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