Thursday, 26 April 2018

Another Try at the Crossbow Prod

A while back I bought some nice Maple off Ebay and cut it on the bandsaw to form the core of the prod. Some heat bending got it roughly shaped for glue up on the former. This lay around in the workshop for a while then eventually I cut some Ipe belly laminations and put a bit of shape into them (each limb being a separate lamination). The bamboo was planed up in the usual manner.
Once I'd started the glue up I realised my clamps weren't quite big enough... bugger! Too late to trim down the plywood former to allow the clamps to fit (although I s'pose I could as the pot life of the glue is a couple of hours). Anyhow I pressed on with plenty of rubber strapping. The prod came off the form pretty well, a couple of tiny gaps in the glue line, but they are near the centre where there will be a block glued for the mounting arrangement.
Oh, dear it was too stiff! |When tried on the tiller the draw weight rocketed up towards 150# while the draw was still a bit short. I felt that if I drew further the weight would be too high and it would start to take a set (I was checking that by, putting it back on the former, and I could feel there was a slight change already)
What can I do? I'd narrowed the bow a tad already, I can't take wood off the back without weakening the fibres of the bamboo, and I don't want to take any off the rather thin Ipe belly strip...!

Hmm... I know I'll take it out of middle! What? Eh?
I ran it through the bandsaw cutting along through the centre of the Maple core removing a saw blade's width! This effectively gave me two thin prods, I lightly sanded the two sawn faces and glued them back together now minus the thickness of the saw cut!.
At first sight, this sounds bonkers, but it's actually quite clever. If the saw wanders a bit it doesn't matter because the two halves will still match virtually perfectly! Now the prod is glued back together it is now about 1.5mm thinner, not only that but losing an even amount along the limbs weakens the tips more than the centre which should improve the tiller as it was mostly bending in the middle (1mm removed from a 10mm section is a smaller proportion than 1mm removed from a 5mm section at the tip).

This was all carefully calculated beforehand by sticking a wet finger in the air and going for a fine narrow bandsaw blade. The proof of the pudding is trying it on the tiller and yes, it feels more supple and the weight is down to just over 100# rather than approaching 150# . These figures are at a sort of guess work draw length with a string that will just fit on without flexing the prod.

It looks good enough to proceed with further work.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Whew What a Scorcher!

Blimey a week ago it was vest,shirt, cardigan, and woolly hat to venture outside. Now it's shorts and now't else.
A couple of hot days and the garden has burst into life so I've been pottering about, putting a new top on the patio table made from cheap decking, putting up a new parasol, dredging the pond and cleaning out the pump to get the waterfall going again.
Chap came over to collect the yew bow yesterday which meant I could go up to Cloth of Gold today and shoot round with my mate Mick the Blacksmith. We were joined by Brian which was just as well because I was smashing arrows at a prodigious rate (it is a bit stony) and he lent me 3 of his old ones.
It was great to shoot in a very relaxed informal manner, often just shooting from the red peg, which gave me practice at the longer shots that I rarely get to take. We didn't bother to score either.
On one very long shot, the Tiger, I used some arrows that had lost their points, that gave me a faster arrow and a flatter trajectory, of course the arrow bounced off the Tigers arse! Quite a noticeable difference going from about 400gn to 300gn whereas going from a 100gn point to a 70gn point makes virtually no difference. The arrows did flirt a little in the air, I shall have to see where the balance point is and see if I can learn anything from that for my flight arrows, mind, they have much smaller fletchings....
I'd been looking forward to trying the moving target, a bear on a zip wire. Mick and Brian kindly let me stay on the peg while they took turns working the rope to draw the bear back and then release it while the other shot. It took me about 9 shots but I eventually hit it. It's very interesting and almost impossible to analyse exactly what one does, it is very liberating not being able to hold and aim as such and IMO encourages an instinctive approach. I tended to draw swing and loose in a fairly smooth movement rather than waiting at full draw. What I found most interesting was that despite shooting poorly prior to the flying bear, the next target I hit nicely first arrow from both A and B pegs (the course is 18 targets with two sets of pegs, A & B for each). I feel I'd become more relaxed and in tune with the bow.

