Thursday, 31 December 2015

A bit More Work on the Yew Primitive

I'm taking it easy as I've still got a bit of a cold but a little work goes a long way and it's back to 40# at 24" from a decent brace.
I took a bit of video :-
It's New Year's Eve...
I'm not a great one for New Year, always seems an anticlimax... but hey, I'll stay up, see it in with a drink and a sing song.

I've just tried some of this year's cider with the evening meal, very nice, clean and refreshing by the snecod glash it wush even cleanerer and more reshfreshig.
Happy new Christmash and a Merry New  Year every body!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Christmas and Year's Review

I got some vital bowyers supplies for Christmas... some check shirts, string, a new pair of camo' colour placky crock shoes :-) and a handy LED torch/light which will be good for when I'm doing videos as it can swivel on its magnetic base or its hanging hook, I'll be able to spot light specific details.

I have a niggly cold and cough, so I've not been shooting over the break, except for a few desultory arrows into the garage.

Looking back over the year I've done a few things that were on my to do list.
I made a take-down bow, which later broke, but I'd get it right next time!:-

The Hazel warbow :-
I'd been wanting to make a Mollegabet and finally made two, having some great fun with the Mollegabet flight bow:-
I've got some flight bow ideas for 2016 and it would be nice to get out nearer the 350 yard mark.

I got to work a couple of "Italian" Yew staves... I put it in quotes 'cos I can't be certain where the wood came from as I didn't cut it. I worked a good bit of English Yew too.
The more Yew I work, the more I'm convinced that you simply can't make generalisations about wood from it's origin or judge it from appearance.
OK, dark fine grained Yew with a thin layer of creamy white sapwood looks beautiful, but you can't assume that it's been properly seasoned, won't move or split, doesn't have buried knots or shakes and streaks of dead wood hidden in there. Similarly it is foolish to dismiss pale straw coloured Yew with indistinct sapwood as unfit for bows.

I met plenty of friends old and new, and it was great to spend some time with a fellow bowyer Jamie who was over from Canada teaching a longbow making course:-

The non-bow stuff was fun too.
I made an sold a sculpture, an abstract representation of the jazz piece "Take 5"

The plum harvest was good so I made a load of plum wine which is very good, but I think it will be even better given another few months. I think it's still doing a little slow fermentation so it's still rather fruity. The cider was good too.
I was pleased that we had solar panels fitted to our roof which is South facing, I think the investment will pay back better than if we stick it in a bank where it will do now't but fund banker's ill deserved pay.
Finally, the Youtube videos following a complete bow build have been well received and are much better quality than downloading straight onto the blog. They are a bit time consuming but fun to do... and no one is forcing me to do 'em! I try to show the detail that isn't available elsewhere.
I'll do other videos as appropriate.

I always try to encourage new bowyers to have a go. Being the anniversary of the battle of Agincourt I had a fleeting moment of doubt, wondering if the art of making bows would die out...?
But no, there will always be bows made in England and Wales... it's deep within the culture.
When people ask "How did you start making bows?" I reply...
It's not so much that I started... you stopped! All kids make bows, some of us just get a bit better at it over the years!
So a thanks and all the best for 2016 to my friends and all who've read and commented on the blog.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Yew Primitive Progress

This bow is to be 42# at 28", it's got an extra inch of length either end at the moment and still got a fair way to come back. The tiller is beginning to get reasonably even.

The string line is looking better now, it's biased towards the arrow pass but is within the grip area. Overall the bow has a slight S curve to it but is pulling nice and true. As I slim the tips and even up the limbs it should start to look elegant and interesting.
That's probably it until after Christmas now.
Here's the video:-

It's the winter solstice tomorrow so enjoy whatever midwinter festivity suits you. I'll be back with a round up of 2015 and maybe some timber hunting in the local wood. I fancy some Elder and Hazel to stash away.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A bit of Bending

I've done some work on the primitive and I thought I'd do a demo' video showing how the wood starts to move once it gets hot.
It's surprisingly quick for it to relax, become pliable and start to move under some weight (a brick tied to the end!), but a word of warning, if you want to bend it and for the bend to stay fixed in, it needs heating for longer.

