Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Yew Longbow & Staves

The nice fine grained Yew is still putting up a fight, I finally got it back to 40 pounds at 27".
It shoots nicely but is trying it's damnedest to twist, so the back of the bow is almost rotated 45 degrees. I'm persevering and I've steamed it once more to get the limbs in line and I'm going to try heat treating it, hoping this will add a few pounds and also stabilise the bow it it's correct alignment.
I did have high hopes for this bow, but although it will be handsome there are a couple of longitudinal cracks still showing from the seasoning which I was hoping would have dissapeared as I worked it down, these aren't a problem but they don't look nice.
The cracks have been treated with a secret old bowyers preparation, which I'll tell you about as long as you keep it under your hat....
Ok, shhh don't tell... high quality, low viscosity superglue. Yeah, ok, it's not very traditional, but it's very effective, it gets drawn into the crack by capillary action and prevents any water ingress, it also helps show up the extent of the crack as it forms a blackish line, not pretty, but it's better to know the extent rather than to plough on in blind optimism.
It's very handy for sealing and stabilising fine pin knots too.
Now I realise that this may sound really horrible trick, but rest assured it's sensible to use the best and most appropriate tools and materials, the right glue for the right job, and I still use old fashioned hide glue for some things.
Of course superglue won't fix a broken bow or mend a chrysal or a transverse crack, but a longitudinal split due to the natural drying of the wood and the tension within it is a different kettle of fish and can be quite harmless.
I shall post some pics when the bow is fully tillered and we'll see how it turns out, (probably post some at the weekend anyway). I can hardly wait to get it done and on the chono' to see how fast it is. I'm trying hard not to press on too fast and spoil it as I am a tad impatient, the Christmas break will hopefully occupy me and slow me down, I need to buy some more string too before I can make a final working string.

I shall make up it's better behaved sister stave and see which is nicest before adding horn nocks and the like.
I'm making the bow for a lady, who might now end up with a choice of two.
I quite fancy one of them for myself to replace my 75 pounder for regular shooting as I struggle with it for more than occaisional use these days. A shortish, lower draw weight, fast longbow would be just the job and a welcomed alternative to my primitive flatbows.

Working the worst stave first is one of my foibles, it allows me to try out the wood without too much pressure, if it works, great, if not, then I'm better prepared for the next piece. I knew this stave wouldn't make a big bow, and the 40 pounder seemed to fit the bill. The other advantage is the sister stave can be made in pretty short order now I've got to grip with the peculiarities of the wood.

Having fought with this stave over the months I can sometimes see the attraction of a nice laminated stave of evenly machined exotic woods.
Ah, but when you feel a lithe, light piece of Yew in your hand, knowing every curve, bump and knot. Knowing you could go back to the very tree it came from, feeling the speed and power which grew into it over the years, its very special, in fact it's unique.
To be fair, I s'pose every bow is unique, but there are some you'd be hard pressed to tell apart.
Oh dear I'm waxing a bit too lyrical here.

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