Sunday, 30 December 2012

End of Year Round Up

I've been doing a a few odds and ends over the holiday period.
The tips of the BBY have been narrowed a bit to reduce mass and hopefully reduce shock whilst maybe improving speed. I drew a pencil line about 7" from the tip and tapered from there straight to the edge of the horn nocks rather than the curved taper that it had before. I shot it at the club yesterday and it felt good,  the string needed to be twisted about 10 turns to get the brace height up as the string settled (I'd noticed it had started shooting slightly left). The arrows were loose on the string, which is a distraction so when I got home I bulked up the serving with one strand of serving thread, some people use dental floss, but stripping out one strand of serving thread looked cleaner and more tidy. I also melted a spot of beeswax on it and massaged it in.

I've been working on the Hickory backed Lemonwood  stave I was given, for a lad at the club. It's coming on nicely and is back to about 35# at 28" at a low brace with temporary nocks. I'll have to get him to try it before reducing it much more.

The Yew stave has been worked down a bit more and studied, I think it will need a bit of steam bending to take out the S curve, bit of a pain, but better than trying to lay out a straight bow across the curve of the grain.
Talking of which, one of the guys at the club had a very cheap Hickory self longbows from the USA as a 'first bow', they are good value for money, but a tad agricultural. I was pointing out how the grain ran at a nasty angle across one limb and sure enough a big splinter had already started to lift. I think low viscosity superglue and linen thread will patch it up. I offered to tune up the bow once the guy has bought a decent bow (he's leaving it a while until he's happy shooting longbow and knows what draw weight he's comfortable with). It will be interesting to play with the Hickory, I'm sure the tiller can be improved and the tips narrowed a bit.

This morning I ran my Yew log, which I'd cut in November, through the bandsaw (the one I got council permission to cut). I made a good job of sawing it to give one good length stave and the other half which has a huge knot in it has a clean 5' length which may make a primitive or one or two billets. I got the staves up on my shelves out of the way.

Looking back over the year it's been pretty good, I must have made about a dozen bows (and broken a few). My favourite bows are probably the 90# warbow and the pretty longbow I did for the girl at the club. The Hazel bows (especially the bark-on ones) are rather fine too.

That's about it for 2013. Happy new year one and all, and good luck with any bow making exploits.

Monday, 17 December 2012

BBY and a Yew Stave

This may well be my last post of the year, if so I'd like to wish one and all a happy festive season and a splendid 2013. Doubtless I'll be picking up my tools again before then to avoid the holiday induced cabin fever. Meanwhile I've been singing "All I want for Christmas is Yew".

I've finished the BBY, or pretty much finished it for now. It may get some tweaking later.
I'm very pleased with it.

We had our end of year shoot at the club. This year we've had access to a barn set up for indoor 3D shooting*, it also gave us somewhere out of the weather to have our AGM and some festive food.

I'd sewn the grip onto the bow the night before and put it in my bow bag without the string... whoops.
Fortunately Roy had a (continuous loop) spare string of just the right length which he let me borrow, whew, thanks Roy!

The pics are pretty self explanatory, the filled knot is perhaps the only one of note (see right).
I rather like the nocks too, top one is V slim and elegant.

I shot Ok considering it was virtually my first try with the bow, it seems pretty fast. I felt it was jarring my left elbow slighty so went up to my 11/32" arrows (same 100gn points), the extra weight seemed to smooth it out, I may re-tiller the bow slightly to drop it down to 50#, but I certainly won't act in haste.
Chrono test shows 170 fps with the lighter arrows and 165 with the heavier, interestinly I broke 2 of the thinner lighter arrows during testing as they were still flexing as they hit the bckstop. The front 1/3 of the arrow penetrated while the back end flexed enough to snap 'em clean off. Never mind, they'd had a good life nand had already been splice repaired once. (Note they didn't snap at the splice).
The bow is almost 55# and has a good initial draw weight (I can tell it's harder to string than my regular self Yew 50# longbow) It will be interesting to shoot it through the chronometer or take it out an try it for distance.

