Sunday, 30 December 2012

End of Year Round Up

I've been doing a a few odds and ends over the holiday period.
The tips of the BBY have been narrowed a bit to reduce mass and hopefully reduce shock whilst maybe improving speed. I drew a pencil line about 7" from the tip and tapered from there straight to the edge of the horn nocks rather than the curved taper that it had before. I shot it at the club yesterday and it felt good,  the string needed to be twisted about 10 turns to get the brace height up as the string settled (I'd noticed it had started shooting slightly left). The arrows were loose on the string, which is a distraction so when I got home I bulked up the serving with one strand of serving thread, some people use dental floss, but stripping out one strand of serving thread looked cleaner and more tidy. I also melted a spot of beeswax on it and massaged it in.

I've been working on the Hickory backed Lemonwood  stave I was given, for a lad at the club. It's coming on nicely and is back to about 35# at 28" at a low brace with temporary nocks. I'll have to get him to try it before reducing it much more.

The Yew stave has been worked down a bit more and studied, I think it will need a bit of steam bending to take out the S curve, bit of a pain, but better than trying to lay out a straight bow across the curve of the grain.
Talking of which, one of the guys at the club had a very cheap Hickory self longbows from the USA as a 'first bow', they are good value for money, but a tad agricultural. I was pointing out how the grain ran at a nasty angle across one limb and sure enough a big splinter had already started to lift. I think low viscosity superglue and linen thread will patch it up. I offered to tune up the bow once the guy has bought a decent bow (he's leaving it a while until he's happy shooting longbow and knows what draw weight he's comfortable with). It will be interesting to play with the Hickory, I'm sure the tiller can be improved and the tips narrowed a bit.

This morning I ran my Yew log, which I'd cut in November, through the bandsaw (the one I got council permission to cut). I made a good job of sawing it to give one good length stave and the other half which has a huge knot in it has a clean 5' length which may make a primitive or one or two billets. I got the staves up on my shelves out of the way.

Looking back over the year it's been pretty good, I must have made about a dozen bows (and broken a few). My favourite bows are probably the 90# warbow and the pretty longbow I did for the girl at the club. The Hazel bows (especially the bark-on ones) are rather fine too.

That's about it for 2013. Happy new year one and all, and good luck with any bow making exploits.

Monday, 17 December 2012

BBY and a Yew Stave

This may well be my last post of the year, if so I'd like to wish one and all a happy festive season and a splendid 2013. Doubtless I'll be picking up my tools again before then to avoid the holiday induced cabin fever. Meanwhile I've been singing "All I want for Christmas is Yew".

I've finished the BBY, or pretty much finished it for now. It may get some tweaking later.
I'm very pleased with it.

We had our end of year shoot at the club. This year we've had access to a barn set up for indoor 3D shooting*, it also gave us somewhere out of the weather to have our AGM and some festive food.

I'd sewn the grip onto the bow the night before and put it in my bow bag without the string... whoops.
Fortunately Roy had a (continuous loop) spare string of just the right length which he let me borrow, whew, thanks Roy!

The pics are pretty self explanatory, the filled knot is perhaps the only one of note (see right).
I rather like the nocks too, top one is V slim and elegant.

I shot Ok considering it was virtually my first try with the bow, it seems pretty fast. I felt it was jarring my left elbow slighty so went up to my 11/32" arrows (same 100gn points), the extra weight seemed to smooth it out, I may re-tiller the bow slightly to drop it down to 50#, but I certainly won't act in haste.
Chrono test shows 170 fps with the lighter arrows and 165 with the heavier, interestinly I broke 2 of the thinner lighter arrows during testing as they were still flexing as they hit the bckstop. The front 1/3 of the arrow penetrated while the back end flexed enough to snap 'em clean off. Never mind, they'd had a good life nand had already been splice repaired once. (Note they didn't snap at the splice).
The bow is almost 55# and has a good initial draw weight (I can tell it's harder to string than my regular self Yew 50# longbow) It will be interesting to shoot it through the chronometer or take it out an try it for distance.

