Sunday, 11 September 2016

Looking Over Some Other Bows

A guy brought some bows in for me to look at/repair. A pretty sorry bunch, which begs the question why do I work on other bowyers bows? Well these were from a bowyer in Europe who isn't isn't here to work on them, but my first suggestion was to let the bowyer repair them. Other than that, it's interesting and informative to see other peoples work even if it only helps me to learn from their mistakes. It's also sometimes easier to be objective about a bow when the bowyer isn't actually there.
I try to have adopt the philosophy of "If I can't say anything nice, don't say anything" unless specifically asked for a critique. I'm probably the harshest critic of my own work.
Any how, the first bow was a self Yew Warbow about 116# ? It had developed a pinch out from a small unfilled knot, no shame in that as I've recently patched a pinch on the 130# that I made ages ago. But when you felt along the limb between finger and thumb it was actually slightly thinner at that point. So you have an unfilled pin knot and a thin point at the same place mid limb... what do you expect to happen? I've rasped out a shallow scoop about 3-4mm deep and long enough to slightly thicken the thin spot, I've dug out the pin and filled it with epoxy and Yew dust prior to patching. What grieves me is that there is a similar dip on the other limb, I measure it, a 3mm dip! Approx 25mm thick where the limb further towards the tip is 28mm, there is no knot or real reason for this. Does it matter, it's only 3mm? Stiffness is proportional to the cube of the thickness, so if we look at 25 cubed divided by 28 cubed we get 15625/21952 that is 0.7 so our dip is only 0.7 the stiffness of the limb either side, that's less than 3/4. There was some set in that area, the guy said it was always like that... errr, did he see the stave before it was tillered? Look at the pic, The dip is in the middle (and mid limb), but is the tip of the limb to the left or right? (*answer at end of post)

Moving onto bow number 2, dunno if it was the same bowyer, it made of Wych Elm but the belly was very narrow and a mass of chrysals, completely beyond help.

The third (same bowyer as number one I believe), was a yew primitive of high poundage, it had taken a huge set and was splitting off part of the grip which had been glued onto the belly. We tried it on the tiller and it was 85# at 28" but most the bend (and of course the set was in the outer limbs. The lower limb was way too stiff and the innermost limbs were over thick and very slab sided.
He wanted some weight taken off and the grip glued if possible. I said I'd take the corners off the limbs which would make it look more elegant and drop a few pounds. Taking some off the belly on the inner thirds mostly on the lower limb had evened up the tiller and taken some weight off. I may do some heat work to straighten the limbs if he wants.
On the tiller the bow was trying to twist over, and I could see the limbs were pulling/twisting over, not really an issue if you allow the bow to find it's own "plane of action" (for want of a better term). It does however have the grip twisted in the hand. Compare this with the time and trouble I spent getting the wonky Hazel drawing true. You can see in the upper pic how it lies on the floor with the back showing.
It amused me a bit that the guy was constantly defending the bowyer, saying he'd given him a good deal on the several bows. Not a good deal from where I was standing!
I hope this doesn't all sound like I've got my head up my own backside, it's an honest appraisal, and the problem it gives me is, do I just do the work I'm asked for, or do I address the faults/problems?
I do realise it's a bit unfair as the bowyer isn't here to defend his work, maybe there wasn't enough thickness in the stave at that dip? Maybe the twist on the primitive wasn't there initially, and maybe it's been overdrawn or over braced.
I've been in the same position myself where one of my bows has been critiqued, and when I heard the criticism, I knew it was fair, but there were reasons.
BTW, in the last pic you can see the paler belly wood where I have rasped it down, on the edges and inner limbs.
Like I said, I'm under no obligation to do it, but it is interesting and I enjoy it!

*Oh, yes, in that top picture the tip of the limb is to the left.


  1. Hi,
    I also have to deal with a repair/preventive measure.. I'd like to know if you've already patched a flatbow where there was a dip and therefore a weak point with chrysals..I'm a bit worried with the fact that there isn't much thickness to deal with !

    1. Hi, It happened to me on a hazel primitive last year:- see this post.

  2. Hello Del,
    Thanks for repairing my Bows so quickly. I haven't had much of a chance to shoot since I picked them up from you; just the Warbow and that seemed fine.
    Just saw you're blogs on the 150LB Yew Warbow - Is it for sale?

    Thanks again mate,

    'A Guy who brings Bow's Around'


    1. Hi Nick, the 150# was for JT from a Pacific Yew stave (the one I showed you) he got it from someone who bought it online.(I daren't ask what it cost!)