Meanwhile I've picked up the other half of the Yew log which I'd been working a few weeks back and hadn't turned out (or had 'smashed' as we sometimes call it). This stave has tons of character but fewer knots, there's a big reflex bend at one end and some slight lateral S curve. Roughing it down a bit with a draw knife lets me get a feel for how the grain is running. Sawing out Yew on a bandsaw helps to ensure maximum yield of stavesand the draw knife then allows me to re-establish the real run of the grain. That's not to say you need to slavishly follow the grain, but you do need to know where it goes, so that if you do have it angling across the limb slightly care can be taken to avoid tools digging in and tearing deep into the limb.

* Do a search for 'Celtic Harmony Archery Barn' to find it, although I think the website is being updated over the holiday period.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

BBY (Bamboo backed Yew)

The BBY is coming on nicely, it's roughed out to just about floor tiller stage (where it can be flexed with one tip on the floor, t'other in one hand and pressing at the grip to watch it flex).
Marking it out and shaping it is somewhat easier than a stave as it's much straighter.
I glued it up under some tension (strapped to some 'Dexion' angle beam) (top left pic) to take the hint of deflex out of each tip, which gives it a straight limbed but 'set back in the handle' look .
Top right pic shows where I've peeled back the masking tape which was protecting the 'boo and providing a surface on which to pencil the marking out. Very useful stuff for bow making is masking tape.
Once I'd taken off the rubber strapping, the edges of the stave cleaned up nicely with a spokeshave revealing a lovely thin, almost invisible glue line.

At this time of year the low sun shines through the garage door for a few minutes near midday, if I stand with a long bow in the doorway, the Shadow of the top nock points to the buried treasure ;).
The daylight is most welcomed  (see last pic) and makes me realise how poor the lighting is in the garage. I'll get round to adding more power points and better lighting at some point. That last pic also shows the Yew log I cut last week, I'll run it through the bandsaw some time, but there's no rush as the ends are sealed and if it looses a bit of moisture it will be lighter to handle and easier to cut. I've just spent some time tidying the garage so I'm reluctant to create too much mess sawing that log.
The BBY is a bit of an experiment for the fun of it. After Christmas I'll have to sort out my staves and see what I have, fortunately I've only got two or three bows to make so hopefully I'll have enough.

I have a terrible confession... A week or so back Bob's bow smashed on me too. I couldn't bring myself to document two disasters within the space of a few days. The good news is, it didn't break at that belly patch. I suspect the break may have initiated at an un-filled knot as I could push out the offending knot from the broken limb (please note the words, 'suspect' and 'may', it's all applied guesswork).
2/3 of the bow is still sound, so I've salvaged the good limb and spliced it to the good limb from the Oregon Yew bow (which smashed due to bug damaged sapwood in one limb earlier in the year). this will give me a 'transatlantic' bow which will be interesting.
I'll be making Bob a bow from the other (better) half of the log which I'd used in the first attempt. That first one was always rather marginal and I wasn't too surprised when it gave out, it would have had tons of character, but I'd rather it smash during tillering than later on.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Snow & Bamboo

Whaaaa, too cold in the garage to do much, but Over the last week I've started working on my Bamboo slat to back the spliced Oregon Yew heartwood.
The bamboo slat is a bare 6' long, I will go for a slightly wider flatter wider cross section than usual, but I may try to keep the depth/width ratio still withing the 5/8 rule so that it could be classed as a longbow. I'm not quite sure which archery society came up with the 5/8 rule but it's commonly accepted and isn't an issue with anything vaguely like a longbow.
I may glue it up with a hint of reflex, but I won't build in a narrowed grip or arrow shelf like ... well maybe I'll narrow the grip if it needs it.
I was a bit uncertain about sawing the Bamboo so I asked the guys on Primitive Archer (PA) what bandsaw blade was best,  it turned out the 6tpi (teeth per inch) blade I had on already was fine.
I started sanding down the concave side of the Bamboo slat to get it flat, even with the belt sander it was taking ages and was still pretty thick even when I'd flattened it out (6-7mm). One of the PA guys suggested 1/8" near the middle and 1/16" at the tips (approx 3.2 mmm and 1.6mm respectively).
With a lot to take off I tried my plane, first following more advice and making sure it was sharp. The belt sander was V useful for cleaning up the bevel on the plane blade prior to final sharpening with an oil stone.
First pic shows the 'boo taped to the stave after running through the bandsaw, you can clearly see the nodes and how it's concave.  I clamped the Bamboo to a piece of 3"x2" and planed it down without too much trouble. back onto the belt sander to flatten it off.
I'm roughing down the high spots  on the Yew heartwood with a rasp and then running it over the belt sander to even it off. I'm not going for dead flat, I'm allowing some longitudinal undulations to reflect the shape of the stave but getting it flat across the width of the bow. I'll glue it up soon.