After filming the demo, I re-jigged it and gave it another 10 minutes of heat to take out the deflex tip.
I'll see how it is on the tiller later on. It may need some lateral bend at the grip as the string alignment is marginal at the moment.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


A guy from the club came over for "a bit of a tutorial" as he put it.
It was specially interesting for me in a couple of ways, he had a big piece of American White Ash, (AWA) it had lovely straight grain and was just over 2" square. I've never used AWA and never made a board bow... so what do I know?
(I've just edited this... I'd put AW Oak... I think it was AW Ash)

He had a set of plans, you know the sort of thing from an old magazine, which are pretty much a standard layout. We used those as a rough guide and tried to work out the best way to cut the board to give one solid bow and a couple of bits which could be spliced up to make a second.
I suggested rough out dimensions which would give plenty of room for error and he marked it out and ran it through the band saw. It cut quite sweetly and ran fairly true. (the cut being 90 degrees to the table, which you can't always take for granted, especially with wood as the rings can pull the blade)
It was cut with the growth rings running from belly to back to avoid the whole "following a growth ring ion the back" thing.
It was flexed floor tiller style, but was obviously too stiff so we decided to take it down with another run through the bandsaw. Normally I wouldn't have done that, but with limited time we were aiming to get it on the tiller. Of course trying to do it quick is pretty much a guarantee of causing problems.
The first saw cut was a tad off giving a slight thin point about mid limb, the the other limb was more even and a tad fatter, so we called that one the lower limb. We were glad we hadn't cut out the grip at this point as it gave us some wriggle room. We'd have had even more wriggle room if the stave had been left with an extra inch either end, as is my usual practice... but more of that later.

The front profile shape was then sawn out (still leaving the handle full width) and some of the thick spots on the limbs taken down with draw knife, spoke shave and rasp. It was good to have a go with the various tools and try the shave horse. Cutting temporary nock grooves allowed us to get it on the tiller with a long string and see where we were.
The thin point (already marked with "L" for leave) was showing as weak and the lower limb was way too stiff even at a low poundage, so we didn't pull to full target weight. We measured limb thickness every 6" to see how much wood we needed to remove to get the lower limb roughly the same as the upper and marked a rough pencil line. This was a good move as we could see that tiny shavings with the spokeshave just weren't going to get there, instead the drawknife worked carefully along the edges of the belly down to the pencil line, and then taking off the remainder in the centre would get us there quicker.
Some more work taking wood off the belly on the lower limb gradually got it more even as we put it up and down on the tiller.

We eventually had it on a low brace and looking reasonable. We'd been aiming for about 45-50# but of course the perils of working fast (trying to show all the processes involved) took it's toll. We never pulled it to full weight, just to about 35# but the lower limb is still a tad stiff so we didn't go further. I can't remember what draw length that was, probably about 20-22" ish? But that's a a good illustration of the technique.
You always pull to full target weight unless there is a problem .
In this case the problem was the potential hinge at the thin point in the upper limb and the over stiff lower limb.
We discussed ways of gaining some draw weight like sawing and inch and a half off the upper limb. I'd have done it like a shot, but I recognised I was getting tired, two and a half hours of intensive tooting had left my head spinning, and as I always say. It's the wise man who knows when to quit.

We had quick try out with a 30# bow (bark on Hazel of TV fame) after we'd shot it I asked if he could see which limb was longer he couldn't really tell, but when measured it showed the lower limbs is about 3" longer than the upper and yet it shoots beautifully. The point of that was to show that plans and measurements are there for guidance they are not set in stone (or even wood) and sawing an inch or two off the upper limb wouldn't be a problem.

He's going to build himself a tiller rig and press on with the bow. I think it will just about make 40# and he's got the offcuts which will make a spliced bow.
All in all a great session I got to play with some new wood (and a few bottles of beer for my trouble) and he got to cram in a few years experience into a few hours. He's welcome back to do some more as it's always a pleasure to meet people who share this passion and actually want to get stuck in.

I woke this morning with the tillering still going round in my head, so maybe writing it down will let my poor old brain let it go!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Shifting Wood

The primitive is coming along, but the wood is shifting like mad!

