Monday, 8 August 2022

Tidy up and Deflexed Yew ELB

 I had a sort through my staves to make room for the storm damage yew I'd just processed. The old staves were a bit of a rag bag mix, a couple of good ones, two that were just too skinny and bent and 3 staves of Elm. I'd had a go with one bit of the Elm previously, but it was too full of burrs, which looked good but were too unsound. I had a quick look at the best of the Elm, removing the bark, but it had a huge cavity and a load of burrs, so I decided to scrap all the Elm.
Whilst tidying I got chatting to my neigbour, who said he had a wood burner, ideal! I sawed up all the Yew off cuts and the scrap staves and left them in a plie in his garden for him, that saves me a tip to the trip.

One of the good Yew staves looked fine for a 70# elb, which my mate Rob had requested, he may well have given me the yew originally as the Elm which was on the same shelf was from him (the Elm was always "it may be ok, or it may be useless... worth a look".
The yew is from a fairly small diameter shoot/trunk/limb and has a good bit of deflex... 62mm from the floor to the belly at the grip, when placed with the tips touching the floor. It had been roughed down to appox' dimensions previously, so I just cut temporary nocks and tried it on the tiller. Plenty of draw weight to play with.
The sapwood is lovely on one side of the bow but slightly discoloured at one end on the other side. A bit of drawknife work on both sapwood and belly got the draw weight to 70# @22" with slightly taut string.

I then strapped the bow flat and heat treated the belly to try and remove some of the deflex. There was a good improvement with it being reduced from 62mm to 32mm, I may steam or heat a hint of reflex into the tips as they have a hint of ugly deflex at the moment. 
I've had to plug a few knots too, but I'm faily confident it will make a nice 70# @ 29"

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Storm Damaged Yew

 My Daughter told me she'd seen some fallen Yew near here. There's a copse of mixed wood with a lot of Yew and Oak which was once part of the grounds of a hall, there's a nice 12th C church next to it too.
A massive limb had come off an Oak, a decent sized Yew had come down too and taken a branch off another Yew. The branch was relatively clean, curved at the narrow end and straight at t'other. I took the straight end, there was a big pocket of rot at a union (where it braches) where I sawed it, the black manky rot ran down the central pith, but hopefully that won't effect the outer wood that I need. I got a lorry driver who was delivering a domestic appliance nearby to help me lift it onto the roof rack. It's gratifying when people are helpful. Having split it, I'm hoping there's a bow in each half (the 2 pieces on the right in the pic).
I returned the next day thinking I might try to split one of the big sections from the whole tree that had fallen. Close inspection suggested it was just too big for me to handle (14" diameter at the narrow end) . Underneath it was the next section from the tree which looked quite promising. The tricky thing was to roll the massive trunk off the piece I was after. I was working on a slope, so gravity and leverage got the job done.
I was careful to work from the uphill side, I didn't want half a ton of log rolling on top of me and breaking my leg.
The exposed log was rather knotty, but I persevered, trimmed it to length, and lifted it out with the assistance of a pasing 20yr old lad who lifted his end as if it weighed now't!

I split it in situ with axe, sledgehammer and wedges, carefully choosing a line which would hopefully yield a bow and some billets. It split very cleanly exposing the central pith. Another passer-by helped me get it onto the car. Once home I trimmed it further, I reckon there is one full length warbow stave (Chalk line in pic), a 66" primitive (2nd in from left, alredy narrowed) and at least 2 billets (shorter length on the left). Not bad for a couple of mornings work, which I enjoyed anyway, it also keeps me fit and out of mischief... though, doubtless some would call this little adventure mischief :-)

There are some videos on my Youtube chanel (Del Cat). "Yew Harvesting" "More Yew Harvesting" and "Looking Over the Yew Half Logs"
Note:- The copse is council owned and is on land open to the public. The timber had been cut and moved off the paths by the council and had been left to rot down. I have had permission from them to cut specific Yew before ( However they are not interested in contacting me when Yew has been or is going to be felled.

Saturday, 23 July 2022

ELB Re-work

 I've taken a bit of draw weight (~5#) off an ELB for one of the wonen from the ILAA, I've previously made her a bow, but this one is made by Neil Harrington I believe. It was slighty tired and had ben bumped about a bit having been lent to someone. I had a quick look at it on the tiller and saw the lower limb looked a little weak, so took about 4# off the upper and 1# off the lower.

