Saturday, 29 November 2014

Tiller Progress Videos

Having always said you can't make a bow by numbers, the 'boo backed yew was pretty good first try on the tiller! I can see the inner limbs flexing and need to get the outers moving more.
I checked the string line and centre line and tapered the limbs to narrower tips, I also rounded the belly and you can see it's coming back a lot further in the second video.
Note in both videos I'm pulling it to about 40#, in the first video it's on a long string. In the second video its at a low brace (about 4")
video video

Here's a couple of stills too. for comparison. Each pic is at about 40#, top pic is long string before narrowing the outer limbs. The horn nocks will be done now and the outer limbs narrowed some more.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Bamboo Backing Build-Along

Here is some stuff about doing a bamboo backing, bear in mind I've only done a handful and the guys on Primitive Archer helped me out with the first.
Five main points about the Bamboo.
1. Bamboo is razor sharp and the splinters are nasty.

2. Be prepared to remove a lot of Boo before you get it down to size.

3. A good sharp plane takes it down nicely in decent sized shavings. Adjust the plane to a finer cut to trim any thick points as you near the final dimensions. Watch each edge of the slat to make sure you are taking it down evenly.

4. Because it's curved on the back, when you think you've made it too thin, there is still plenty of thickness in the middle, (You'll see that when you saw it down to fit the bow).
Use a belt sander only for final flattening, don't use it for bulk material removal... it will take for ever.

5. Boo is V strong in tension and can overpower some belly woods, so I'd say err on the side of thin rather than too thick.

On the glue up, I apply glue to both surfaces despite the instructions on the glue saying only apply to one. Gluing is a one off operation, get it wrong and you have to plane off the boo, (yes I've done it). It's easy to apply glue to one surface and then look back at it and see patches that look dry.
My usual advice for working on bows is "When in doubt, don't"
When gluing, I advise the opposite, if you have any doubt about the amount of glue or that the surface has wetted correctly, go over it.
As kids we all slap on too much glue and then expect it to stick instantly, we get bad results. Then as adults we get too clever and think a very light application of glue is right.
You need to have enough so that you can see it squeezing out... of course the caveat is, you need to strap it tight enough to apply good even pressure and have flat surfaces.
My belt sander doesn't get a huge amount of use, but preparing glue surfaces is a major use and it has earned it's keep. It's only a cheapo belt sander, but with a 40 grit belt it does actually remove wood.

You can see in the pics I've got the bow strapped up with about an inch and a half reflex. Once it's been unwrapped and cleaned up it has less than an inch. that's fine for this bow as it's for target use as a longbow and we don't want some 'rules merchant' objecting that it's a recurve. By the time it's fully tillered it will probably be ramrod straight.

By the way the back of the boo' has been protected with masking tape to keep the glue off it. Poundland masking tape is a 'must have' in the workshop.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Splice and Riser Block Glued

I've got the heat treated Yew billets spliced and glued and the riser block glued on. I'll be planing down a slat of bamboo and hopefully  get that glued on over the week.
A couple of guys are coming over at the weekend with some Yew staves with a view to having one made into a bow, so if this boo backed Yew progresses well, I'll be able to jump onto that bow. They sent pictures of the staves and it looks like V clean N American Yew. I like it when people turn up with their own Yew as it doesn't deplete my supply.
Here's a couple of pics.

The riser block is cut from a Yew offcut, I like to keep it all one wood. If I was doing a fancy laminated recurve I might add laminations of contrasting woods to look good, but the essence of a longbow is simplicity. The Boo' backing, leather grip and mother of pearl arrow plate will be fancy enough.
The purpleheart lam' I got from my friend Matt will be saved for that fancy laminated recurve...
You can see the darkening of the heat treating on the belly.
It wasn't really necessary, but I want this bow to be a little special performance wise.
Someone on one of the forums was asking about belly woods for laminated bows (not that I know much about laminates) and asked what my top choice would be. I said heat treated Yew. Ipe is a common choice, but is heavy, this allows for a narrow bow. I like the lightness workability and springiness of Yew.
I find people are impressed with the performance of a self Yew bow even when they are used to laminates.

I wash out the salsa & houmous tubs for use as glue pots, I have a plentiful supply that way. The glue is my usual Resintite.
Made a start planing the 'Boo. Happiness is a sharp plane!

