Sunday, 19 May 2013

Recurve Beltane Hazel Full Draw

I tweaked the bow up this morning and made a decent string. It looks pretty good and shoots quite nicely. It still needs some tuning and adjusting of the tips.
I want the string to lift off the recurves at full draw, it's nearly there but not quite, mind I'm a whisker short of full draw.
The grip and arrow pass needs some attention too. If I don't knock the arrow exactly right it rides up towards the limb where it's much wider and it wags it's tail madly as it leaves the bow.

I'm amazed it's turned out so well and looks so good. I've haven't weighed it on the tiller yet so I don't don't know the final draw weight.

The bark has started to lift and crack as I haven't waxed it or applied linseed oil, this is fine and it has helped to indicate areas where the bend is too severe. I shall carefully lift off the bark and may even consider a wacky abstract paint job. Not usually my thing, but then neither are recurves.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Recurve on the Tiller

The recurve tips look very pretty, but it was an absolute pig to get a string on it even at a low brace.
You can see as it's winched back, it looks ok early on and then as it comes back further the right limb starts to bend rather hard in the last third, not quite a 'hinge' but getting close to it.
The left limb is pretty obviously stiffer and is pivoting the bow down on that side, so it needs the left limb easing off first and the inner third of the right taken down.
It will need a lot of fiddling and fettling to get the string alignment and tips right too.
Recurves can be twitchy to tiller and often give an impression of high draw weight yet end up being lower than anticipated once they are strung.
If I really wanted to make a recurve I wouldn't be doing it like this, but it's fun to experiment.
Gluing up nice flat laminations onto a former would be the sensible way to do it, but that's not really the point here. I'm just seeing what I can get out of this bit of twisted Hazel.
If I end up with 40# at 28" I'll be happy enough, of course I want it to be the fastest prettiest bow you've ever seen, but I don't think that will happen.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Radical Recurve

The pics explain a lot.
I had to do the bend outside as it involved pulling the bow round at a huge angle which would have hit the ceiling in the garage. I steamed it with my steam chest made out of insulation board and the steam provided from a wallpaper steamer.
The tip of the bow was rasped fairly thin to allow the tight bend, but even so there is a bit of a splinter lifting on one bend. The thin strip of steel taped to the outside of the curve is there to help prevent it kinking or splintering as it bent. The galvanised sheet steel was cut from the back of an old oven which was getting chucked away many years ago, it's very useful useful raw material.

The back of the bends will be reinforced with slivers of Hazel which will be preformed to shape on the same jig. I tried doing this with dry heat first but it didn't seem to like it and was fracturing, it was no problem with steam.
Top tip of the week, when gluing on any sort of lamination put the glue on the right side! What a mess!
I hope to get the other tip done tonight maybe so I can play with it tomorrow. It may need more thin layers built up on the recurve section and maybe string bridges or deep grooves to help the string track correctly.

While I was at it I steamed the twist out of each end. If you pore over the pic, you can work out what I was doing. I used my trusty 5L plastic bottle for applying localised steam.
A clamp is fixed on the end of the bow and once the steam has softened the wood it's pulled round, secured with rope and the steam turned off. There is a bit of spring back, so it's down to experience.
Hazel seems to react well to steam bending.

This sort of experimentation is a great way to get experience without getting stressed out if it doesn't work.

If I can get the feeling of let off as it approaches full draw, I may try increasing the draw weight by adding a narrow lamination of Yew up the belly.
We'll see.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Beltane Bow on the Tiller

I've been busy over the last week or so building a new bench in the garage for a lathe. I got one off E-Bay, bigger than the tiny one I got a while back. This one is more sturdy with a 19" bed, should easily be man enough for big crossbow bolt heads, nuts etc. I sold the tiny one having added a top slide and new belt for a small profit which helps towards re-furbishing the new one.
I'm waiting for the spindle and front bearing of the lathe to come back from being refurbished by metal spraying and regrinding the spindle.

back to the bows. Here's a couple of pics of the Beltane bow, the tips are very twisted.
I'm toying with the idea of removing about 6" from the tips and splicing in stiff slim levers set angled forward like a horse bow. I might even incorporate string bridges to try to get a very late let off in draw weight, in the manner of a compound.It's fun to try some daft stuff and this bow is never going to be a thing of great beauty or use. I may heat treat the belly too.
The danger of loosing 6" is that the remaining limb will have to work too hard, however the lack of set indicates I have a little to play with. You can also see the inner 1/3 of the right limb isn't doing much at the moment.

