Friday, 28 June 2013

Yew Stick Bow

I needed to go out and get some more PVA to finish sealing the Yew staves and some other stuff, but it started raining. I mooched about in the garage a bit looking over the staves I'd been sorting out. Well there is a really skinny waggly Yew stick, it has a decent amount of heart wood but is small enough to get my hand round.
I started chopping away at the fat end some time back, using it's natural curve as reflex and aligning it roughly so tips and centre were in line. I picked up the axe and did some more chopping but it was a bit slow and I needed a quick fix of bow making.

Seeing as how it's basically a scrap stick I ran it through the band saw. Well 'ran through' isn't the right expression really, I sawed off small slices and scallops from the belly slowly reducing it. When I flexed it 'floor tiller' style on the floor it was trying to twist in my hand so I needed to adjust the plane of what I was cutting from the belly. I took a bit more off until it was flexing and feeling ok. Now it's now to axe and spokeshave.
You can see in the last pic the belly has 2 sort of flat faces and it's been adjusted with the axe. This illustrates why you should always take off half what you think, give you room for adjustment.
It made one horrible 'crack' noise as I was flexing it, but that could be bark, cambium, a knot or anything. I've left the bark on as it will keep the back clean and removing it would be a waste of time if the whole thing blows up in my face.

The crack was obviously the bark, as it's actually popping off now I've cleaned the belly up with a spoke shave and flexed it some more. The sapwood looks perfect where it's now exposed.
It will probably end up pretty low draw weight, maybe 30-35# at a guess.
I can't actually remember when this Yew was cut, I normally date it, but as this was probably just an afterthough I hadn't bothered, it was probably November last year from a local churchyard.

One of the UK guys on Primitive Archer had got himself a bit of similarly skinny Yew from a church yard and was hoping to maybe swap it for something less challenging. I said I'd find him something if he came over.
I get lots of contacts and requests from people. It's those who make the effort to cut their own wood and come and visit who get the most help. Oddly if you just give someone a seasoned stave they don't put much value on it, but if they've cut some themselves and taken some trouble they appreciate it much more.I'd rather give a stave to someone keen than sell one to a 'chequebook hobyist' who will stick it in his shed and move rapidly onto the next fad.
Hmmm don't know if that sounds harsh?

Anyhow this quick stick bow will hopefully show the value of having a quick go even with unpromising wood. Of course I can get away doing it quick on the bandsaw because I have the experience, even so it can run away with you and become a quick way of ruining wood!

Meanwhile I've finished the Dogleg Longbow about 6 coats of Danish Oil and a couple of wipes of beeswax polish, it looks very handsome now.

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