Monday, 28 June 2010

Plenty to be Getting on With.

The chap, came to pick up the bow on Friday, we had a good chat while I finished off a few arrows for him. I've since heard that it's performing well, he's very pleased with it and it's had plenty of admiring comments.
I shall have a week off from bowmaking to finish some work repairing a giant wooden ladle for the Gibberd Garden, it's not a full restoration (which would be a huge task).

I'm just refitting the handle and it's ball end.
There is a lot of rot which I've dug out and filled, hopefully I can patch it up to last a few more years.

I've also got to mend our patio table which fell to bits when I had the ladle handle on it!
Oh dear I'm sure you all know that sinking feeling when one job ends up creating yet another.

Anyhow, those jobs shouldn't take too long and then I can de-bark my next longbow stave and have a good look at my baulk of Hawthorn which I cut last year.

I shall play around with trimming down the one hour bow (see more about it on my website). I'm intending to take a mm or two off the belly to remove the chrysals and trim it down to become a kids bow.
It will be nice to give it a new lease of life and it will make an interesting primitive. I don't really like making low draw weight bows, so re-working one is a win-win result. Here's a pic which shows the chrysals on the belly.
They are the fine silvery lines across the bow, they are compression cracks which are raised, you can feel them if you run your fingernail over them. There is no real cure without taking off wood and losing draw weight. If you try sanding them off it just weakens the belly further and more wood is likely to collapse.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Woo Hoo!

Update:- 138 fps tested through the chronometer.
A couple of pics here, she shoots really sweetly with a decent string (bracing height 5 3/4 " which is pretty high). Even I got a reasonable group (well ok it was only from 10 yards). I've put about 50 arrows through it to settle it in.

I pulled it back to 29.5" on the tiller, I'm sure it would make 30" but you have to stop somewhere.

It's on the tiller supported pretty close to how the hand would support the bow, and the hook pulling the string back actually has two prongs to simulate fingers and pull in a realistic manner, they are positioned correctly on the string.

It is a pretty accurate picture of the tiller as it would be in use.
I'm very satisfied, I could probably make it look even better if I fiddled it's position on the tiller, an actual full draw pic will be added later, and I'll shoot it through the chrono sometime.

The chap I'm making it for is picking it up on Friday, so I have a bit of time to buff up the finish and sign it.
Can't stop fiddling, just eased off a spot on the grip where the left thumb sits.
I've also re-checked the final draw weight, it's lost a couple of pounds during the final finish, shooting in and tweaking, which is perfectly normal. It now weighs in at 38 pounds at 28" .

At last a decent pic of the back of the grip. It's tricky photographing very pale shiny surfaces.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Added Detail

Just needs some varnish, a few coats of Danish oil rubbed down with wire wool (soaked in white spirit to lubricate) between coats and a final rub with beeswax polish, oh and a bow string would help!
The nock and arrowplate look a bit dull without the final wax, but these shots give an idea of the final shape and curves.
I need to spend some time learning the intricacies of my digital camera so that I can take pictures of white bows without bleaching out the detail...hmm don't know when I'll get around to it.

Little update, it's now Tuesday night, I've made the string and tweaked the nocks for a smooth fit. Hopefully shoot it through the chronometer tomorrow night.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Detail Work

Doing the grip, nocks and arrow plate now.
I glued a pad of leather over the grip area and then glued a block of Yew (from the same log) on top of that. Plenty of rasping is getting me down to a nice grip, not over sculptured as this is a primitive bow not a modern still needs to be comfortable of course.
I may cover the grip with leather, but I like wood myself. 'Grip' is also a bit of a missnomer as you don't grip it, you hold it lightly (but without dropping it like some target archer who tried my Hazel bow did the other week did, without any hint of oppology...' you can see I'm a target archer' he said... hmmmm yes...).
I like the quote from a golf book I have, which is probably applicable and ammuses me...
"you should grip the club (or bow in our case) as firmly as you would hold a cat or a baby!" Anyhow, enough chat, here are a couple of pics.

The leather has been used to allow for any slight flexing in the handle which could otherwise crack a glueline. There was some discussion of this idea on the 'Primitive Archer' website, so I don't claim any originality here, although the principal of flexible mounting is well established.

The grip is shown looking at the belly and left edge of the bow, it shows how the natural wiggle of the stave works into the handle. The slightly raised step is where the arrow plate (a Waterbuffalo horn oval) will be inalid.

The pic right shows a roughed out piece of Waterbuffalo Horn being glued onto one of the tips clamped in my trusty old work bench. You can see how the tips are left a little thicker as I don't want that hint of recurve pulling out at full draw.

I've pulled it back to 29" inches now and once the nocks are done I'll be able to get the proper string on and do some final measurements and tweaks before finishing.

For this work I've used a rapid epoxy adhesive, I could have used natural hide glue but it has a much longer curing time and isn't so water resistant. As my Brother once pointed out when I asked him about using modern materials in a reproduction he was making, he simply said that 'primitive' man would have used Araldite if they'd had it!
Indeed it's about using the best and most appropriate materials, hide glue is still better than epoxies for some applications, especially if dissasembly may be required.
If I build another Cherry/Ash bow I shall use hide glue, but for detail work that you want to get finished there's n'owt wrong with a rapid epoxy. (Pencil in 'IMHO' and the usual disclaimers!)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Tinkering in 'Paint'

Is the tiller an arc of a circle? I just messed about a bit in paint drawing circles.

