Thursday, 12 July 2018

A Bit of Courtesy

A while back I had a bloke want me to make him a longbow (ELB) which I did, he came to collect it in a bit of a rush as he was passing this way on business. Ideally I like people to collect a bow so I can see them shoot it.
I said to him to let me know how he got on with it taking great care to mention that as it's custom made for him I really do want to know in case it needs any tweaking.
Did I ever hear back? No...
It only takes an E-mail. Will I ever make that bloke another bow? Will I even respond to him if he does E-mail?

Compare and contrast with Ron who contacted me recently wanting a primitive. He was willing to wait a good while, but as I looked through my staves I just happened to have one that would suit his draw length. (See previous posts)
He lives a long way off so wanted the bow shipped, I don't like shipping bows, but I sent it UPS.
Within 30 minutes of him receiving it I got the following E-mail and attached a picture.

Bow arrived 30 minutes ago. Set nock. Warmed it up . Third end 20 yards on a 40 cm face. Beautiful bow shoots like a dream. Into the woods tomorrow and some 3ds. Many thanks Derek.

I was really happy to feel my work was appreciated and being used. If in the future the bow needs any attention I'll make sure it gets it.

Some people "get it"... others must think I'm like a supermarket with stuff on the shelf.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Yew Primitive Finished

Well, not quite, needs a few wipes of Danish Oil, but I'll get some more arrows through it tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Final Stages

I'm looking for 40# at 26.5" ok, that's a bit too exact as the change from this summer heat to a cool autumn day will shift the weight by more than the equivalent of 1/2" of draw.
But that's not the point, it's good to have an exact target, however I seem to have a little more wood to remove yet. It's sometimes hard to know how to proceed for fear of spoiling the tiller, which is why video is so useful, I can sit here with my tea and toast watching it flex and ponder where to ease off the last few strokes of the rasp and scraper to bring it to the exact draw length and weight.
My normal practice is never to pull past the target weight, but in this case i wanted to check how it looked near full draw so I've gone a tad over to about 45# at 26".
The horn nock overlays have been done but not polished and the brace height is a tad low still.
I think I'll ease off the right tip a little to get that flexing a whisker more and get a string on it. Shooting 50 arrows or so will help it settle in and let me do some fine tuning and review the tiller.
I've got all the bark off the back and cleaned it up. On this stave the sap wood was thin enough to leave without de
crowning, so it has a lovely pristine back.
Ha! Never act in haste, I've just held a CD up to the full screen picture of the bow at full draw, that right limb looks damn near perfect, the left looks maybe a whisker stiff on the inner to middle 1/3.
I will take very little off, maybe a hint on the outer of the right and inner left. Overall the right could do to be a merest hint weaker.
 I'll prob' take a couple of light strokes of the cabinet rasp along the whole belly, or maybe it will be achieved by simply removing tool marks, rounding the edges and little scraping. It's very easy at this stage to remove too much and suddenly become underweight. Conversely it's easy to be too tentative and end up feeling that nothing is happening and be filled with trepidation and a sense of impending doom! That's why getting a string on it and shooting a few arrows is a good idea...
Oooh hoorah, string making... my fave', not... grrrr ;-)
Meanwhile tea and toast, while I leave it strung to see if it settles at all.

Interesting, having said all that, and had my tea and toast, I've gone back into the workshop and twisted up the string to get it to full brace and had a good look over the bow. Running my fingers over that upper (right) limb, I could feel a thick spot where it swells up right across the limb where there is a small plugged knot. I eased that down by rasping a little from the belly to make it feel all of nice even thickness. Putting it back on the tiller I've gained a bit more draw length, 40# at 25" so I'm pretty happy that it's just pretty much cleaning up to get me there now.
That thick spot was probably what I was seeing when I thought the right outer was stiff. It's all very subtle, and sometimes a bit of checking with calipers can pin point the problem.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Highs Lows and Senior Moments

I went out on Sunday to sight up the crossbow at 30,40,50 yards, it was a 25 minute drive, I got there, unpacked the target... no crossbow.
Calm calm... drive home, tea and toast and try again.
After all that messing about, the performance was disappointing. Having sighted it at 30 yards reasonably, I went up to 40, same again, not great but just about ok.
Found I couldn't get out to 50 yards as the elevation meant the scope was looking at the bow mount, must admit I was thinking the trajectory was a bit soft and I felt that was cocking the bow rather easy.
I went back down to 40... ok... ish. Went to 30 and it was shooting 6" low, also shooting right! What's going on? It was grouping ok, but low and right.
Anyhow back home I was checking for slop and vertical movement in the sight elevation mechanism, but also thinking that the bow was tiring rapidly in use and that I should check it on the tiller.
I demounted the bow bolted it to the test plate, got it on the tiller and could hardly believe my eyes... about 75# Waaaaa!???
That was 120# when it started! No wonder it was feeling easier to cock (and there was me thinking I must be getting fitter!).
As a crosscheck I put the original repaired boo/Yew prod on there and that gave me a bit over 80#.
(Note:- I'd shortened the draw on the cross bow a little since the early measurements)
The conclusion is that I've pushed the materials as far as I can, although some of the losses are possibly in it breaking down at the mounting. I may make a glass/wood/glass prod at some point, but I'll give it a rest until I fancy it but I've already put in motion the buying of some glass back and belly lams.

