Monday, 10 February 2014

Ups and Downs Yew & Osage

First the good news. I ran the best stave of rotten sapwood yew through the bandsaw to give a rather nice stave of heartwood which will do for a Hickory backed roving/flight longbow for me. Say 80# at 31" . I have a nice thickish Hickory lamination which will be just the job for a faily heay bow, It was given to me by one of my bowyer contacts as a swap/thank you for some stuff (Thanks Matt!).

The off cut was sapwood with a thin strip of heartwood on the belly, I flexed it to see if it would snap... hmmm it seemed surprisingly strong.
Now only an idiot would try to make a bow out of a bit of Yew with rotten sapwood, so I set to!
It's really an exercise in discovering what the wood will do and how deep and deadly the rot is. It will be a simple flat primitive style bow, I'm not going to spend an age on it. I drew along the couple of big splits and fitted a bow between 'em and roughed it out quickly on the bandsaw. I'll tiller it mostly from the sapwood side as there is little heart wood to play with. You ca see from the pics the parlous state of the sapwood, yet it feels firm and creamy under the spokeshave!

Damn, I've been beaten by a bit of Osage! I was making a short Native American style bow, I'd chased a ring down the back and it was beginning to look promising, then some splits became apparent between two rings and by the time I'd removed enough wood to get rid of 'em there was virtually no bow left. I played with it, but it was about 20# with a nastly weak spot. I even tried a little belly patch, but Osage doesn't take glue too well (despite my attempts at de-greasing it with some lye (sodium hydroxide drain cleaner) ).
The Osage was the worst quarter of a half log which I'd split in two (given to me by a friend from the club). Lesson learned, I'm cleaning up the other half, and will inspect it more carefully for splits before trying again.
I'd spent a good few hours chasing a ring on that damn Osage...
Yeah so, remind me again 'How long does it take to make a bow?' the ever present question. Well it's all these failures that contribute to the necessary experience and prevent a simple answer.

I was in danger of getting into overthink and bow overload with too many things going on at once so.
The Osage bow has been scrapped. The rest of the log cleaned up a bit and set aside. The Yew heartwood is roughed out, set aside and waiting for a Hickory back. I'm going to press on playing with the rotten sapwood bow as it's just for the sheer fun/daftness of it, and sometimes, just occasionally these mad experiments can yield a superb character bow.
I've also got someone wanting a 40-45# longbow at 31" which is a nice change. I'm short of Warbow sized staves and billets, but I think I have a couple of billets that will make him a nice bow.
Better to be busy than bored I always think!

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