Friday, 17 June 2011

Character Bow

I've been working on the Character bow, a little and often, it's painstaking work but fun. Its been up on the tiller and I've got it back to 40 lb at 26" on a low brace height. The bow is so S shaped I had to modify the tiller rig to bring the bow support block an inch or so from the wall else one limb was hitting the wall. There's a lovely little bit of recurve (flip tip) on the top limb, but there was some nasty white and black rot round a small knot there, I rasped away the rot and chiseled out a thin groove where the remainder was. I didn't want to lose the flip tip so I filled the groove with Yew dust and epoxy, mixed up fairy dry, sellotape was wrapped around and then it was tightly bound with twine to help compact the mix into the groove. You can see the before and after in the pics.

The back and belly are being cleaned up too, it's very laborious taking out the rasp marks from the belly with a file, scraper and sandpaper. With the back its a matter of scraping away the remaining bits of brownish cambium to expose the white sapwood, this is tricky where there are knots and little dips in the wood, I ground down a needle file to make a tiny chisel for cleaning out dips and knots. There are odd areas which have been nicked by the drawknife during de-barking, careless you may think, but the wood is very undulating and it's almost impossible to do it perfectly. I couldn't be certain the log would be any good so some of the initial de-barking was a tad rough and ready to allow me to see if it had any potential.
Anyway, where there are nicks or I've gone through a growth ring these are carefully blended in. Its a slow process working down the whole bow, and once its been done a close examination reveals the next layer of minor flaws.
As a kid I couldn't really understand when my brother explained about putting on varnish then sanding it off and repeating the process umpteen times. Why put it on and then sand it off again?? The whole point of course is that first coat or two helps seal the wood and shows up the imperfections which you'd missed. No point pressing on regardless unless you are happy with tool marks showing (and that's fine on the right bow, as long as you are happy with it). This bow will be a working bow, but I want to show off the character to it's best. It's the first real 'character' bow I've done, there is 'Mr Wobbly' on my website, but that was done just to see how hard you could push a bit of Yew.
Here's an update, this is the big feature knot on the lower limb, about 1/3 of the way down from the grip. The back has been cleaned up and the knot has had all the soft stuff cleaned out, leaving good solid heartwood.

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