Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Wraps Come Off

The experimental Ash/Cherry bow has been unwrapped and looks pretty good. I've tidied up the edges with a rasp and will leave it another week before starting to tiller it to make sure the glue has dried. The bow is shown on the pile of rubber wrappings.

The close up shows the glue line looks nice and tight, but I won't know if it will hold until it's finished. Tillering will be a nervy business on such a short bow.

I shall need to have a good look at the glued up stave and plan what I'm aiming for.
A bit of armchair bowmaking, using just a pencil, ruler and maybe a bit of sting.

The combination of the two timbers will look really pretty if it survives!
The Cherry darkens quite quickly, any work with a rasp reveals the paler wood again.

Of course I've been unable to leave it alone, I've cut out a lot of wood for the grip and gone along the limbs with a rasp evening out the thickness to a smoothish taper. A pair of vernier calipers is V useful for this, not so much for the measurement (although that is handy for comparing the limbs), but as a gauge, nip it up lightly on a limb at one point and then slide it towards the tip, as you hold the limb up to the light. You should see an ever increasing gap between the jaws of the calipers and the bow, any high spots will be obvious. Use your eyes and feel as well, just running the bow limb between finger and thumb will tell you a lot.
Did I say it will be nervy? Make that very, very nervy, it feels very taut and lively, but the Cherry seems to chip quite easilly under the rasp, it's quite brittle, I shall be sure to round of any corners well, but I'm a bit anxious about all the filled knots.
If you hear a loud bang a week from now it's probably the bow! I shall post pics of it either way.
Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Bit of practice and arrow making.

Felt the urge to shoot a few arrows after work and a bit of practice for the end of month 3D shoot on Sunday wouldn't go amiss.
I was shooting my 40lb Hazel bow into the garage (I'm not using the Longbow as I've got tennis elbow) It's a bit cramped standing just outside the door and I don't have room to draw as I normally would or cant the bow, good practice for shooting from in the woods.
The odd good group, but mostly a tad left, and pretty rubbish. I was thinking 3 in the red or better then I'll quit... then an arrow kissed the back of another and broke in two! I suspect it must have had a fracture prior to that (one did kick off a Beech tree last Sunday).
"Oh well" I thought..."maybe I've got target panic" (joke) so I pinned up a screwed up paper towel which I'd used for wiping up glue...hit it first shot and then quit while I was ahead.
I was then down to 2 decent arrows, fortunately I have a dozen shafts already fletched but without nocks or piles. I only had 5 new nocks and piles but I glued 'em on in a few minutes to give a nice bunch of 7 decent arrows ready for Sunday.
I've been sticking nocks and piles on with UHU glue lately, it seems just as good as epoxy and a lot less fuss. A big tube from the pound shop lasts for ages... and only costs...hang on while I do the sums...oh yes a pound.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Glueing up the Ash/Cherry bow.

I've glued the Ash backing strip to the Cherry belly using hide glue (The good old fashioned stuff which you heat in a pot and it stinks! I bought it on the internet as 'Liberon Pearl Glue' it comes as little round pellets which need soaking in water)
A pic is worth a thosand words so here's a few.

My glue pot is a 1Litre deep fat fryer from 'The Range' spot calibrated at 70 degrees C.

I rounded the back of the Ash backing strip slightly to help it pull down nicely when bound with rubber straps.
The glue is a nice thin syrupy consistency when hot and it was painted onto both surfaces with a brush, it wet the surfaces nicely but required a few applications to get it hot and well coated. Of course, as I put the two surfaces together the glue had cooled to a gel like consistence, hopefully this will be ok, I think it has 3 basic states, dry hard rock solid, slightly diluted snot like gel, and warm syrup.
The back was clamped on temporarilly at 3 points with G clamps and then bound with rubber strapping (~1" strips wide cut from old car inner tubes, or rubber roofing sheet). This process is extremely tiring as the straps need to be stretched taut all the time, so I was applying somewhere near my body weight as I was wrestling with the strapping. If you want a cheap workout, then this is the job!
Here are some more pics.

I will have to let it dry out for a week or so before undoing the strapping.
When I did the miniature I bound the laminations with hemp twine and re-flowed the glue with a hot air gun.