It's interesting to see other bowyers work and I was very impressed with this bow. It was built with a little back set (e.g the limbs are straight but andgled slightly towards the back from the grip).
It's Hickory, Purpleheart and Yew, but the Yew is made of two laminations, the inner one being tapered and the outer belly lamination being two lengths jointed under the leather wrap grip with a 5" scarf joint.
Another nice feature is the very narrow tips which are narrower than they are wide, this makes me wonder how they are fitted into the horn nocks which are normally drilled out round. I can only guess the nocks are warmed up to be fitted as horn becomes plastic when heated.
Anyhow the final weight is 40# @ 27.
Here is the before and after shot, it may look a bit subtle, but the lower (left) limb was originally slightly weak, which causes the stiffer right limb to pull down and tilt the bow.
The lower limb now looks a little stiff, but that is standard practice to allow for it being under more strain as it is slightly shorter (The gip has about 3" below the centre and 1" above). Note the lower limb has had a few scrapes off the corners of the belly since then.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Another one Bites the Dust

 I'd been sorting through my satves and found a "premium Pacific Yew stave" (cost about £300 but it was given to me in exchange for making a bow from another similar stave... looking closely at one end there was a big swirl/knot in the grain. If I sawed off those few inches it would make a nice length high poundage flight bow. I laid it ou and, on running it through the bandsaw a nasty knot that had grown over was exposed.
I persevered, filled the know, gradually worked it down aiming for a nice slim bow.  I'd fitted temporary horn nock overlays so that I could get it to a low brace and pulled it to about 90# @ 22". It was ready to slim the outer limbs and get them coming round more. 

I'd taken video throught the process and posted them on my Youtube chanel (Del Cat)... I though I'd try and get some nice stills for the blog, but just as I got it to about 95# it went bang.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Why I Don't Ship Abroad!

 A guy in the Netherlands (or is it Holland ?) contacted me wanting a Yew crossbow prod. My suggested price was too high as he'd also be paying 20-25% VAT. However by the time he'd decided not to proceed, I'd already started work!...
So being a kind and cunning inividual I decided I'd complete it and send it as a gift, but asked that he should donate a suitable amount to support Ukraine (against the Russian invasion).
I finish it, parcel it up, get online to UPS and fill in all the details. I declare it as a gift, a "wooden ornament" with a nominal value of £5 and take it round to the drop off point at the shop down the road.
I don't declare it as anything that could be construed as a weapon in case such things are banned, and anyway it's not a weapon until it is mounted into a stock.
I walk round to the shop and the guy explains that it needs 3 copies of a customs declaration attached!....
I walk back home (quietly muttering to myself), print off 3 customs declarations (declaring "NOT COMMERCIAL", a notional value of £5 and no retail value) shove 'em in a plastic bag, tape them to the parcel and try again.
I subsequently receive E-mails informing me of my parcels journey including pictures of it having a coffee in the airport departure lounge ;-) (that's joke just in case you aren't sure)
Next morning I receive another E-mail informing me that they are contacting the recipient as:-
Duties, taxes, and fees totaling 8.88 EUR are due for this delivery.
What a palaver! 8.88 EUR on a piece of wood with no commercial value, when according to UPS there should be no tax or duty on anything that is not commercial and is worth less than £34 (or some such).
Now I can't definitively blame this on Brexit... but it nicely sumarizes why I don't ship abroad.
... and relax...

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Yew Prod Finished

 I went back and forth doing steam corrects, first adding deflex,  removing some of it, removing twist and generally trying to make it as symmetrical as possible so that I could judge the shape on the tiller. It's much harder to judge the curve on a short bow than a long one...obviously if you peer down an arrow shaft you can see if it's straight, but you see so well if it 's only 6" long!
I haven't had it back on the tiller yet since the last correction, but I'll add a pic and some figures for draw length and weight later. I have had it to 100# @16" before that. But with a crossbow you have to make allowance for an inch or so to actually cock the latch/trigger mechanism. So a 14" draw would probably be safe.
Here are some dimensions for reference.
Yew Prod, 39 1/2" nock to nock
Dimensions in mm, to 1 decimal place
Centre      37.6 x 14.5
4" along   35.1 x 21.0
8"             34.2 x 20.7
12"           31.6 x 17.3
16"           26.8 x 15.7
18"           24.1 x 14.5 :- note this measurement is only 2" from previous not 4" like the others.
The second pic shows the slight upsweep in the prod, this helps to lift the string line up level with the top of the track/stock/deck (whatever you like to call it), to minimise friction and string wear. It shows the nock overlay and stringer grooves nicely too.


It's finished now... here it is full draw 100# @ 15"

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Yew Crossbow Prod

I had a guy from Holland contact me interested in a Yew crossbow prod so I've been looking at my Yew and I have several staves/billets that might be suitable.

I'm thinking a reasonable starting point might be about 36-40" long 12-13" draw length 100-120 pound draw weight ? 
I've started roughing one out to get an idea of what is required. It's rather an undulating stave and has a couple of knots on the belly that will need filling, but it's fine for a try out. I'll steam in some deflex, that will allow a longer draw length.
Wooden crossbow prods are a bit problematic as to get a decent high poundage and draw length you end up needing a rather long and unwieldy prod. Adding in deflex allows some extra draw length from a shorther prod. Without that you can end up with a very short power stroke and disappointing performance. The slight upward curve in the prod is to help get the tips up level with the track on which the bolt runs, this avoids too much downward string pressure and friction which looses power and wears the string.

There are several other posts on this blog about crossbows which go into some depth.