Thursday, 19 July 2012

Finished Sculpture

 Here he is with the original sketch and some other notes.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Sculpture Coming On Nicely

Still a fair bit of work to do, and you can see, some of the pieces are held with masking tape to allow me to see how it will look.
I'm very pleased with how it's progressing.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Next Project... a little different

For ages I've been toying with the idea of making a sculpture of an archer, trying to incorporate the flowing movement of the draw. A while back I did a sketch, and a couple of weeks ago we went to the Royal Academy of Art, Summer Exhibition where, amongst the huge variety of work was a small rather static, stylised sculpture of a headless target archer out of sheet metal.
This galvanised me into action, so I picked up some thin offcuts of Yew and started playing to see what was possible. I had to use my heat bending tricks from bow making to get tight bends and made a few early mistakes. I could see there was some potential there and did some more sketches.
Later as I sat watching telly I made a cardboard cutout model of the basic form. I want to add in another couple of arm/bow positions to portray the movement of the draw, but of course it runs the risk of ending up looking like a multi-armed deity! I may go for a slightly shorter bow too.
It's absolutely hammering down with rain at the mo' so I'm reluctant to even pop out into the garage (the family joke that I need a 'Dad flap' into the garage along the lines of the cat flap). I'll probably stay indoors and do more to the cardboard maquette (Maquette? Pretentios? Moi?)
The dillema is, do you rush in and make something rather rough with oodles of spontaneity, or do you do loads of studies, sketches and experimentation and end up with a sterile laboured, but much better finished work? One problem is that you can seldom see your work with fresh eyes, unless you happen to stumble upon it whilst tidying the loft or somesuch. that's why an honest opinion from someone who's judgement you value is so useful.
Same goes for the bows too, I still like my wife's delicately put criticism of one longbow with a bit of S shaped bend in one limb "There's character, and there's too much character" !
I straightened it!
You can see I've done some more. Ah the joy of modern adhesive! I can remeber the frustration as a kid trying to make stuff out of cardboard with 'gloy' and other such useless glues. High viscosity superglue, brilliant quick and effective.
The arm/head sub assembly slots on so I can maybe add a third bow and pair of arms. The numbers of arms and bows doesn't have to tally, I'm after the impression of movement, easilly done in a drawing with animation lines going swoosh but not so easy in the solid, mind I could model in the animation lines, maybe a big sound bubble "Swoosh twang...thud" shades of Pop art and Lichtenstein's 'Wham'!

The model has shown me that the right arm will be tricky in Yew as it has some nasty angles, and the shoulder area becomes rather crowded. The different views each give very differenent feel and can reveal unexpected effects.
I'm very enthusiastic about doing it in Yew now.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Hornbeam Looking Better

It's recovered to almost 40# at 28" with no overall reflex or deflex.
The lower limb still has rather a kink to it and I might ease off the upper limb a hint more.
The kink is where the knot and natural bend was and I don't want to try too hard to straighten it and risk fracturing it, maybe I'll fill that knot which will just stiffen it a tad.
It's looking much better  now and shoots with a decent punch.
The brace height is still low, a shorter proper string and a whisker off the right limb and I'll be able to shoot it in with 50 arrows or so and see how it settles down. I'm much happier with it now.
Hmmm! I've just looked at the previous video again and I'm not convinced it's actually looking much 'better' I think it looks slightly less symetrical at full draw, but then it should, as it isn't symetrical at brace!
The right limb now looks a bit less hinged. this all illustrates how subjective it is. The only real truth will come from the chronometer, although I didn't measure the speed before the last work.
Interestingly there are plenty of cases of bows being reduced substantially in draw weight, but shooting faster because the tiller has been improved.
Anyhow I'll post some still shots when I've done the final tweaking and got a decent string on it.
I've thinned the outer third of the upper limb and scraped it a bit nearer the grip too, I put it on the tiller and it read 30# !, seems a bit odd, but after a while I twigged. It slowly recovers when unstrung to have a hint of reflex, but the draw weight drops off once strung for a while and the reflex disappears. This recoverable rreflex is 'string follow' as opposed to 'set' which is permanent, a minor distinction I s'pose.
It also illustrates how draw weights can sometimes be missleading.
When it's all finished I'll take the draw weight after I've shot a dozen arrow from it, probably find it is about 30#, but hopefully a fast 30 pounder.
I've made the string and it shoots nicely, after 6 shots it weighed in at 37# at 28". After more shots and getting my son to take some video of me shooting into the garage (you can see I don't have much room!) I took the string off. With the tips of the bow held up against the door frame I could slip one finger between the door frame and the grip (belly side) so it's followed the string a bit, but I dare say that after an hour or so it will be back about straight.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Re-working the Hornbeam

