Sunday, 31 July 2016

Flight Bow Shot Out

I took the bow to the flight field again, but it's the law of diminishing returns with bows, I'd got one shot of 299 yards with the Hickory flight bow, but in drawing it further to try and get more distance it now only shoots about 270. I put it on the tiller to see if it would draw 28" and if I could improve the tiller and heat treat the belly. I could see a couple of areas that could be improved, but when I started work, I saw the dreaded chrysals.
At least they were spread evenly over both limbs, which implies the tiller was at least even!
The other thing is the brush rest on the left edge of the arrow window shows wear indicating that the arrows were flexing hard against that edge.
I'm I despondent? Of course not! It's all a good learning experience, it was made all the more enjoyable by going with my son. I'd checked up last time and I could see that he could get a clear view and shot from the corner of the field. There are tractor tyres filled with concrete to stop unauthorised vehicular access, but a footpath gives him a solid area to shoot from. We enjoyed it and he broke the 200 yards for the first time using the Hickory bow and a bamboo flight arrow (226yards) we also shot the whistling arrows and my regular arrows from "Twister" pictured.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Testing the 60 Pounder

I finally got the brush rest done on the Hickory flight bow, so I went to the flight field with the 60 pounder Yew bow and the Hickory flight bow.

The Yew 60# shot lovely and smooth with the 11/32 diameter field arrows, (490grain) reaching 190 yards. Oddly with my regular 5/16" field arrows (~400gn) it was about 5 yards shorter, mind they are about 1" shorter, so the draw was less.
With a bamboo flight arrow (28" overall length) it made 234 yards.

With the Hickory flight bow, my nerves are still shot from the 2 smashed arrows, so I had extra strapping on my left arm, safety glasses and a bump cap (yes really!).
The arrows flew sweet and true, I was using the 28" (over all length) flight arrows, but just didn't have the bottle to take 'em anywhere near full draw. First shot was only 260yards, but then I got a couple at 278, I could barely see 'em as they left the bow so cleanly.
I'm hoping I can make some more arrows and get the confidence back into my draw and loose. I may also heat treat the belly some more.

It was hot out on the field, so when I got hope I made myself a concoction in a tumbler, a dollop of ice cream, some shards of dark chocolate topped up with tonic water. I sat outside contemplating that it would maybe better with some Gin or Whiskey in it.
Talking of which, I spent an enjoyable afternoon with Nick a guy form Cambridge way who popped down to see if we could find him a stave.
We went over to the woods and found a big Hazel which had recently toppled and got 2 nice lengths of timber off it. We ran them through the bandsaw and also trimmed some of a Yew branch which he'd brought for me to look at, it looked V promising.
He'd also brought a half log of unidentified wood which he'd found fallen and had been cleaning up, it looked a bit dodgy with some blue/grey streaks on the back and I could dig my thumb nail right into it. So I tried to flex it and could hear it going... I just lent a bit harder and snapped it clean in two! A half log that size should have been able to support a small car!
Anyhow, it saved him wasting any more time on it, and the Hazel staves we cut are were a far better replacement.
The time flew by and presented me with a nice bottle of Whiskey for my trouble... just a shame I didn't think of putting a splash of it in with my concoction!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Bristling with Ideas

I want to give the Hickory flight bow another chance but I'm not entirely happy with the feather arrow rest. I looked at the "Whisker Biscuit" arrow rests that compound bows use, a good idea but made of horrid modern materials... plastic eughh (spits on floor).
I was in Toolstation buying some more superglue and I noticed they had soft bristle hand brushes for £1.50 with natural bristles, so I've made some bristle arrow rests, one for below the arrow and one for the left edge.
First try, I used some super glue to fix the bristles, but is soaked up along them by capillary action and stuck 'em all together. I tried again with UHU glue on the back to tack 'em in place and a some epoxy carefully aplied when it was all finished.
It was a bit fiddly but quite fun. I'll glue 'em onto the bow with natural hide glue which can be released with heat.
Maybe this is all a bit obsessive, but it keeps me out of mischief.
I may even try the bow at a slightly longer draw... not sure.

