Friday, 26 February 2021

Walnut Decisions

 I haven't posted recently as I'd not done anything on the 2nd Walnut bow.
Mind I have been tinkering about with my lathe. I made a nylon leadscrew nut as the old cast iron one was very sloppy, it took some doing, but was an interesting job and seems to have been worthwhile as the lathe feels much better now. The picture shows the first try out version. It's a 5/8" 8 tpi ACME thread)

I've also done a couple of videos looking at what happens when you draw an even slat of bamboo from off centre like a Yumi bow, this was following some discussion on one of the archery forums. There seems to be several types of idiot... on sort will ask questions and then totally ignore the detailed answer, another sort will merely change the question without answering any of the points raised... regarding the Yumi, it was someone who quoted some 'O level' physics, as if I didn't know it already.

Anyhow I did a follow up video to show that what you see doesn't necessarily lead you to draw a sensible conclusion, especially if you don't correctly apply the physics (Hooke's Law in this case).

Anyhow back top the plot with the Walnut, I've shot a few more arrows through the first one and that's made me decide to tiller the 2nd to 50# @27" initially as a 50# flight bow. If it takes no set then I may add some extra recurve at the tips to work it harder. I'll go for 27" draw as I have some 27" flight arrows.
Hopefully in a month or so we'll be able to get out shooting again.
I had my first Covid vaccination a couple of days ago, I felt a bit achy and tired for 24 hours, but just took it easy.
Hope you are all staying safe and not going too stir crazy.

Friday, 5 February 2021

2nd Walnut Bow

 I've started on one of the better Walnut staves, got it roughed out, steamed out some deflex, sideways bend an twist, which I did all in one go. I've tried it on the tiller just to see how it was moving. It's showing the right limb as weakest just out of the fade, but there is plenty of weight to play with.
 I've rather stalled now as other things have piqued my interest. Not really sure what I want it to turn into...
Meanwhile, I've been trying to turn a new leadscrew nut for my little lathe as the existing one is sloppy and has a load of backlash. I'm turning one out of nylon 

which will hopefully be tough enough for the loads imposed on it. Nylon is also self lubricating and being slightly flexible it allows a tighter fit.

Anyway, it kept me out of mischief and I practised on a chunk of Laburnum first. It's quite a fiddly process turning an internal ACME thread, but it taught me a good deal... (one thing being that metric and imperial aren't interchangeable!)

It took a bit of fiddling and fettling to get the nut to fit correctly, but it seems to work very well, the bcklash is gone and it actually seems to give a smoother cut, even taking off 20thou which is more than I'd normally take on this small lathe 10-15 is my usual max. Of course it could just be my fond imagining.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Walnut sapwood bow finished

I'm very pleasantly surprised, having gone at it like a bull at a gate with the worst piece of walnut, it seems remarkably good.
I've only had one shot at full draw, and not seen it on the tiller beyond about 24", but it seems to have retained a nice hint of reflex. I'd guess the weight is a tad short of 40# at 27" but I'll check it on the tiller some time. I'll probably test it through the chrono to see how it performs.
It's a whisker over 2" wide at the widest.
I'm impressed as I'd expected it to take some set and maybe chrysal... ok I know it's low draw weight and it's wide and heat treated, but it's not over long. Maybe I'll see how hard I can push it, but won't go beyond 28", maybe try with some light flight arrows?
I haven't got a full brace full draw pic yet, as I've only just made the string... check out the build along on the Youtube channel (Del Cat) I've made it into a play list.:-

I've now had it back to full draw on the tiller and it's a whisker over 40# @ 28". It shoots nicely, my first 3 test shots at 10 yards, put one low and left, the next two were in the kill on a paper target of a Jay.
The dark mark on the side of the right limb near the tip makes it look like a bit of a kink.
Update:- Just shot it through the chrono... 168fps... nice :-)

Friday, 8 January 2021


 Just been been near one of the old buildings in Harlow (Moot House)... they are doing work there to "enhance the environment" by re-paving... They have protected a large sculpture of Chiron and 2 large Plane trees...

However I noticed a pile of sawn tree stumps, about 10"diameter, lovely dark reddish brown heart wood, creamy white sapwood😟.
Yes they'd cut down some Yew ... none of it left... bastards... enhancing the environment? My arse!
I had a chat to the foreman and told him what decent Yew is worth, maybe some will get used in future rather than sawn up.
Makes my blood boil. I've since E-mailed the council suggesting that if they are felling trees they should contact interested parties. My E-mail is being passed to the Parks and Landscape department. They also said it would be very unusual for healthy trees to have been felled... but of course a Yew tree doesn't need to be healthy to have good bow wood in it, slow growing stunted trees can produce very fine wood, and some will insist that it's actually preferable to faster gown wood.
Meanwhile I've been playing with the walnut cut last year. I've been working the worst bit which had tons of reflex and sideways bend. It stream bends well and I've roughed it out quick on the bandsaw. I overdid it and created a weak point (see pic), however, shortening that limb and will probably allow it to become a low weight bow of about 30# . The good thing is that it gives me an idea of the dimensions I'll need for a decent
primitive style 40 pounder. It feels very much like Hazel, but maybe not quite as stiff.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Getting on with it.

