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The Backyard Bowyer: The Beginner's Guide to Building Bows Paperback – March 10, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Levi Dream (March 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983248109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983248101
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

 I originally started writing The Backyard Bowyer as a way to learn the bowyer's craft. As I built bows and taught myself through trial and error, the concept of the book changed. It has been a long road, but fueled by my passion for traditional archery, I have never tired from it. I hope that this book allows anyone interested in building bows to just go ahead and do it.
     My new and final mission for this book is to teach how to build basic bows from inexpensive materials and with a minimum of investment in tools and space. This book will not show how to make an enduring wooden bow that will last generations, nor to build a bow that will be your lifelong companion. My goal is to simply allow you to build bows, to have your first bow in your hands. I want youto make your own mistakes, conquer your own challenges, and grow as a craftsperson. There are many books on bowmaking theory and history, and while this knowledge is very powerful, the best way to learn something is to do it.
      I hope that with the basic steps outlined in this book, you will break the boundary between knowing and doing. Build your first bow, and then the theories will begin to make sense. I almost didn't start bowmaking at all, even after I had become hooked on traditional archery and wanted to make my own bows. The first book on bows I had ever read was the great Traditional Bowyer's Bible, which at once filled me with wonder and abstract concepts that I could not fully grasp.
     My first bow was a disaster, the product of too much knowledge and not enough practice. I had tried to put too many ideas into that bow, and it snapped under the strain. I had tried so hard to follow rules that I didn't understand, to try and make that first bow the best it could be. I nearly gave up, nearly threw it away and moved on with my life. I hadn't even touched my father's old Ben Pearson fiberglass recurve for months after my failure, but with that bow in hand, I was ready to try bow-making one last time.
     And that's when I stumbled across another book. The Archery Handbook, written in the forties, was truly a godsend. It was a simple book, with simple instructions on building the type of bows that were mainstream back then. My second bow was very simple, and although it lacked many qualities of a fine wooden bow, it worked. That was good enough for me. Soon I had another, then another. They got better as I struggled with not having a teacher or a good guide to show me what to do.
     That's why I wrote the Backyard Bowyer. It is a guide that will help you build a bow that will work. The methods and materials are far from traditional, but are easy enough to master and obtain to allow anyone, regardless of workspace, income, or level of interest to craft a wooden bow. And that's all you need to get started. Once you experience the thrill of firing an arrow from your very first bow, feel the wood flex beneath your fingertips, hear the thud of the arrow, you will know you've created something special. My only adive to you, don't ever let that fire stop burning.

-Nicholas Tomihama The Backyard Bowyer

About the Author

Nicholas Tomihama was born in Honolulu, where he lived until graduating high school. From there he went to Hilo on the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) to study business management at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
 Even before going to college, he had a knack for making things and working with his hands, perhaps coming from his father who was a jeweler and general jack-of-all-trades. In highschool, Nicholas made hand-turned wooden pens, collected coins, fossils, and toyed around with his father's hunting bow.
 In Hilo, Nicholas was exposed to the party life and turned away from it, instead passing his time exploring the island and getting to his Hawaiian heritage. He began researching and studying native hawaiian crafts, carving bone hooks, crafting woven slings, and other hawaiian arts.
 After becoming more interested with craft than education, Nicholas returned to Oahu without a degree and married his highschool sweetheart, who had kept up with him in a long-distance relationship for the duration of his stay in Hilo.
 Nicholas now lives on Oahu with his wife and young son, Levi. He is an artist who makes hand-crafted bows and arrows and enjoys the sport of archery. He is also an avid reader and prolific writer, who recently published his first book, The Backyard Bowyer, which teaches how to build simple wooden bows for the complete novice.

More About the Author

Nicholas Ikaika Tomihama was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a young child, he would occupy his free time by making his own toys from assorted houshold items, often causing messes and minor chaos. His very first bow was made at the age of five from steel coat-hangers that had been straightened and taped together with a rubber-band string. His father, a now-retired jeweler and former president of the Hawaii Jeweler's Association, encouraged his meandering interests in making things. Nicholas had a love of archery as a child and his father bought him his first bow, a lil' Banshee compound when he was ten.

At the age of 14, and with his father's help, Nicholas began his own business crafting and marketing handmade Koa wood pens. During this time, he made many attempts at building knives and spears, and occassionally steel arrowheads. In highschool, he had little interest in archery, and in his senior year at Mid-Pacific Institute, met his soon-to-be wife Angela. After graduating, he attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo with the hopes of pursuing a degree in Business Administration. After one semester and an internal awakening of a passion for the primitive, he returned to Honolulu.

Back home, he started looking for a job and was hired by Sam's Club as a Home Meal Processor. With a job and a fiance, he attempted to start a custom knifemaking business which did not make it out of the gates. After moving from his parent's house, and subsequently losing access to his father's plethora of power tools, Nicholas found himself unable to make knives or pens.

Without much to do, he turned to archery, making use of his father's fiberglass hunting recurve bow. After shooting for a few months, he began building his own bows with simple hand tools, teaching himself as he went. After some time, he was asked by a friend to make a bow for him. It was broken when another friend pulled it too far, and thankfully nobody was injured. After that, he prayed and asked God what he should do.