The 60# Yew has had about 20 arrows through it, doesn't seem to have dropped weight and I've taken a few scrapes off the upper limb just above the grip. I'll shoot it some more and maybe get to the flight field over the weekend.
I've got a visitor this afternoon for some advice on staves, I'll see if I can find him something, or maybe

we can pop over the woods and cut a length of Hazel, mind I'd rather not as it's not the best time of the year for it and there are nuts on the trees.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Yew 60 Pounder Near as Dammit Finished.

It's 60# at 27" (69 1/2 " tip to tip.
The horn nocks are shaped but not finished, I've kept them fairly small and tidy, it's ready for a decent string and shooting in.
I'll shoot my 11/32 diameter arrows from it as if it is to be used for hunting it will doubtless be shooting a heavy arrow, I'll try a flight arrow from it too just to compare, sounds like a trip to the flight field tomorrow.
I'll fit an arrow plate in matching horn, I don't intend to fit a grip as it should shoot very smoothly with hunting weight arrows, but I'll see how it feels in the hand.
Once it's shot in I'll fine tune the tiller and the arrow pass, and get it to the 60# at 28"

Here's a video of it on the tiller.
Maybe get the tips moving a whisker more to get that last 1" of draw?

String made, and first test shot with bow! Other tasty snacks are also available.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Unscheduled Jobs

The problem with eating al fresco is you notice the patio table is falling apart and that a replacement would cost more than you hoped. So... I though I'd mend it (again, as the dowels have already been re-done once),which takes ages and fills the workshop with mess.
While fixing the table I got to use a rather nice wooden clamp which I'd refurbished. It was given to me by Les the guy who'd let us cut the Yew earlier in the week. One of the threaded rods was split, so I opened up the split and got plenty of glue into it. hen I bound it with string to a straight edge. Some cleaning of the threads, a light clean and some waxing and it is rather handsome now (see lower left of pic).
Having got that done I glued horn onto the tips of the 60# Yew bow, I'll shape 'em tomorrow.

I'd noticed that the bandsaw was making horrible noises too so I've given that a bit of a clean up. The problem was all that green Yew I'd cut, the sap had got onto the idler wheel and solidified in lomps making it sound very lumpy and bumpy. The guide wheels were also gummed up.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Knot Dilemma, and a New Technique?

The 60 pounder has a good few knots, but one is a bit of a tease.
Do you leave a knot until the bow explodes and then sagely rub your chin and exclaim "Ah I knew it would break there" ? Or do you take preventative action?
It's a fairly small knot, but this a relatively short bow and a good poundage.

The problem with knots is, you can't believe a word they say! This one is a foot from the nock, which is exactly where longbows like to break, it's dead centre in the limb running right through belly to back. It looks solid on the belly but has a fine black ring round clean wood on the back, there is a raised streak of heartwood showing on back too above and below the knot (see first pic)
Now I've made bows with heartwood showing through on the back before ("Ridgeback" being the most notable), but this one had me worried...
I had a little pick at the knot with my ground down needle file and it waggles, so I picked it out and it went deeper and deeper... it went so deep, I soon found I'd broken into the London Underground system (Ok, slight exag' ).
I'd been thinking for a while that a V shaped piece of sapwood inlaid over a filled knot would be a great way of fixing knots. I suggested similar to a bloke on a Warbow forum who was asking how to deal with a knot, e.g excavate and fill the knot then do a sapwood patch over it. He didn't want to do it because it would "spoil the look of the bow". Now one of my pet hates is people who ask your advice and then tell you why it's wrong. I'll offer advice and people are fee to take it or leave it, but I do rather object to having to justify my opinion when I've already offered supporting evidence.... whoops sorry about that.

Anyhow, having cleaned out the hole (or so I thought) I used a Stanley (craft) knife to cut out a deep V, widest and deepest where the knot was, tapering out to nothing either side (total length about 2 1/4" ). Now the V was opened up I could see into the hole better, and it still needed more cleaning out!
I think it's the big pocket of unsound wood which knots conceal that is the big danger. Ok, there is a weakness and discontinuity in the back which was what was worrying me in the first place, but you have to deal with the whole problem.
I filled the cavity with Yew dust and epoxy mix, mixed fairy dry and packed in tight. When that had dried the V was cleaned up again and the fillet of sapwood made to fit.
The piece of sapwood was cut from an off-cut of the same wood taking care to have the grain orientation the same. It was mostly whittled with the Stanley knife and cleaned up on the belt sander to give a press fit into the V. Once it fit in, I rasped off most of the excess, this make it more flexible and more able to deform into the V. It was glued in with Resintite and left clamped up firmly overnight. This morning I carefully rasped, scraped and sanded to blend it in.

