Monday, 19 February 2018

Molle and Arrow Repairs

I'd been putting off working on the Molle' as I wan't sure what I'd find once I started chiselling out the splinter and I had various other odds and ends on the go.
Once I'd had a tidy up of the garage and spliced a laburnum footing onto a flight arrow that lost it's point on Sunday, I plucked up courage to start work.
The sap wood was V shallow where it was forming a splinter and as I dug down the heart wood was a bit rotten for a few mm depth. I've cleaned it out and I'll glue in a nice sliver of sapwood cut to a V section. In the pic you can see the heart wood is also showing along the ridge running down the centre.
I'll fiddle about this afternoon and see if I can get a nice bit of sapwood to fit, it can take a few attempts to get a nice match and a good fit. I may need to cut way a bit more to make the patch longer as a long thin patch gives a better glue line than a short fat one.

I've been testing the Yew flight bow to try and establish the maximum safe draw before it starts taking set. It had been drawn to about 25" on Sunday and had all night to recover. I laid it against a straight edge and measured between that and the belly (at the centre of the bow), the gap was 4mm. Then I put it on the tiller, pulled it to 27", took the string off and re measured... the gap had opened up to 12mm, but after about half an hour it had relaxed back to about 7mm. It will be interesting to see how it is tomorrow.
I reckon that 27" is pretty much the maximum draw without it starting to take permanent set. It's a short bow and at 27" draw it looks like it's working hard and has real full compass look to it.

Oh, and here's a pic of the drawknife I bought off E-bay, with my one for comparison.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Catching up after a Busy week

Forgive the positioning of the pics in this post... the editing software won't let them be moved around sensibly (Grrr)

A couple came over to collect the lighter Hazel primitive last week, we had a fine time and had a go with all my crossbows as they'd not shot one before. The Chinese repeater was greatly enjoyed and I even had a shot with my 275# repro medieval "light sporting crossbow" which is pretty spectacular in a confined space like my garage.
The larger primitive (see previous post for pics) was shipped off and the recipient said:-
"Wow, it looks absolutely gorgeous!!!! Really striking & beautiful bow"... "Draws up lovely. Really smooth. It feels much smoother than my Ash bow despite the fact that it's higher poundage and shorter length. Nice one Del! Thank you".

I've been working off and on with the Yew flight bow for this season and flight arrows too of course. The constant striving for an arrow of small diameter for minimum drag yet stiff enough to withstand the acceleration and flexing. I fancied trying Ipe as an arrow wood and remembered that my mate Matt (of Cambridge Longbows) had been recently using some. He very kindly sent some off-cuts in the post for me to play with.
The first Ipe shaft I made was slightly smaller diameter than my reference shaft  at about the same stiffness ("reference shaft" sounds a tad grand, it's really just one that had snapped off it's point), the bad news was that it was about 25% heavier! My next idea is top secret, so don't tell anyone, I cut a thin slat of Ipe and glued it up between two bits of straight grained pine, so it looks like a jam sandwich. This gives it more stiffness especially sideways without too much weight increase. I made a shooting board so I could plane the corners off to get it roughly round, I then turned it on my lathe. I also grooved a couple of bits or board to use with sandpaper as sanding blocks for smoothing shafts.

I had a couple of visitors with a yew stave that they wanted turning into a bow, then the next thing I get is an E-mail from a chap for whom I'd made arguably the best looking character I've ever made. It's a Mollegabet style from very marginal Yew with lovely  sharp ridges down the back and knots like eyes near the levers.It had started to lift a splinter on the back (shown by red arrow in the pic). He arranged to bring the bow over to me mid week and it was good to see both him and the bow again.
I haven't started work on that repair yet as I'm in the middle of some other stuff.

Meanwhile I've been working with and guiding my mate JT while he makes his first ever bow (a Hazel ELB), it's coming along and is ready to brace. It's a very wonky stave, but that's ok as it teaches how to cope with the problems. It's very different to working a clean flat even laminated stave.
It was a pleasure to have JT working the garage and to see the progress, his first use of the spokeshave was rather tentative, but after a few hours, he was taking off long shavings with confidence to get the left limb flexing to match the right, and the bow was beginning to flex evenly, ready to be braced.

