Friday, 1 May 2015

Yew Staves

A guy called James came to visit today with a Yew log he'd cut himself and a Yew stave he'd bought.
We had a good chat and ran the log he'd cut through the bandsaw, it had nice thin even sapwood and one clean face. The other off-cut half of the log, may just about have a primitive of flat bow in it, something he can season a bit quicker and have a play with, it did have a couple of nasty knots but essentially it's a piece to practice on.

The Yew stave which he wanted me to work on, was high altitude Italian Yew with a good few knots a nasty sideways bend and a thicker sapwood layer than the English Yew, the central pith was also showing along the belly showing that it was from a small diameter log.
I picked up an off cut scrap of English Yew from the garage floor and you couldn't tell the difference in terms of ring count or colour.
My view is that English Yew is just as good as 'High Altitude Italian Yew' if you can find a long straight bit. Given the choice between the two bits I'd been presented with I'd choose the English except it wasn't yet seasoned!
I marked out a straight string line on the Italian Yew and roughed it out leaving generous dimensions and it looked like a bow was in there. Two knots both dry and loose protrude through the centre of the sapwood back, that will probably become the top limb. The knots will be picked out and filled if they go too deep.

Once James had gone and I'd had some food and a cat nap I couldn't resist looking at the stave again.
I put a fine blade on the bandsaw, marked the stave to a bow shape about 40mm wide for a couple of foot in the middle and then tapering to 20mm at the tips. After running it through the bandsaw it's just about straight now and looking much better.
The sapwood will probably need reducing which will be a right pain in the backside with all the bumps knots and dips on the back, I'll keep roughly to a growth ring which is tricky where the knots are.
Trimming it finer revealed a couple of blind knots, where small side branches had been cut off and grown over. Features like this are potential timebombs if you don't know they are lurking beneath a bump in the sapwood. They can be solid, but they can also have pockets of rot.
All in all it's looking more promising, but the stave isn't really the quality one would hope for for £300!
I s'pose if I was being generous I'd say it was an interesting character stave.
Anyhow, I'm optimistic I can turn it into a bow, and as the target weight is only 50# it should be fine,

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