I s'pose I should mention the other ways to deal with the problem:-
With other woods and other styles of bow like an Osage American Longbow or primitive, it would be a matter of leaving a knot or popping it out to make a hole and following the grain as it flows round making the bow wider at that point, so the wood missing form the hole is effectively just flowing round the sides of the limb. On an English longbow the advice is often to allow more thickness/depth on the back. I have seen bows with extra wood on the belly too, which I think is wrong as it will cause a stiff spot, and by inference a weak point either side of that. The problem with extra wood on the back, is it doesn't necessarily give you more continuous sapwood to take the strain. Effectively if the knot is like a hole, then extra wood on the back is just making a deeper hole, and holes aren't very good in tension! Anyhow, make up your own minds, take each knot as an individual challenge, and don't assume there is sound wood under the surface.

Time will tell if it is a good fix, and we'll never know if it would have broken.
I'll let you decide if I've spoiled the look of the bow.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Billets and Bows

... Reminds me of Buttons and Bows...
Who remembers Bob Hope, Jane Russell in Paleface, Saturday afternoon on the telly?
"My bones denounce the buckboards bounce and the cactus hurts my toes..."
Sorry couldn't resist!

I've cut down that fat Yew trunk and managed to get 3 billets each about 2"x 2" and a decent length. The pics show the good and bad sides of the billets, and the backs with the bark left on.
They have had their source and date pencilled onto them and the ends (and 1" up the billet) painted with PVA.
The shortest billet is 49", so I have plenty of length in them, could even make a short primitive from the odd one, as a three limbed bow is a bit tricky to shoot and making the string is a nightmare... mind I bet someone has done it!

I've Done more on the 60# Yew bow and it's about ready to have the horn nocks on it as it's coming back about 23"
The tiller looks a bit off, but you have to bear in mind there is a slight deflex bend about 1/3 of the way along from the right tip, and the left limb has a hint of reflex on the tip. The full draw shape always needs to reflect the shape of the unbraced bow.

Meanwhile I noticed the plums on the cycle track are ripe, but there are very few due to frost getting the flowers earlier in the year, a huge contrast to last years bumper crop. I'm on the last jar of plum chutney, but we have a few bottles of plum wine still.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Old Wives Tales and Yew

All this is my opinion of course, but I generally try and back it up with evidence.
You will doubtless hear endless people pontificating about the properties of Yew, fine grain, coarse grained, pale, dark, high altitude, thin sapwood, fast growing, slow growing, "landscape Yew" etc
I'll tell you a story and let you draw your own conclusions.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...
Ages ago Les a nice bloke at the club said there was a Yew in the back garden of his parents house, which he was clearing for sale as they had now died.
This is in Enfield a Northern suburb of London (very low altitude!) in the back garden of a terraced house. He said it hadn't been there when he was a kid, so it could only be about 50-60 years old maximum. Well I wasn't very hopeful and was a bit lukewarm about the whole idea. I met him again a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned it again, so Stuart, who is into Native American (NA) bows and I went over to have a look and see what we could cut.
Les and his wife were over there to let us through the house into the back garden. Us three blokes set too and managed to cut some decent wood and actually improved the look of the tree!

We got a decent length for a longbow/primitive/NA bow, one long skinny bit for a stick bow, (all for Stuart as he tries to avoid power tools) and a short wide trunk which will hopefully give me two matched billets, which will need the bandsaw to cut 'em out.

The big chunk of trunk took 3 of us to carry it through the house and into the car. I managed to drag it out of the car on my own and I've spent most of the afternoon splitting it.
I ran my circular saw along it first to try and encourage it to split along the line I wanted. It was hard work and I had to stop for a glass of beer once I'd got the split along one edge. To actually separate the two halves I enlisted the help of my trolley jack.
Tomorrow I will see how many billets I can get out of it... too tired now!
The heartwood is a lovely rich chocolate brown and the sapwood is relatively thin, yet the rings are coarse as it was fast growing... it would have been tempting to expect pale heartwood, and thick sapwood.
This just goes to show, the only way you'll find out is to saw into it, and anyone who says dark heartwood is only found on slow gown high altitude Yew is a fool or a charlatan, or maybe both!
Enough chat, I'll let you look at the pics.
Mind we won't know what sort of bows it will make until it's had a year to season.