I've tried to take the new pic at about the same angle, for comparison but I don't know if it's the same way round. I haven't done any bending and one limb has moved into a slight reflex on it's own, this makes the other seem very weak by comparison.
You can see how much wood I've removed. I shall steam bend the deflexed limb to match the reflex one. It's also taken a bit of sideways bend and it may need a slight lateral correction at some point, mind the tips still have a bit of width so I may get it all to line up, albeit with a slight S shaped lateral curve adding some character. The heart and sap wood is a bit of a mix and match, being well defined on one edge and a bit vague on the other. I'll try and go with the flow and see how it turns out, it's not a stave you can simply cut out straight ignoring what it wants to do.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Visitor's Test Shots

A guy came over to collect a couple of bows I'd collect a couple of bows I'd made for him with Yew he'd provided. They were interesting bows as the wood was somewhat testing, the Molle was made from Yew that was full of shakes and split and has oodles of character.
It's hard to see it with the light behind spoiling the view of the upper limb, better pics here:-

The wood for the longbow moved rather a lot as I worked it down and had a tricky knot.He brought a couple of bows for me to look at including a Yew primitive he'd made, he'd made a decent job of it. A bit of time fiddling and fettling it would make a big difference so I made a few suggestions.
It was good to see the bows being shot especially as he's left handed and I wasn't doing them justice when I was shooting them.

Note, the longbow is being drawn with a 32" (to the base of the point) arrow.
Meanwhile I've reduced the Yew primitive I'm working on and it seems to be loosing some deflex. You can see from the pic it's straighter than before.
I'm letting it evolve slowly trying to go with the flow. It's being stored on my warm radiator to ensure the wood is well dried and finished moving.

On a festive note, one of the women at work made me a knitted snowman and I gave her a small bottle of my home made Cider. Maybe I should give him a bow and create a snowman bowman?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Yew ELB build Videos and Starting a Primitive

Whew, it's a relief to have finished the series of videos following the Yew English Longbow, but it was good to have followed an entire bow through the process.
Here's the full list of links to the videos starting with part 1.
Rough out Quarter log into stave
Further Roughing Out
First Time on the Tiller
A Little Work on One Tip
More Detail Work
Up and Down on the Tiller
Getting Close
Nearly Done
Fitting Horn Nock
Finishing & Test Shots  (Inlaying the arrow plate is shown in this one)

My trusty of bow making shirt has finally disintegrated, it will have a noble end as cloth for the garage, for cleaning and applying Danish Oil.
I got onto E-bay and have brought a suitable replacement, it's already in use as I've started roughing out a stave for a Yew Primitive.

Note I don't cut away the grip, even though it is marked out. also the natural sideways curve has been laid out to suit a right handed bow to get the arrow pass nearer the centre line. The stave has some natural deflex, I'll leave that in the centre and add some gentle reflex to bring the bow back to about zero overall deflex.

Working on the primitive is very much seat of the pants stuff as you can't really judge where the heart sap boundary is within the wood, also this stave has some dark streaky sapwood which is sort of half heart wood. With a Hazel stave this problem wouldn't exist.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pacific Yew ELB 99% Finished

The upper limb looks a whisker stiff  (mind the bow is canted  over a bit) .I've taken a few scrapes off middle and upper belly.
Here's the final part of the complete build along starting from a quarter log, it shows some of the detail, inlaying the arrow pass and the test shots.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Visitor and Videos

It's been a busy week. I had a chap come over to collect a bow on Tuesday, he'd flown over from Denmark on business and called in to pick up the bow. We had a fine time working through my various bows including the crossbows. He'd flown over and fortunately I had a tough cardboard tube I could pack the bow in for him. I don't think it would have survived the airport baggage handlers otherwise. It's no problem getting suitable tubes from the local carpet warehouses.
Hopefully he got back alright.

I've almost finished the series of videos following the entire build of a Yew English longbow. I've just filmed the fitting, shaping and polishing of a horn nock... it was a nightmare as I contrived to make several mistakes. First the horn moved as I was drilling it and it would have been angled backwards at an ugly angle. I drilled a second piece for the top nock and then promptly glued it onto the lower limb! That wasn't too much of a problem as I could just shape it as the bottom nock. the upshot is I now have 3 spare bits of horn which are suitable for bottom nocks and none long enough for top nocks.
A phone call to Highland Horn to order fifty quids worth of horn soon solved that problem, and it will keep me in horn for a year or two.