Note:- you can see in the picture of the splice, I've used the knotty gnarly end of the billets as the centre where the splice is, They are thicker here and will also be reinforced/supported by the riser block. Being in compression the belly can be less perfect than the back, but putting the scruffier wood at the splice leaves the cleaner wood for the working limbs and maximises wood usage. Always better to have a bow a little too long than too short, it gives some room for adjustment.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Getting Back to it

Been away for a few days, family matters.
Found a phone message from someone with a yew stave that wants making into a bow and that the cat had peed on the carpet.
While I was away I spotted a nice side trunk of Yew which had been topped out at about 18' it was nice and straight. I chatted to the guy who runs the site and maybe it will come my way for a suitable fee.
It's certainly turned colder, the garage needs tidying, some wine need racking and that carpet needs replacing with hard flooring. I've been skilfully putting that off for the last couple of years but there's only so much cat pee you can put up with!
She's a bit of a runty rescue cat and she sometimes gets bullied by the neighbourhood cats and doesn't want to go out. To be fair, she sits with her nose against the double patio doors and probably thinks it counts as "outside".
Still, plenty of worse things in life than a damp patch on a carpet.... easy to loose your sense of proportion in a modern consumer society.
A funeral, tends to re-set ones priorities.

Started heat treating the tapered Yew heartwood billets, got one done. I'll get the other done this afternoon and then saw the splice on the bandsaw when I've fitted a nice sharp new blade.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Visit from a Fellow Bowyer

My friend Matt from Cambridge popped down to collect his share of a batch of bamboo slats I'd bought. It saves shipping costs when we buy a £50 batch. His lad Will came down too, he was very bright, observant an enthusiastic. It was great, I mentioned to Matt that I'd stuck the billets onto my tapering sled with double sided tape and Will piped up...
"You can get double sided tape?" He asked with obvious excitement. This was a revelation to him and I found it great that he could obviously envision 101 applications for the stuff!
I demonstrated the tape and told him it was from Poundland. He's obviously got engineering and bow making coursing through his veins, a great kid.
Matt had brought me a nice length of Lemonwood and a slat of Purpleheart and one of Hickory too, great. I gave him a bottle of my home brew cider. He was stopping off on his way South to buy timber so couldn't stop long. Always great to have interesting and/or interested visitors.

We've been pruning back some of the trees in the garden too, Hazel and Buddleia (often called the butterfly bush as it attract plenty of 'em with its long flower heads). The Hazel is all very small stuff some of which will do for garden stick, but I got one decent length of Buddleia about 5' long and 2.5" diameter, I painted the end and stored it in the garage. I think I read that it's a decent bow wood, but some of the smaller branches seemed very brittle, mind Elder is a bit like that, actually they are pretty similar with a large central core of pith.

Talking of Butterflies I get 'em over-wintering in the garage, Red Admirals, Peacocks too I think. When we first moved into the house I found a load in the garage up in the corner of wall and ceiling, looking for all the world like a load of dead leaves. The problem is, when I'm working the fluorescent lights sometimes wake them up, the other thing is I tend to shut the door more these days and so they can't necessarily get out. They are dormant rather than actually hibernated. I'll have to put some open slats above the door so that they can come and go, the draught will be good for my seasoning wood too.
More strange behaviour from creatures. Walking back from the town I saw a crow pecking at something on the ground about 30 yards away, the thing on the ground flapped a bit! What's it got? I though, maybe the crows had mobbed a Magpie one was finishing it off? I approached at a slow steady walk. When I got about 10 yards away the crow hopped off and the thing on the ground sprang up and hopped away, it was a crow that had been flat on it's back! Never seen anything like it in my life... dunno what they were doing, fighting, playing, doing some weird grooming thing or maybe a little S&M?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Billet Tapered on the Thicknesser

I'm having another go at a Bamboo backed Yew target bow to meet BLBS and GNAS definitions of longbow, this time with the merest hint of reflex and no deflex.
I've found a couple of nicely matched billets with poor sapwood and roughed 'em down on the bandsaw.
I made an adjustable taper sled so that I could try out my DIY thicknesser.
It took some fiddling as I couldn't do a cut more than about 3 or 4mm at a time but the end result is pretty good.
The top pic shows the billet on the sled, which is made from a length of 2x2 sawn down the middle and joined back together with 2 screws. There is a spacer at the right end 42" from the left end. 42" is is 7 x 6". So, to get a 2mm every 6" taper, I put in a spacer 12mm thick at the open end.
You can see the bottom edge of the sled and the top edge of the billet (which is held down on the sled with double sided tape) are parallel and the taper of the sled ends up transferred to the billet.
Second pic shows the tapered billet alongside a second billet, not yet tapered.
the finish is much better than my first try outs as everything has been tightened up a bit and improved, the long sled slides nicely and the extra weight helps it run through smoothly. It needs good preparation with the bandsaw first, but gives a quicker better more accurate result than doing it by hand.
I've just measured the taper and it's 1.7mm every 6" which is fine. I usually reckon on between 1.5 and 2mm every 6" for a longbow.
Now I know it works well, I might rebuild it from better timber, I have a length of Ash off-cut from the big slab that forms the computer desk. The pine sled flexes a bit so the Ash would be better. I'll prob' experiment further with a better raise/lower mechanism for the table first tho'.

