Thursday, 31 October 2013

Yew Warbow Stave

The big Yew Warbow stave is now beginning to look like a bow, I've glued on temporary nocks of Elm and I've slimmed the tips and started reducing the belly a bit to get it flexing.
I've been pulling it on a hemp rope which will just fit onto the bow, it's difficult to know how stiff it should be, but having done the Elm bow I've got a feel for it. I also put the Elm bow up on the tiller using the same rope and pulled it back until the tips were back to a brace height. It took about 55# pull.
So using that figure for comparison the Yew looks on track for a good high draw weight. I was pulling it to about 130# and the tips weren't getting quite back the 6" to brace height.
The bow is certainly flexing. Originally most of the bend was near the grip and I've been taking down the outer limbs mostly. I'm taking dimensions from one of the Mary Rose bows as a starting point and it's still a bit above those, but the waggles in the stave mean it has to be done by eye and feel, not by numbers.
Some of the knots have already been removed as the belly has been worked down. The back still has it's cambium layer, which I'm expecting to crack off with a loud bang once the bow really starts moving.
I'm certainly not going to rush this one as we are sort of aiming for as much poundage as I can get from the wood without over straining it. John the guy I'm making it for pulls the 100# Elm without breaking sweat, and has pulled 120# comfortably. (Oh to be young and fit!) Anyhow, I'm thinking if I aim for 150#, I'll hopefully hit 140#, so no chance of me pulling it. Shooting it in and testing it will be interesting.
The stave has a little natural deflex, this is quite handy as it doesn't try to flip off the tiller.
This post shows the limb when it was still in the tree.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Shooting the Elm Warbow

My mate John was coming round for a session of videoing so he could see his technique.
There's barely room to shoot a warbow into the garage so I set too and moved the raised bed back about a foot and a half, it was hard day's work, but worth the effort.
It's still a wee bit tight for room, but ok once you get used to it. The pic shows how much I moved it back, it involved removing an old defunct water feature with a small sump of stagnant water under it and shifting 3 wheel barrow loads of soil... good exercise for warbow shooting! The full draw pic is grabbed from the video.

John made it look effortless. He liked the feel of the Elm bow and said it felt nice and linear.
He gave me a few pointers which helped me get it back a little further with a bit more control. I feel I've very close to being comfortable with it now. The left elbow can come back just a bit more for that last inch!
Actually scaling it from that still pic, it works out that I have about another 2 inches to go.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Getting Into the Bow

After a frustrating day with electronics what could be better therapy than thwacking some arrows from a Warbow?
I'm finding it more comfortable pulling the weight and sticking my arse out is helping get into the bow. I'm not sure my physiology will let me get a full 32" draw but I'm getting closer and can feel my pecs and ribcage doing some of that last bit of work. There's not much room stood outside the garage door but strangely it may help the control and discipline. I shot 9 arrows and if I keep that up every evening along with the press ups I'll soon be able to concentrate on expanding my chest getting the elbow down and back for the last few inches of draw.
I shall just try to get this axe out from between my shoulder blades and and have some food!

I dragged the target out of the garage to take the pic... it shows there is some sense of direction there as I was notionally 'aiming' at the white block and one arrow is just through the edge of it. On the last 3 arrows I actually had two shafts touching. (Upper limb is closest to the camera)
Which was nice.

Monday, 21 October 2013

How to Smash a Horsebow

I can't draw my 100# Elm warbow so I  needed something I could use to practise a 32" draw...
Can you see where this is going? The old fibreglass and Maple horsebow I made seemed like a good candidate and I shot it as few times with the draw getting successively longer.... then bang!
the failure mode is quite interesting. The glue line on the belly gave way and  the fibreglass buckled at the butt joint under the grip.
I'm not upset as it was always risky and the bow had been made as an experimental bow from old materials, it had even been glued up twice as it's original draw weight was too high. I don't much like fibreglass anyway, so it's passing will not be greatly mourned. One day I'll get round to making a real horn and sinew bow, but even my advanced years haven't quite given me enough patience for that task yet!
Update on the Elm Warbow:- It's much easier to draw it with an arrow nocked on the string! I'm still not back to full draw, but probably getting to 29-30". By this time next week I should be getting a good draw on it. Here are some pics.
Afraid they are a bit higgledy piggledy, but the blog editor doesn't make it easy to move pictures around. Why they can't make a wysiwyg full screen editor is beyond me... but hey What do I know?
One pic shows a filled knot near the middle, you may be able to see the pencil mark showing the centre and arrow pass if you click on the pic to enlarge it. You may notice the scuff marks from the few arrows I've shot, this shows where the edge of the bow could do with a little adjustment to bring that mark nearer the centre.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Good Day at Avalon