I've been busy doing the paperwork for our solar panels, and it was a relief when it was all accepted as ok by the energy supplier. The solar panels are working pretty well despite the short dull days, best daily output has bee 6.3 kWH and on a sunny day it supplies more than enough power during daylight hours.
Here's the link to the video:-

Just one more video to do showing the finished bow, some of the detail and it actually being shot.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Yew ELB Nearly There.

I've been going over the bow cleaning it up, narrowing it a tad more, rounding the belly etc.
It's nearly there now.
The video shows some of the process and it working on the tiller.

maybe the right tip could come round a whisker more, but that will get eased off when the nocks are done.
Looking good.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Progressing from 22" Draw

Doing some arithmetic based on 55# @ 22" gives an interpolated weight of about 75# at 28"
This gives me an idea of how much wood I need to remove. I've taken 10# off bows for people several times so I have a feel for it.
I'll go back through my E-mails and check on the target weight too.
Because the tiller is good I can pretty much rasp an even amount off along the belly and that will reduce the draw weight, but also help to bring the tips round a bit more. But I'll do it by degrees, it would be bonkers to try and take 20# off in one go.
1mm off near the middle where it's say 28mm thick will have less effect than 1mm off near the tip where it's only 18mm thick.
E.g. That works out as about 3.5% of the thickness at the grip, but 5.5% of the thickness at the tip. Not a vast difference but worth noting, especially as stiffness is proportional to the cube of the thickness.
Lets work out 28 cubed vs 27cubed and 18 cubed vs 17 cubed.
At the grip its 21952 vs 19683 so the stiffness has been reduced to about 90% of what it was.
At the tip its  5832 vs 4913 so the stiffness has been reduced to about 84% of what it was.

Anyhow, I know I need to rasp a good bit off the belly, checking that I'm doing it evenly along the bow and also checking each side, as it's easy to be rasping or spokeshaving at a slight angle which can make one edge thinner than the other.
I've had burst with the rasp and got back on the tiller, I've gained an inch of draw. I'll exercise it and than repeat the rasp and check on the tiller.
Here's the video showing what I did.

Latest:- 25" at 55# as of this evening.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Yew ELB Tillering

The bow is coming along nicely. Video here:-
The funny area that I filled may well fall off the edge of the bow, here's a pic.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

More Work on the Yew Longbow

I've tidied up the limbs a bit and cleaned up the edges on the belt sander to remove the last of the bandsaw marks and to narrow the tips a tad.
I've done a fair bit of work on the undulating tip and done a video of that work.
I'll soon be ready to increase the brace height and get it back on the tiller, I've taken thickness measurements every 6" on the upper limb, this will help me even it out. Generally I look for about 2mm of taper every 6".
Here are the measurements:-
Thickness at centre 30.2mm
6" from centre 27.6
12"                  24.6
18"                  24.1
24"                  21.3
30"                  19.5
36"                  16.9
Now you can see, that's not very even and if I take even 2mm steps from 30.2 down wards, I wont get down to 16.9mm.
So I probably need to thin the grip a bit. But lets assume it's about right at the 6" mark and the tip ( We can leave the grip a tad thick) and lets see what would be an even taper. 27.6-16.9 is 10.7 and this would be divided into 5 equal steps.
So 10.7 divided by 5 is 2.1 (to one decimal place)
If we work out the thickness reducing by that step we'd get:-
6" from centre 27.6
12"                  25.5
18"                  23.4
24"                  21.3
30"                  19.2
36"                  16.9
If we look at those figure we can see that we ate a tad thin at 12" and a bit thick at 18", the rest are pretty good. No need to worry about the 12" figure being a bit this as the whole limb is still probably too thick. Basically I can just thin the limb at the 18" point and blend it in before it goes on the tiller.
It's not exact, as the taper on the finished bow won't be dead even, it will get thinner than that at the tip, it's just a check to keep things on track. We don't make a bow by numbers... the measurements are for guidance, not to be our master.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

More Video Igor!

