Monday, 30 September 2013

Warbow Stave

I've got a stinking cold, but I think it's just a 48 hour job. I've been doing a tiny bit of work on the warbow stave getting it close to dimension. I relented and took some Mary Rose bow dimensions from 'Weapons of Warre' as a rough start point. You can see in the pic how big it is compared with the little BooYew bow, the weird dip near the tip at the bottom of the pic is also visible. Features like this can be a nightmare but add lots of character. Also note the deflex.
I have actually put it on the tiller with a long string and wound it back to 120#, really just to see if the rope and tiller block/winch etc would hold. 120# on a long string is much less strain on the bow than 120# with a properly braced bow. The stave did flex a little. It's got to withstand that weight eventually so it might as well get used to it!

I'd been toying with joining the EWBS (English War Bow Society) as apparently they have a forum with some very good warbow bowyers on there. I think I'll probably leave it until I've got a few more warbow weight bows under my belt. I was V interested in their flight records as there is a 130# Hazel longbow shooting over 300 yards. I was somewhat put of by one of the articles about the war bow which specifically says it's ideally made of:-
A stave of yew wood, ideally imported from the Italian Alps or Spain (but not English Yew; it being too full of moisture)
In my opinion that's just tosh, but maybe I'll wait til I've made a few more. If it's "too full of moisture", then season it longer! Or heat treat the belly!

Anyhow, in the mean time I've had a call about Twister 2, it has always had a couple of long cracks on the back, these seem to be fine , but there are a couple of hairline cracks opened on the belly. I'm pretty sure these are fine, but I've asked to have a look as it's much better to be safe than sorry.
Out of interest that Yew is from the USA, (so not English Yew, too full of moisture ;-) ) maybe it was seasoned too quickly, but as any wood is removed the internal stresses are likely to allow a crack to either expand or open out from the centre of the log to the nearest point on the surface of the bow. I'll post pics once I get the bow back. Worst case it will be a thin belly patch just for security to prevent a crack breaking out into cutaway where the grip is. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Twister2 and Some Chrono Results

Twister 2 got collected today. Had a great visit, his new owner came with offerings of wine, cider, cheese, fresh farm egs and a nice pair of skinny chainsaw files! Result! I made him up four arrows so he could try the bow, as the ones he's ordered haven't turned up yet.
Shooting Twister2 through the chrono was tricky, I couldn't get stable results initially as the arrows were still flexing. The answer is to shoot from further and risk skewering the chrono, or to get closer, which can still give some dodgy results. It seemed to come out at 157.7 fps, which is reasonable, not as fast as twister, but then it's a shorter draw. Also it's impossible to build your best ever bow every time!
Later in the afternoon I tried the BooYew which I knew is V fast. Now this was giving the same problem at close range and oddly I got a reading of 157.7 at one point, which make me wonder if that's some sort of artifact of the chrono?
Anyhow I went back to 10 yards, getting a nice straight flight at that distance, it managed 165fps and when I shot a light flight arrow it went up to 170fps.
You have to bear in mind it's being overdrawn and is bamboo backed, so I'm pushing it rather to the limit.
Chrono readings are a good reference, but have to be viewed with some caution. My set up is far from perfect, being indoors with a couple of lamps for illumination. Outdoors with natural light and a big backstop net would be better. Target recurves, compounds and crossbows also give much more stable readings. Their arrow flight is cleaner as the the arrow doesn't have to flex around the grip of the bow. In other words, there is no paradox. Yes, the arrow is still flexing (except for the crossbow) but that's due to the method of release etc, rather than the arrow having to bend around the bow.
Just had a nice E-mail from Peter the guy who has the bow, he's given it a good work out and is pleased with it. It's throwing the arrows a good 200 paces... and he's got a tired arm now :-)

People mix up arrow flexing and paradox...
The Paradox is that on a longbow the arrow points well to the left when first placed on the string, yet flies along the line of sight from full draw! Why doesn't it kick left???
The explanation of the paradox is the arrow flexes, so you see it's a bit like confusing cause and effect.
The Wikipedia entry has a good illustration and explanation.
To wander off on a bit of musing it's like saying 'All crows are black'. this doesn't mean all black things are crows! So the paradox is explained by arrow flexing, but not all arrow flexing is anything to do with paradox.
Anyone who wishes to argue this point is welcomed to write their own blog and expound their theories at great length! ;-)