Meanwhile I've picked up the other half of the Yew log which I'd been working a few weeks back and hadn't turned out (or had 'smashed' as we sometimes call it). This stave has tons of character but fewer knots, there's a big reflex bend at one end and some slight lateral S curve. Roughing it down a bit with a draw knife lets me get a feel for how the grain is running. Sawing out Yew on a bandsaw helps to ensure maximum yield of stavesand the draw knife then allows me to re-establish the real run of the grain. That's not to say you need to slavishly follow the grain, but you do need to know where it goes, so that if you do have it angling across the limb slightly care can be taken to avoid tools digging in and tearing deep into the limb.

* Do a search for 'Celtic Harmony Archery Barn' to find it, although I think the website is being updated over the holiday period.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

BBY (Bamboo backed Yew)

The BBY is coming on nicely, it's roughed out to just about floor tiller stage (where it can be flexed with one tip on the floor, t'other in one hand and pressing at the grip to watch it flex).
Marking it out and shaping it is somewhat easier than a stave as it's much straighter.
I glued it up under some tension (strapped to some 'Dexion' angle beam) (top left pic) to take the hint of deflex out of each tip, which gives it a straight limbed but 'set back in the handle' look .
Top right pic shows where I've peeled back the masking tape which was protecting the 'boo and providing a surface on which to pencil the marking out. Very useful stuff for bow making is masking tape.
Once I'd taken off the rubber strapping, the edges of the stave cleaned up nicely with a spokeshave revealing a lovely thin, almost invisible glue line.

At this time of year the low sun shines through the garage door for a few minutes near midday, if I stand with a long bow in the doorway, the Shadow of the top nock points to the buried treasure ;).
The daylight is most welcomed  (see last pic) and makes me realise how poor the lighting is in the garage. I'll get round to adding more power points and better lighting at some point. That last pic also shows the Yew log I cut last week, I'll run it through the bandsaw some time, but there's no rush as the ends are sealed and if it looses a bit of moisture it will be lighter to handle and easier to cut. I've just spent some time tidying the garage so I'm reluctant to create too much mess sawing that log.
The BBY is a bit of an experiment for the fun of it. After Christmas I'll have to sort out my staves and see what I have, fortunately I've only got two or three bows to make so hopefully I'll have enough.

I have a terrible confession... A week or so back Bob's bow smashed on me too. I couldn't bring myself to document two disasters within the space of a few days. The good news is, it didn't break at that belly patch. I suspect the break may have initiated at an un-filled knot as I could push out the offending knot from the broken limb (please note the words, 'suspect' and 'may', it's all applied guesswork).
2/3 of the bow is still sound, so I've salvaged the good limb and spliced it to the good limb from the Oregon Yew bow (which smashed due to bug damaged sapwood in one limb earlier in the year). this will give me a 'transatlantic' bow which will be interesting.
I'll be making Bob a bow from the other (better) half of the log which I'd used in the first attempt. That first one was always rather marginal and I wasn't too surprised when it gave out, it would have had tons of character, but I'd rather it smash during tillering than later on.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Snow & Bamboo

Whaaaa, too cold in the garage to do much, but Over the last week I've started working on my Bamboo slat to back the spliced Oregon Yew heartwood.
The bamboo slat is a bare 6' long, I will go for a slightly wider flatter wider cross section than usual, but I may try to keep the depth/width ratio still withing the 5/8 rule so that it could be classed as a longbow. I'm not quite sure which archery society came up with the 5/8 rule but it's commonly accepted and isn't an issue with anything vaguely like a longbow.
I may glue it up with a hint of reflex, but I won't build in a narrowed grip or arrow shelf like ... well maybe I'll narrow the grip if it needs it.
I was a bit uncertain about sawing the Bamboo so I asked the guys on Primitive Archer (PA) what bandsaw blade was best,  it turned out the 6tpi (teeth per inch) blade I had on already was fine.
I started sanding down the concave side of the Bamboo slat to get it flat, even with the belt sander it was taking ages and was still pretty thick even when I'd flattened it out (6-7mm). One of the PA guys suggested 1/8" near the middle and 1/16" at the tips (approx 3.2 mmm and 1.6mm respectively).
With a lot to take off I tried my plane, first following more advice and making sure it was sharp. The belt sander was V useful for cleaning up the bevel on the plane blade prior to final sharpening with an oil stone.
First pic shows the 'boo taped to the stave after running through the bandsaw, you can clearly see the nodes and how it's concave.  I clamped the Bamboo to a piece of 3"x2" and planed it down without too much trouble. back onto the belt sander to flatten it off.
I'm roughing down the high spots  on the Yew heartwood with a rasp and then running it over the belt sander to even it off. I'm not going for dead flat, I'm allowing some longitudinal undulations to reflect the shape of the stave but getting it flat across the width of the bow. I'll glue it up soon.