We finished off in the pub with a welcomed pint, ham sandwich and bowl of chips.

On the bow making front I've been running some Ipe through the bandsaw to make tapered laminations for the crossbow prod project and maybe a belly for a laminate flight ELB.

Cheerio! Too hot to do much more!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Yew ELB Close to Finished

I've done some more heat correction on the bow to make it overall straight. Although it still has the slight kink it looks much more symmetrical. The horn nocks are done too but not polished up.

I went to a med' soc' 3D shoot in Kent on Sunday, great fun but rather tiring. I shot round with some friends ( in a group of 4) and had a good natter with some of the other folk at lunch time whilst enjoying an excellent Chicken casserole. My shoulder was giving me some gyp, so I dropped down from Twister to my little Hazel bow after lunch. My shooting was the usual inconsistent mix of abysmal and brilliant.
Shot of the day for me was 20yards at a boar which was behind tow trees. From the red peg only about a 1 foot section of it was showing, centred on the kill. No one else had hit it first arrow. I stood and stared at the centre of the kill... and stared some more... then drew and loosed. Plum centre of the inner kill 24 !
The drive back was a bit of crawl with the Sunday traffic and Brands Hatch traffic, but a shower, roast dinner and a glass of beer soon restored my equilibrium.

I also picked up some handy exercise tips and a recommendation of a Thera-Bar flex bar which is apparently V good for curing tennis elbow. I've ordered one from the interweb and I'll report back on how I get on with it.

Thursday, 5 April 2018


I haven't actually made a bow for a while, been busy refurbing arrows for a 3D shoot on Sunday, tinkering with the lathe, making flight arrows etc.
I've a few bows on the book and thought I'd better get on with one of 'em. These days I find most of my staves are nice quality ones that people have sourced for themselves and have brought along to be made into bows. This arrangement suits me fine as long as I don't get a lorry turn up with a load of staves that someone expects me to turn into bows! I very much pick and choose what I do, mainly because I have my own projects to get on with too.

Anyhow, I was feeling a bit cocky and picked up the Yew stave (Pacific Yew?) and ran it through the bandsaw in short order. I cut it pretty close to my guestimated final size and at one point thought I'd maybe taken off too much. It's fine and has been quick and easy to get back to near final weight. Of course nothing is too easy when you have a rather perfectionist streak. The bow has a couple of deflex dips, the worst being in the lower limb gave it the appearance of an ugly hinge, so I got it jigged up, applied some heat and pulled some of it out. It's virtually impossible to actually completely straighten a dip if it is more like a kink or is concentrated over just an inch or two, but it can be smoothed out to give the limb an overall straight line with the odd undulation. In other words the tips and grip are pretty much in line, which is almost what I achieve. Mind, I may correct it a tad more and induce the merest hint of back set/reflex. We'll see.
I s'pose I should say what I'm aiming for 50-55# at 28" . The draw length will only be 26" but it's wise to take it back to 282 as this will be used for roving where it's easy to stretch for a little extra.
The guy I'm making it for is about my height or a whisker less (5'10") so I'm making it about 70" nock to nock, although it may loose an inch when I put the horn nocks on.
It's a nice clean stave which only had one knot which was on one edge and disappeared as I roughed out the bow. The few dips and undulations still give it some character.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Flight Shooting PBs

Had another go on Sunday, managed 341yards with the Osage bow shooting off the fingers this time (so it's a genuine PB).
The Yew ELB flight bow was still too much for me and even JT my trusty test pilot struggled, slapping his bicep painfully with the string on one shot.
The Yew bow just isn't controllable with confidence so I've reviewed the tiller and draw weight with a view to improving the tiller and bringing down a whisker from 95-100# to 90-95# I don't put an exact weight because I'm not going to hold it at full draw long enough to read the scale accurately, an by sod's law the scale was out of picture at full draw in the video! (See link below for video)

JT was a bit put off* having whacked his bicep, but he stepped up and had a go with the Osage (80#) which he controlled and shot with confidence bagging himself a new PB of 324yards. I'm guessing he shot a tad shorter than me due to his not being used to a 28" draw and anchoring at that length. The shots looked good enough and I was half expecting that he'd out shot me.
I'm sure once the Yew is tweaked he'll master it, can't guarantee it will shoot as far as the Osage though!
Interesting to compare the tip width of the two bows

and to look at the marks on the arrow shelf /arrow pass of the Osage which show where the arrow was rubbing, maybe I'll tweak that a bit to make it easier on the arrow.