As everyone is enjoying the video progress on the Pacific Yew Longbow I've done a bit more, showing some work tidying up one tip which has some twist and undulation. Next step is to get it to full brace, probably tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

First Try on the Tiller

I've tided up the bow and got it up on the tiller. Tapped out the knot from the top limb and plugged it.
This video shows the process, I'm hoping to have this bow videoed from start to finish.

The pics show the knot almost out, the resulting hole and a plug glued in. Last pic shows it at a low brace.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Roughing Out a Quarter Log

I've had a stroll up the town to buy some odd bits of food, it's been a sunny and very windy day so I took the camera on a whim.
I noticed the Hazel still had it's leaves were many trees are rapidly loosing theirs, there were catkins on it too! The crows were looking particularly handsome in the sunshine.
A while back I got a comment on the blog requesting some video showing how I actually run a stave through the bandsaw to rough it out, so I did videos showing how I rough out a quarter log into a stave. Here are some stills too showing a before and after.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A Stave a Log and a Bow

I had a visit from James today, I'd made him a bow a while back and helped him trim down a Yew log which he'd harvested. He brought the bow he'd been making from that log.
I was pleasantly surprised by the workmanship, the back had been very nicely worked and he'd done rather nice antler nocks. It hadn't been fully tillered and needed a little bit of work before being taken to a full draw. The main issue was a slightly thin spot at the grip, but if the mid limbs are thinned a little it should come out to full draw nicely.
We put it on the tiller and flexed it to what felt like a safe deflection which was 50# from a full brace height.
I videoed it so he can study it when he gets home.
You can see it in the video the middle is working a bit hard and the mid limbs seem a little stiff. The tips looked about right. We ran verniers along it watching the gap between the jaws and the bow to see the thick spots and made some marks on the belly to show where a little needed removing.
The still is taken from the video and if you hold a CD up to it, it is very much an arc of a circle. The right limb is maybe a whisker straight/stiff and that's where the couple of slightly thicker areas are.
You can see the thin area at the grip.

We had a good old chat about various aspects of bow making and the cross section, measuring the depth/width ratio and comparing it to the 5/8 which is generally accepted as a minimum for an English Longbow. I ran another of his logs through the bandsaw. It was a rather nice log and I advised where I thought the best bow lay in it. We just roughed off the unwanted side of the log to help it season better. The off cut slice may make a nice backing strip.
He also brought over a stave of Pacific Coast American Yew which he wanted me to turn into a bow.
I like it when people bring staves as I get to try wood from different parts of the world and I don't have the problem of sourcing the wood.
All told an enjoyable morning.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Back on the Tiller

I've had a bit of a rasp and scrape on the upper limb of the knotty Yew, I've shot 55 arrows through it at a full 28" draw and was beginning to group 'em nicely.
I've put it back on the tiller at a full brace height and taken it back to over 29".
I think it's looking pretty good now, maybe a tad stiff by that knot in the upper limb, but I don't want to risk easing that off.
It's still a whisker over 50# at 28, so I could take a few more scrapes off the right tip.
It looks to be working hard in the handle, but you have to remember it has that deflex at the grip
Anyhow, judge for yourselves, any comments welcomed.
Here's a video look around the bow:-

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Knotty Yew Full Draw

I'm back to the bows, the knotty Yew now has a string and a leather grip made of leather salvaged from a ship that went down in 1786.
Rather than me writing about it, here's the info:-

The leather is in remarkably good condition and surprisingly supple, it has a nice smell of leather, sea and tar.
The bow has had a few arrows through it and has been drawn to about 30" (pic is at a good 28.5").
I'll shoot it in a bit more but it looks like I may want to ease off the upper limb a whisker as it looks a tad stiff compared to the lower. The draw weight is a little over 50# at 28".

Anyhow, it's good to get all the bows back into the garage and we now have solar panels fitted on the roof.
Even on this very dull day we have generated over 2.5kwh.
I was amused to find an E-mail from my Electricity supplier this very morning saying they wanted to increase my charges as the direct debit wasn't keeping up with my usage. Hopefully once all the paperwork is done the solar panels and the "feed in tariff" will wave a metaphorical two fingers at them.

