Thursday, 31 January 2013

Waggly Yew on the Tiller

I've finished cleaning up the sapwood, rounded the belly a good bit and got it to a low brace.
It's pulling back to 45# at about 20".
You can see the right (upper) limb is a bit stiff on the outer 2/3.
The recurve in the lower limb is still showing and the lateral waggle is looking ok with the string line fairly steady and just offset a whisker to favour the left hander.
It won't take much work to get it right back now, but the trick is to do right work! Concentrating on that right limb should get it back towards the 26" I'm aiming for at 45#.

I've been playing with my little lathe too, I made a new pulley for the motor from a chunk of plastic, turning it on the lathe. I bought a top slide online for a Unimat 3 lathe which I've modified to fit. It required turning a steel bolt head from hex to round. the lathe managed to do that ok. With the smaller pulley it's going a bit slower and sounds better, it should also have more torque. I'll be able to turn arrow heads with it now. Dunno when I'll actually get round to it, but I've had tons of fun playing with it already.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Yew Longbow Almost Ready For Tillering, Video

The video shows the bow I'm working on, just prior to really starting to work it on the tiller.
The video isn't great resolution as it's too big unless it's compressed a bit. But it should give an idea.

The top pic gives shows the knot that was tapped out, you can see that once the hole is cleaned back to sound wood it is substantially bigger, this shows how much crumbly black manky stuff is round even a small knot.
The second pic shows it on the tiller with no force applied, it's certainly got some character and this shape will need to be reflected at full draw. So the left limb should look stiff in the outher 1/3 when finished and the right (upper) limb should look a tad stiff in the middle. Although knowing me, it may still look like an arc of a circle.
Bear in mind some of the shape will pull out.

I've measured the limb thickness at 6" intervals, looking for about 2mm change in thickness every 6".
The limbs were fairly similar and I've rasped a bit off here and there to match it all up to the thinnest point.
There's usually one point a bit on the thin side and that becomes the reference point for adjusting everything else. Doing it like that you gradually reduce the thickness overall whilst retaining a nice even taper. Once it's pulling back enough to see by eye, then it's more down to look and feel.
I put it back on the tiller with a taut string and it's pulling a bit further now, getting close to brace height.
I've drawn it a bit by hand (left handed, as it's for a left hander) and it seems to come back nicely without trying to twist in the hand. I'll be keeping an eye on the string alignment and any potential twist in the limbs especially where the bends are. Once it's pulling back a fair bit the bow may fine it's own plane to flex on, and what seemed to be dubious string alignment may settle down.
At this stage I have a fair bit of width to play with. The width doesn't really start getting tweaked until it's coming back to about 20" on a taut string or maybe 18" from braced.
That'll do me for now.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Tiny Lathe

I stripped cleaned and adjusted the lathe. It was sloppy as hell when I got it, but feels much more solid now.
It seems to be missing it's top slide, but can move left/right on the leadscrew so it's not a big issue, although the topslide can be used for cutting tapers which would be handy
 I tested it on a scrap of arrow shaft first and then some brass. It works fine, but chatters a bit, mind I know zip about machining so the feed/speed and tool angle is prob all wrong.
It should do nicely for making little horn or brass arrow heads for some bamboo shafts I've got.
That's a £2 coin in the pic, so it gives an idea of how small it is.
You can see theres a backplate and tool rest too, which will be handy for turning wood, although it won't turn much bigger than an ashtray or a chess piece.

Meanwhile the Yew bow is having it's sapwood chased to something near a single ring, and the copper archer is running around the garage wreaking havoc.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cold and Cold

 Snow still on the ground so it's a bit cold in the garage. I've got the sniffles too so I'm not going to be trying to do much.
I do have another project on the go which is a copper version of the sculpture I did here.
I'm planning to submit the wooden one to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, but there is a local exhibition on before that which gives me the excuse to try a copper version.
I have some large diameter thick wall copper pipe from our old heating system, (modern pipe is much lighter gauge). I sawed down one edge of a piece and then opened it up using wedges levers and a wooden mallet.
My bandsaw has a blade for non ferrous metals which cuts through the thin copper like a knife through butter.
I'm not sure if I'll try to braze the pieces or maybe use soft solder or copper rivets. Getting a nice patina on the finished article will be interesting too.
I drew it out on paper first and stuck it to the copper sheet with double sided tape. His head looks odd as it will be folded back on itself to create a more solid head of similar shape to the wooden version. I've sawn out 2 more arms, so I'm ready to start shaping it once I'm brave enough to go out in the cold.