I've rasped down the tips to make them thin and flat so that they'd take a radical huge recurve. They can then be narrowed and have thin strips added to the belly side to get the stiffness back. I've done the steaming and also taken out some twist while I had the steamer going. Pics tomorrow.
Such fun!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Twisted Beltane Hazel

Here's the Hazel bow I made during the day at the Beltane festival.
It shows what you can do with a most unpromising stave if you start long and wide. I got it to 50# @26" on a low brace. It needs some cleaning up and fettling but it's interesting to note the huge twist and that it's retained some reflex.
It was a straight log but when split each half opens up to have a slight reflex. At the festival several people thought it was somehow put into the stave by me, or that the bow was going to bend that way.
Here are a few dimension.
69" tip to tip.
2"wide max tapering fairly evenly to 3/4" at tips.
Back of bow left with bark on and having the natural curve of the log, about 15mm thick mid limb. Grip section 5.5 - 6"

Meanwhile I had another bow to reduce, it was supposed to be 70# at 28".
Yet having spent about 2 hours rasping off copious amounts of wood from the belly and side of the last 1/3 of each limb it final got down to.
... 70# at 28" !  I think it was hugely over weight originally.
Initially I hadn't bothered weighing it at 28" as I'd seen it hit 70# well before that.
I just took wood off by degrees until it was just about manageable for the archer.  I'd just about reached the point where I wasn't happy to take off much more.

It was a relatively cheap Sycamore longbow, very long and a bit bulky at the tips and nocks.
Hopefully the archer will now be able to reach his full draw and the bow will have much less tip mass, with luck it won't have lost much speed, and I'm hopeful he'll be able to shoot his heavy medieval style arrows a bit further.
Talking of which...

Newsflash:- Arrow stop netting doesn't stop bodkin points!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Busy Beltane!

I was doing my bow making demo at the Beltane festival. I took my camera but was so busy I didn't take any pics.
There was a constant stream of people asking questions and kids having a go with a spokeshave. I took along a twisted stave of Hazel and managed to make it into a 50# at 26" draw bow. I pretty much ignored the twist and one tip is at about 45 degrees.
I'll take some pic on Thursday and then clean it up and see what I can make of it.
It has only served to enhance my opinion of Hazel and also the fact that we don't need to be so obsessed with getting a perfect stave.
The most common question was 'how long does it take to make a bow?' Always a difficult question to answer, but self evidently I can make something that shoots in a day even with all the chat.
There was a reasonable audience during the final tillering and I think I did a good job of showing the process.

There was plenty of other stuff going on and a lovely display of Corvids from, including a very handsome Raven and a charming Jackdaw.

The have-a-go archer was very popular too and I let a couple of people have a go with my primitive crossbow. Once again I failed to get a nice pic of one of the Celtic ladies kitted out for battle, crossbow in hand.
By the end of the day I'd shot my bolt and was tired and hungry.
My family will vouch for my 'tired and hungry' usually being accompanied by grumpiness. My daughter turned up in her little white Suzuki Carry van 'Binky' to pick me and my equipment, she had a good look round a shot one of my bows while she was there.

I've had another request to reduce the draw weight of a bow from 70# to 60#. Not one of my bows so I wouldn't normally do it, but as it's one of the guys from the club and there's a couple of bottles of Italian Red in it for me I felt I could bend my principals a tad.
Pics on Thurs!