Update:- I've eased off the outer 1/4 of the upper limb (not going anywhere near the knots which i feel are about right. I've twisted the string up to full brace height as it's now settled having been shot a bit. Then I shot 21 arrows through it (an odd number, but it's 3 lots of the 7 11/32" full 28" arrows which I have). It feels good but I must confess I've wrapped above the grip with masking tape and I'm shooting it right handed. I'll get 50 arrows through it and put it back on the tiller see how it looks.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Still Waiting...

We are having solar panels fitted and the best access to the back of the house is through the garage.
I deweaponized the garage to stop any of the bows getting damaged or arousing unwanted curiosity.

It's a good chance to have a serious tidy up, but means I can't work on the bows at the moment. The electronics and wiring is all done and fitters are back on Monday to put up the panels.

I s'pose I can maybe get a grip fitted onto the knotty bow and maybe the serving will arrive in the post today. Ordered some more low viscosity superglue online as I noticed I was virtually out.

Here's a random pic of the solar panel inverter in the loft. It turns DC from the panels to AC at the right voltage and frequency synchronised to match the mains. I really wanted one of those big lever switches like in the Frankenstein films so I could shout "More power Igor" when it's switched on.
Ha, it's just turned up in the post!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Knotty Yew Longbow Detail

I'm stuck at the moment as I've run out of serving thread and thus can't make a bowstring for the bow. The nocks are done, and I suppose I can inlay the arrow plate.
I'm much more optimistic about the bow and have drawn it to what looked to be about 30" standing watching the reflection in the patio doors. I can feel areas where I'm thinking I might scrape a little off near the tips but I'm undecided. I've taken some pics to illustrate the problem with a real stave bow with knots.

There are a pair of knots going from near the centre of the belly out to the sides, (top 2 pics) the good thing is the back is pristine. How should I deal with this weirdness? Will it form pinches or cracks, will it collapse?
I've manipulated the pics to show both sides on one pic, I've drawn in red arrows showing where it looks thin on one side appearing to give a weak point, yet on the other side it looks like I've left it slightly thick. I s'pose in theory one could measure the thickness at regular intervals across the bow and calculate the stiffness for each section and then total it. In reality that sort of thing is just nonsense as you don't know how the actual knots will behave.
I've just used my experience, time will tell if I've done ok.

The other interesting thing is the lower nock, a little of the temporary nock is still visible on the back. I did this because the tip of the bow had a bit of a deflex dip, and utilising the extra wood on the back effectively stops the nock looking like it's bent back in an ugly manner.
I was discussing the angle at which you fit nocks with Jamie the bowyer who was over last week. Do you fit 'em straight or in line with the heart/sap boundary, or the grain? My view is you fit 'em to look good cosmetically and to cover up or adjust minor problems like string alignment, knots, dips etc. You can even add a tiny bit of extra length by gluing on an overlay which extends a little past the tip, as the join will be hidden (and supported ) inside the horn.
I once heard someone say they didn't fit full horn nocks because it lost an inch or so off each end of the bow! (total nonsense!)

The two nocks are cut from the same piece of horn! The upper one being the actual tip, the colour looks totally different, but there is some nice figure in the top one, it goes from pale translucent to streaky brown.

The pics also show the back with its pins and a small knot, the bow is looking very handsome now with a fairly even natural sapwood layer and darkish heartwood. The scorching from the heat treating has long since gone and the dark filled central pith adds character. The cross section of the bow is a relatively wide flattish D with a Warbow look to it. I've gone wide and long for safety.
Lower right pic shows a knot extending from the central pith out to one edge, the manky bark-like material has been removed and filled, but features like this can easily form pinches or tiny drying cracks from their centre (you can see the spot of central pith in the knot).

