Thursday, 30 April 2015

Tidying and Stuff (that isn't to do Bows)!

I'm getting sorted for the weekend, I have a guy coming tomorrow with a couple of staves for me to look at, he may want one turning into a longbow.
There's a village show on Sunday where I'll set up my shave horse and demo' some bowmaking. Monkey bow may get to fling a whistling arrow too!

The garage is my multifunctional 'man space' where I have my cider and beer stuff. I bottled up 20L of beer this morning from one of those beer kits, Wilko's Hoppy Copper Bitter.
Their Stout which I did in the Autumn was very good as a winter brew, so I'm hoping the bitter will be good for lighter Summer drinking.
I noticed on Primitive Archer's cooking forum (yes they have a cooking forum!) someone posted about beer bread.... Well beer and bread are two of my favourite things (along with snowflakes on kittens and all that...).
Beer bread, surely a good way to use up the yeasty dregs from the bottom of the fermentation bucket!
When I've tried making bread in the past it's always looked and smelled great... even sounded right when you knock on it, but it's always been stodgy and undercooked in the middle.
This was absolutely gorgeous! Maybe the nice warm sunny kitchen was just right for proving it, maybe the nice active yeast and added sugar did the trick but it was yummy. 2/3 of it has gone already, the pic also shows the remaining yeasty dregs, that might end up in a stir fry or as more bread!

I refurbished my backstop which had been opened up to find the broken fore end of a flight arrow. Ongoing sweeping and tidying has got the garage ship shape and created more rubbish to take to the council tip.

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Window Closes

The window of opportunity for flight shooting has closed...
No I wasn't dragged away by an armed response unit!....
The grass is getting too long and I expect they'll be getting sheep on there soon.
I shot 10 arrows and it took me an age to find one bamboo arrow with small grey flights. The 32" pale cedar arrows with white and yellow flights were fairly easy to spot.
I was testing a new flight arrow with the 40# bamboo backed Yew reflex deflex bow and also the Hazel Warbow with some 28" and 32" arrows.

The funny thing is the longest shot with each bow landed about a yard apart at the same distance! Only 230 yards, I was scared of overdrawing the flight bow and exploding another arrow and with the Hazel I'd also only warmed up with half a dozen 28" arrows, so wasn't getting a very full draw. Mind, excuses aside I may have only got another 10 yards at best.

The last arrow from the warbow frightened the hell out of me as it split the nock off the arrow despite the horn reinforcement It made a loud clatter and went about 10 yards.

The Hazel warbow bow threw 28" 11/32  diameter, 150gn point arrows 209 yards and a flight arrow 230 yards.
The warbow will go to one of my mates who will give it a work out at a full 32" draw with some medieval style arrows.

I only shot two from the flight bow, the new flight arrow went 230 yards.
The first one I shot was the bamboo arrow, could I find it? Nope, I zig zagged back and forth across the field from about 20 yards beyond and in front of the furthest arrow.
Eventually I gave up on that and thought... "the first shot went slightly right of that distant telegraph pole. I'll line up on that and walk back to the shooting position" I started about 20 yards beyond the furthest arrow and started back...
I'd walked maybe 30 yards and there it was!
That was a relief as I didn't want to leave a bamboo arrow to splinter as a sheep chewed on it.
That shows the value of trying to get a line on the arrows.

You know what I'm like, can't resist tinkering, so I sanded the flight arrow down a whisker and trimmed the flights down a touch and went off to the flood plain again with just one arrow, and without my tab.
First shot, I lined up a pin knot on the lower limb with the horizon...
215 yards !!?? It looked to be stuck in at rather a shallow angle, so maybe I launched it too flat?
Generally people say I'm shooting too high... but maybe they aren't right.
Anyhow I held the bow up and estimated, if I put a swirl of grain on the lower limb (a couple of inches below the pin knot) on the horizon this time.
230 yards.
Then I went to the end of the grain swirl, even higher...
240 yards, I'd had enough by then as each time I was unstringing the bow and packing it away.
Just goes to show launch angle makes a big difference, enough to mask the improvement (or otherwise) to the arrow.
Having no tab wasn't necessarily a bad thing as I could hold the string right on my finger tips, almost a two finger loose.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Arrow Taper Jig

The taper jig works well, but like anything requires a bit of getting to grips with.
My first big idea which was to attach the sandpaper with magnets works a treat. The strip is wrapped round the end of the jig and the magnet hold the end in place.
The modern magnets are ludicrously powerful and cheap too off E-bay (Got-Magnets UK, £4.50 for 5)

The clear polycarbonate (other transparent plastic materials are also available ;-) ) over the top also works well.
I used 80 grit paper which I buy from Toolstation on a roll, the clear plastic helps retain the paper too.
Clamping the jig down helps. As the arrow is moved back and forth and fed into the jig it can jam up, but that's the nature of pushing something into a taper.
It takes of material quite quickly, but 80 grit is about right, not too aggressive.
Doing the first end of the arrow as you can grip the other end which is still parallel in the electric drill chuck. You may notice I'm doing it with my little flight arrow head in place, trying to blend it in nicely, mind the steel point can jam.
Something I'm trying is putting a slip of card into the front end off the jig to cover the leading edge, which could cut rapidly into the shaft if you don't feed it in straight... (see pic), just done the other end of the shaft and the card slips work a treat.