I'm also toying with the idea of getting a small model maker's lathe. Nothing expensive or fancy, just something to tinker with and turn arrow heads and such like. There are some very small old ones about which are a reasonable price, but will probably need some work.
I've never really done any metal turning so it will be interesting. My dad has a big old Myford 7 but that's a bit scarey and a long way away, he also has some tiny watchmakers lathes which belonged to his dad, but they are too small (hmmm this is sounding a bit 'Goldilocks' ).
I narrowly missed out on one last week, but it prob' did me a favour as it was fairly large and didn't have a chuck or motor, so I'd have had a lot of work to do. I'll post some pics if I manage to get one.

Woo hoo! I won the E-Bay auction for a little 'Super Adept' lathe. It's only about 15" long which means I'll have room for it in the garage. I've got to arrange collection some time, it was only £51 which is pretty good.
Even if it needs some work to clean it up it will be worth that in entertainment value.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Hickory / Lemonwood Finished & Steaming Done

The Hickory backed Lemonwood is finished and hopefully the lad who owns it will soon settle in to it, shame the weather is so poor as he won't get much of a chance until it thaws.

I've finished steaming the Yew stave for now.
I should be able to reduce it a tad more, file in some temporary nocks and try to flex it on the tiller.
It's a bit cold in the garage to do much, but I'll manage the odd short burst.
You can see the lateral bend has mostly been taken out but I've left the rflexed tip. The sapwood is nicely reduced now too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Kids Bow

I had a visit from the lad and his Dad to try out the bow (Hickory backed Lemonwood) with it's temporary nocks.
Initially he drew the bow without an arrow and looked to be finding it a bit tough. I was slightly sceptical as I feel it's harder to draw a bow without an arrow especially 'cold'  and maybe he was nervous of overdrawing it.
I gave him a try with another bow and then back to the first, this time actually shooting arrows.
No prob, he looked comfortable and steady, I marked an arrow as he held it at full draw. His draw peaked at about 24" and then settled back to about 23 1/2".
After that I began to wonder if the draw weight could actually go up a tad, I was in danger of confusing myself and getting into overthink.
I've done the horn nocks (Water buffalo horn) and done the arrow plate, I've made the nocks very small, and actually moved them in towards the grip by 1/4" this won't make much difference to the draw weight, but will avoid it dropping during the final finishing and it will help keep the overall length down.
The pics show the two nocks and the grip area built up on the back with leather ready for the grip to be put on, the Water buffalo arrow pass has isn't polished yet.
While they were here we had a go with some of the other bows and the Chinese repeater, had a try with a spokeshave too on an offcut of Yew to feel the diference between heart and sap wood. They had a feel of rasping a bit of horn too and getting that weird smell, remiscent of burning hair.

Meanwhile the Yew longbow stave has had it's third, and hopefully final steaming. It's resting for a day or so now, It will still have some lateral wiggle and the reflex curve hasn't been touched. It's nice to retain some character, and I'm taking a mischievous delight in the thought that the finished bow may cause someone to say "that's not a longbow because it has some reflex" which can justifiably elicit a scathing reply about the shape of the original log. Mind, there probably won't be much of a recurve tip by the time it's fully tillered.