Right pic shows the planed down concave side. On the outer face of the 'boo I have just taken the very peak off the nodes, leaving them still substantially proud, they look good standing out too and I think if they are taken down flush they can fracture.
Next morning I looked at the Bamboo again, hmmm it still looked a bit thick, and I could imagine that once it was on the bow and I started to narrow the limbs it would start to look thicker and thicker (due to the natural curve of the 'boo. this illustrates why I don't like to rush, we all do stuff and think, wow that's great, but by the next morning maybe we realise it can be improved. If I'd rushed to glue that up last night, I'd have been cursing myself this morning. Mind that's not to say it's right yet... still plenty of chances for me to screw up.
Oh, yes, and I've signed Brian's bow :)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fully Shot In!

The repaired bow is now fully shot in having had 107 arrows shot since the repair. The limbs had already done a fair bit of shooting beforehand, so I'm happy it's had time to settle.
It's looking really nice, being a couple of inches shorter it is working fairly hard and draws to a lovely full curve.
This still has been grabbed from some video so it's a bit low resolution, the bright background doesn't help either, but it gives a feel of the bow and shows how I'm having to come a long way back for a 31" draw.
My slightly eccentric stance is because there is little room and I don't want to bash that upper limb on the door frame.

Here are the grip pics, you can clearly see the sapwood back patch, but it blends in well as it is from the same wood. The belly patch (again from the same wood) is harder to spot even if you click on the pic to enlarge it.

The bow is virtually finished now, it's just down to scrutinising it for any tool marks, giving it a coat or two of Danish oil every day and then a final wipe with beeswax polish and a buff of the nocks.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Repaired Bow Full Draw

Brian's Bow is now back to full draw, it's about 55# at 31" so I can loose a few pounds in the final clean up and finishing. I've shot 55 arrows through it at the full 31" draw.
I had been thinking of Chickening out and only drawing 30", but I must have the courage of my convictions so it's been back all the way.
I'm having to shoot 'in' the bow with my anchor point down near my right shoulder to reach the full 31", I'm getting used to it now and hitting my 2" square at 10 yards despite the low anchor.
Here's a still from the video I took to check the tiller.
You can see I've done the Mother of Pearl arrow plate, you can also see the extra thickness back and belly at the grip, this will be covered by the leather grip eventually.
I shall take a whisker off the inner third of the right (upper) limb as it looks a tad stiff to me. The left limb looks really sweet.
I was a bit nervous getting back this far, but when I'm actually shooting it I feel it could come back another inch!
I've now taken a whisker off the inner third of the upper limb (with a fine rasp), taken out the tool marks with a scraper and  sanded it down. It's now 48# at 30" which I feel is probably about right, better a hint over than under especially in this cold weather which can add a pound or two.
I shall shoot another 50 through it and then get the grip done... again!

Also been tidying up the Yew I cut on Thursday following my approval from the council. The main piece is almost 8' long and about 4" diameter in the middle. The heart wood is nice and dark with fairly thin clearly defined sapwood. The growth rings are very coarse, but that doesn't overly concern me, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between width of rings, colour or definition of heart/sap. Doubtless you can read otherwise elsewhere, this is just what I've found. There are a couple of scruffy bits from further up the limb, one of which may make a primitive stick bow, the other may come in handy for something, if only firewood.
Generally I think, when in doubt save it, you never know when you'll want to make a miniature or somesuch, and you can always throw it away when you have better wood.
I'll probably run the big piece through the bandsaw later this week, for now I've just painted the ends with PVA and left in in the garage where I can stub my toe on it.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Paper Crossbow Bolt