Right pic shows the planed down concave side. On the outer face of the 'boo I have just taken the very peak off the nodes, leaving them still substantially proud, they look good standing out too and I think if they are taken down flush they can fracture.
Next morning I looked at the Bamboo again, hmmm it still looked a bit thick, and I could imagine that once it was on the bow and I started to narrow the limbs it would start to look thicker and thicker (due to the natural curve of the 'boo. this illustrates why I don't like to rush, we all do stuff and think, wow that's great, but by the next morning maybe we realise it can be improved. If I'd rushed to glue that up last night, I'd have been cursing myself this morning. Mind that's not to say it's right yet... still plenty of chances for me to screw up.
Oh, yes, and I've signed Brian's bow :)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fully Shot In!

The repaired bow is now fully shot in having had 107 arrows shot since the repair. The limbs had already done a fair bit of shooting beforehand, so I'm happy it's had time to settle.
It's looking really nice, being a couple of inches shorter it is working fairly hard and draws to a lovely full curve.
This still has been grabbed from some video so it's a bit low resolution, the bright background doesn't help either, but it gives a feel of the bow and shows how I'm having to come a long way back for a 31" draw.
My slightly eccentric stance is because there is little room and I don't want to bash that upper limb on the door frame.

Here are the grip pics, you can clearly see the sapwood back patch, but it blends in well as it is from the same wood. The belly patch (again from the same wood) is harder to spot even if you click on the pic to enlarge it.

The bow is virtually finished now, it's just down to scrutinising it for any tool marks, giving it a coat or two of Danish oil every day and then a final wipe with beeswax polish and a buff of the nocks.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Repaired Bow Full Draw

Brian's Bow is now back to full draw, it's about 55# at 31" so I can loose a few pounds in the final clean up and finishing. I've shot 55 arrows through it at the full 31" draw.
I had been thinking of Chickening out and only drawing 30", but I must have the courage of my convictions so it's been back all the way.
I'm having to shoot 'in' the bow with my anchor point down near my right shoulder to reach the full 31", I'm getting used to it now and hitting my 2" square at 10 yards despite the low anchor.
Here's a still from the video I took to check the tiller.
You can see I've done the Mother of Pearl arrow plate, you can also see the extra thickness back and belly at the grip, this will be covered by the leather grip eventually.
I shall take a whisker off the inner third of the right (upper) limb as it looks a tad stiff to me. The left limb looks really sweet.
I was a bit nervous getting back this far, but when I'm actually shooting it I feel it could come back another inch!
I've now taken a whisker off the inner third of the upper limb (with a fine rasp), taken out the tool marks with a scraper and  sanded it down. It's now 48# at 30" which I feel is probably about right, better a hint over than under especially in this cold weather which can add a pound or two.
I shall shoot another 50 through it and then get the grip done... again!

Also been tidying up the Yew I cut on Thursday following my approval from the council. The main piece is almost 8' long and about 4" diameter in the middle. The heart wood is nice and dark with fairly thin clearly defined sapwood. The growth rings are very coarse, but that doesn't overly concern me, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between width of rings, colour or definition of heart/sap. Doubtless you can read otherwise elsewhere, this is just what I've found. There are a couple of scruffy bits from further up the limb, one of which may make a primitive stick bow, the other may come in handy for something, if only firewood.
Generally I think, when in doubt save it, you never know when you'll want to make a miniature or somesuch, and you can always throw it away when you have better wood.
I'll probably run the big piece through the bandsaw later this week, for now I've just painted the ends with PVA and left in in the garage where I can stub my toe on it.