While I was there Les gave me a few other bits from the old shed, some old tobacco tins, a wooden screw clamp and some lengths of aluminium angle, it was reminiscent of sorting through my Dad's tools and stuff. I think it's always nice to use bits and pieces rather than seeing them thrown. The tobacco tins will be very handy for my lathe tools etc.
I also picked up a length of skirting board from the junk pile as it looked to have good straight fine grain... might make some non-exploding flight arrows?!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Damn damn and Thrice Damn

Couldn't get a decent distance out of the flight bow, an then I had two arrows explode. Can't be sure why, but they both broke about the same distance from the nock. I don't think I over drew and shot into the belly of the bow. Maybe the arrows were flexing hard and snapped off against the shoot through window?
I've added some extra feather as an arrow rest/guide and I'm making a bamboo arrow which is much stiffer. Some organisations don't allow bamboo arrows for distance... but they are not the ones getting whacked on the arm. Some of these silly rules and regulations irritate me, which is why I tend to shoot for my own pleasure and shun competition. All I want is a PB now and then.

I'll get the arrow finished and try again. Another alternative is to open up the shoot through hole, or cut away the left edge and make it a shelf, that's a bit drastic, but I could always add wood on that side to reinforce it and make it effectively a shelf but with some bracing bulging out to the side.

I stiffened my sinews and summoned up the blood to shoot once more into the field.
I was a bit more confident as the bamboo arrow is much stiffer, it's also about 100gn heavier (approx 300 vs 200. The improved feather arrow rest and guide seemed like a good thing too, I'd also tied a nocking point on the string to give good alignment, taken a bit more weight off the levers and test drawn it.
What could possibly go wrong?

All my previous shots have pulled left by about 1/4 the width of the field, and there is a road along the left edge (behind a hedge and verge)... so I aimed at the right edge, along the river.
I took it to a comfortable draw and didn't go mad trying for a slash loose or getting it right on the edge of the window. It went away with a much smoother loose, not the jarring bang of the other arrows. I didn't see it at first, but spotted it on the way up and away.
It hadn't pulled left at all and was heading straight for the river where it meanders and is heavily overgrown (this isn't the main river, it's the old river course, which is more like an overflow from the canalised river.)
No chance of finding it, but I had a look anyway. I don't think it had made 300 yards, but it reassured me that the problem with the other arrows was lack of stiffness, and they certainly shouldn't be any lighter than those first ones. maybe about 200-250 grains is right, but on a good stiff shaft.
It's tempting to draw the bow further to get more distance, but I suspect it would start to break down and I'd suffer the law of diminishing returns, and get no further.
Anyhow the confidence is back up and I may try to make some more suitable arrows.
This flight lark is all a bit masochistic!

Update on the Yew longbow:-
It's slowly coming back, 60# at 21.5" (with a low brace about 3") It's starting to have a decent bend on it now. There's a bit of deflex in the upper limb, but I probably will leave it as the knots on the edge of the bow make heat bending it a bit risky. I can string it now without risking pulling a muscle.

Out of interest I did a "back of an envelope" estimate of the G force on the arrow... it works out at about 300G !

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Yew 60 Pounder Progressing

It's been an odd stave this one, but it's getting there. A couple of knots on one edge have made it slightly stiff, but they may well almost disappear as the bow is narrowed. I left plenty of width at the tips and it has shifted sideways very slightly, coupled with some undulations in the back I've had to keep a careful eye on it as it's settled to its own natural preferred bend.
Note, the stave isn't very long and I've got the nocks right on the ends, this means I can't use a stringer and I can only just brace it at the mo'. The righjt limb, has a little natural deflex about 1/3 in from the tip.

I'll pop over to the flight field later and try out the heat treated Hickory flight bow and the other 2 flight arrows I've made for it, these have even smaller flights. I thought I might get away with smaller flights as it's near as dammit centre shot.