There was some discussion about the spine of arrows cut down for use as crossbow bolts.
I offered the opinion that it didn't matter as there is no archers paradox and the mechanical release exerts no sideways force on the bolt.
One guy Joe said this was 'Dangerous advice' which rather incensed me so I set to and made a crossbow bolt from a sheet of A4 printer paper!
It's ordinary printer paper rolled up to be a tube 3 layers thick glued up with UHU glue.
My first attempt was just 2 layers and only glued along one edge, it was too delicate to handle and stick a point on.
A short plug of 5/16 wooden arrow shaft is glued in each end and my usual 50gn crossbow point glued on, the nock end is carefully shaped to sit into the trigger mechanism correctly. The whole bolt weighs 117gn I haven't bothered with flights as it will be shot at about 5 yards into a small foam target suspended so it will swing and hopefully absorb the impact without damaging the bolt too much (assuming the bolt ever gets that far)
I asked Joe what he thought the failure mode would be and he said buckling, well in my opinion it would take a huge force to accelerate a tubular aluminium arrow fast enough to buckle it.
I think we would all agree that a full length arrow made of 3 layers of paper wouldn't survive being launched from a 50# longbow.
Will the bolt survive being shot from a 50# crossbow?
Watch and see!

Monday, 26 November 2012

It Lives!

The repaired bow is now on the tiller and flexing.
I put it up on a low brace height and tentatively flexed it back to about 45# which you can see in the video.
The tiller still looks pretty good and a little rasping to blend in near the grip and some general scraping has now got it back to 50# at 30" from a full brace.
It looks very nice and being shorter has a more pronounced curve.
Obviously there is a way to go yet including plenty of shooting in, but it's looking promising.

I've had a great day so far, the Mother of Pearl arrived, lovely 3mm thick blanks, small but good quality, should be enough for at least half a dozen arrow plates.

Best of all I got got a letter from the council approving my request to cut a Yew limb, see this post:-

Over the weekend, my dust extractor suddenly gave up, it tripped the circuit breaker in the garage and smelled of burning insulation. It was bought 7th December last year so should still be in warranty, a few fruitless phone calls and a trip to Screwfix started the wheels in motion to get it replaced. You can't beat talking to people face to face, the duty manager in Screwfix was a very helpful young lady, who phoned through on a direct line and got things moving. I got a call from the technical people this morning and once I'd explained what had happened they said they would just replace the main part and I'd get a call from their people later in the day to arrange delivery time.
Fingers crossed the good vibe lasts.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Clout Shoot and Repair pics

Glorious sunshine this morning so I went to the Clout and Roving marks shoot at the club.
The clout was a slightly non-standard event with the flag at 160yards for the big bows and two shorter clouts (120 and 80) for the others. My first 6 arrows were way left as we were shooting towards the sun and once the arrows got above tree height they were hit by a brisk crosswind. After that I got my eye in and made sure I shielded my eyes so I could watch the arrows down onto the flag. I did ok generally getting 3 or 4 scoring arrows (in a fairly generous scoring circle, 7.5metre radius). We were shooting 3dozen arrows and on the last end (6 arrows) I finally got one closest to the flag (scoring 5). I'll have to check on the club forum tomorrow to see how I did.
I was tiring a bit so I didn't stay for the afternoon. I got home to do a bit to the bows, starting to blend in the patches.
You can see from the pics, the stages of the glue up and the side, back and belly views of the roughly blended patches on Brian's bow.
On Bob's bow (lower bow in top left pic) you can see the new belly patch is much more substantial and that knot doesn't extend past half way through the limb now. It makes me more confident about continuing the tillering.
Obviously there is still plenty to do on both bows but they are beginning to look good. Fingers crossed I don't get another disaster.
Re-Tillering Brian' out to 31" will be a bit nervy, but if I worried too much I'd never do anything...just hope someone doesn't creep up behind me and burst a paper bag while it's on the tiller!
I've had to ask my Brother for some more of that nice red leather, as it was my last decent sized piece, I want to make the bow as good as it was before or maybe even better, I take the broken splice as a personal affront, which hopefully I can put right.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

2nd Stage of Repair and a Dilemma Solved

The back patch has now been glued on and wrapped with rubber strapping. The patch is actually made of the strip of sap wood sawed from the back of the bow when it was first glued up as a stave so it will match perfectly.
It will take at least 6hours for the glue to cure in a warm room, so in the mean time I've been working on Bob's bow, which has now been braced and is coming back nicely.