I made some crab apple jelly too, it's a gorgeous clear red colour. It's the first time I've tried it, inspired by my big Sis making some. I only did a small batch of 4 small jars, two with Rosemary and two with Mint, should be nice on roast chicken or cold meats. I used a recipe of the internet, choosing the simplest I could find and using less sugar than stated. I got the nice pic by holding it up with the setting sun behind it.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Arrow Plate

I've done the arrow plate in Water buffalo horn, the same as the nock overlays. I've made it fairly long and slim.
The pic shows the slight reflex on the left (lower) limb compared with the right.
The bow is finished now except for a wipe of Danish oil every morning and every night for a few days, then signing and a wipe of beeswax polish. I'm really pleased with it, the pictures don't really do it justice, you need to feel it to appreciate the balance and pent up power. It's got some nice character but without compromising performance. I haven't shot it through the chrono yet, as it's always got Danish oil drying on it!

I've also been working down the stave for a 120# warbow which will start serious work in November. I think I'll just go by feel rather than trying to copy Mary Rose dimensions, although I reserve the right to change my mind on that! I think trying to copy something can make one take your eye off the ball, lose sight of the real purpose and forget to look at the actual wood. I might even get it on the tiller just to see if it is starting to move.

Checked my cider this morning and at last it's staring to visibly bubble, not very vigorous, but you can see a steady constant flow of v fine bubbles coming up through the liquid and the odd bubble coming through the airlock. Letting nature take it's course takes a lot longer to get going than adding yeast, but the anxious waiting is part of the fun.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Twister2 Full Draw and a Chunk of Yew

Twister2 has a decent string now and has had about 30 arrows shot through it. On one of the archery websites someone had said how irritating it is that on TV they always make it sound as if bows creak as they are drawn. Oddly Twister2 had a nasty creak just as I got near full draw! I put loads of wax polish round the nocks to show up where the string was moving as the bow was drawn. On the lower nock the groove is much bigger like two grooves slightly overlapping, one for the string and one to make room for a stringer. There was a slight ridge between the two on the sides of the nock groove and as the string angle changed near full draw the string was slipping into the stringer groove with a creak. I just smoothed out the ridge with a bit of 240 grit wet & dry paper... creak removed!
Looking at the full draw picture, I'm pretty happy with the tiller. It shoots very nicely, a tad heavy compared with Twister 1. Once it's shot in I'll put a few arrows through the chronometer. It pretty much shoots where I point it, although I might tweak the arrow pass a little.

Last week a chap came over with a quarter Yew log which he'd bought on the Internet. It had been cut in Derbyshire last January. He's asked me to turn it into a bow (about 90# at 32" if my memory serves). It will be a few more months before it's ready to work down further. But reducing it a bit will help the final seasoning, it also allows a better look at the wood.
The sapwood is quite thick and will need reducing, the growth rings are fairly tight and the wood has a nice colour, There are a few fine longitudinal cracks on the surface of the heartwood, but they are probably just superficial from the early seasoning. Reducing it will also allow the wood to shift a bit if it wants to. As the months pass I'll look at it and maybe take it down a bit more here and there, at the moment it's about 50mm square (slightly less at the tips).
It's always a bit frustrating to end up with two long skinny offcuts which are all but useless. They do come in handy for patching and suchlike and I sometimes have daft ideas of laminating all the strips up into something useable.... probably be more trouble than it's worth.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Twister2 Ready for Shooting

It's taken a while to get Twister2 back to full draw length, and I had to use the rasp a little more. It's a tad over weight still as it's 50# at 26" where I wanted 50# at 27". But that's close enough for now, and it allows for some settling during shooting in.
I've got the nocks done and buffed up and given it a wipe of Danish oil. I've shot about 10 arrows through it using my tillering string and it feels good. next step is to make the final string and get it shot in.
Drawing to 27" is not a problem, and I'm sure it would come back to 28", but I'll leave that until it's fully shot in.
There are a couple of big cracks showing on the back but these seem stable. I'll keep an eye on them of course. Once it's shot in (about 50-75 arrows) I'll do an arrow plate and any tuning/minor adjustments. Here are some pics showing the details and features. The botom nock looks odd and bulky in that shot, but the pic is intended to show the knots and ripples in that lower tip.

