Monday, 29 February 2016

Heart Wood Belly Added

I've added the heartwood belly laminations to the little Yew sapwood bow. I haven't been brave enough to take  it to full draw yet, but I've pinged a couple of arrows out of it and pulled it to 40# on the tiller. It's much quicker and looks quite cool. I haven't wiped it with varnish so it looks dull in the pics. There is a fair bit of set as I didn't pull it into reflex when I glued on the belly (I didn't want to risk breaking it, and as a short bow a bit of deflex helps with the long draw).

It's very narrow at the grip and I've added an extra belly strip to provide extra strength over the splice.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Yew Heartwood Belly Strips

I sawed a couple of thin belly slats using the bandsaw and a wooden guide jig (see pic) The wood was just offcuts from  my stave trimming.  The belt sander got them fairly flat and lightly tapered. I had to use two short lengths as that's all I had, so I spliced 'em together with simple V splice.
This is all just a bit of an experiment, if I was doing it from scratch I'd have more heart wood and less sap, or at least 50/50. It will be interesting to see what this thin layer of heartwood will do for the bow.
The belly of the bow has been run over the belt sander to flatten it, but even so the heartwood won't be full width (the offcuts just weren't wide enough) so it will look a bit weird!
 I'll glue it up with the deflex pulled out, not quite sure how I'll strap it up to achieve that, or how I'll clamp up round the tips.

Dunno if I'll get it glued up today, there's a hard frost and I have a bit of a cold, which means my concentration span is down to about 5 minu..

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Yew Sapwood Bow Full Draw... and a bit more!

Blimey! I was going to make a decent string before taking it this far, but what the heck. This shows that I should be able to shoot it at my normal 27" draw with no problem (and probably no accuracy!)
To have pushed it this far has taken some decent wood a bit of skill, patience and an awful lot of luck.
As kids and beginners we mistakenly want to make short bows with fancy curves and long draws an infeasible draw weights. Experience and luck are wonderful things.
I'll make a decent string for it now and maybe try a thumb ring... there's always something new to try with bow making and I'd encourage anyone to have a go, the results can sometimes be quite surprising.

You can see it's working a lot more at the grip, I have since eased off the stiff area just a whisker to relive the stress on the rest of the bow. If you cold a CD (or mug etc) up to the pic it shows the stiff area and that the central section is not a bad arc of a circle.

You can see the bow has taken some set, but better some set than exploding! Improving the tiller and having overdrawn it a whisker will give me some room to increase the brace height a whisker to help it shoot sweeter, that's all part of tuning the bow.

Update:- First test shot hit dead centre! You can feel the bow stacking (draw weight increases sharply like hitting a brick wall) it gets to full draw. I was pulling it to about 26.5" but it shoots quite sweetly. Skinnier lighter arrow would be interesting, I might try some of my medium flight arrows through it (I don't want to risk smashing my lightest ones).

Just for completeness I'm adding a picture of the bow after some final tweaking, showing the tiller at my actual 27" draw length, mainly 'cos someone criticised the tiller on the unfinished bow (presumably without reading what was said...groan). It doesn't profess to be perfect, it's a bit of experimental fun.
Video of it being shot here:-

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Yew Sapwood Shorty

The tips are flipped and the tiller improved.
Note:- I've adjusted the scale on the tiller rig to measure true draw length from the back of the bow, (as this bow is much slimmer than most bows).
I'll see how much set it's taken and make some more tiller adjustments to see if I can coax it back closer to my normal draw length. Maybe I should make a string and shoot it before it explodes so that it will at least get to shoot an arrow or two.

The lower (left) limb is looking much better now and the hinge is less apparent although it does look thin, some of the thick and thin spots in the limb are more about twist than actual thickness.

With such a shot bow and relatively long draw I may have to shoot it with a thumb release or maybe just two fingers.

A little more work on the stiff spot, then I'll make a string.