Bob's Bow:-
You can see a fair wiggle on one limb, I've drawn a straight line down the side of the limb to help me see it's true bend as it's flexed on the tiller. Without that line the downward dip near the end looks like a weak point whereas in reality it was actually too stiff and not bending.
My dilemma is that as I'm reducing the thickness of the bow, the belly patch I did at the outset is now in danger of becoming rather thin. Ideally I'd like the bulk of the patch and it's glue line to be about 1/3 of the way into the bow.
I imagine the thickness of the limb acting in thirds, with the back 1/3 under tension, the belly 1/3 in compression and the central 1/3 having a fairly easy time of it, which is why I want any discontinuities or the main areas of glue lines in that middle 1/3.
The pic shows how the patch barely overlaps the knot at its right end.
In view of the problems on the previous bow, I think I shall rasp off the patch and re-do it. It often happens that filled knots and problem areas actually disappear as a bow is reduced in size, this just happens to be a case where, it hasn't disappeared and I think it needs improving. Being half way down the limb a failure would be catastrophic and all my work would be wasted... so better to do a bit more work now.

It's now Saturday evening and I've been busy all day. I re-did the patch on Bobs bow, that's now strapped up and curing.
I've unwrapped the back patch on Brian's Bow and rasped it roughly to shape, looking good. I've now glued on the belly patch and that will cure overnight.
I'm hoping to shoot tomorrow, so I should get some more pics posted on Monday.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Splice Repair Progress + Update

It's always difficult to try and analyse a break or glue line failure unless there is an obvious problem.
There was no such obvious fault so this time I am just being ultra careful.
I've mixed the glue using Highland Spring water which is very pure and not full of dissolved Calcium salts like the stuff I get from the tap. I allowed the glue to rest after mixing to get any air bubbles out of it, I didn't glue it up last night in case the temperature dropped too low and I took a lot of care jigging it up to be held firmly in alignment but without undue clamping pressure.
As one of the guys on Primitive Archer put it, too bad a fit can cause a failure or too good a fit, clamped too hard can cause a failure!
I also put masking tape around the joint to retain the glue as it was being pushed together and strapped up with rubber strip. As I bound it there was a nice ooze of glue as the excess came out. In the pics, you can see the repair to the pointed part of the splice where I've patched in a piece of Yew (from the same original log) taking care to keep the grain lined up. This will all get shaped in once it's glued up and then a belly patch added to give the correct handle bulk.
You can also see the dry assembly on the jig checking it all fits, then the final glue up.
Note I've not bound it up with too much rubber.
All I need now is some patience.
Once this is glued up I can look at a sapwood back patch over the splice to build up the grip area.

Update:- 8PM, I took of the wrapping and the splice looks good and solid, the limbs are nicely aligned. I rasped the belly down to blend in the two limbs and flatten and area for the belly patch. I did the same on the back and was just about to put a coarse belt back on the belt sander to clean up the two flattened areas, when the litle voice in my head said time to quit while I was ahead, don't rush it.
I'm pretty confident now.
Getting a 31" draw from a 71.5" nock to nock bow should be making it work pretty hard, but my old Yew bow has done it and that's heavier draw weight and about an inch and a half shorter.
mustn't count my chickens before they are hatched.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Damn... It Smashed in My Hand

The Splice gave way in my hand, it may be repairable, but it will loose an inch or two. I need to find out why it failed.

I'm not a happy bunny.

I've had a look at it and I think it is repairable, the limbs are fine but i will need to re-make the splice. I think the break started at the point of the splice on the back of the bow, maybe the joint was a bit tight there and had squeezed out the glue leaving it dry. Tricky chap glue, don't want a thick glue line, but nor do you want it all squeezed out and dry.
I shall repair it and instead of building up the back with leather beneath the grip I'll add a sliver of yew sapwood, this will improve the stiffness at the grip and also the ability to handle the tension.
I'm a bit aghast that it gave way as I've seen a 170# warbow with a similar splice.