I've got the arrow plate inlaid, I reused the one from the broken Takedown bow as it was a particularly handsome bit of Mother of Pearl.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Knotty Yew 50# @ 27"

It's nearly there, I've cleaned up the belly with a scraper and filled the pith grooves on the belly with Walnut dust to keep the dark look of it.
The right tip could do with easing off a tad, but I think it's ready for horn nocks to be fitted and blending in the nocks will probably ease them off.
You can see the limbs are now relatively straight with some deflex at the grip, hopefully this will give the bow a safety margin for a fuller draw.
In the full draw pic, the right limb looks a bit straight/stiff between the knot and about 1 brick length from the grip. This is due to a slight hint of reflex in that area (see the curve of the sapwood in the pic top right). The sapwood sweeps up to go over the knot which also confuses the eye... It also looks a bit like there is no heartwood at that point, that's not the case.
Some people dislike set or deflex, but it can give a smoother shooting bow. Time will tell once it's got nocks and a decent string. At that point I'll see about teasing the draw back further, keeping a careful eye on the tiller and any set.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Stick Bow Gets an Outing

It was a foggy morning, I got slightly disorientated driving there and missed the turn off to Avalon... I suddenly realized I didn't recognize the road and ended up with about 20 minutes extra driving to get me there.
I arrived in time and the fog was clearing to a lovely day.
I blanked the first target, putting all three arrows high, but soon settled down. I missed a couple of long shots later but after lunch I had a great run 16 targets with all but one being a first arrow kill or wound (the other one being a second arrow wound).
On to the last target and someone said... you need 16 to make 500!
I'd rather not have known that, but waited to shoot, last up on the last peg, needing 16 (first arrow wound or kill)
No pressure then!
It was a fairly easy shot at a 3D Baboon. Twack, thud a bit low but in the belly, another 1/2" low and it would have been a miss.
All in all a great day's shooting in good company and I think I may have found a new field shooting bow!
Thanks to the folk at Avalon for a great shoot and tasty catering, egg and bacon sandwich and apple pie...mmm

Saturday, 31 October 2015

"TakeDown" Explodes!

I'm going to a shoot tomorrow at Avalon (weather permitting) and I'd made half a dozen new arrows.
I thought I'd test shoot them through TakeDown which is the bow I was going to take tomorrow. It's 40# which is a bit lighter than Twister.
First shot I hear a slight cracking/creaking, was it the string in nocks? I felt over the bow, nothing untoward. Second shot, there it was again... still couldn't see anything. Third shot BANG and I got a nice whack across my left tit from the upper limb.
The point where it broke is fairly predictable. It looks like the bamboo back gave way where it's thinned to go into the socket. Easy to be wise after the event (Any fool could see it would break there!) and it didn't help that the bow had an arrow pass inlaid on either side.
I'll know next time to leave the backing going right down into the socket next time and to barely (if at all) cut into it. It could have done with more thick grip section above the join*, but it was never originally built to be a takedown. All good learning experience. The fibres in the 'boo show up nicely in the lower pic'

The upside is that the lower limb is fine and I can made a delightfully mismatched upper limb to investigate the phenomenon of limb timing with odd limb lengths, weights, materials etc. It will make a novelty bow... If I take it to a shoot I can say it's half longbow half primitive!
Dunno what I'm going to shoot tomorrow now, but fortunately I have a few to choose from, although I might have to change bow category.
Shame as it was a V fast smooth bow to shoot and I don't have a takedown to show.

The distance from nock to the break is 31", and from the break to the top of the socket 3".
If we consider the limb as a lever and the point where the limb thickens into the grip (the fade) as the fulcrum. Then near enough 10:1 leverage, so with 40 pounds on the end, it was exerting 400 pounds! (Or about 1/5 of a ton if you think in those terms).
Looking closer, it's maybe nearer 32": 2" which is 16:1 and gives 640 pounds, so in reality it's prob' somewhere between.
No wonder it tore the bamboo where it is stepped down.
I'm sure this analysis isn't probably technically correct in it's detail, but the whole point of physics and maths is to make stuff understandable. In the context of natural materials I think it's probably reasonable. If anyone feels like drawing it up into into a CAD system, I'd be V interested to see one of those pictures that shows the stress in different colours.