* I think that's a bit of British understatement. I think that it hurt like hell, but as he's not a cheating Australian cricketer, he refrained from calling a press conference and bursting into tears. ;-)

Monday, 26 March 2018

New PB For Distance!

Had a good time shooting on Sunday, mostly flight testing 4 new flight arrows. I tried 'em from my Osage flight bow first but struggled to reach full draw and they were going about 280 yards. I took the one that went the furthest and tried it from the shooting machine (26 3/4" draw) ... I didn't see it go, we walked up the field to pick up some other arrows and I couldn't find it, then I spotted it about 40 yards further on, obviously well past 300, I got out the laser rangefinder and sighted back to JT's landrover, then subracted 10 yards as we'd paced that far out onto the field  345yards! That smashed my previous best which was from the same bow at a 24" draw.
My mate JT then tried 'em out of the Yew ELB flight bow, but struggled to get a controlled full draw due to the short draw length not giving a convenient anchor as he's used to shooting 32" draw.
Back at home I've confirmed the draw weight at 26 3/4" to be about 80# so I should be able to mange that with a bit of practice.
I don't want to wear out the bows so I'll refurb' last years quick try out Yew flight bow for training purposes, I'll have to repair one of the flight arrows as the tip fractured just behind the pile.
The solid Ipe arrow was seemed to fly shorter than the footed arrows, but they all came off the bow fairly cleanly. Ideally I'd have tried then all from the shooting machine but there was a lot of other shooting going on and the lure of a pint and a bowl of chips at the Rainbow and Dove was hard to resist.
It was my arrow number two that subjectively seemed to fly best and made the 345yard shot.

A request for more arrow info :-
Arrows 1 and 2 seemed to fly furthest, they are lightest and have similar FOC balance point, they all have similar spine.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Belt Sander Fixed

I've got it rebuilt with the fully sealed bearings and it runs sweetly. I've vastly improved the dust collection and made it so I can change belts without using any tools (bliss!). I just lift the wooden catch, slide out the dust box and I can change the belt.
The metal tray that was fitted beneath the belt was held on with 4 fiddly little M4 screws and the dust extractor spigot was pointing down wards from that, virtually inaccessible.
The new arrangement seems to catch the dust better, although some overshoots, as the shield doesn't protrude above the level of the belt (that's another modification I made, allowing long items to run over the sander without fouling).
It's much more convenient having the on/off switch accessible too. (The pics are taken from the other side to the on off switch).

Meanwhile a friend asked if I could have a try at fixing a flight bow of his which has taken on some twist/ sideways bend when braced. I'ts by a reputable well known American Bowyer who has told him how to do the fix as shipping it back and forth to the US is impractical.
It's a very deep, narrow ELB flight bow, Hickory back Osage belly with some other core wood.
The technique suggested is to force the string over while braced and heat the side/belly (on the outside of the bend, see pics). This has needed a couple of 20 minute heat sessions, taking care not to get it too hot. After the first session it was back in line but crept back some way over night.
The friend in question has given me some carbon fibre tow which I will use wrapped round the nocks of the next crossbow prod... that should stop the bugger splitting!

The second session I got it a little hotter and pulled it another inch over. It seemed ok the next morning, but I'll leave it a few days before declaring it good.

My only reservations about the method are the ability of the Resorcinol glue to withstand the heat (but the glue line is for the most part, deep withing the limb).
Secondly, is heating it whilst braced going to introduce set? The bow did have some set to start with.
Anyhow, it's a no-lose scenario as the bow would become fire wood if it isn't fixed