Friday, 15 February 2013

Fallen Elder

I noticed a big old lump of Elder had fallen on to the cycle track the other day. Maybe the weight of snow on it (now all thawed) had brought it down. I went and collected a piece of it this morning. Some had already been cleared from the path. The piece I cut had been growing at an angle, the top face is covered with moss and lichen and has shoots coming out of it.
You can see the wide growth rings and large core of central pith, you'd think that it wouldn't be much good for a bow, but apparently it is.

The pictures you'll often see in books about making bows often show a bow made from the upper surface as this will be 'tension wood' e.g The layer under the bark which becomes the back of the bow will be under tension as it grows and is thus ideal for the back. It is however deflexed.

The main trunk is still there and I may consider going back with my big saw and two wheeled dolly to collect that too. I'll probably regret it later if I don't! See last pic... yup, I went back and got it  as a stave seasononing in the garage is worth two in the woods.

I've rested the log against the car at the angle it was growing, The underside of the log is free from shoots and has a natural reflex if used for a bow.
So which face is better to use? It's not as clear cut as the books would have you believe. Maybe the knots formed by the shoots on the top face could be placed at the grip, but then the lower face is longer and cleaner.
Short answer is I don't know... maybe I can make a bow from each face and compare the performance. Anyhow it will take a year to season, so there's no rush.
Meanwhile I've been indulging in some armchair retail therapy, bought a dozen arrow shafts and 3 doz fletchings from Quicks, a reel of Angel Majesty string material from Merlin Archery and a nice 3" grind wheel of E-bay (only £2.49!). My existing grind wheel is almost worn away to nothing, so I'll take the arbor off that and mount the new one.

I used my folding pruning saw to cut it, it's on the ground by the car.


  1. Nice logs Del, collect any elder you can, it's sweet bow wood, even though it doesn't look it. You as a yew bowyer will love how it is very compression tolerant. It dries allmost as quickly and without problems as does hazel. I also like how it is common.

    I'm very looking forward to these bows!

  2. Cheers, thanks for the info. Maybe I'll rapid season the smaller bit so I can try it this summer.