Monday, 24 April 2017

Cloth of Gold Open Shoot

It was my first 3D shoot of the year (mostly 'cos I'm a wuss when the weather is cold or wet). The weather was glorious and the course was satisfyingly tricky. I was shooting with a great bunch from the  Aurora club (two ladies, two gents) there was a good mix of styles, One AFB shooting carbons, two take-down recurves, one sighted using carbons and one unsighted shooting woodies. One of the ladies was having her first comp' with a compound. I shot the longbow with my usual array of tired spliced old self nocked arrows.
It was great fun and each of us managed to out shoot the others on occasion, although I predictably scored worst. Mind, if there was prize for the fastest kill on a one arrow 4 yard target, I'd have won that :-)
I was really pleased with how the bow performed, I'd been getting obsessive about it and had noticed a couple of tiny marks on the belly the evening before, was it just grain, or a tiny crack/splinter? I decided to shoot it and see how it was at the end of the day. By the end the bow was less tired than I was and no sign of any trouble. Once home I cleaned it off with a wipe of white spirit and gave it a light sanding where I could see the odd tool mark. I then gave it another coat of Danish oil, I'll get the grip done today using some lovely leather from my mate Lawrance's old motorcycle jacket which he kindly gave me for the purpose. The jacket has some lovely supple good quality leather in the side panels.

As I was about to do the grip I was just cleaning up round the big feature knot on the back just above the grip when I spotted an imperfection, Is it a crack or just the grain? (See pic, just left of the red line) I sanded it and studied it, maybe it's just the end of a growth ring where it swells up to the knot. I couldn't feel it raised at all, but I was suspicious. Last year I did a Yew heartwood character bow with big knots in and it failed, the man who doesn't learn from his mistakes is a bit foolish. So... I put it on the tiller and took it to about 26" draw, pulling the rope with my left hand and feeling round the knot carefully... yes, I could feel it raised with my fingernail.
Now I'd left a big bulge for the knot, but extra wood doesn't guarantee extra strength. If I asked you to break a length of 4 x 1 over your knee you probably couldn't do it, but if the grain ran up and down or across it rather than along it you'd do it easily.
I rasped off the big bulge taking it down to level with the rest of the bow, and I could see the knot was effectively just a big patch of end grain taking up about 3/4 of the width of the back, with very little sapwood left proving the strength in tension.
I had a nice strip of sapwood which I'd sawn off another stave when roughing it out, so I've used that to do a patch. I rasped just down a little below the level of the back and shaped the sapwood to give a slight bulge reflecting the original shape. I've lost the feature knot, but the bow should be safe now.
More pics when eventually I get the wraps off and the grip done. The irony is that although this bow will go at a reduced price as it's been patched and isn't "perfect" there has actually been a lot more work in it than in a beautiful clean stave that turns itself into a bow if you say boo to it! But for me it's mostly about the wood and the learning,
Meantime while the glue is curing I though I'd try Twister, I took one arrow, 10 yards, twang thud... pro kill on my little cut out piggy. It's amazing what a day's shooting does for the form. :-)

Update:- I speeded up the cure of the glue by putting the bow on a warm radiator. This has enabled me to clean it up, blend it in and get a coat of Danish oil on it so I can do the grip tomorrow.
I'm pleased with the patch, and I've left a slight swelling to echo the original shape. I won't string the bow or flex it until tomorrow, to give the glue a full curing time.
Note the difference in colour between artificial light and daylight!


  1. Nice save Del, Is this a first for putting patches on the back?

  2. Hi, no, I've used this technique over knots before, especially where a knot appears small on the back but is bigger or manky under the surface. Or if the sapwood is compromised. Effectively it's just like doing a backed bow, but just over a small section.

  3. Del do you shape your removal of knot and patch on a bench sander ? They always seem so perfect almost like you've made yourself a template/jig ? I've not tried a patch yet but would like to get your results if I could :)

    1. Oh, no, no, no! I don't use a bench sander when patching. I generally have a shallow curve, not dead flat but I take a lot of care holding the rasp/file level flat. I also rough it out pushing the rasp along its length, but finish pushing it sideways or at an angle (at a point where it balances on the stave to avoid any tendency to rock). I try to end up with it curving only in one plane.
      The other thing is to only do shallow patches, so the patch can flex to mate up perfectly, I'll often end up having to have a couple of goes to get the patch (size shape and grain) matching well before I glue it, the patch wants to be as close to finished size and shape as you dare in order to get it flexing and matching up well. Attention to detail and perseverance are a great help, treat problems and mistakes as a learning opportunity and you'll find the quality of workmanship improves. If I look back to the very start of this blog I see some work that isn't what I'd want to produce now, and I have my share of failures. I try to show it warts and all. Have a go on an old bow or even a scrap of timber.
      PS. The finished patch on this bow is prob' only 3mm thick, but a good clean strip of 3mm Yew sapwood is V strong in tension.

    2. But! I do use the belt sander to shape the face of the patch where it will be glued. I can get a flat gently curving face... I can also sand off my finger nails and send the patch flying across the garage! :-)

    3. Thanks for your answer del. your blogs are like an instruction manual. Very much appreciated:)