This post will get updated over the day with some flight results and hopefully the Yew  60# will be moving back a bit further.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Yew Harvesting Trip

Stuart and I went over to the Shotley peninsula just South of the River Orwell and opposite Felixtowe. We had a very productive day with lovely weather and an enjoyable lunchtime break looking over the coast while eating pasties from the Suffolk Food Hall. We'd got there about 11:30 and made a good start before lunch. I shinned up the Yew and sawed off the top stuff which we stacked out the way, we made one cut at the base of the trunk and then called it lunch time.
We weren't cutting the whole tree, it has two main trunks and we took the straight one. As we cut a bird's mouth V out to actually fell it, it seemed to be almost all sapwood, but closer inspection showed the harder heartwood was actually deflecting the bow saw blade. Oddly my folding pruning saw from Wickes was working particularly well on the sapwood and we soon had it felled. For a safe controlled drop, we had it roped to the second trunk, with the rope going round 3 times, allowing us to let it slip in a controlled manner by easing off the tension.
Splitting it was a bit of a pig as there were a couple of side branches near one end, it certainly illustrates why I prefer to saw where possible. The log was just too big to handle in one piece, in fact each half was still a fairly hefty two man lift.
We had offered to do a bit of an archery demo for the guests in the holiday cottages if they were about, but they'd all gone out for the day to enjoy the good weather. the upside was that we could get the wood onto the roof rack and make it home before the rush hour kicked in.

This afternoon I've tidied up the logs a bit, painted the ends and got them stacked just off the floor. Sometime we'll run 'em through the bandsaw, but that will be a two man job again.
There is a lot of sapwood and it's easy to be a bit disappointing, but I think there is plenty of wood there. Some how an 8" diameter log with 5" of heartwood looks worse than a 6" log with 5" of heartwood! The splitting has left some ragged timber, but we have plenty of length and worst case there is probably a couple of good bows from each half, also probably a sapwood backing strip or two.
On the pic of the stump (bottom) there is a pound coin for scale.

I also got the second limb of the Hickory flight bow heat treated, ready for finishing and testing later in the week... if it stops raining!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Quick Test of the Flight Bow

I managed a try out with the flight bow, even though it's not finished yet. I'd glued a bit of feather (from a cut down flight) to act as an arrow rest, (see close up pic) it seemed to work well as the arrows left the bow very cleanly.
The first two shots were a bit tentative with a cut down regular arrow and a flight arrow, the latter going predictably further at 251 yards. I then tried again getting a fuller draw and a cleaner loose ... 299 yards!
Pretty good considering the bow is unfinished.
JT tried a variety of flight arrows from the 120# Warbow and, it beggars belief, we lost one. The field has been mown and the hay collected, as you walk towards the arrows they are visible from about 50 yards sticking up. He'd shot the 5 bamboo arrows of different spines, and then the 2 pine flight arrows. I watched 'em go and had a good line on both of 'em, yet one was nowhere to be seen. We could only guess that it has maybe hit a stone and not stuck up straight, there were bits of dried grass all over the field an finding an arrow lying flat would be V difficult.
We gave up eventually having drawn no great conclusions about the arrow performance, other than maybe the loose is as important as anything else.

Update:- Got ready for my Yew harvesting trip tomorrow and heat treated one limb of the flight bow while keeping an eye on Emily and Andy Murray who has just won the singles at Wimbledon.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Flight Bow Tricky Tillering

The flight bow has come on deceptively fast, it almost looks like it's simply been cut out by numbers to a pattern, but the actual tillering is V tricky.
The bow is so short and the actual working limbs so short that slight errors in how the bow and it's string are supported on the tiller make a big difference. I've shaped the grip, reduced the levers and made a shoot through arrow pass/rest. It's been braced and the arrow/finger position marked with tape to allow it to be pulled accurately on the tiller.
The shoot through hole may well need enlarging considerably, but better to start small and make it bigger... it's hard to reduce the size of a hole! Bear in mind flight arrow fletchings are very minimalist too.
In the pic, Emily Kitten is checking that the grip is a good tail fit... very important the tail fit!