This all illustrates that it's easy to make a bow but hard to make a good one, I had a shootable bow in about an hour or two, but since then I've spent ages flipping the tips adding belly patches to the tips, improving the tiller, shaping nocks and the flipped tips exacerbate the natural twist in the limbs so I'm now using heat to rmove the twist to get the string tracking correctly on the tips. All good fun and all a learning experience.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Yew Sapwood Mini Bow

I've been trimming all my Yew from Jan/Feb 2015, there are loads of long triangular section offcuts which I've mostly sawn up for firewood.
On Primitive Archer one of the guys suggested a contest to see who could get the most draw length/bow length for a 40# self bow. This got me to thinking that Yew sapwood is very supple and most of the offcuts are sapwood. Unfortunately most are triangular section from the edges of the logs and there's not enough wood for 40#, but I wanted to have a play anyhow.

I roughed out a quick bow about an inch wide and roughly tapered it on the bandsaw and a bit of spokeshave work.
A quick try on the tiller shows how supple it is. The tiller is off with a bit of a weak point mid limb on the right limb, with the left limb and grip being a tad stiff.
Still it may be instructive to post a bow with bad tiller to show how it looks, it's how we learn, and that's exactly what I'm doing here.
I've not played with a just sapwood bow, I may try heat treating it and I've already "flipped the tips"(putting in a sharp recurve). It's about seeing what draw length and weight I can get out of it, it's only taken about an hour or two, admittedly using the bandsaw, but it shows how quick and easy it can be to experiment. In putting the sharp recurve in one tip I managed to get a bit of a splinter lifting on the belly, but I just rasped and sanded it out and glued on a V thin slat of sapwood (about 1/8"). That's now curing over my bench light with a 100watt bulb in it.
By easing off the grip and the left limb, the hinge in the right will be less stressed, I can always heat treat that area, but I expect it will just even out as I improve the tiller.
I did my usual trick of leaving the bark on and it has popped off (except at the very tips) leaving a lovely clean back which has a yellowish tinge
I'm hoping for about 30# @27" from a 47.5" bow !
Despite that huge bend it has taken very little set.

The real point of this is to show that you can make a small 20# bow relatively quickly and easily... if you have some decent seasoned wood. To take it further to 30# and then maybe higher, that's when the extra time patience and experimentation comes in. So don't be too ambitious with a first bow if you want that quick hit of success, but don't be scared of tinkering and improving to find out what the wood will do.
This one may well explode before it reaches 27" draw, but hopefully I'll catch it on video if it does!

Monday, 15 February 2016

More Splicing Igor!

While I was on a roll I did two more, the quality of my sawing and preparation was improving. Getting the back of the billet relatively flat and true helps to get a good clean cut, but even so it's tricky to cut out the bottom of the V groove cleanly as the blade wanders in to the first cut. One good trick is to gently drag the billet out from the blade as it is running, pressing the wood lightly against the blade, this will act more like a blunt rasp than a saw and will remove small amounts in a controlled way. It's easy to mess up a splice especially if you drop a billet on the floor and snap off a thin bit from the tip... (whoops) fortunately it is pretty easy to saw an inch or so off the tip, re mark it and do it again. That's just one more reason for leaving billets etc a bit over length.

My best two half logs were destined for a warbow stave but I got a nasty shock when I looked at the best bit... There was a nasty chainsaw nick across the sapwood right in the middle... drat. The other half had a big knot on one edge, but was good for one billet.

I studied the nicked half for some considerable time whilst moaning about chainsaws under my breath. Eventually I decided to try for two billets by cutting down through the nick, but making sure I had one good one. As it happened, that's pretty much what happened, one is good, the other (the left one ) is marginal for maybe a light bow. Mind it's always deceptive trying to judge how much clean timber there is once the sapwood is reduced and the billet narrowed to bow width, still, worst case is it'll make firewood.
Talking of which, the area behind the bandsaw is now littered with thin offcuts where I've gradually reduced the wood. That will make some nice kindling for my big Sis' wood burner.

With the warbow billets I marked out the Z splice as 6" long and 40mm wide. I went for extra length as my "Warbow Explodes" post (where the sapwood failed at the splice) is the most viewed post on the blog. I usually go for 4" and 30mm wide for more normal draw weights.