To do the other end I gripped the shaft in my lathe chuck and had the arrow sticking out the back of the head stock. I rested the taper jig on the table of my pillar drill which was adjusted to the right height. For those without such exotic facilities a good wrap of masking tape and grip it in the electric drill would probably do.

If I'm honest I must confess that this is the second try with the jig. I'd got the first arrow made, but unfletched and thought I'd see how it flew,
It flew lovely and straight with no sideways flexing... Unfortunate, I'n nocked it too high an the string and it hit the target boss in a point down attitude and snapped. I had to split open the boss to retrieve the precious arrow head which I'd made at great pains.
A bit of an irritation but it teaches me a few things, the spine was fine, but the nocking point needs to be right for clean arrow flight for flight shooting. A flight arrow should really be landing from a nice stable flight of some distance, not a mere 10 yards.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Hazel Warbow Full Draw

I spent a fair bit of time toying with the final tweaks to the warbow to make it more comfortable to shoot. I had considered turning it up the other way, but that would have needed too much re tillering.
Instead I slightly relieved the edge that was sticking into the base of my thumb, and the edge that was sticking out left on the belly side of the arrow pass. This probably dropped a whisker of draw weight as a tiny change in the middle of the bow becomes magnified by the time you get out to the tips. I also eased off the lower limb in the mid section where it didn't seem to be flexing as much as the rest of the limb.
The result is I can get to a decent full draw of about 31" which is physically about my limit, If I try to get more I just end up pulling the arrow left and getting a string bruise on my left tit.
Now I've seen how far I'm getting it back I can pull it that far on the tiller and weigh it... it may only be 85# ish, but it is what it is. I'm not after a specific weight per se, I want a bow that can be shot.
Just measured it at 31", it's about 83# That gives about 3.46 #/inch over the power stroke which shoul give about 86# at 32" which I s'pose isn't too far off the target of 90#.
It feels very lithe and I can't wait to try it on the flood plain.

I did take the precaution of warming up first on my 60# bow. Note the strapping on the left elbow too.
I'm finding my fitness is returning, now't like some sunshine and a bit of gardening to get the muscles and joints moving again.


Saturday, 18 April 2015

First Test Shots

I just had a go with it. I think I got a decent 28" draw out of it, then moved up to my warbow arrows.
I don't think I got much more draw, I was having to cock my left wrist as the stave is twisted at the grip and the flattish belly digs into the base of my thumb and rather jars the middle thumb joint.
I was certainly getting my right hand down near my armpit, but what I gained on the right hand was being lost as the left wrist cocked back and the elbow complained.It certainly made an impression on the boss, the arrows penetrated through and I had trouble pulling 'em out.The left elbow was struggling a bit, but my shoulders held up and it's a stain on the neck oddly enough. I had to tell myself to stop clenching the teeth... buttocks are fine to clench but teeth don't help >:D
I quit while I was ahead and still in one piece after loosing 6 arrows through it.
BTW I'd warmed up at 40# 60# and 70# first

I've had a look at the grip and I my try the bow up the other way as it feels like it might be more comfortable. This sketch shows what I mean, another alternative would be to build up the grip with leather and whip it with fine linen thread, but that's not very traditional for a warbow.

With the bow up the other way, the left edge would be the low one in the pic, and that would press more into the palm where thumb meets wrist. I'll try and see if it is more comfortable.
If I do it, It would need slight re-tillering.
I can re shape the nock, although it would be a shame as I'd loose some of the nice colour from the top nock if I round it off to become the bottom one.
Both nocks are from the same bit of horn but the top one from the tip of the horn has all the colour variation.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Busy busy busy

Maybe it's the time of year but I seem to be doing 101 things at once. Must try and finish 'em in a logical order.

I'm making an arrow tapering/barrelling jig from angle iron. Putting horn nocks on the Hazel Warbow. Turning up some flight arrow points which entailed buying a collet holder and set of collets for my little lathe, they turned up from China after a week or so, excellent value for money... dunno how they can do it, mind I then needed to make a draw bar and spanner for the collet holder D'oh.
Not to mention the gardening and getting the silt out of the little top pond, which is one of those glorious messy jobs that brings out your inner child... mud and water on a sunny day!
Here are some pics.