I was looking for a bow to shoot tomorrow, and picked up a scruffy character Yew stick bow (here:- )
I thought I'd check out my arrows with it... first arrow, thwack, dead centre in the scrap of paper pinned to my target boss! I immediately decide that the runty little stick bow had booked it's place on the shoot.
I checked it on the tiller, just about 40# at 28" I tidied it up a bit round the nocks and arrow pass and gave it a good wipe of bees wax polish.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Knotty Yew Heat Treated

The bow is slowly getting there, The heat treating pulled it back to shape a bit taking the ugly deflex from the tips but leaving it in the centre.
The irritating thing was it shifted a bit sideways by about half an inch which needed some heavy duty heat straightening.
I got it up on the tiller (see pic) and took some video, here's a still, showing how it's a nicer shape and it's stiffened up, now being 50# at about 21" (it was about 23" before heat treatment).
More work has been done rasping away at the belly (which has removed the scorching) the wood is palpably crisper and harder now.
I've also been improving the sides, narrowing the tips and generally tidying it up. Now it's back to about 24", with a nicer full bellied bend starting to show. It's a bit scary with the big knot, but hopefully the pristine back will hold it together.
Dunno if I'll ever have the balls to pull it the full 32", we'll see.

I may add another pic later, mind I'm busy mending the electric shower... the solenoid failed in the open position causing a panic phone call to me asking where the stop cock was, whilst I was at work! A watery disaster was averted.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Knotty Yew Progress

It's now at 50# at 23". I've done a video where I talk about it and show the problems.
I intend to get it somewhere near 50# at 25" and then heat treat the belly whilst removing some of the deflex and set. After that I can narrow it and hopefully proceed to 28" and beyond...

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Visit from a Bowyer

Jamie from Ravenbeak in Canada is over in UK for a month doing a couple of bow making workshops at The Longbow Shop, taking in the Mary Rose museum at Portsmouth, the Tower of London and a couple of roving marks shoots with the ILAA.
He wanted it meet up, and as we're well positioned for getting into London on his travels we put him up overnight on Thursday.

It was great, I don't often get to talk at length to a fellow bowyer and he doesn't often see another bowyers workshop. We had a play with all the weird bows and the Chinese Repeater of course. He pulled up all his stuff on the internet and I was green with envy at the quality and quantity of the Yew he has over there... the stuff I get to work with wouldn't even warrant a second glance if he saw it growing. Mind that's not to say we haven't got decent Yew, it's just the availability of it. Running him back to the station on Friday I took a detour and showed him a fine stand of local ancient Yew in a nearby church, I'd forgotten how big the trees were... they are huge. I also showed him a nice row of big coppiced Hazel along one of the cycle tracks which looks like an explosion of bow staves.

My mate JT dropped while Jamie was here to show him some of his Warbows including the biggest I've made (130# Yew) and one of my Elm ones. We were sitting in the sun lounge on the two little sofas Me Jamie JT and Sophie the cat taking the fourth seat looking on with interest as great long warbows were being examined with the prospect of a nock getting pushed through a window at any moment!

We kept him fed and plied him with my home made cider and had a taste of the Plum wine from August, it's still a bit young, but very fruity with a hint of fizz and quite sweet as it's still slowly fermenting. We gave him apple pie and custard as an English pudding... "what's custard?" he asked.
Ah the delights of proper custard!

He was telling us how on the West coast of Canada the climate and vegetation is very similar to here and how our back garden looked just the same as over there... the big difference is the mountains, the Yew, the animal life... it made me want to get off my backside and move! Plentiful Yew and Black bears! What's not to like? he said they don't even suffer from too many nasty poisonous critters like some parts of the world and it's cold enough to season the Yew with the bark on.

The pic' shows us with my two latest bows the Yew molle' and the Yew ELB.

We looked at the badly seasoned stave I'm working on and put it up on the tiller, I'd done a bit of work on it to get if flexing better so he could see what I was working on. We discussed how it was starting to move and he could see my problem of not being able to step back far enough to view it due to the garage being so narrow. I showed him the camera mount on the wall and he could see why it was so useful for me to take video and then review it indoors.
That bow is now at a bout 5" brace and is drawing 50# at 20", some set has returned and I may well heat treat it and pull it straight once it's coming back a bit further. There are still some impressive gracks running through to the pith, but it's generally looking more like a bow. Dunno if I'll ever have the cojones to pull it to the full 32" but we'll see how it progresses. Maybe I'll leave the bit of set/deflex and just straighten the tips, both of which have a little ugly deflex bend.
Video here:-