Monday, 7 May 2012

Woodland Workshop

The weather wasn't too bad, but I set up a tarpaulin over my shave horse which kept the odd squalls of rain off me. I lashed my portable tiller tree to a big old Hornbeam and set to making a bow from a skinny piece of Hazel split from a log in January. I managed to get it finished and shooting by the end of the day, I only tested it to about 24" (~32#) as I didn't want to blow it on the tiller.
It's retained a little reflex which is pretty good, I'd had it seasoning strapped up with a few inches of reflex and being the skinnier half of the log it felt as if it had seasoned reasonably. The bow has it's back left completely intact with the bark left on, it's the first time I've managed this as previous bows have ended up being de-crowned.
Considering the weather we were quite busy and I'd set up shop near the entrance which drew a fair bit of interest.

I'd learnt from last year and only had one bow strung for people to look at, my big 75 pound Yew longbow. The reasoning being that not many people, and certainly no kids, could over draw it.
I'll tidy up the little Hazel bow at my leisure and hopefully tease it back to 26" or maybe even 28" I'll be going to a primitive archery meet next weekend, so I may take it along..
I've just had a contact on my website from a guy wanting to make his first Hazel bow, so I'll post more pictures and meaurements as I finish and fettle it.

The archery club had set up a 'hunting zone' have-a-go where people could shoot at 3D targets, there was also an archery 'clay pigeon' style shoot, aiming at foam discs with big blunt arrows from low poundage bows which was fun.
I didn't get to see round the rest of the festival as I was so busy, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits despite the odd downpour.

I'd seriously discourage anyone from trying to make a bow in a day, I took this on half expecting to fail, and just doing it to demonstrate the process. If it went bang on the tiller, it would have just been a crowd pleaser.
By all means get it roughed out and onto a long string in a day, but save the real tillering until you are fresh.
Do it little and often with plenty of exercising of the bow as it is worked.
What I learned from the exercise is that it's just experience that teaches you that vital point at which to really slow down and how much wood to remove as it begins to bend.
Hazel is plentiful however and it's a relatively knot fee, clean working wood to to try out. Be warned though, a draw knife can stil tear out deep gouges when try to take off too much. I rapidly moved to my spokeshave set fairly fine which gave a nice surface on the belly.
So have a go, there's nothing to loose and plenty of experience to gain.

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