Thursday, 15 September 2011

Yew Primitive Stave

I've started on a piece of Yew which I've been hoarding for ages, it looks like a perfect stave, but close examination reveals two awkwardly placed knots and grain which is very asymetric.
If I avoid the knots I end up with some twist or a bow with lateral bend which needs straightening at the handle.
I'm a bit fed up with heat treating and heat bending so I'm going to just make a bow fom the stave in hand, clean and simple and leave out the overthink!
The way to deal with knots is basically very simple, you leave 'em in or you cut 'em out. Of course you can't always see what dirction the knot goes in. I roughed it out on the bandsaw just leaving the edge of the knots visible so I could carefully remove as little as I could to take them out of the equation.
I'm aiming for a shortish flat bow similar to my Hazel bow (see the website), it will be narrower with nice slim tips, I'll probably radius the belly slightly to give a flatish oval cross section to the limbs I'm aiming for about 40 - 45 pounds but hopefully with little set.

Using the drawknife rips off wood quickly and also tends to follow the grain, some care is needed around the knots, but when a big chunk tears off it's actually telling you how the wood wants to be shaped. There comes a point however where discretion and a rasp takes over to avoid unwanted tearing.
Because of the weird grain on the stave the centre pith of the log runs in some peculiar places. Near the centre of the bow it's near the middle but elswere it's off to one side.
You can see the dark line of pith showing at two points on the limb nearest the camera in this last shot, just above my thumb and the further up and to the right.
There were quite a few drying cracks in the stave but they've dissapeared as I've got down to the centre pith. The cracks tend to radiate out from there towards the sawn face of a stave. They don't seem to run out towards the sapwood.

On this stave the sapwood is nice and thin so I'm hoping to just leave it alone having de-barked the stave carefully. This saves a lot of work following a growth ring and also adds to the nice simple primitive feel I want with this bow.
Some brown streaks of cambium still show, but these will be removed with a scraper in the final finishing of the bow.

Footnote(27/3/2014):- This eventually becomes Twister my favourite field shooting bow. Hopefully this note will help finding Twister when using the search facility.


  1. I love character bows. Knots add an extra character to the bow which also show skill.

  2. Yup, but these two knots were big and ran through at a shallow angle, also they didn't have a nice bulge of wood on the back to help support the area. Appearing about 1/3 down from the tips they would have been at a very vulnerable point. (I've added a pic)

  3. Replies
    1. Follow the blog entries and you'll see the whole build along.
      It turned out to be arguably my best shooting bow, which I regularly use.
      Here's a link to the blog entry where it's finished.