I've re-cut the splice and it looks good, the bow is now 72" tip to tip which is ok. It will need a small belly patch at the grip to make up thickness where the thickest part of the limb was removed, Hopefully this will mostly be under the grip.
The centre line will shift slightly too.

Brian's Bow Detail Pics + Progress on Bob's

The bow is all but finished now, it just needs more Danish oil and a bit more shooting in before a final check of draw weight and adjustment if necessary.
The cord I bought online is excellent, I got two types and went for the braided nylon which, when waxed is excellent. It has a tiny bit of stretch, is a good thickness and sets the leather grip off nicely.
It's hard to get good pics of a bow as it's an awkward shape, but the pics give some idea. I like the detailround the grip, where the edge of the splice is visible and it echoes the shape of the arrow plate. The slight miss match in the sap/heart boundary adds to the effect, you then add in the reddish blush of the remnants of a knot and there is a lot of interest there. There's another knot remnant by the bottom nock, all in all I'm pleased it's turned out so pretty.
Here it is at a full 31" draw.

Meanwhile I've been tinkering away at Bob's bow, the wood is more challenging as there are some serious dips and swoops in the grain, the sapwood is being taken to quite thin in places, but overall it's taking shape and almost flexing to brace height. Some of the problems are becoming less evident as the bow is reduced, but it's a slow process, it should have bags of character when its finished.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bits & Pieces

I shot Brian's bow last weekend, it was very smooth, drawing it the full 31" was tricky and resulted in my anchor point being much lower and almost on my shoulder. I'd made 4 nice new arrows using the full length of the shafts and due to the low anchor point I shot the first one straight over the target and lost it in the long grass... damn.
Shooting for distance, it cleared the 180yard mark by about 10 yards which is about right and not bad for a 50# self bow.
I've been finishing off the bow, the horn nocks are done and one knot near the tip has all but disappeared leaving a nice little feature. The tips are much slimmer and it's looking rather smart now.
Finding some decent Mother of Pearl on line was a struggle, most of it is rather thin (about 1.5mm). I contacted one supplier who didn't show the thickness, they said get back to me...
Sure enough, the next day I got an E-mail saying it was 90mm thick... hmmm the perils of the modern world where people don't take the time to actually understand what they are talking about. I don't s'pose the biggest giant clam in the depths of the ocean would yield mother of pearl that thick, I said that was nonsense and haven't heard back (quelle surprise!), maybe they meant 0.9 mm, what's in a few decimal places eh?
I managed to find one last piece amongst my odds & ends which has made a handsome arrow plate, which I've let into the Yew, but I really need to find some more, maybe I'll have to trawl the antique shops and charity shops.
The leather grip is done, but not stitched, I've been trying to source some nice thick waxed thread, I've ordered a couple of different types in black, one of which will hopefully set off the red leather nicely, these details can make all the difference.

While I'm waiting for the thread to arrive I've picked up Bob's bow, it's still barely flexing and now I've got the other bow for comparison I can see I need to take a fair bit off. This is good as it's allowing me to further reduce the sapwood.
I can't be bothered to take any pics today, I'll wait til it's all done (what a tease!).
The sun has been out and I've been climbing up the Cherry tree in the garden and lopping some off the top, it's funny, but I feel much more secure up a tree than I do up a ladder.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Caramel and Cream & Reversing on the Tiller