You can see the remains of the masking tape on the splice, I wrap the tape round to help the glue say in place and fill any small voids, also stops it running out and making a mess. For perfect fitting splices you can steam or boil them and clamp them up, once cooled they will be a perfect fit. I just try for a good fit by repeated fiddling and fettling, with rasps, files, bits of old saw blade and lots of holding them up to the light and patience. It's easy to think you have a good fit, but then you look at the back and find there are gaps on that side. On the plus side, with a taper fit, sometimes just a tiny bit of wood removal at a tight spot will allow the joint to push in much further.... did I mention patience?
 I then clamp 'em once they are glued, fine gaps up to the thickness of say a business card are ok, and bigger ones are ok if they can be squeezed closed with light pressure.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Billets and Splices

I sorted out a load of my billets, there are about 6 pairs, some better than others and one pair is a character pair giving a nice S shaped bow.
I mark my splices out as 30mm wide even if the stave is much wider, that's why they look a bit skinny. If you mark out using the full width of the stave a lot of the splice will disappear as the bow is made and you loose a lot of the glue line/glue area.
The skinniest pair look V thin, but there is actually plenty of wood there for a bow. I've also got 'em plenty long enough (about 80" minimum)
The splices are just sawn out, they will needs cleaning up to get a good fit and maybe even steaming and clamping up, which gives a perfect fit. I did two splices no prob, but then got sloppy and completely messed up the third... I think I measured 10 mm instead of 15. I just sawed 1" off each splic re-marked and sawed 'em again, you see why I allow extra length.

I'll clean 'em up and glue the 3 in one batch. I'll do a test on the glue first as I've had it a while. Resintite is a fine white powder and does have a shelf life, once mixed it should stay workable for about two hours, if the glue is getting a bit old it can start to gel and cure in about 1/2 hour. At that point I'll buy some more. It's cheap enough but comes in rather large tubs. No point risking the bows for a few quids worth of glue.

One pair of billets isn't very thick, but they can always have a riser section glued on or even a sapwood patch on the back over the splice for extra strength and security. The darker heavy pair of billets (leaning up behind the vice) will become a warbow weight stave.
I've cleaned up the worst splice, to help get deep into the 'V' I stuck some abrasive paper onto a piece of sawblade using double side tape (from Poundland) see pic'.

Mean while the Yew AFB has had several coats of Danish Oil and has been signed, yesterday I noticed some chatter marks from the scraper on the back. They only show when the light is just right, so I sanded them down, which of course means redoing the Danish oil on that limb... the devil is in the detail and it would have spoiled the look of the bow if I hadn't taken out the marks.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Money Well Spent

I've bought myself a decent facemask with replaceable filters from Toolstation (a JSP Professional ). Yew dust hasn't worried me too much in the past, but with a history of sinus problems I thought better safe than sorry (also better late than never) It fits well and my glasses don't mist up, I'm pleased with the investment. I also splashed out on a better grade of abrasive paper, MIRKA, it's brilliant, I can cut off a long thin strip and use it diabolo fashion pulling really hard and it doesn't tear, it also stays clog free and has vastly speed up the sanding and reduced waste. I just got the 80 grit to try it, but I'll certainly get some 120 too as I get through about half a roll of the cheaper stuff on each bow. It's a rather cheery yellow colour too.

It's very difficult to get good pictures of the bow showing the heart/sap wood contrast,  or the growth rings in the sapwood.
I've had another go before wiping it with Danish Oil to see if they come out better. My bows invariably look better in the hand than in pictures, which is probably just as well as it avoids disappointment!

I've shot a few more arrows through it, and it seems to group very well, I had a go with the 11/32" 100gn points and they flew cleanly too hitting home hard.
Mick the blacksmith will be over tomorrow to test shoot it with his arrow so we can see if it needs some tweaking.

Monday, 8 February 2016

AFB Full Draw

I've made a decent string for the AFB and shot a few arrows through it. It feels pretty quick and my second arrow hit the small white piece of foam on my target which was V satisfying. I'm still adjusting the grip for optimum comfort.
I put it back on the tiller and took some video, here's a couple of stills, unbraced and full draw.
It looks slightly stiff in the outers, but that's due to the unbraced shape, but maybe the outer 1/3 of the left limb could have a few scapes off it.