It's all looking nice and caramel & cream.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Shave Horse Pics

These are for anyone who wants some more detail. I'll let the pics speak for themselves. The seat is off centre to allow a long stave to pass the left side of the user. I've included a rule in most pics, if you click on the pic to bring it up large, you can roughly scale the various parts .

Busy Couple of Days

Got up the club on Sunday to test the Boo Yew bow, it was an interesting outing.
It shot further than Mick's Hilary Greenland, but only by about 5-10 yards, dropping arrows round about 180 yard clout mark, so it wasn't worth him having it.
I was happy to keep the bow for myself and I tried it with my 'standard' arrows at a full 28" draw. The extra couple of inches draw made a spectacular difference, adding about 50 yards!! One of Mick's lighter clout arrows with trimmed fletchings and a barrelled shaft went right to the edge of the field which is reckoned to be about 240 yards. It's interesting to watch others shooting as I reckon Mick tended to shoot a tad low, whereas I was going a bit high, some of my arrows were dropping in almost vertical. Some of the other guys were there and I had a go with one the Transatlantic bow I made a while back, it's taken a whisker of set and dropped a few pounds but was still chucking full weight medieval arrows past the 180 yard mark. I found the weight was no prob (it's about 80# ish at 32" from what I recall) but I struggled actually getting the full length of draw.
Twister 2 is very nearly there. Getting from 50# at 22" to 50# at 26" doesn't take a lot of actual wood removal, but it certainly takes a lot of care! I think it's this point where a lot of people new to making bows probably get carried away. Just taking the bracing height up the final inch seemed to make a huge difference to the tiller, possibly not obvious to the casual observer, but I'd been slowly getting the tips of the limbs moving a bit more and suddenly it was obvious they were working. Stepping back I could see the tips were now about right and it just needed the mid and inner limbs easing off a bit. I'm no longer using the rasp, it's just my freshly sharpened scraper. Some extra work narrowing the tips and and doing the bottom nock has got it really close... lunchtime now.

Blimey! The door bell rang, I'd forgotten a guy was coming to visit with a big 1/4 Yew log which he wants turning into a bow! We had a great few hours trying the bows and chatting about archery and all sorts. He's keen to try his hand at making a bow, but felt the Yew was best left to an experienced hand. I offered some advice and said I'd post some pics of the shave horse as he fancied making one to help with the bow making. He had a go on mine and felt the difference between Yew heart & sap wood and also Ash and Hazel. I'll post some pics as a separate blog entry. This will do for now, I may do a bit more on twister2 this evening, but right now, I'm ready for a 10 minute cat nap.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Twister 2 and More Apple Juicing

Twister 2 is really starting to bend now, I've been keeping an eye on any tendency to bend sideways at the tips and I've been taking a bit off the side of the tips to keep the alignment right.
I've got the two limbs balanced now, the left (lower) may look a hint stiff, but you have to remember it has a hint of reflex to start with, so it should look like that. I'll continue working it back and might have some test shots with it on Sunday. I was aiming for 45# at 27", but the guy I'm making it for has decided 50# at 27" will be better. You can see in the pic it's now up to about 20" at 50#. Still a fair way to go, but looking good.
I need to get the outer limbs moving a bit more now.

