of 4 meters in length in a hobby workshop without coming up against spatial limits.
Therefore, in the end, it is always important to consider whether it is really worthwhile to build the bows yourself or to configure them at a dealer and order them there. Then you have the guarantee that nothing goes wrong during construction. However, if you plan to expand your hobby and make several bows, then it is definitely worth a try. The production of the arches is then in any case cheaper, if you choose the right glue laminated timber and have gained some experience in processing. The price of wood also depends on the proximity of a dealer and various shipping costs. These can vary greatly from region to region. It is ideal if you have a local dealer who can advise you comprehensively.
Since at present the wood prices fluctuate very strongly, an advice is of high value.
You can also get glued wood made to measure here in our store.
If you have a well-equipped hobby workshop and a suitable saw with dressing capabilities, you are well equipped to build a glued wooden bow. A good number of screw clamps also belongs to it. If you have to buy this basic equipment to build a bow, it will be very expensive in the end and hardly worth the effort. In this case it makes more sense to buy a ready-made bow made of glued wood. With a well-stocked hobby shop and a wood dealer near you, you can make wooden bows cheaply even if you’re a hobbyist. For outdoor use, be sure to choose a waterproof glue. A lot of fun and good luck!