The arrow jig can be adjusted for different tapers, the inner vertical faces of the angle iron will have sand paper stuck on with double sided tape, or maybe wrapped round the ends and held magnetically. The arrow shaft is held in the electric drill and fed into the gap. I'll make a perspex top to stop the arrow whipping up and out... well that's the theory.

While I was tinkering around making arrow heads I tried the bamboo arrow shaft that I'd reduced in diameter, I suspected I'd over done it so I tried it before I wasted further time fletching it. It flew well, but flexed too much when it hit the target and splintered... yes I wore glove and bracer as a safety precaution!

The lathe shot also shows the excellent new toolpost that my mate Mick the Blacksmith made for me, it makes tool changes less frequent, easier and holds 'em better. The collet holder and set of 10 collets from 1mm-10mm only cost about £23 ! (3mm collet in the holder and the 10mm one standing up they are things of almost sculptural beauty). To make the collet spanner I bought a plumbing spanner for doing up compression joints from Toolstation for about £2.50 opened up the jaws a whisker and sawed off the end I didn't want.
The drawbar is some threaded rod with a nut welded on and a bush which I turned on the lathe. All good practice as I've not had any real instruction in lathe useage so I'm learning on the job.
For those who don't know what a collet is, it's like a miniature chuck for holding small items much more firmly than a 3 jaw chuck. The 3 jaw is removed from the lathe, the collet holder replaces it, being drawn tightly into place with the draw bar which is screwed in from the back end of the head stock.

The little top pond is just above the large rock in the centre of the pic, we have a waterfall from there, the top pond  acts as a silt trap.

Finally the top nock glued on to the Warbow before shaping, you can see it's fairly slim and will give the bow nicely tapered tips when it's all blended in.

Talking of sculptural beauty, the sculpture I showed a little while back is in a show at the Gibberd Gallery, has already been sold ! ...
which is nice.

So, other than the broken arrow and all the unfinished projects I'm doing well... better stop chatting and get on with it!

Update:- I've had it back to about 29" at full brace, it's about 83#,
the tiller looks a little stiff handles, but that's intentional as there is a big twist/dip there. It also looks odd as the right limb looks much thicker, that's cos there is a lot of white wood showing and the garage door is open flooding it with daylight from that side. The tille rcritique picture allows for the stiff/concave grip by treating each limb individually, you can see the lower (left) limb has a slightly larger arc, in keeping with the lower limb being left a tad stiffer.
You have to bear in mind the unbraced shape of the stave too.
It's all down to some fine scraping, sanding and making a string... then pulling it the extra few inches. Have to see if I can get fit enough to shoot it too.

My magnets turned up this morning, I can hardly believe it... I clicked on "buy" about mid day yesterday, I can play with some arrow tapering.
So much to do!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Hazel Warbow back to 25"

Much of the bark has popped off and I've been improving the tiller and adjusting the width a bit to counter any twist and sideways bend near the tips. It's looking much better and being a heavy bow with a fairly wide cross section it seems less liable to twist and go sideways.

The heat treating has stiffened it up a bit, I can feel the wood being much firmer, crisper and drier as I rasp it, it smells toasted too. The very outer surface is slightly oily where I brushed Sunflower oil over the belly while I was heat treating it.

I measured the limb thickness every 6" to pick out any thick spots. With a twisty undulating stave it's good to check, the eye and fingers are very good, but twists can give optical illusions or areas that look thin one side but are thick on the other. It was pretty good, but there was one point on each limb where I took a bit off to even up the thickness taper.

It's damn scary pulling it back on the tiller as some of the remaining bark near the grip is now beginning to crack and pop. The tiller is much improved, and it's only lack of bottle that made me quit at 80# 25" No point rushing it and risking not spotting a potential hinge or problem area.

If we do some quick sums to see how the draw weight interpolates to 28" and 32"

80# at 25". Call it a 5" brace, gives us 80# over 20" of power stroke which is 4# per inch.

So the extra 3" to get from 25" to 28" will add 12# which gives 92# @ 28"

The extra 7" to get from 25" to 32" will add and extra 28# which gives us 108#

This accounts for why I can't draw it! Although it is slowly getting easier to string (using a stringer of course)

The pic of the back of the bow shows where I've removed some wood from the back along the right edge for about 1/2 the length of the limb at the bottom of the pic'. This isn't ideal as I wanted a pristine untouched back, it was necessary because of the big twist in the limb.
As always it's about pragmatism and compromise, you have to work with what you have.

It's mid day now, plenty of time to get it coming back a bit further, or to have it explode on me!