I did another batch of apple juice yesterday, taking my total up to about 22 L which is pretty good.
The apple scratter (shredder) was letting some fairly big chunks of apple get through, so after I'd finished I dismantled it, cleaned and inspected it.
The problem was the Oak drum had warped and was more oval in cross section rather than circular. I mounted in my lathe so that I could check it. It's too big to actually turn but I managed to clamp an off cut of steel in the tool post to act as a reference and I rotated the drum by hand. I was able to adjust the countersink head screws which protrude from the drum (these are what cuts up the apples) by screwing them in or out so that they all just cleared my reference point. When reassembled and tested I could see it ran without big gaps which would let chunks of apple through.
The second batch of juice, (about 12L) is in a big 25L fermenting bucket. I didn't want too much air space above it in the bucket (I've read that it's a bad thing) so I opened one of my 5L containers from the first batch and poured that in too. It was a good thing to do as the first batch was a bit sweet whereas the second had plenty of crab apples in it. It also gave me the chance to see if the first batch was starting to ferment. They say it only takes a couple of days to start fermenting and it should bubble away like a good 'un... yeah but that's if you have added yeast. I'm doing this with absolutely nothing added, so after a week I still couldn't see bubbles. When I opened it I could smell a nice yeasty smell (bit like warm bread), I tasted and it was sweet with a definite fizz where it had started to ferment. I shook it up to mix up the sediment and poured it in with the second batch, it should help to start it fermenting.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Twister 2 and BooYew Gripped

I've got the arrow plate and leather grip done on the BooYew, the inlay isn't quite as tight as I'd normally do because I didn't want to risk popping off the small sliver of Yew which had been added to extend/make up a lack of wood at the splice.
In contrast you can see the grip on the next bow. It's made from the same leather and has developed a richer colour from use. A wipe of beeswax polish will help the process once the bow has had it's numerous coats of Danish Oil.

Twister 2 has been corrected and now balances on the tiller and is beginning to move 45# at about 13". The right limb now appears stiff of course having been shortened by about an inch and a quarter, but it's starting to behave like a bow.

As I'm thinning the limbs I'm in danger of running out of heart wood. The sapwood is fairly thick, especially on the upper limb so I've taken some of that off using my spokeshave. Some people complain that following a growth ring on fine grained Pacific Yew is near impossible, well it's not!
Having used the spokeshave you can't really see the growth rings, but going across the grain lightly with a rasp and a decent North light soon shows them up. I'm not being too obsessive about following a ring across the back, but I'm trying to get all the lines of the rings running evenly along the bow.
In fact having the rings exposed like that makes it easier to follow one ring along the centre of the back. Once this is done taking the other rings down along the edges becomes easier.
It is like reading the contour lines on a map.
I'll try to get a decent photo later in the build, but it's trick to get it show in a photo and I've done enough for now.

Just taken a bit more off back and belly of the upper (right) limb. It looks much more even now and I can string it without using the stringer (which saves a lot of fiddling about) it's 45# at 16" now, which is good progress.
That really is enough for today!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

An Important Lesson

The little niggling voice of experience which sits on my shoulder had been tugging at my collar.
I've been slowly working Twister 2 up to a reasonable brace and it's pulling 45# at about 14" of draw.
"That bow isn't balancing on the tiller" nagged the voice of experience...
"That lower limb still looks stiff"
Damn voice wouldn't shut up, and I was getting to the point where although the bow is beginning to bend a fair bit I wasn't quite sure where to take wood off next...
Now if you are not sure where to take off wood STOP! Step away take some pictures re-measure everything..
Ah... The centre line is about 2" off centre Whaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Now it's times like this that the warm feeling of inner smugness overtakes the wave of panic!
These things happen, and it's one huge reason for not cutting out a grip at the early stages. I'd cut a little bit of the grip away, but barely enough to locate my hand.
I've actually got enough wood to work with still, add in the extra inch I've allowed at each end and it's all ok.
With hindsight 2" out of centre isn't too bad, as effectively each limb is just 1" out of kilter. So I have a choice I can re-shape the grip, lengthening it a bit or I can take some off the longer tip.
As usual the actual answer will be a little of each. Losing a tad off the upper limb, may be a good thing as it's the one with the twist.
Here are two pics of it on the tiller as it is now, I don't suppose you'll see too much wrong with it.
The big lessons:-
1 Measure twice mark (or cut) once.
2 Don't remove wood at the grip, tips or anywhere else until you actually need to, and even then, take off half of what you think it needs ;-)
3 When in doubt, stop, check, measure take pics etc.
4 Listen to that nagging voice of of experience. If you have even a sniff of doubt, it only takes a minute to check. Mind you mustn't get paralysed by uncertainty. it's a balance between obsessive attention to detail and over confidence.
You can see we all make beginners mistakes and miss measure things, but a few precautions can prevent it becoming a disaster.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Testing the BooYew