The bigger dimensions and greater thermal mass of the full sized bow preclude this. I did flex the bow slightly after it was bound up to hopefully encourage the gel like glue to spread and settle nicely, dunno if that's a good idea! This whole project is experimantal and is using materials and techniques which are new to me, that's the fun, just do stuff, see how it works. Even if the gluing is sound the Cherry Ash combination in such a short bow will be interesting, and if it fails I will have learned enough to make a decent bow with my better piece of Cherry.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fallen Timber

I'm doing some repair work on one of the sculptures at the Gibberd Garden (mending the bird table which houses two lovely Bog Oak Crows). The work was more extensive than realised, I could use some treated turned fence poles or search for suitable wood (We'd alread cut some Ash in the Autumn, but are still short of a few bits).
I went for a stroll in the woods, sure enough there were 2 huge Oaks down, entirely unsuitable, but they had also bought down a dead Maple? It had no bark remaining but was still very sound. I found a length just about right 45" at 3" diameter. I was tempted to spend some time freeing up some Hazel which had been pinned down by the Oaks, but the more I looked around the more I realised that nature can look after itself, a lot of the Hazel (and Hawthorn)was sprouting from stuff which had been knocked over many years since. I s'pose the classic is the huge Willows along the river, they are always coming down and then sprouting up from the fallen trunks.
Meanwhile back at the bows...I've thinned down a piece of Ash to between 3 and 4mm for the backing of my experimental Cherry/Ash bow, by clamping it to a bit of 2"x2" and working it with a rasp.
I unashamedly mix imperial and metric measurements as mm are v good for smaller dimensions. I'm probably going to use hide glue to attach it to the Cherry belly, as:-
a)It's natural.
b)I have some.
c)I used it on the Ash/Cherry miniature.
The alternative is some 2hour epoxy whuch I used on my Asiatic recurve (Fibreglass laminations over a Maple core), I havn't written up that bow, mainly as it was using up some old fibreglass laminations (left over from my crossbow days). I can post some pics if anyone wants to see it.
Better get back to making the dinner!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

More tinkering

I've been slowly working on the Cherry/Ash bow,it's going to be a weird mixture a sort of 'laminated stave bow'.
A normal laminated bow would have the laminations glued up either as straight blank or glued using a former to give some shape, (recurve at the tips with maybe a little deflex at the handle).
With this bow, I'm tempted to laminate it 'as is' so that it retains the shape of the stave where it was cut to follow the grain (ok I did steam it a bit to adjust the shape) It will end up looking either like a natural stave or a very badly made laminated bow!
I spent an hour or so working the back of the stave with a fine rasp to get it flat across the back (but still undulating along its length) suitable for gluing.
There are lots of small knots which have become lose, I'm poping them out and glueing in pegs made from the same Cherry wood.
The stave itself isn't the best and has a longitudinal crack in the handle area (near where the centre of the log was, longitudinal cracks shouldn't be too much of a problem).
The whole thing could end up being a disaster as I'm aiming for a highish draw weight from a short bow.
Hmmm I s'pose I'd better put some figure on it. Let's say 50 pounds at 27"?
now this is pushing it for a 50" bow (draw length= half the length is a reasonable figure). This is all rather optimistic, but deliberately so, as it will give me a feel as to the limits of the materials.
I seem to have tons of stuff to do and no time, my cold is pretty much dissipated, but I'm still a tad fuzzy.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Steam bend pics

Note the importance of a clean tidy working environment and specially made jigs and fixtures!

Steaming, clamping and...

Before and after shots .

Monday, 5 April 2010

Full Steam a head

Got a stinking sinus cold, too knackered to do much.
Ha! I'll go into the garage and steam bend the Cherry stave I've been working on for my experimental bow, the steam will help my head.
It's a bit wobbly with a few knots and it's shorter than the good half of the log (50"), but I like to try out new types of wood on the scraps first. It has one limb with natural reflex and one with deflex. As it's so short I'll bend the reflexed limb back towards the archer (e.g put some deflex on it).
It doesn't take long to dig out my wallpaper steamer and my steaming box (made of old insulation board) 45 mins steaming and then clamp it onto a piece of 2x2 with a block under the right point to make it bend.
Leave for 5 hours then unclamp...looks good.
Too dark to take a pic now, I did a 'before' pic, I'll do the 'after' and post 'em tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

3 Club Bows

Finally finished the 3 Kids bows for the club, Ash longbows. You'd think low draw weight bows would be easy, but it gets tricky trying to get them light enough, the cross section ends up being a flattish elipse rather than the classic D section of a longbow. Here's a couple of pics.

A Gripping Time

Yesterday I pottered about putting leather gips on some kids bows I'm making for the club. Ash longbows about 16 lb draw weight at 24" (most little uns will only be drawing about 22-24"). I got the leather off an old ladies cardigan/jacket thingy, it's V soft suede, I'm having it with the 'wrong side' out. I like stitching leather, there's a variety of ways to stitch on a grip, I tend to use two needles and waxed linen thread. I'll post a pic when they are all finished.I could do with some thicker leather to make a new quiver, so anyone with an old leather bag can E-mail it to me (wouldn't that be cool if you could?) S'pose I'd better get back to it as I've a string to make... bowstring again.
P.S. I have the last 2 years Bowyer's diaries which when edited are fairly brief, I may post 'em later as separate pages.