PS. Just noticed the 'explain more' box ticked on the last but one post. I'm not sure what further explanation is needed. There is a fair amount about steaming, including a video, elsewhere on the blog.
Feel free to add a comment asking something specific and I'll do my best to respond.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Three Bows On The Go

The steam bending looks good, but it needs one more bend on the other limb and then the tips will probably need a wee tweak.
The Hickory backed Lemonwood is looking good with the belly nicely rounded, it's pulling 30# at 28", that will get a try out tomorrow to see if it is suitable. (No pic of that bow).
Top right is the Transatlantic bow nearing full draw, it's been worked on a good bit since that pic.
Meanwhile the transatlantic Yew longbow is back to 50# at 28". the two limbs were of similar size and I made the Oregon Yew limb the lower as it's supposed to be tougher, denser, generally and generally superior. It's also slightly thicker than the English Yew upper limb and I was expecting to need to slim it down.
The reverse is the case, the English Yew limb is the stiffer and I've had to work that down, I'm also moving the nock on the Oregon Yew limb inboard about half an inch to stiffen it up.
In the pic of it on the tiller you can see the right (English) limb needs some work.
There is a deceptive point on the left limb which looks stupidly thin, then stupidly thick thick, (the shadow adds to the confusion) it's due to a weird dip on one side of the limb, the two lower pics show the same area from each side of the limb. Rather tricky to tiller a point like this as it looks too thin on one side and too thick on t'other!

The area at the splice is a bit of a mess where I've had to try to blend in the two miss-matched limbs, I may do a grip of linen thread binding. It's never going to be a really pretty bow, but maybe it will make a good work horse, I might even try it at longer draws for flight or clout shooting.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Steam Bending Yew

There are plenty of questions when trying to work out how to straighten a lateral bend.
Obviously it's easier to bend a slimmer section (e.g the tips), but is it better to do two small bends or one big one? Is it better to try and get it ramrod straight or just line up the tips and centre?
There is often no one 'right' answer, so I tend to adopt a piecemeal approach. Hope for maybe one bend but with a view to where the second will be. The stave is remarkably symmetrical. The pencil in the first pic marks the area where the first bend will be, note, it's not a sharp bend at a single point. A good length is heated and pressure applied at the tip of the bow to let the wood bend as it wants, rather than trying to force it.
You'll see from the pics how I jig it up dry first which also helps to show where the bends need to be.
The work bench is tilted to allow the condensed steam to run out, and extra insulation is wrapped around to help keep the heat in.
After about 45minutes of steaming I could feel some give in the wood so I bent it over and put in a coach bolt with an offcut of garden hose round it to hold the limb tip in place (last pic). It was then left steaming until it had done about 70minutes total. I'll leave it jigged up for a couple of days, then see if it needs any more.
It might be lined up about right, but there may be some spring back and the tips might want some straightening. I'm hoping that this will be the main bend.

A 5L plastic container with a couple of holes cut in it keeps the steam in the right place, the steam from a wallpaper steamer goes into a hole in the cap of the 5L container.
Any gaps and holes are plugged with plastic packing foam offcuts and extra insulation draped everywhere. (No point wishing I'd got it hotter after an hour of steaming).
The water was dripping over the old duvet I was using as insulation so I moved it around and put a bowl to catch the drips.
You can see in the last pic the tip has come a good way across. Better to bend it a little to much as it may spring back a bit, and if it doesn't a little heat will relax it back a tad.

I've taken off the plastic container and had a look at the bend, it looks pretty good with just a bit of spring back. I've put the coach bolt back in place to let it dry out clamped in position.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year

It's good to get back to the bows, it's been a long break.
We've taken down the decorations and are trying to get back to normal.
I'm working down that curvy Yew stave, it's rather handsome and I'm still not sure if I'll straighten it or not. I'll wait until it's begining to flex for two reasons.
One, it may well track back perfectly with the tips and centre in line and have a nice degree of character.
Two, any bending will be easier and will stress the wood less if it's been reduced to the point where it flexes.

It almost feels a shame to take it down any more as it would make a stunning warbow, but it's a tad short for that. It's almost fat enough to saw into two bows, but I know that would a recipe for disaster and no bows at all.

I'm really pleased I cut some Yew over the last few months, as I've been told by the doc' I mustn't drive due to a brief blackout about a week ago. I'm counting my blessings as at least it wasn't a stroke and I'm perfectly ok mentally and physically so I can carry on bow making.
They have already booked me in for a CAT scan and various tests so the wheels of the NHS are in motion.
It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good...
I've dug out my old bicycle and got it running. Maybe I'll end up fitter and healthier. Ah, the long forgotten joys of mending punctures and fitting new tyres onto rims.
Not the most auspicious start to 2013, but now I'm on my bike, hopefully it's all downhill from here!