 Where the lower limb had looked stiff and I'd eased it off, it now looked weak. I've been checking an actual draw by looking at my reflection in the patio doors. I finally got it looking pretty even and plucked up courage to draw it to 24", it's actually only 50# and gave a slight noise at one point, not quite the dreaded death 'tic' but a bit worrying.
You can see from the pics it's taken a slight even set, that's fine. I'll strap the limbs back flat and heat treat the belly. I was tempted to add a hint of deflex/reflex, but the old adage of keep it simple is probably sensible.
It's looking a bit more elegant now, but doesn't have the slender elegance of the Yew Cherry flight Molle' that it's modelled on, and it's only about 5# heavier... so it doesn't seem very promising. But heat treating is the ace in the hole, and Hickory responds well to it, so I'm hoping for about 60# at 24 now. I've also allowed some room to reduce the length of each lever a whisker if necessarywhich will increase draw weight and reduce mass and inertia.
Maybe it will explode, maybe it won't chuck an arrow very far. I'm hoping to heat treat it and get some test shots soon, then I'll start the work of fine tuning it.
I need to prepare for a Yew harvesting road trip on Monday so I don't know if I'll have it shooting this weekend.
Just got a call from my mate JT, we're on for a bit of shooting tomorrow morning excellent. I'll make a string and give it a try out before heat treating... better check I have a suitable arrow too!
Update:- String made and tested with a 21" arrow, seems pretty quick and flew nicely through the hole... seems odd having to thread the arrow through the hole.

Flight bows are a bit of a niche thing... this one hasn't taken long to make if you discount the years of experience and the endless pondering about how I'd make it.

It's like the old joke about the retired maintenance guy who get called called in when the factory boiler stops working (or whatever piece of equipment suits your story). The lost production is costing a fortune... he walks round with a big wrench, followed by eager suited executives and accountants. He checks valves, feel pipes, listens to the boiler and eventually walks up to a water feed pipe, picks up a length of 2x2 timber that is leaning by the pipe. He whacks the pipe at a U bend and listens... there is a gurgling sound and suddenly it all springs to life.
He submits the bill, next day he gets a call from the accountant querying it... £5000 for whacking a pipe with a piece of 2x2 is a trifle excessive isn't it?
He says OK fair enough, I'll submit a revised bill.
See below:-
Striking pipe with 2x2" timber      £25
Knowing where to hit it.         £4,975
                                    total   £5,000

I also had a good trip out to a local farm shop, the farm keeps Geese and now is the time they moult their feathers. He let me have a look round the goose enclosure and pic up feathers, I got a good handfull, not many white ones unfortunately, but still a good return for an E-mail and a few minutes drive. He was a really interesting chap and it turned out he grew cricket bat Willow down along the river for a company that makes bats. We had a good old chat about wood, bows and bats, I picked up a big punnet of strawberries while I was there too. It's good to make local contacts. Which reminds me, I should wash and sort those feathers.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Two Bows on the Tiller

I don't often work on two at once, but I'm keen to get the flight bow done. It's the first time I've used commercial timber and I've not made a self Hickory bow before either, although I have used it as a backing. I may get it tillered to about 60# then heat treat the belly to gain a bit extra. The upper limb has just started to take a little even set, which is fair enough as it's working hard.
It's a tad scary as there were some odd noises coming from it during the first flexing, you can see the left (lower) limb is too stiff, but it's flexing a fair bit. I've since eased of the left limb and rounded the corners considerably which seems to have quietened it down. From rough out where it barely flexed, I've taken off about a mm, then another mm with draw knife and spoke shave, they both needed sharpening to cope with the Hickory. Now it's mostly rasp work, the levers are vastly oversized and haven't been touched yet. No point doing a load of work on them until I know it isn't going to explode!

The Yew longbow is fairly short at just under 70", it's to be 60# at 28" which should be ok as I've made 70 pounders that length before.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

BBY Collected & a Flight Bow?

My mate Lawrance came over to collect the bamboo backed Yew this afternoon. The pic makes the upper limb look a bit long, but that's due to the bow being canted over a bit and the camera being at eye level. I should have known to kneel to get the camera at the same height as the centre of the bow..
The lower limb tip still isn't completely uncoiling but it's not far off and once the bow and archer are more used to each other it may settle down.
It's arguable if it actually qualifies as an English Longbow (NFAS deffinition), but it's hard to know how much reflex will stay in when gluing up and during tillering. It may get a little adjustment later, but Lawrance isn't really that fussed as he isn't seriously into competition anyway he can always shrug and say "call it whatever you like!"

