Over the last few weeks I've been slowly reducing the sap wood and following a growth ring on the back of the Derbyshire Yew stave. It's laborious work, but as it progresses it becomes easier.
First the sapwood is reduced to an approximate even thickness with a spokeshave, trying to follow a ring, which is tricky. Its more a matter of trying to keep any exposed rings running along the bow. Then I start on the area which looks like it's the lowest ring (but it probably won't be), and a I use a rasp lightly, often across the grain to expose that ring slowly along a few inches of the bow, the hard thing is getting the light right so you can see when the crumblier lighter layer comes away to expose the slightly yellower firmer ring beneath.
Once Ive got a small area started I'll use a scraper it I just need to go down one ring, or the rasp if I need to remove more wood. I'm not too obsessive about it initially as I'm just trying to get the whole back roughly down to the same level, which may still be one or two rings above the final back surface.
Of course at some point you find an area which goes down another ring and you can work to that new level instead. Later on you can work back reducing the original work you have done to take it down to the new level or it can be left how it was and blended in.
I generally work in short burst, doing say 6" at a time.
I don't necessarily expose the ring across the whole width of the bow, if I can just expose a thin line of single ring running down the centre and maybe wandering round knots or going to one side or the other, that's fine for now. As the bow gets worked to shape and ends up on the tiller there will be less back to worry about, and scraping off one ring, or extending the ring to be the entire back isn't so much work.
Yes, it's laborious, but it has a sort of Zen satisfaction to it. The centre, grip area, of the bow also gives an opportunity to step up or down a ring without causing problem. It's V hard to get a good photo showing the effect, but hopefully you can see the back is begining to look good with any exposed rings running along the length of the bow, rather than across it.
Meanwhile the stick bow has had more patching, an arrow plate and a couple of coats of Danish oil.
I'll shoot it for distance tomorrow at the club.