I'll see once it's had a few more arrows through it.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Yew AFB Ready for a String

I've slimmed the tips, glued on Waterbuffalo horn nock overlays and roughed 'em out and adjusted the arrow pass a bit.
I'm near as dammit to full brace and full draw. I noticed the draw length is actually 1/2" more than I've been measuring due to the deep grip making the bow sit high on the tillering tree. My measure can actually be adjusted up and down to compensate, but I rarely bother as it's usually only + or - 1/4" out.
I couldn't resist giving the grip a quick sanding with 80 grit and a wipe of Danish oil just to get an idea of how it will look. You can see the central pith of the stave on the fade of each limb and the drying cracks radiation out from the pith towards the belly, these are not a problem, the cracks are just taking the path of least resistance and are not going into the working limbs at all.

Putting a short arrow on the string to check the arrow pass and shelf revealed it was out of alignment, a few minutes (see wrist watch!) with a rasp and files soon sorted that out... see before and after pics. Top pic the arrow is making contact near the belly, second pic it sits much flatter against the arrow pass. There will doubtless be some more fiddling and fettling before it's finally finished.
Lots of cleaning and finishing, but she's just about there. I'll post a full draw pic when it's got a decent string and is all prettied up.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Effect of Heat Treating One Limb

I'm re-heat treating the limbs to put back a hint of reflex and stiffen 'em up before final narrwing of the tips and tillering it back the last few inches.
I did a brief video to show some of the process:-
Here's a pic of the bow braced after having done just one limb. The difference between to two limbs is very obvious. Note:- I didn't draw the bow as it would over strain the untreated (weaker) limb.
Why does it need heat treating a second time? The heat treatment probably only penetrates 3 or 4 mm and during tillering some of that wood has been removed, also the bow will inevitably take a little set.
I'll go out and do the other limb now.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Yew AFB Getting Close

I've done some more work, tidying up the libs, easing off the lower limb a little and shaping the grip, I've taken some video of it flexing. I'll post it on youtube later. Here it is:-
For now here are a couple of pics... looking good.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Grip Roughed Out

I always say don't shape the grip and arrow pass until the bow is near finished, well I've got it to 45# at 21" from a low brace and so I've just roughed out the grip. It needs doing as the throat of the grip where it sits in the hand will be cut away by maybe 1/2 - 1" or so and this is where the draw length is measured from. Here's a pic' after first rough out, I've done more rasping and filing and it's getting to feel rather nice. the arrow pass will need to be cut away much more, but that really will wait until the tuning the bow stage when its shooting.
I've really got my mojo back and Sophie the cat is much more active today, rubbing everything and purring which has cheered us all up!

I'm really enjoying this bow as it's a style I've not done before, I think the heart/sapwood running through the grip will look stunning. Hopefully it will be a bit special.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Back in the Saddle

That's back on both the bicycle and on the shave horse.
I cycled in to work this morning, a bit chilly but I took it easy and it was quite enjoyable, plenty of bird song to cheer me along.

I did the deflex bend on the AFB at the fades with steam last week.
Yesterday I sketched out the reflex for the rest of the limbs on some plywood and cut out a template to heat treat it with an aim to having zero or maybe a whisker of over all reflex. E.G Placed with back towards a straight it would touch at the tips and the handle or maybe with the handle just a little raised.

I combined the heat bend with some heat treating and the combination of the added reflex and the heat treating has brought the draw weight right up. With just the deflex it had dropped considerably as I could almost slip a string on at a low brace.
It's looking pretty good, as at brace and full draw it shouldn't have any visible reflex,
E.G The limbs should only curve in one direction.
Here are some pics. The middle one shows it after one limb has been reflexed

Thanks for all the kind wishes about my health. Soph' and I are both pretty much back to our old selves, although Soph' seems to be a tad withdrawn, but she's got her appetite back and is contented enough.