The heat treatment is allowing me to effectively step back to the roughly tillered stage where I can work on it it to give a much better shape.
To look at it another way, it's gained me about 5# in draw weight which I can now use in improving the tiller. I'll still end up with a 35# at 28" draw bow but it will be faster, more symmetrical and less stressed than it was at the first attempt.
I've been able to remove wood from the stiff areas, and by drawing along the string line I've been able to make sure I was removing wood in a way which made the bow run straighter along that string line.
There is a serious wiggle in the lower limb which is never going to be straight, but it's a lot straighter and more even than it was before. Having worked it down to a better tiller, I'm going over the heat treatment again, in the hope that areas that are now less stressed will be able to hold their shape better than before.
If I get both limbs done today they can be resting for a couple of days while I earn a crust at work.
The pic shows the string line and how it's biased to the left at the arrow pass to suit a right handed archer. The bulk of the grip (pale area in the middle) isn't far off central.
It's viewed as it would be by the archer (top limb at the top of shot).
Hopefully I'll end up with a light weight but respectable bow after a rather unpromising start.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Equipment Malfunctions! & Repair

Four of us from the club went to a field shoot at Totem Archers, two were shooting longbow, one a Horsebow and I was shooting Twister (a primitive). The leaden sky was pouring rain on us and a Bamboo backed longbow of one of the group gave up when being strung and the belly collapsed... not an auspicious start. The guy shared a longbow with the other longbow archer and after a while settled into it and we all shot well.
It brightened up after about an hour but nearing the end of the shoot the malfunctions struck again.
With just 4 targets to go, I was waiting to shoot and 'Twister' gave a kick in my hand... What on earth could it be? I looked down and initially thought the string had slipped off the lower nock, but closer inspection showed the horn nock overlay had slipped off and slid down the bow, the glue line had given way, the tip of the bow was a bit damp, and maybe the occasional bump on the ground an the damp had caused it fail.
One of the guys jokingly suggested a couple of nails might do the job, and on consideration I may take up his suggestion in part, and add a tiny silver nail for extra security. I shall clean it up and re-glue it using 24hour epoxy rather than the 10minute variety I usually use for nock overlays.
I contrived to loose one arrow and smash two, but it was still a most enjoyable shoot , 40 3D targets in extensive woodland with some targets tucked tantalizingly behind trees (hence the smashed arrows). Thanks to all at Totem Archers for their hospitality and an excellent shoot.
I finished the last four targets shooting the Horsebow and Longbow getting a total of about 560, Roy got the best score with his longbow, about 620 or thereabouts. Considering the weather I think we did well, I always think a score of 10 x the number of targets is a comfortable and easilly clculated benchmark (e.g 400 on the day) For an experienced archer it's not too hard but for a beginner it seems impossible. That's an average of a second arrow wound.
The pic illustrates how the nock had slipped along the limb and also shows how big the glued surface was, I wouldn't expect that to fail.
I got home to a cup of tea a hot shower and roast Chicken... bliss. Of course I left some wet weather gear in Tom's car!