He had always made things to sell, but after much prayer, he now had a different calling. He contunued to build bows in his backyard, eventually teaching a few others to build their own bows. With that under his belt, he took his own experiences in making bows and began writing the Backyard Bowyer to help others who were interested in making bows but didn't know where to start. On July 6, 2009, he and Angela were married. Shortly after completing the writing of the Backyard Bowyer, his first son, Levi Tomihama, was born. The rest is history.

How to Contact Me

If you have read my book and have any questions, comments, or pictures of your own bows, I would love to hear from you!

Customer Reviews

A very good book for beginners.
Robert Manbeck
This is a great build along for the first few bows you make.
Greg Roemke
This book is fun to read and very easy to understand.
Freddie Patane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By penachron on May 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this immensely practical book, Nicholas Tomihama shows, step by step, how to make a bow out of an ordinary piece of hardwood lumber, including: choosing the board; shaping the bow's the outline; "tillering" -- the heart of making a wood bow; and adding a glued-on handle and glued-on nock reinforcements. As a bonus (he calls it his "bonus track"), he even shows how to make a string and arrows for your new bow. I originally bought it because Tomihama was the first author who explained to me that a bow gets thinner or narrower toward its tips in order to spread the bending force evenly along the limb. You can read this part of the book, and many others, with Amazon's "Look Inside!" feature. Read the back cover. It is honest when it says "Easy to read and follow steps go down to even the smallest detail in the design and construction of basic archery bows."

If you intend to build a wood bow, you may want to read other books, like The Traditional Bowyer's Bible (volumes 1 through 4). But you must read this one.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Lafferty on April 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've just recently gained an appreciation and fascination of wooden bows while on a hunting trip with my uncle. He uses a fiberglass bow when he goes bow hunting and we began talking about building our own bows to make our hunting experience a bit more fun. We loaned several books on creating bows from the local library but they were all far too difficult to understand for beginners like ourselves. When I found this book I snatched it up right away and my uncle and I have not been disappointed. The book is very easy to understand for beginners like ourselves and the included designs were perfect for our needs. The book even goes into how to construct your own arrows. This book has been an invaluable guide and thanks to the instructions inside we'll soon be hunting with our own custom built bows and arrows. Highly recommended. A+
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gryphe on June 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Easy to read, easy to understand and filled with excellent building instructions to making your first bows.

Though I have yet to create my first I now truly have the feeling I'll know what I'll be doing, the author explaining each and every step surprising thoroughly.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jason J. Abruzzo on April 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is exactly what I was looking for, instructions on how to make a bow from commonly available lumber and a few simple hand tools. I have already made three bows despite having no wood working experience prior to purchasing this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. L Strickland VINE VOICE on August 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I agree with the rating of the other reviewers that this is a 5 star book. It is exactly what the beginner needs to successfully build his or her first bow!

One of the other reviewers said that he has not yet built a bow from the instructions. When he does, he will be successful.

I have built two bows using exactly the techniques in this book, although I did not learn them from this book. I spent several months studying other books and websites to learn the techniques, so this book would have saved me a LOT of time! My first bow broke while I was tillering it. My second one was successful and is shooting at about a 40 pound draw weight.

Tomihama gives instructions for building what are commonly called "board bows", which is a fantastic way to start. You go to a store like Home Depot or Lowes and just get a red oak board that matches the description in the book. Minimal tools and investment is required. He shows you how to build several styles of "flatbows" and then how to build the Robin Hood style English Longbow. The method he shows for building a bowstring is the technique that I have decided is the easiest way to make your own bowstring. I would strongly recommend putting a loop on only one end of the string and using a bowyers knot (timber hitch) on the other end for its adjustability.

This book accomplishes exactly what its title promises. It will enable the beginner to make a successful bow at minimal cost with only a few tools. It's easier that you might think! If you can get the draw weight at about 45 to 50 pounds you can even go hunting with it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Freddie Patane on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is fun to read and very easy to understand. I've been reading high level books on the subject for months. I consider them worth their weight in gold for their depth of information, but some of the technical data can get excessive and overload a student at my level.

For me, getting out and producing a final product will be a great achievement and I feel confident that this simplified "board bow" approach can work!

Not only did I read this book and comprehend it all- I actually ABSORBED most of it on a single read through. If I were locked up in a home improvement store and didn't have access to the text I could build the English longbow he describes from memory. The process is efficient, minimalistic and detailed without going overboard.

I hope to see more from this author. Well done!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary L Bastin on August 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a great simple introduction to making a wooden bow. Two simple bow designs are described. But, more importantly, the terminology of bowyers is introduced in a way such that it is easy to understand. An important note is to look in the glossary to see what some of the specialized terms mean, although just reading through the book, then reading the glossary, then re-reading the book works just as well. (It was what I did! -- I bought the book in the Kindle edition.)

This introductory book is quite enough to be able to make a simple, inexpensive wooden bow at minimal expense using modern materials. After reading this book, a good next step is to read some of Saxton Pope's books, especially his books on Yahi Archery and Hunting with a Bow and Arrow, in which classical Indian methods for making a wooden bow are described. But, the use of non-traditional modern backing materials is undoubtedly in line with Ishi, the Indian who Pope learned traditional North American Indian archery from circa 1914. Even Ishi switched from using obsidian flakes to steel knives in making bows when he had the chance :-)
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