Update:- I've had it back to about 85-90# at about 29-30" at a decent brace height. I can't be more precise as I didn't have the camera on and I wasn't going to hang about. All a bit nervy, it's at the stage now where I've put enough work in that I really don't want it to explode.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Good Trip

I had a good trip down South, got some little jobs done around the house for my Mum and met up with my Brother and Sis'.

My Brother's mate Richard was keen to try some bows of various draw weights so I took 5 along and let him have a go with everything from 30# at 28" to 60# @ 32" and 70# @ 28"
I had 3 different sets of arrow just to add to the mix.
The weather was glorious by mid day and we set up in a field he has access to. We were both spraying arrow around rather randomly, but slowly started zoning in and he stuck one in the inner gold.
Once he'd settled a bit with one of the bows we got rid of the big target and pinned a till receipt to the boss. I stuck 3 arrows in the ground to represent the shooting pegs at a field shoot. That improved our focus immensely and he hit it second arrow. We then moved the boss amongst some saplings to make it even more difficult shooting between the trees.
It was no great range, maybe 10 - 15 yards, but again he got it from the second peg. I stepped up, and having settle down to using a fast 40# 'Boo backed yew I nailed it first arrow.
He was really enthusiastic and had a go with all the bows including the full warbow style draw. (The pics show his usual draw and the extended draw)
He could really appreciate the difference between target and field, the target was lower and closer, but it was a one shot deal which tightens the focus.
I'd taken my neolithic, Meare Heath style Ash bow 36# @28" (top left pic), he shot that a good bit and it seemed to suit, so I left it with him on a sort of permanent loan, as long as it's getting used.
It's not a bow I shoot so I'd rather see it used than standing sadly in the garage.
My Brother took some pics and I've put a few on here (cropped and slightly reduced resolution) it gives a flavour of our sunny few hours.
It's always a pleasure to meet people who are enthusiastic, it also gives me some third party contact with other archers down there who are on the forums.
Bottom pic shows me demonstrating how to make a shadow of a Puma's head!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Toasted Belly

I've got the belly of the Hazel Warbow nicely heat treated... a boring job, but with the nice weather I was able to do little bits in the garden during each of the 4 minute spells between moving the heat gun along.
It's beginning to look like a bow now.

I'm off down South for a couple of days, visiting family and doing some odd jobs.
I'll be meeting up with a friend of my Brother's who is interested in bows so I'll take 6 of 'em down so he can try some out. Should be fun.
The break will give the bow time to recover from heat treating.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Hazel Warbow Progress

I've taken some twist and deflex dip out of one limb about 2/3 of the way along the limb.
It's at low brace and I've pulled it to about 60#, I haven't gone further yet as the tiller isn't that good and I don't want to put set into the wood. I didn't even notice how far I was pulling it, as I was concentrating on the tiller, I'd guess maybe 20".
I've just gone back into the garage and checked... 5" brace 60# @ 20" right limb stiff, so maybe I'll reverse it on the tiller... dunno.

It's probably about ready for heat treating the belly.
I've been keeping an eye on the bark on the back and it's cracking fairly evenly along the length indicating that the whole limb is working (see bottom pic), I think of the bark as nature's strain gauge, it started cracking off near the deflex bend initially and that warned me that it was weak there. One limb is still a little weaker than the other, but I think I'll heat treat it now.
I don't know if it will ever make full draw as there is still a heck of a twist on it, but it's pretty long and wide with a narrow back, so hopefully it will survive.
I think my initial intention of a Hazel flight warbow were a tad optimistic... but hey, without optimism no bows would ever get built!

The pic' top right gives a good idea of how twisted the stave is.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Tall Skinny Blonde on Horse!

She lay there reclining on the horse, long blonde curls spilling onto the floor.
Yes! I've started on the Hazel Warbow again. After a month on a radiator the wood is coming off in lovely clean white shavings and it's beginning to flex a fair bit.
It's not the perfect stave by a long way and who knows if it it will make it to full draw. I'm aiming for a modest 90# at 31" but with 32" draw there for using.
There is a lot of twist at each end relative to mid limb, and the centre is twisted the opposite way... mind on average, it's dead even ;-)

The twist really shows on the video where the bark doesn't show up so well it makes the bow look V thin where the bark is facing the camera at the grip and V fat where you see clean white wood.
On the video you'll see I'm pulling it to 90#, that's still less strain than the bow will be subjected to when it's on a short string.
The bow was creaking and cracking alarmingly, but I think it was just the bark.
I now glued on temporary nocks cut from an off-cut of Elm and I've got it a bit straighter and narrower at the tips.

Having called the left pic "skinny blonde on horse" I expect this page will get a few more hits from Google search!