This follows my WAQAP philosophy of  development (Wrong As Quick As Possible!).
It's a light hearted piss-take of the "Right First Time" quality system, but there is an element of truth in it.
All the planning in the world takes time and you'll still meet unforseen problems. Sometimes it's better to get stuck in and get a feel for how something works and that will uncover the problems.
"If only we could foresee the unforeseen problems" as someone once said to me in a project meeting!

Update:- Explain more?
If you look at the post where I make the thicknesser, it's easy to think that the adjustable table will somehow produce a taper... it won't. If you push a piece of wood through a thicknesser (or sanding machine) it will come out an even thickness. The way to get a taper is to stick your bit of wood to a piece that already has a taper (the sled in my case) and push the two of them together through the thicknesser. If you look closely at the top pic you can see that the billet and sled cave come out with top and bottom face parallel. EG The pair have been pushed through and come out flat, but when the billet is taken off the sled it has the exact same taper as the sled, the thick end of the billet and the thin end of the sled when measured together is the same thickness as the thin end of the billet and the thick end of the sled..
The principal is that two identical tapers put top to tail end up being dead flat.
Dunno if that was what was needed?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Hedeby Bow Detail & Full Draw

The bow has been tweaked and fettled, it's smoother and about 47# now. I've cut about 1/4" off the upper handle to improve the proportions. You can see the bit I removed in the top nock pic which also shows how the string sits on the knot/peg when the bow is unstrung.

Here are some pics:-
The first shows the small filled knot on the side which corresponds to the arrow pass, I may fill it with a round dot of black water-buffalo horn.
Top right shows the waggle in the upper limb and the handle bent towards the belly, shows off the heart/sap wood nicely too.
The picture of the top nock has somehow loaded rotated 90 degrees!
The lower left pic shows the deflex/set in the bow but it's somewhat exaggerated due to the foreshortening.
Bottom right pic shows the sapwood back with a nice feature knot.
It really has the look of a stick bow from a small diameter limb just like the real thing.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Hedeby Bow Performance

I've been away for a week due to family matters.
I shot the Hedeby bow at Avalon Archers field shoot last Sunday, it performed well. There were 5 of us in the group, a couple of horse bows, an American Flatbow, an English Longbow and the Hedeby which I shot as a Primitive (I couldn't decide if it was a Longbow or Primitive, but nobody was too worried). I shot pretty well and came 3rd in the group, I was let down by a couple of blanked targets where I just couldn't judge the range and grouped all 3 arrows an inch or so above the target.
I was expecting it to be sluggish and shocky  due to the extended handles, none of it!
It shot very much like any of my other Yew bows, smooth and fast. The draw weight felt a tad heavy by the end of the day and the handles give the full draw tiller a rather alarming appearance!
I shall reduce the draw weigh a little and try to even the tiller a little more. The stave was deflexed originally and it has taken a little set, I'm very impressed with how it shoots and have for some time believed that set isn't the evil some people would have us believe. All wooden bows will take a little set, even those that have say an inch of reflex... they probably started with 2" !
Anyhow, here's a couple of pics showing brace and full draw (showing 50# at 28")
Interestingly, I'd measured it moments before and had read 53# at 28", it's surprisingly difficult to accurately measure draw length and weight simultaneously. There is a fair bit of parallax depending on where you stand/film when reading the draw length.
I couldn't find any compelling reason for the handles, and to be honest I'd rather have had the bow the extra 7" longer nock to nock! It did keep the lower nock and string out of the mud I s'pose. The side nocks worked very well, but the string creaked alarmingly in them as it approached full draw!
I got a bit of news which cheered me up after a tough week. The bow I gave to "Pappy" my host in Tennessee has been blooded, an English longbow taking a deer! Excellent, Of course we can't hunt with bow and arrow in the UK, but it's nice to know the humble bow can still do the job its been doing for millennia.
Pic of Pappy trying the bow for the first time here:-