how to make a fishskin handle

Here are a few pics how I do a fishskin handle, with snake skin or cherry bark it is the same process.

In this case it is a plains style bow and a skin from atlantic cod.

 

First work is to measure the exact location of the handle (skins + leather edging), masking with tape and cleaning with alcohol for better glue joint.

The skins are soaked in water for about 30 minutes, then trimmed to an exact rectangle. It was a small piece of skin, so I use two halves to get the fully 4″ for the handle. The pic shows the back of the fish upwards and the belly downwards.

That piece is cut in the middle and laid back to back.

This skins often are semi transparent, so a basic painting is a good idea. In case of fish a silver or gold tone is the right color. I use acrylic for that.

After the paint is fully dry glue is applied on both surfaces, on the bow and on the skins. I found a white wood glue is best for that, in this case I use TB3. Let the glue some minitues to vaporisize into the surfaces.

Apply the skins and slip on the still wet glue to the exact position.

Secure the middle joint with some masking tape, always wipe off exess glue.

When sure all is on the right track, do some additional securing with the tape.

Now use textile rubber band to get a snug pressure on.

Remove the rubber textile after 20 minutes ( the glue needs much more drying time with masking tape on). The skins are now sticky, but still abit moveable.

A clear cut through the double layers and the skins are matching perfect.

Here is a gap (where the blade is pointing to), but being still wet the glue allows to correct the position.

When everything is right use one strip of masking tape for securing.

The second wrapping with textile rubber is on the skins (no tape) now the glue can dry out fully

 

 

Here is the handle after 1 hour, the gold shines through the skins, no bubbles, no gaps.

Last work is the edging with a leather lacing. A diagonal cut makes the joint nearly invisible. A drop of jelly super glue for the beginning and a sucure with tape, wait some seconds, apply glue around the handle, go around with the lacing, one cut and everything is done.

The result:

Back

Belly

 

The finished bow is here

 

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