Here's a pic of the repair. I glued it overnight with a lamp close over it for a few hours before I went to bed and this morning to get it warm and ensure a good cure of the epoxy. I then drilled a 2mm hole through the horn and deep into the sapwood, countersinking it slightly. A length of 2mm silver rod was filed to a nail point and tapped home (just hard enough so the rod started to bend). The rod was then snipped off leaving a couple of mm protruding to be tapped with a hammer to spread the end like a rivet into the countersink.
A good clean up and polish gives a decent finish, next time I see the guys I'll say I took their advice and whacked in a nail.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

After Heat treatment

I haven't strung it, I'll leave it until Monday to let it settle. The pics show how the reflex has been restored and the deflex in lower limb has been reduced. I didn't try to make it dead straight as the knot is in that area and I didn't want to risk fracturing it. It's slowly begining to look more like a bow, I'm hopefull it will end up being a reasonable shooter.
The picture of the nocks shows the shape, also how I tend to leave rather a lot of shaft showing between nock and fletching, this is just force of habit, and if I wanted to justify it I'd say it gives better ease of handling. It's really a throwback to when I'd stuck nocks on a bunch of arrows before fletching and then found I couldn't get them in my fletching jig without the flighs being a long way from the nock, aerodynamically it's probably a bad thing, but won't change the price of bread.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Hornbeam Video

I've got it out to28", it's pulled out all the recurve and is down to about 35#.
There is a knot which I've excavated in the belly of one limb and the deflex on the lower limb doesn't help the bow.
It's not the prettiest bow, but it shoots. I may use some heat treatment to gently try and straighten the deflex out a bit and stiffen up the weak areas, hopefully restore it to 40# at 28"
It was 40# but I slimmed the tips and outer limbs to try and spread the load from the overworked section.
The inner limbs are still doing all the work. If I heat treat the inner limbs and slim the outer limbs even more I can maybe loose some mass whilst adding draw weight to produce a faster bow.
At the moment it shoot s like a slightly tired 35# bow. (Mind it has got a heavy string with an aluminium toggle on it).
I've started work on the heat treating, I'll get it finished this evening, but it will need a few days for the wood to settle down again. It's looking much more symetrical, straightish limbs, just set back very slightly in the handle giving about an inch of reflex. With it more symetrical I should be able to tiller it to a better looking and more effective/efficient curve.

Meanwhile I've been making up half a dozen arrows with self nocks for a shoot on Sunday. I'll be shooting 'Twister' in the primitive class, which doesn't allow plasic nocks. I set up the bandsaw so that I could cut rough cut the nocks all the same, and then clean 'em up with a needle file and sandpaper. I make them keyhole shaped so they are a firm fit to get them on the string, but once on the string they are no longer gripping, I think this minimises the risk of splitting an arrow at the loose.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Looks a Little Bit Like a Bow!

I grasped the nettle and got it brace height. I had file in an extra pair of nock grooves to use a stringer to overcome the huge reflex whist stringing it.
It told me a lot, and it looked hideous, the natural dip of deflex looked like an awful hinge and the other limb due to the greater reflex looked too stiff, but it got there and it flexed.
A bit of work to try and even it up a bit has got me to 40# at 17" from a reasonable brace.
Ok it still looks ugly as sin, but it's no good tillering to a 'perfect' arc of a circle. The tillering has got to reflect the unbraced shape, which is V difficult to do.
To help in my quest I bough a packet of blackboard chalk and gave the garage wall a brushing down, so I can chalk round the bow to see how it's moving.
As I was winching it back to 40# there were horrid cracking and creaking noises, I could actually see the bark lifting just left of the handle,  which is great as it shows I'm getting some bend there (you can see it in the pic if you click on it to see it full size).
It's taken a good bit of set now, probably due to my rough handling of it, but still has a hint of reflex.
You may notice, I have it on the tiller the other way round this time, I'm still uncertain as to which will be the top limb.
I shall get my chalk out now and proceed with a bit more subtlety. My rough handed aproach to heaving back and bracing it was about the only way I'd be able to see what was happening, I was sort of daring the bow to fail or behave itself.