Brian's bow is now getting smooth and supple, it's back to 50# at 30" now, I've been straightening up the edges, slimming the tips and taking a tad off the last 1/3 which is now beginning to bend nicely. At one point I thought I'd over done it and made the lower limb whip ended, but a few strokes of a medium rasp at mid limb and a bit off the upper limb had it back to looking great and had given me another inch of draw length. Teasing back these last few inches can be tricky when striving for the perfect curve. It's easy to take too much off at the tips as a few strokes of the rasp is insignificant at the fat end of the limb, it is rather a lot when you are down to less than 15mm thick at the tip.
I've been going over the limbs with a cabinet scraper and 120 grit wet & dry paper removing all the tool marks and it's looking rather pretty.
I couldn't resist giving it a first wipe over with Danish Oil, wow, the colour of the grain shone out and the heart/sap wood suddenly looked like caramel and cream. You can see the difference from the previous post, of course, this isn't the fianal finish, it's just a first wipe to show up any marks I've missed.
Spot the slpice in the lower left pic, you can also see the reddish blush from the remains of a knot.
I'm making up some full length arrows so I can shoot it at the club tomorrow. It's already had about a dozen or so of my 28" arrows and shoots fast and true even with my tillering string with it's metal toggle in place!
Must press on and make a string too.
Once it's had a few more arrows through it I'll make any final adjustments and think about horn nocks, grip and arrow plate.
I've made a string and checked the draw weight and length, it's about 50# @31" difficult to read it accurately .
It was looking a bit whip ended on the lower limb so I carefully checked the bow was supported at the centre and the string was being drawn one inch above that (in line with the arrow pass). I reversed the bow and took and it looked much better. The pictures illustrate the surprising amount of difference and I've added ellipses in 'paint' to help show it up. I shall probably keep the upper and lower limbs as they are in the better view, it would seem daft to insist on trying to adjust the tiller to conform to my previous arbitary choice of upper and lower limb.
Maybe I've just got 'tillering fatigue' but the pic on the right looks much better to me. I'd welcome any comments on this.
Explain More:-
Effectively all that is changing in the two pics is the point on the string where it is being drawn, which is about 2" different in the two pics. This is enough to make the bow bend slightly differently. This is why the technique called string walking is a nasty thing to do on a self wood bow.
As an example of string walking:-
At very short range you could maintain your usual anchor point but draw the string from a point 2 or 3" below where the arrow is nocked, thus that the back of the arrow is aligned with your eye, and yet you have your usual anchor... great for easy aiming, not so good for the health of the bow if its made of wood.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Temporary Nocks and String Line Adjustment

The work I've done after adding the temporary nocks has got the bow looking much straighter now (compare it with the pic on the previous post). Some of the apparent sideways bend was more about the sides of the bow not being straight, this happens due to a variety of factors, say a knot which is being rasped away to fall off the side of the bow or maybe the spokeshave snags and tears a bit and an area is filed/rasped down to remove the rough area. The wood also moves a bit as it is worked down and exercised. I held a straight edge on the side of the bow to mark any high spots which were soon reduced with a spokeshave.
The pics show the improved string line, the temporary nock and a filled knot which has all but disappeared.
the sapwood on the back of the slightly darker upper limb is also shown. Doubtless some armchair critic will say the back of the bow doesn't follow a single growth ring, but you can see the ring 'violations' run along the bow. The whole 'follow a growth ring' this is IMO a bit of a myth which has been imported from the USA where they use a lot of Osage which has much more distinction between the rings and it is very important to follow a ring as the thinner (winter?) rings are much weaker than the harder thicker growth.
It makes sense to follow a ring where you can and try to keep any 'violations' running along rather the across the bow, it's an aim rather than being vital, and you have to sometimes let the stave dictate what you do rather than going 'by the book'.
Where the rings don't fall in line with the back of the bow I've tried following a ring and having a sloping back and doing what I've done on this bow. Both methods work fine, but the former is a lot more work as the belly ends up following a weird profile too to avoid the bow going sideways. It's tricky to get a good picture of the grain on the back as it's so pale.

The bow is now at virtually a full brace height and has come back to about 25" at 45#
I hope to get if to full draw tomorrow, with some pics of course.

Update:- 50# @ 28" see pic.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Brians Big Bow + Update

I usually avoid names to protect the innocent, but there has been some confusion over the two bows so I'll call 'em Bob and Brian, which may or may not be their real names... or maybe it is?...spooky eh?
Anyhow I'm pressing on with Brian's bow and it's now at a low brace height and pulling about 19" at 45#
The target weight is about 48#, but I'll make it 50# initially to allow for settling down and finishing, for the moment I'm not going over 45# untill I've got it nice and even.
The upper (right) limb is a tad stiff, and both need to work more in the outer half / two thirds.
The main thing is it's trying to twist and bend slightly sideways, I can't cut the nocks much further to the desired side (nock nearest the camera needs shifting left), so I'll resort to an old trick and glue on a temporary tip overlay  and file the nock groove in that (and maybe fill the nock groove on that left edge with epoxy and Yew dust). This will allow me to effectively shift the tip over by about 1/4" to help it all align itself.
Bear in mind the tip will be reduce to a point like a sharpened pencil when it comes to fitting the horn nock, so I've actually got plenty of wood to spare.
I can also remove a little from the left upper edge of the belly to encourage the bow to bend that way.
You can see that the bow is almost a square cross section at the moment so it doesn't really have any great desire to flex one way rather than the other. It needs gentle coaxing, several small changes will pull it into line.
I had a contact from a guy a while back with this very problem and with a bit of advice he sorted it out. It can be rather panic inducing the first time you meet it.