Just to round off the week I saw a nice old draw knife on Ebay, the handles were split, but the blade looked like it had never (or hardly ever) been sharpened. I stuck in a bid for £16 max and won it! I'll clean it up and sharpen it later.
Throw in some work tuning up the lathe, a visit from my brother and an Indian take away... great week!
Just noticed three frogs in a clinch at the bottom of the pond... spring is on the way!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Hazel Primitive Finished

The bow is finished, it looks gorgeous and shoots well, I've put together a video here:-
Here are some stills too.

It made 180 yards easilly (with a bit of tail wind) but that was with my regular arrows, a clout or flight arrow would go further.

It has a couple of features, a slight reflex kick in the the last 9" or so lower limb. Even nicer is a diagonal ridge across the back of the upper limb where another pole had been growing up alongside. This caused a stiff area which I handled by scooping out the belly to match to get it flexing.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Pair of Hazel Primitives

I've been finishing off the lower weight primitive and teasing back the heavier one to full draw. The make for an interesting comparison, the lighter one has a heat treated belly, the heavier is a whisker longer and broader.
The lower pic shows how the two bows were sitting when in the tree, you can see the slight bend at the far end still evident in bothe bows.

The shooting machine performed very well last Sunday and I've been studying the video so that I can maybe make some slight improvements. The main arm of the machine flexes slightly, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as an archers arm definitely has some flex. There is a lot of sideways movement in the string and I think the nock of the arrow and the string may just be contacting the track on which the trigger mechanism draws back.
We tried a couple of flight arrows and the one which went substantially further flexes alarming under the acceleration, it's clearing the bow by about 1", but the nock end smacks against the grip.
Here's the video:-
Got some nice video of my mate JT, loosing a 130# warbow:-

Been busy with odds and ends today, made up 5 gallons of Dark Velvet Stout (from Wilkinsons) for my winter beverage. Walked up the town to do a spot of shopping and bought a small plastic tool box from Poundland, just the job to keep the shooting machine accoutrements in.

Took the pics and typed this up of course too!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Another go at the Hazel Primitive

I've spoken to the guy for whom I am making the bow and he really wants 40-45# so I'm making the other half of the log into a bow. I'm not using the draw knife this time, it's straight from bandsaw to spokeshave.
The stave has a nice feature, a deep ridge on the back of the upper limb, at mid limb. To get this area flexing I've scooped out the belly making it concave to match the ridge, it will look great on the finished bow.
An alternative approach would be to de-crown the back, e.g. To plane off the top of the ridge, however this would run the risk of the back lifting splinters. De-crownibg can be done but it needs to be even and consistent along the whole back, not just at one point.

It's tricky to get a decent picture showing the ridge, the scoop shows better.
Here's a video of it on the tiller.

As the bow is being tillered the bark starts to crack off where there is most movement, this is like nature's strain gauge. If the cracks are evenly spaced along both limbs, it's a good indication that the limbs are both working in balance.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Mk2 Shooting Machine

The shooting machine is finished now.
I haven't done any test shots yet but I have mounted a relatively heavy bow and pulled it back testing the sliding latch and pulley system. I also tied the rope round the bow mounting clamp threaded it through the pulley and heaved as hard as I could with both hands, which must have loaded it up to a couple of hundred pounds.
One clever feature I've added is a magnet incorporated into the end stop at the top end of the track, this holds the sliding carriage at the top end ready for cocking the bow.
I've made the little wooden block that lifts the trigger as it reaches full draw and I've drilled holes so that can be set for 24",26", 28", 31" or 32" draw.
Looking forward to testing it at the weekend weather permitting. (Pic with Emily cat shows how it breaks down to two parts).