We tried the Booyew, it does seem to bang 'em out but it was difficult to pull a consistent draw length with my longer arrows. I didn't want to over draw to 28" as it's tillered for 26" with 27" max.
In the end we got out the Chrono' and put tape round the arrows marking the 26". It was still hard to hold a clean loose at 26" Mick could see I was pulling 26" but letting down an inch as I loosed.
Anyhow, bottom line is it was shooting about 160fps which seems pretty good as it weighed in at 52# @26"
the proof of the pudding will be in a head to head trial with his current bow. If it's no better I'll keep it for myself and maybe tine the tiller up to 28" and see what it will do as say a 50# flight bow.
Meanwhile I'll do the arrow plate and grip.
I've been doing a little more to Twister2 and I'll prob get some pics of it on the tiller over the weekend.

Oh, by the way, I got 10L of apple juice which will hopefully start fermenting soon. I'll gather more apples over the next week and do a second batch.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Boo Yew Nock Detail

I have a slight suspicion that Mick the Blacksmith thinks I've not double grooved his bottom nock :-) !
But I have. The bottom groove can be just one big one or two barely separated ones.
The lower string loop stays in situ while the stringer loop can sit on top or along side it. You'll see from the pic I've actually done two grooves that blend into one, they look much better now the bow has had a quick wipe of Danish Oil.
You can see the grain of the Yew through the horn as it's translucent.
I'm not finishing it further until Mick's brought round a bit of Mother of Pearl for the inlaid arrow plate.
Talking of which the last pic shows the tiny patch added into the side to add more wood where it was so thin at the splice. The arrow plate should fit in or over that patch. Of course I'll need to be very careful as I'm cutting out the hole for it that I don't break out or split the patch... Am I nervous? Of course!

You'll notice it's properly strung and it feels very tight and lively. I'm not measuring the draw weight, as it won't effect the reality of it, and I don't want to cause any preconceived ideas of what to expect. I think it's about right, but are we in the Goldilocks zone?

Right, now it's all down to having a good clean up and making some cider. I'll probably do it in a couple of batches today and tomorrow, I'm hoping to get 25L but that would need a lot of apples.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Nocks On the Boo Yew.

Busy weekend, I went to the Thurlow Fayre, didn't do much to the bows but chatted to lots of people. There was a wood turner and a couple who kept bees next to me , they were V interesting, I got some beeswax and picked up some wood turning tips. There was a have-a-go archery there and they kindly let me loose a few arrows from 'Twister', I put 3 round the outside edge of the gold and then 2 right in the inner gold. It would have been a shame to spend all day there with my bows and not loose an arrow.
The was a good deal of interest in the services of the tree surgeon too, so it was a good day for all of us.

I've got the horn nocks on the BooYew, and started cleaning it up. You can see the colour change where I've scraped the dull pale rind off the bamboo, I took the pic when I'd just done up to the first node to show the difference. The horn is a tad dull and grey looking but it will cheer up a bit once it's been on the buffing wheel. Once it's all cleaned up I'll make the string and shoot some arrows through it to settle it down.

Twister 2 hasn't had much else done, but I'd ordered some ultra low viscosity superglue which turned up today. This has been flooded into the cracks to seal and stabilise them.

Bow making will be slow over the next week as I've been busy collecting apples from around the cycle tracks nearby. I've refurbished my apple scratter and I'm hoping to make 25litres of Cider over the next week or so.
I've added an extension to the hopper from some polycarbonate roofing sheet, so I can pile in more apples which will help provide weight to press them down onto the rotating Oak drum.
The drum has stainless steel countersink headed screws protruding from it to mash up the apples as it spins round. I've also added some flaps of off cut vinyl flooring to direct the mash downwards rather than throwing everywhere. The motor/gearbox is now attached to the side of the scratter, that was from an old wooden electric golf trolley that I made years ago. It's powered from a 12v battery.
It should all be more solid and efficient this time.
I didn't make any last year as the apple harvest was virtually non existent. The year before that I'd made a trial batch of 5L and it was a great success. Free booze.. what's not to like ?

Original post about the scratter is here