I'll probably be updating this later in the day as it's only 9:45 on a sunny morning.
I've decided the limb with the deflex kink will be the bottom limb (which I will put to the left next time it's on the tiller). I narrowly avoided wrecking the whole thing, I'd done some more and put it on the tiller, I knelt down to wind the winch and watch the scale which meant I wasn't looking at the bow. It seemed to be coming back further and further without the draw weight getting to 40#. The warning bell in my head went off and I glanced up at the bow. Arrrgghhh, the top limb (on the left in the pics above) was bending hugely just out from the grip (you can see it's weak in the pics) and the other limb wansn't moving much. I quickly let it down and I've set to weakening the other limb.
I don't think any damage was done, but its a reminder that lower weigh bows are better pulled on the rope rather than the winch, that way I can watch both bow and scale.
It's looking ok now, I shall stich on some tip overlays to allow me to adust the nock position and thus the string line. I'm hoping it will reach 40# at 20", dunno if there'll be any reflex left. I could always heat treat it to gain a few pounds, but I rather like the simple approach.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Flexing Hornbeam

The bow is begining to flex, it has 4" of natural reflex and it's taking about 45# on a long string to even get the limbs back to somewhere near straight.
The bow flipped on the tiller and the scale fell on the floor, it stopped working so I opened it up to find out what was wrong. The mechansim is self explanatory with a toothed rack engaging onto a cog to turn the indicator hand. The rack had slipped out of engagement. I used a G clamp to avoid it happening again.
The pic on the right shows how the bark is lifting cleanly off now.
I'm expecting to pull some of the reflex out during tillering, but maybe end up with an inch or two.
It's going to be difficult to get a good tiller and draw weight, the big danger is making it too weak and finding that when I get it braced the extra leverage of the short string gives me a 20# bow. The other extreme is that the stress is just too much with that big reflex and it explodes.
What I may have to do is keep an eye on the amount of set and if it is getting too much I may have to use heat to take out a little bit of the reflex.
Hopefully I can just turn it into a bow without any messing about.
Hmmm, I've done a bit more and I'm getting a bad feeling about it. If I draw it I feel I could just keep pulling it back until it blew, and yet I'd be expecting the draw weight to come up.
It hasn't taken any set yet (well maybe it's lost 1/2" of reflex) I also heard a slight 'tick' as I pulled it back... that is normally the death knell for a bow, but it could be the bark as a section near the grip had come loose.
That's a good thing as I'm trying to get some bend into the handle region. maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew?
Anyhow, a couple of days at work will stop me messing with it.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Muscle Wood

The name Hornbeam derives from The German Horn Baum meaning Horn wood, because presumably it is hard as horn, I'm sure you'll find other derivations/definitions too. The American species is also known as muscle wood. This pic of one limb, which makes use of the low evening sun, shows why. The bark is almost smooth and you can see the rippling wood underneath a bit lke a muscley forearm.
I've thinned it a bit more and it's now flexing if I lean my body weight on it. I'll put up on the tiller soon, it will be a pig to get it flexing as, with that much reflex it will keep trying to flip over. I may have to make some sort of clamp arrangement untill the tips are pulling down below the grip and it becomes stable. A bow flipping over on the tiller can give you a nasty whack on the knuckles.

I shot at the club end of month 3D shoot today, went round in good company and we all shot quite well.
The girl who now has the Yew longbow seemed to be getting along nicely with it and her Mum said she was becoming very attached to it. I tried not to hover around offering advice as that's a sure way to put anyone off, but I just happened to see her on one target near the club house. A giant rubber Frog across a pond, her first shot was slightly rushed, her second looked nicely controlled and I heard the thud of a hit! Excellent.
When I'd been warming up at the start of the shoot I must have snatched at the draw as I felt a nasty stabbing pain under my right shoulder blade. Damn! I was tempted to quit and go home, but did a few stretches and moaned a bit (I knew I'd get more sympathy at the club than I would at home ;) ), then gave it another go, taking care to inhale and use my muscles more carefully and smoothly, no problem at all and by the time we'd shot a few I'd forgotten about it. I think the problem was, I'd got used to drawing 30# over the last few weeks and all of a sudden I was pulling 47#.