Full Draw

The tiller is much better now, still slightly squareish (I'm being fussy and you may not see it or agree with my analysis).
There are reasons for this, a) because I've left it slightly stiff in the handle as there is a groove in the belly from where the log was split, and I don't want this to become a weak point and a focus for failure, so I've left extra wood around it. b) The natural deflex is at about the midpoint of each limb (where the corners of my imaginary square are, see the pic on the post of June 13th).
Anyhow, here's the pic. 40 pounds at 28".
The pic was a bit rushed this morning, so it's not quite square in the frame (note to self...wear glasses next time!).
Also the bow is supported fractionally too far to the right. Oh dear I'm getting a tad precious about it all now..

Looking between this and the last two pics is a good illustration of the tillering process. Doesn't that first shot look awful now!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Getting Smoother

The tillering is coming on, it's now at full bracing height (or thereabouts). It's pulling 36 pounds at 24".
You can see the uneveness is still there but has been reduced considerably.
It has a slightly squareish look to the curve too, but you have to allow for the unstrung deflex reflex shape.

I still neeed to work on the final third of the right limb. Work needs to slow right down now, I may look for 40 pounds at 28" as this can be worked down.
The original spec' is 35-40, I wasn't sure how it would turn out at first, but there is a fair amount of defex and no real sign of string follow. I'll take it steady and see how it goes.
I may be tempted to try a 24" arrow out of it just to see how it feels.
Now that the tips are a bit thinner and narrower, since taking the pic' I've steamed a tad more reflex in to add a bit of weight match them better. Being thinner there is less strain on the wood, I only steamed the last 4" or so, by shoving the bow through the side of the steam chest. It should improve the look of that right limb a bit too.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Starting to Tiller

I've taken it back to 35 pounds at about 22".
You can see the right limb is stiff at the end half. but it's still early in the process and I'm trying to maximise the heart wood still while leaving the last 4" or so stiff to maintain the little bit of recurve. (I may even put in just a hint more on the naturally curved limb to match it up.
It's braced at about 4"
Enough chat, here's the pic!
It's taken at a slight angle which makes it look even more assymetric, but it's just a quick pic before I get my dinner.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Steam Bending the Yew

I did the bending last Wednesday which gave the wood all weekend to dry out again while I was away for a few days.
The straight limb has been steam bent to match the curve of the naturally deflex/reflex limb.

First I traced the curve of the limbs onto a sheet of paper.

Then I sketched the curve I wanted for the wooden former that I would clamp the limb to. You have to put in a bit of extra bend as the limb will recover slightly. The former is an chunk of old rough sawn pine, I traced the curve onto it and cut it on my band saw, a scrap of sheet steel acts as a strap to hold the tip of the bow down as it is clamped .

When I did the bend (30mins steaming, clamp to the form then 1 hour to cool) I found the bend at the tip was a bit severe. Hmm, should I leave it or tinker with it? Eventually I decided to put it back into the steamer to relax a bit for 15 minutes.
Good decision, it came out with a smoother bend which is a pretty good match to the naturally curved limb.
Well it's certainly close enough for a 'primitive' !

When it's hot the wood bends easilly, I put the tip under the metal band and just bent it over with a little hand pressure, the clamps held it down into the concave section of the former, note the strip of wood between the metal clamp and the bow, it's there to spread the load and avoid damaging the wood.
Next job is to cut some shallow nocks and to start drawing it back a bit.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The primitive Yew bow is coming along, it's nervy work as there isn't a great depth of heart wood at the edges, at the centre there is a good amount as it follows the curve of the growth rings.
Of course this curve of the heart wood can only be seen at the end of the stave.
To maximise the amount of heartwood, I'm working down through the sapwood, carefully trying to follow the growth rings. I took off a fair depth early on ripping through 3 or 4 rings at a time with the drawknife, but now I'm having to work more cautiously.
The figure on the belly is going to look splendid.
The handle has a lovely curve to it but it isn't very thick, because of this I've got to thin down the limbs before I can start to tiller it.
Obviously the grip needs to be the thickest part of the bow else it will just snap in the middle. Hopefully this process won't lose too much draw weight and I'll be thinking of getting a tillering string on it soon.
Slow and steady, a little and often is the key.
I think I'm all bowed out for the day!
More pictures next time!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Primitive Yew Bow

I've had a commission for a primitive bow, I have a piece of Yew split from the other side of the log in the previous entry which might just do the job. It's only 59" long and not quite as wide as I'd like, but it has loads of character, and being Yew should out perform the other wood I have it's worth a try.
You can see the same wiggle in the pith line as the previous stave, and that there isn't much width of much heart wood to spare, but the fun is in the challenge.

The weather has been so glorious I took my workmate and tools outside and have been roughing it out off and on all morning. It's not a job to rush at when there's so little wood, so it's do a bit, stop and think and look at it, make a few pencil marks, have a cuppa... check my E-mail, then do a bit more. The stave has some natural deflex with a bit of reflex at the far end. I had intended to put a sharp little reflex near each tip (flip the tips as the guys on Primitive Archer would say) However there is a knot through the middle of the limb right where I would bend it and to attempt a tight bend would be foolhardy. What I shall do instead is to put a smoother reflex into the limb which I'm holding to match the natural curve in t'other. With a bow like this, it's all about working with the stave rather than fighting it.
Hmmm, I s'pose I should say what I'm aiming for?
Let's say 35-40pounds draw weight at 28", tested to 29". Tillered to bend through the handle to give an arc of a circle centered on the nock of the arrow at full draw.
I'm being a tad foolhardy here specifying that amount of detail but it will be interesting to see how close it comes.