I've got a Yew longbow roughed out, it's to be 60# @ 28", I've been filling a couple of knots, but it's already flexing on the tiller.

Meanwhile there's good news  and bad news on the flight shooting front. The good news is, the field has been mowed, the bad news is, I haven't made a flight bow....
So I pulled out a big length of Hickory that my bowyer friend Matt had given me, it's a tad odd as it has heart & sapwood running through it, but there's supposed to be no difference anyway. I might be able to make it into a Yew lookalike longbow, but I figured there's enough to cut out a flight bow based on my Yew backed Cherry one from last year that was pretty good.
I'm making it with the growth rings running from belly to back. Many Hickory backing strips are cut this way. I offered it up to the bandsaw, but the fine tooth blade didn't like it. Swapping to the 3 tpi blade and letting it go at it's own pace went through fine.
I'm aiming at about 70# at 24", that's scaled from 90# at 31" which I know I can pull. That should hopefully give me a decent distance... if it doesn't explode!
I was going to go a hint longer on the levers, but forgot that as I drew round the original bow! Having allowed a bit extra all round should give me some wriggle room. There is plenty of width on the timber and it will have the sapwood strip running down one side.
Note, I won't be shaping the grip, as I may make it centre shot, or shoot through a hole or have a false grip on an extension out the front, that allows the archer to bring the back muscles into play more and effectively do a 24" draw but by pulling back to a normal 28" anchor.
Should be interesting... watch this space!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Dear Diary

Shot another 20 arrows from the 'Boo Yew.
Coaxed kitten towards me and grabbed her from roof of next door's shed. She's now learned to miaow pitifully and tug at my trouser leg in a plea to be let out! She's had 3 short spells outside today(about 20 mins each). She's ok for a while and then goes bonkers rushing up trees at warp 8.
Made 5L of Gooseberry wine.
Hope to do some on the next Yew longbow, it's roughed out but I need to take the sapwood down and investigate a couple of knots.
Time for a cuppa... and maybe a cat nap.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Boo Backed Yew done ... or is it?

The bow is looking really good and shoots very crisply.
I twisted the string up a bit to get the brace height right and thought it looked a tad off, the lower limb looks a little over stiff at brace. Generally the lower limb is tillered a little stiffer to allow for the asymmetry of the draw, but this seemed a bit too much.
I put it on the tiller and it looks lovely at full draw, so I won't panic and over react, I'll get it shot in and see if it settles at all, I'll also let the guy I'm making it for shoot it to see how he finds it.

It's not actually a problem, just me being hypercritical... I don't s'pose most archers would even notice. There are plenty of little tweaks I can do to adjust it here are some of the things I could do in no particular order:-
1. Ease off the lower limb a tad, (but I don't want to drop poundage).
2. Do a tiny heat bend on the lower limb to deflex it a hint  (but I don't want to drop poundage).
3. Heat treat the upper limb to stiffen it a tad.
4. Do a slight heat bend in the upper limb to remove deflex or add reflex.
5. Take an inch off the upper limb to stiffen it a tad.
6. Leave it alone and stop being obsessive!

Here's a couple of pics showing some of the interesting grain. It's worth noting the the billets were cut from wood which would have been marginal for a self bow due to bends and twist such that the sapwood would lie along the back of the bow. By careful sawing the wood is fine as billets for backing with another wood as it will all in compression and the grain direction isn't so important. Of course there is a risk of warping and such like, but it's all part of the fun. On one billet thre are signs of the central pith of the wood along the centre of the belly, but on the other limb there are signs of it along one edge. That lovely swirling grain in the left pic, is a handsome feature, but probably couldn't exist in a self bow.

I've just shot another 10 arrows and had another look... it's fine, I think it's just the unbraced shape showing. The two billets are not a perfect match even with the bit of heat bending I did in the early stages before glue up. After all, it's not supposed to be a laminated recurve made on a former! Anyhow I'll calm down, have a nice cup of tea and keep shooting it in over the course of the day.
It does shoot nicely and rings like a bell when given a good crisp loose from a full 28" draw, yet doesn't feel at all harsh. I've stuck 5 scraps of masking tape on the boss so I can spread the shots around.