There has been some comment on a flight archery group where most people have approved of the machine but one bloke maintains that shooting machines are useless except for comparing bows at 3 foot range. Dunno if that even makes any sense. Sure it won't accurately replicate a human loose but at least it should provide a consistent platform to allow comparisons. Anyhow only time will tell, and I'm sure some work could produce a trigger mechanism that reasonably replicated a human loose by adding some friction into the pivot and some flexibility and length to the ends of the fingers of the latch.
I've learnt to rely on my own findings rather than the opinions of others, anyhow I don't s'pose he was testing heavy English longbows.

Meanwhile the Hazel primitive is progressing and needs me to check it out at full brace height and full draw then I can make a string and shoot it for about 50 arrows to let it settle in before any final tweaking and doing the grip.
Ah! Just checked it and it's only 35# @28" . The cleaning it up and taking out the tool marks has lost a couple of pounds. (bugger)
I could try re-doing the heat treating long and slow, or it might still be an acceptable weight. Failing that, there's a lady archer who is a coach and shoots all styles who hasn't got a primitive. I'm sure she'd like it.
I do have the sister stave to that one so I could make another (with a little more patience in the roughing out). This illustrates nicely that you can make a bow quickly, but not necessarilly to a precise draw weight. Those who suggest you can make 'em by numbers and make 'em like shelling peas don't know what the draw weight is until it's finished.
Of course I could have kept my mouth shut and my head down about this coming under weight, but it reminds me of why I usually aim to make 'em to the upper limit.
It's easy to take off weight, it's very hard to add it on.
Using a string from my other Hazel bow I had 3 test shots at a slightly tentative 27" draw, I then tweaked the arrow pass a bit and had a fully committed shot at 28", the arrow flew lovely and true.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Rapid Progress on the Hazel Primitive

Seeing as how JT's bow that he's doing under my watchful eye is Hazel, it seemed appropriate that I should be working some too.
I was soon was reminded of it's propensity to tear out when using a draw knife if not used with caution. I also realized that the draw knife needed sharpening.
What the wood can do is to take off a nice long wide sliver, but the sliver will also pull out a narrow strip underneath it too which isn't apparent immediately! It looks a bit like a tongue or groove on a T&G board. (Note:- this is very well seasoned Hazel see pic)

Of course I panicked but I was relatively sure that I'd left enough wood to get away with it... I moved to the spoke shave after that which took off much more even shavings with no tearing.
As I was tillering the bow it was evident that there was a weak area on the lower limb, so I reversed the bow making that the upper limb. That's why one should never cut out too much from the grip early in the process, it gives you room to shift the grip and limb positions slightly to suit the wood and ones impetuous use of the drawknife!
A bit of adjustment including an inch off one limb tip (yup, that's why you always make 'em an inch too long) and the tiller was looking good.
The draw weight is a little lower than I wanted, so I strapped it up and heat treated the belly, which give the Hazel a nice colour and hardens it a little. The heating also allowed me to pull out a tiny little deflex bend at one tip.
As I flexed the bow the bark was cracking, I picked it off to reveal some nice clusters of feature pin knots.
The target weight for the bow was  40-45#, it may come in a whisker under, but it's better to have a fast well tillered bow than an uneven over-stressed slow one that's 5# heavier.
Anyhow, the guy who wants the bow is getting back into shooting after some health prob's so a pound or two under is probably a good thing.
We'd been discussing "authenticity" as he wants to use the bow for target and reenactment in an Anglo Saxon setting and apparently there are "authenticity Guidelines"... I'm sure you can imagine my reaction to that concept! I don't believe there are any surviving Anglo Saxon bows so I'm assuming anything from the Meare Heath to the Hedeby style would be appropriate, but quite how anyone can pontificate about nock styles is beyond me!
Anyhow I'm going self nock, big one at the bottom that can also accommodate a stringer with a rounded end to take the inevitable contact with the ground (see pic) and a long pin nock on the top with a binding of linen & glue to form a ridge that a stringer can sit on.
Should look good. I'm making my usual modern continuous loop string for reliability and a consistent brace height and he can get a linen string from Hilary Greenland, which will be better and cheaper than I could make as I'd have to buy in the materials.
The bow is at a low brace and is coming along nicely... oh yes, the other detail is a veg tan grip. I'll see how I think that will look before cutting leather, but it could look good.