Friday, 8 October 2010

Yew Longbow

I've been tillering the Yew longbow which I roughed out about a month ago.
Very soon it was back to 28". I could scarcely believe it, the bow is very much thicker than my 75lb longbow which I used a a guide for roughing out, yet the draw weight is barely 55lb, I was aiming for 60.
There is always much debate about the merits of English Yew, and this illustrates the variability. I'm not going to draw conclusions from just two bits of wood but I shall record my observations.
My favourite 75lb bow has very clearly defined heart/sap wood and is closer grained than the piece I'm working on. The 75lb was cut from heathland, the one I'm working on cut from wet fetile soil where it was probably planted as screen to disguise a carpark 50 odd years ago, maybe it's a faster growing variety? The one I'm working on has poorly defined heart/sap wood, on one side of the bow it shows, but on the other it is more diffuse.
There is a huge difference in the relative strength of the two samples, however the wood still works nicely and has plenty of spring.
If you looked at the two and was asked to pick out the strongest bow based on it's dimensions you'd pick the wrong one.

The stave has a bit of an 'S' shape to it with one limb reflexed a tad and the other strongly deflexed, I shall steam the deflexed limb to straight and hopefully get back to the 60lb I was aiming at. The deflexed limb is to the left... be honest that bow does look pretty fat for a 55 pounder doesn't it!

I'm begining to see why some people have said it's hard to make a high draw weight warbow from English Yew, maybe they had a piece like this.

I shall try and keep an open mind and it just goes to show the joy of working with natural material.

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