A good number of us from the club went to Avalon Archers NFAS Open shoot. It was absolutely stonking down with rain on the way and there was a vivid double rainbow. The weather cleared as we were getting ready to shoot and it held off all day.
The course was excellent, 36 3D Targets with plenty of variety, up hill, down dale in the woods and some shots on the flat in a field. A couple of monster long shots (Bear and Tiger) too.
I was shooting in a group of 5 (excellent company) and was having one of those days where every shot felt pretty comfortable and the arrows seemed to go where I pointed. I had a bit of luck on a couple of shots but one glancing off the back of a puma.
I'd never broken the 500 barrier and with about 10 targets to go I knew I was getting close. With just 4 targets to go the groups of archers had somehow bunched up and we had to stop and wait, fortunately we were at the refreshment shack so we could have a cuppa and a huge chunk of gingerbread. I managed to keep my focus and not seize up, finishing strongly with a first arrow kill on a tiny rubber piglet at about 10 yards... the score?
532 a PB by a mile.
Just as we finished the rain set in and we made a hasty exit. I later got an E-mail saying I'd won the primitive class, which was a nice bonus.
I was rather amused as we were packing up, I'd been hoping to meet Carol of Carol Archery. Mick the blacksmith pointed her out in a manner that could only be an archer speaking.
"That's her, just gone behind that van.... pink fletchings!"
That really tickled me, describing a woman by the colour of the flights on her arrows! Not as daft as it sounds really as everyone was kitted out in wet weather gear... still, it made me smile.
An all round great day, many thanks to the organisers at Avalon for a great shoot.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Elm Warbow Full Draw on the Tiller

The horn nocks have been added and the bow has been cleaned up a good bit. It's a pig to get the string onto it, I'll have to get some decent non stretch cord to make a stringer.
Here's the video of it getting to full draw dynamically. I'll post some detail shots when the bow is nicely finished.
If you view it full sceen you can see I just about made the 100# ! The big arrow mark on the scale is at 100#. I stopped it at full draw and did the CD test (holding up a CD in front of the screen to judge the curve of the bow) and it looks very good.
The still pic shows the tiller is now a more even curve and more arc of a circle.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Warbow Tillering Update

I've heat treated the centre section of the belly again, improved the tiller which has dropped a little weight but looks much better. The string has been shortened to get it up to a decent brace.
I've pulled it back to 32" dynamically on the tiller by pulling the rope back and forth rather than winching which is a bit slow and leaves the bow stressed for longer.
It's only 90# at 32" and I can get it to a reasonable draw. I was going to take pics but it was dark
Checking in Weapons of Warre it's about as long as the longest Mary Rose bows, so I've sawn 1.5" off each tip which still leaves it at about 80" and at the upper end of the typical bows.
The game plan is to put nocks on and go for it.
I can't decide on side nocks or the usual. I think stringing it may be a problem with side nocks... not sure, so I may stick with the usual groove at the back, I will keep the nocks nice and simple using the pale Water buffalo horn.
Hope to get some pics tomorrow.
I'm hoping that taking 3" off it and fitting a decent non-stretchy sring may just get me close to the 100#, but what the heck... 100 is just another number!
This is all good learning for the Yew Warbow and it's a big jump from the usual 50-60# draw weights.
Meanwhile there is more filling and sanding on this ceiling... oh joy!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Elm Warbow Heat Treated

I got one limb of the Elm warbow heat treated yesterday afternoon. I strapped it down to remove some of the slight set and to try to straighten that kink a bit. One the first section was heated I set a kitchen timer to 4 minutes and moved it a long a bit each time the timer rang. Well it's not easy cooking Sunday dinner when you stop every 4 minutes, but both the dinner and the limb got cooked nicely.
Later in the evening I did the second limb, and while that was cooking I reduced the draw weight of a Sycamore longbow that I'd been asked to look at.
You can see from the pics, the kink is still there, but the overall run of the limb is straighter, so it should be easier to judge the curve of the bow on the tiller.
The Elm seems to like the heat treatment as the wood definitely feels harder, and using an ordinary string I can't string it now, so it's obviously gained some weight. Hopefully this means I can remove some wood to get the tiller right without ending up under weight. I'll also be removing the cambium which is about 3mm thick, it doesn't seem to be popping off like it does with Yew. It's served it's purpose in protecting the back during heat treating. The corners can get rounded and the whole bow tidied up a bit now. I think 80-90% of the work is done. It seems that you need to get it right earlier in the process with a warbow for fear of coming in under weight, it's just tricky as it's so much harder to flex the bow, and damn near impossible to string it early on.

The game plan is going far too well... I expect something will happen to bite me on the backside!
I'm rather disappointed with my fitness level, I'm going back to doing push ups every night and morning in attempt to build up some strength for the spate of warbows I'm building. The problem with fitness is it's hard won and easily lost. Sitting in front of a computer doesn't help and I've not been shooting much. I'll have to shoot some through my heaviest bow every evening to help build up.
One problem is I don't have any bows tillered to 32" which is one reason I'm making the Elm Warbow. Best training for shooting warbows is actually shooting warbows. I don't s'pose sanding and painting ceilings does any harm either!