 I'd been working on a scruffy bow made from 2 mismatched Yew billets. I'd only spliced it up (Z splice) in order to video the process for someone. One good limb had some deflex and reflex with cleanly define heart/sap wood. The other was just scruffy and from a much narrower branch which had weird heart/sap and the central pith was running up the belly, just under the surface.
To cut a longs story short it exploded on the tiller, but to be honest I'd only really been doing it to give me something to fiddle about with (videos on the Del Cat Youtube channel).

Now that's out the way, I'm going to look at the heartless walnut I cut last year. I'll probably start on the worst piece first and see what it's like work and how it performs. The main concern is the huge reflex in the staves.
The growth rings are really fat, I think the tree had been growing above an underground gravel bed (about 3' dawn) that had water running through it, which would account for the rapid growth. I'll see if I can clean the back and sides up to a decent surface so that I can have a good look and then rough it out on the bandsaw.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Review of the Year

 Hmm, well despite the obvious Covid problems I hope we’ve all managed to hang on and find a bit of shooting over the year. Hopefully 2021 will be somewhat better, but probably not until late spring or summer being realistic.

 I know that during lockdown some people have been doing more to make their own kit whether it be making strings, arrows, leather work or having a go at making a bow. Learning new skills is a good way to keep mind and brain active and combat the stress, so if you haven’t tried yet, have a go at making a bow or, even just a simple stick and string kid’s bow.
For my part I’ve taken up the blues harmonica and got back into playing on-line bridge.

I think I only did two field shoots over the year and some roving.

 My bow making has been slow and steady, having made about 10 bows. Highlights have been some interesting repair work, cutting some Walnut which will be ready to use in late January, and a few bamboo backed bows, boo/Yew/Lemonwood. A couple of Boo/Yew, an 80# Yew primitive and an Ash backed Yew heavyish flight bow (~80#) that I haven’t really tested.

The Horn bow (horn/wood /sinew Turkish, Ottoman style bow) which I bought as a part finished project was probably the most interesting. The work I’ve done to correct its sideways bend/twist, which became evident after the first session of shooting, has been very successful, although I’ve yet to shoot it since that work.
I also had a quick play with a skinny off-cut of yew to make a small “H bow” flight bow. The wood was knotty and it only survives a couple of shots. It did however allow me to try an extended grip which meant I could use my normal anchor point whilst drawing a 17” draw bow. I may build another version from clean wood if I get some suitable off cuts.
I've tried to post more video on Youtube (Del Cat is the channel name)
Someone posted a Youtube link to a Lego Archer Automaton which is very good, it’s based on an experimental one I made some years back. The Lego one is much more presentable but uses my basic design/mechanism. I was gratified to see that the guy who made it acknowledged my design.
A search on Youtube should find it, as it’s worth a look.

It's funny how some little things stick in my mind from the year... seeing a newt in the garden pond was particularly satisfying as it's the first we've seen. (When we moved here about 25 years ago the pond was dried up and needed a re building with a decent rubber liner).

It's gone cold today, too cold to go into the garage, but I'll probably dig out the heater and get out there to finish off a scruffy billeted Yew bow I've been working on, then start on the Walnut or Elm.
Anyhow, lets hope that by the time the weather warms up again in the spring, the covid situation is calming down.

All the best to one and all.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Santa's Workshop

 In the run up to Christmas... allow me to digress...
(Note:_ no disrespect to anyone's personal beliefs here, we are all welcomed to our own)
Well, personally I see it as the Winter Solstice, as there is no evidence to suggest that Jesus was actually born at this time of year, and all that stuff about a Roman census telling everyone to go back to their birth places is just flim flam to sort of tie in to the whole birth of Christ story... The Romans had good records, they had census(es?), but didn't demand going back to your birth place, it would create room at the Inn? Yes 'cos it's shut and the innkeeper has gone back to his birthplace! 

Meanwhile back at the plot, the bow making has rather waned, it will pick up in the new year when I'll have that heartless Walnut to play with. I have been busy tho' making a wooden toy for the grand-daughters who will be 1 year and a couple of days old at Christmas.
The toy is a simple wooden truck with a car that fits onto the back (not quite finished yet), this was inspired by something similar I saw posted on Facebook, and there are loads of images if you do a search for wooden toys.

One problem was sourcing the end caps for the axles, but I found them on Ebay, the problem is often knowing what to call things... these were sold as "Capped Starlock Washers" and were available in all sizes. I went for a 4mm axle on the car and 5mm on the truck. I chose mild steel for the axles, could have used Stainless but I find mild is easier to work and it shouldn't rust as it's an indoor toy (hmmm, mind... baby sucking is probably fairly corrosive!). All my newer power tools came in handy, the wheels were a tad sticky on the axle as they'd been wiped with Danish oil, but touching the car down onto the belt sander, like a rolling road got 'em spinning nicely and was fun too!
It's all made of Ash (an off-cut from a big slab that I made a desk top with years ago. The wheels were turned on my little lathe and I used the mini-mill for the drilling.
I've since added a couple of little side cheeks to the bed of the truck to locate the car on the back... don't want it flying off when corning at speed :-)