Sunday, 17 April 2011

Yew Staves 'in the tree'

It's not obvious what a suitable piece of Yew looks like when it's hiding in a tree so here are a couple of pics.
I spent a lovely morning walking in a Hampshire woodland with my wife, brother and sister. I took a pic of where I'd cut my Yew last February, my brother is pointing out where I sawed it (it will have yielded 3 longbows and one shorter flatbow eventually), interestingly there is a white painted stump right next to it, I wonder if that piece was taken by another bowyer?
You can see the limbs have all sprouted up from a fallen Yew and there are still a few potential staves there.
We inspected dozens and dozens of Yew trees, I was looking for the perfect piece. There were a few 'possibles' but not much of real interest until my brother spotted a near perfect limb/trunk which I have earmarked for harvesting later in the year. This will probably yield 2 good clean longbows and possibly 2 more with a bit of character (from the knottier out side of the log).

Here's a couple of pics of my finished quiver too. My 'arrow extractor' which is used to dig 'em out of trees and target frames, is made from a ground down chisel (far more practial than the huge Bowie knives some carry) it did have an ugly plastic handle, which would have looked out of place in the new quiver. I fitted a nice antler handle with a waterbuffalo horn end cap to cover the porous end of the antler. It fits snugly in the pocket which was made to suit.
The stitching was done by piercing the holes first on a 5mm pitch, this gives a good compromise between too few which is faster to stitch and too many which looks finer, is stronger, but is slow.
I lay a steel rule about 3-4mm from the edge of the leather and trod on it to hold it down when making the holes.
There was a lot of work stitching the quiver but it was enjoyable, the sort of job you can plod along with whilst watching TV.

I couldn't resist adding this final shot of a beautiful Yew, which has an almost art nouveau or fairy tale quality. No staves in it but wonderful.


  1. Just a quick thought when I am marking stitching on leather I use a sharpened steel comb. You can snap off alternate teeth and with a gentle tap it marks well.


  2. Hey, that sounds like a great trick. I'll keep my eyes open for one of those combs.