I’m making wood long bows and want to find out how to finish them. I found out I can stain them, but what can I use to seal them against the weather? I know I can’t use varnish for the bows must bend. I enjoy your e-Zine and those free plans. By the way the plan for the wagon wheel mirror is great and they turned out wonderful! Quite a job but beautiful.
Rob Johnstone: The last finish I read about for long bows included ingredients such as eye-of-newt and dragons blood. As commercial providers of such items are hard to find, I would recommend a nice outdoor oil finish, followed by a rubbed on wax chaser. Both will enhance your bow’s appearance and can be easily re-applied as touch ups are needed.
Simon Watts: Linseed oil is a tried and true finish. Make sure you are using ‘boiled’ oil — actually they just put driers in it now–not the raw variety which takes weeks to skin over. Thin the first coat 50/50 with turpentine and then apply two or three more. Be sure to wipe off any surplus oil promptly or you will get a nasty, gummy coating. Oil-soaked rags have caused many fires so be careful.
Michael Dresdner: As it turns out, you most certainly can use varnish, provided it is a flexible variety like classic spar varnish. (Spars and masts also bend.) However, that is probably overkill for a long bow or self bow. Instead, choose one of the exterior penetrating oil mixtures like Teak Oil, exterior Waterlox, Penofin, etc. These finishes typically absorb into the wood and cure, case hardening and offering protection against water and dirt without building up substantially on the surface. They are unobtrusive and easy to renew should that become necessary.
P.S. “In case you were wondering, a self bow is one made from a single piece of wood.”