Tad worried, I've taken too much off the inner limbs. The tiller is more even now and the set has gone. It's about 80# at 28 on a low brace, which if we assume 4# per inch would give 96# at 32"
The lighting is a bit weird which makes it look odd and a bit hingy at the grip.
Ignore the knots and wiggles and hold up a cd, the curve isn't too bad... yes it is working a tad hard in the middle but the tips haven't yet been reduced to the skinny 1/2" of a typical Mary rose bow. I've added an elipse drawn in paint, it helps show the errors.
Right limb is a tad stiff mid limb too, but that kink makes it tricky to view objectively.
I need to ease of the tips a bit, increase the brace, although I could always re-do the heat treatment near the grip where a fair bit of wood has come off.
My ace in the hole is I can take a couple of inches off each tip as it's about the maximum Mary Rose length.
Couple of days at work now, which is probably a good thing as it will stop me fiddling with it.
So to summarise... Idunno... :-)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Busy Weekend

I've had 3 visitors over the weekend. Twister2 has been collected and is fine, one of the guys from the club bought a bow over to have it's draw weight reduced a bit, and a fellow bowyer from Cambridge way came over to pick up some bamboo we'd gone halves on to save on postage. We had a good old natter and swapped a few bits and bobs.
I've been working on the Elm Warbow... it's tricky to tiller as the draw weight is so high initially you can't really flex it on the floor, so it needs trying on a short string as soon as possible. A long string gives a false idea of the weight, so a low brace is a good idea. The problem then is it takes a lot of force to winch it back to get a string on it, especially a stretchy Dacron string.
I made a new 'long string' from Dacron, but it's a tad short as I'd allowed about an inch for stretch, but I also pulled it tight when I wound it on the string making jig.
This meant I had to winch it back to about 110# on a long rope before I could slip the Dacron string on. This maybe over stressed it a tad and caused a little set.
So I've got it to a low brace and a reasonably even tiller, but it's probably not far off target weight already, about 70# at 21". It's taken a little set. but I'll probably heat treat the belly with it clamped back flat.
I'm pleased I decided to do this one before the Yew as it's giving me a feel for it.
On a heavier bow the draw weight increases faster too, say 4 or 5 pounds per inch, so it's a completely different feel to tillering something you can flex by hand.
So if it's 70# at 21" it's got another 11" to go and if we call it 4# per inch, that's another 44# which would give a total of 114# which isn't much over the 100-110# I'm aiming for.
Now it's moving more I can string it using an ordinary stringer rather than winching it back.
from the pics you can see the left tip is a bit stiff and the kink in the right tip is a tad weak, over all it's not bad. I just need to take care not to end up under weight.
It's close enough to do the heat treating without wasting the time of heat treating wood which will then get rasped off.

My shoulders are sore from trying to pull the bow and also some decorating... I've been sanding down a ceiling. About this time last year I put up some plasterboard faced insulation board to keep the house warmer. I'm just getting round to filling and sanding the seams etc and painting it.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Back from a Brief Break

We've had a short break in Seville. The Real Alcazar, a Moorish palace is fabulous and the Museum of Archaeology has some great neolithic exhibits including some incredibly delicate flaked arrow heads . Excuse the grainy photo, and lack of scale. I'd say they were about 1.5 - 2" long. The exibits were great, but they really should have a small scale along side.
I hope I'm not infinging their copywrite, oppologies if I am, but I'd think they really belong to the man* who made them, who has now long gone, leaving us to marvel at his skill (*or woman of course)
I'm not sure why the 'tails'? 'barbs' ? are so slender and curved... maybe they are to be lashed to the arrow shaft rather than being barbs... Any ideas or suggestions appreciated! There was also a vertebra of an animal with a arrow head embedded in it a good half inch!

Meanwhile Twister 2 has come back for an inspection. There are two hairline cracks on the belly which I think are no problem at all and were probably there in the log all the time but have just opened slightly with the flexing. I've scraped off the Danish oil finish, flooded them with low viscosity superglue and flexed the bow to help it soak in. I'll have another look with it on the tiller at about 3/4 draw. I don't think it will need anything else, but I'll shoot it in some more and maybe slim the tips a whisker.

You can see in the pic the crack (indicated by the red arrows) doesn't actually run out where the grip narrows which was the main worry. There is no sign of it opening at 26" draw. The crack on the other limb is even harder to see and looks to be fine. I'll shoot a couple of dozen arrows through it before reapplying the finish. I've narrowed the nock area and taken off a little excess weight, I haven't done too much as it would be foolish to change the tiller.

Here's a pic of the roughed out Elm warbow stave too, that should keep me busy until the Yew is ready to work.