But by way of a contrast, a high, my mate John Turton won the ILAA Mary Rose Shoot which is a two day event.
He was helped by the performance of Il Bastardo the short Yew ELB flight bow which was the subject of much attention. It got some Oooohs, Aahs and WTFs when shot, because you simply couldn't see the arrows go! Its apparently got some of the other bowyers plotting shorter longbows for next year!
The hot weather wasn't helping the distances achieved, but Il Bastardo trounced the other bows by a good margin achieving 301 and 320yards in a two way shoot, where the others weren't much over 250 yards.

Meanwhile the Yew primitive is back to 40# at 24", so very nearly there... time to do the horn tip overlays, shaping the grip a bit more, cleaning the back further (all the bark is off now)

Friday, 29 June 2018

Yew Primitive Started

I've a few people after Yew primitives, but I really need to sort out my stave stash before I can start, and that will be be later in the year. However I had a guy contact me via Facebook asking for one and he happened to have a short draw 26" @ 40#
Well it just so happens that I was given a roughed out stave that was started by someone but never going to be finished. It was a bit short (61") and had been rather over narrowed at the tips.
I'd accepted it gratefully (thanks Andy) and stuck it in the corner, barely giving it a second glance.
I saw it and thought that it was worth filing in temporary nocks and putting it on the tiller.
Well, at 40# it was only coming back about 6" so there was plenty to work with.
The stave is lovely old Yew, very thoroughly seasoned, nice thin sapwood, a few small to medium knots to give it some character and a couple of small patches where the sapwood has been chaffed through by a rubbing branch.
I've worked the belly down to get it flexing evenly and plugged 8 knots (better safe than sorry!) Now it's pulling back 20" from a lowish brace the bark is starting to pop off cleanly.
It's got the makings of a handsome bow.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Fettling the Crossbow

I've made an improved version of the scope' elevation mount with longer side cheeks from steel plate to improve sideways rigidity. I've added lots of small improvements all to remove slop or improve alignment.
When adjusting the wheel to raise the scope the feel was good but due to gravity and the steep angle of the triple start screw thread it was a bit loose when lowering and could even creep downwards with vibration. To add some friction I filed a slot into the side of the hole in which the brass nut rotates and glued in a tiny strip of leather, that did the job.

Spring pressure held the upper part of the mount down against the top of the screw, but this meant it could move, rattle or bounce upwards so I pinned it to the top of the screw, the hole in the top of the screw shaft had to be elongated to allow for the upper part rotating through an arc, filing to elongate an 2.5mm hole was a right pain and I had to grind down a needle file to get in there. Patience and cutting fluid helped.
The Aluminium wheel has had a groove turned in it and a brass plate added to engage in the groove, this is to stop the wheel lifting. The temporary fixing screws were replaced with nice socket head ones with a built in flange. These are screwed straight into the wood, this may seem surprising, but using an M6 screw gives a 1mm pitch on the threads (the pitch drops to 0.8mm on M5) and these cut in very nicely with a decent tap. I did a pull out test first threading a 1/4"scrap of Ash and putting an M6 bolt through it, I couldn't pull it out using a claw hammer.

The trigger pull was improved with some very careful work with a diamond file and a padding piece screwed into the nut between the two fingers that hold the string and the block which resets the safety, this meant the excess travel between re-cocking the trigger and re-setting the safety was removed.
I then noticed something pretty fundamental, the bolts didn't seem to sit right on the track ! The tip of the bolt was touching the prod mounting! What?? I'd sorted this all out already ages ago... but of course taking the prod on and off numerous times and making other adjustments had allowed things to move.
I opened out the shoot-through hole in the prod assembly, but it still looked lopsided. I measured from the nocks to the centre of the trigger mechanism nut and it showed the prod was slightly out of true. by abut 1/4". A couple of thin tin plate shims on one side of the prod mounting fixed that and the bolts sat cleanly on the track.
Reassembling it all for the umpteenth time and re-sighting the scope, it is now shooting much better.
Next step is to sight it up at 20, 30, 40, 50 yards.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Not Much Happening

I've got 5 flight arrows finished for Il Bastardo and I've been tinkering with the crossbow sight, but mostly I've been working in the garden and having a bit of a break from bowmaking.
There is family stuff happening too so if it goes a bit quiet on here for a while don't panic.
I'll pick up another stave when I get the urge!
Here's a couple of pics:-