I could just press on regardless and at a higher brace it would find it's own plane of bending, but that might be slightly skewed, much better to get on top of it now.
The potential for sideways bend is much less on flat bows (like my primitives), shorter bows or higher draw weight fatter bows. The combination of a moderate draw weight on a long bow makes it something to watch out for, but conversely it should make a very smooth shooting bow.
I shall try to give it that slightly medieval look with the limbs tapering fairly late in the last 1/3 rather than more evenly along most of the limb.
The whole tillering process can run away with you, and it's about now that I need to slow down and get it really right before moving on.
You can see the sapwood layer is much thinner now and the heart/sap boundary is looking good.
I said the right limb is stiff, that's one of those things that can send you round in circles and cause great confusion... the right tip is pulling down lower than the left one, so surely it's weaker??? Do you see the dilemma? The way I look at it is to imagine what happens if the right limb is rigid, the bow would tilt down at the right tip pivoting on the support like a seesaw (teeter totter if you are in the US) and the more you weaken the left limb the more it will flex up and let the stiff right limb pull down. I can see why some people like to clamp the bow, maybe it makes it clearer, but I like to do it this way. Of course early on in my bow making I got it wrong, reduced the wrong limb and made the problem worse and worse until I worked out what was happening, it's the lessons like these we remember most.
Anyhow, progress is good and I'll be posting quite a bit in the next few days as I hope to get it shooting a couple of arrows by Monday with a bit of luck.

Update:- Thursday evening.
I've shifted the nock and slimmed the tip considerably, it's now bending much straighter and is coming back to about 23" at 50# from a reasonable brace height. The curve of the bow is better too as I've also started rounding the belly as part of the work to help it come back true.
Now it's time to get the back cleaned up pretty much into it's final state and get the limbs back to a lovely even curve as it slowly get back towards full draw.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Fancy Knot Filling and Flexing the Longer Bow

I've been working hard all weekend and even put up some shelves, I need to go to work tomorrow for a rest.
The shorter longbow had one final knot to fill, I thought it went across the corner of the bow in the heartwood, but then I realised it went towards the back of the bow and disappeared into the sapwood showing as a bulge and a tiny hole. I cleaned it out and tried a new trick for plugging it, I used the heart wood from Yew twig (from the branch I cut at the churchyard) which has circular grain and so looks like the original knot, except now it's firmly glued in place with no powdery stuff round it making it loose.
Although the Yew for the plug was only cut a few days ago it has effectively seasoned by being rasped down to a few mm diameter and left on a hot water pipe.

The longer bow has had about an inch cut off each end making it about 75" now, I've re-drawn the centre line and narrowed it slightly over the last third to make it straight and true. The belly has been reduced, but it is still only flexing a few inches at 45#.
The video is the longer of the two bows being flexed.
I don't want to remove too much heartwood, so I've been carefully going over the sapwood back tidying it up, reducing it a little and bringing it down to follow a growth ring where possible. It certainly is beginning to feel like a bow now. This is the point where it's tempting to rush ahead and try and get it braced, but it's really the time to take stock, make sure it's a nice even taper and ready for the serious work. I like to be able to see a little flexing down somewhere near the grip when the full draw weight is applied, this shows that when it's finished the whole bow will be working to some extent.
I can now slowly get the rest of the limbs working more and the tips slowly working back to brace height. Then its time to shorten the string and slowly tease it back to full draw by slowly removing wood from the belly.

I've done a bit more on both bows, reducing the sapwood  to a more even layer and following a ring, they are slowly becoming more handsome and elegant. The shorter one has a bit more character, the undulations are beginning to show nicely on both bows and some of the problem knots are falling off the side of the bows as I slim them down..