Monday, 29 August 2016

Wonky Hazel Shoots Clean

I still wasn't 100% happy with the way Wonky Hazel was throwing the arrows, there was some waggle, where my other bows were sticking 'em in straight at 10 yards.

Some might say I should match the arrow to the bow, but if if the bow isn't right that's just not going to work.
I didn't know if my original correction was insufficient or if had sprung back slightly.

It's very difficult to measure the string line on a character bow as the reference plane is presumably defined by the string at full draw. I expect the camera set up at a CGI graphics studio might manage it but it's beyond me.
After much deliberation I jigged it up again, this time I went for dry heat from the hot air gun and copious brushing with sunflower oil. (I sanded down the grip first to give good oil and heat penetration. I took it to a light golden brown which will help hold the bend in place and makes the grip look good too. The pics show how much shift was added, the pencil line marking the initial position.
The bend was done yesterday afternoon and the pics taken this morning so it's had time to settle. )See pic of tip alignment drawn in in blue.)
I eagerly anticipated trying it, first shot, no waggle... second shot hit the white disc. Job done.
Now just to re-apply the finish, and I should enjoy shooting it next weekend.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Bits & Pieces

I've trimmed that Yew which we ran through the bandsaw and got it up on the shelves now and I've been shooting the Wonky Hazel a bit more.
Yesterday I went to try it over the flight field and there was a youngish chap with his bicycle under an Oak tree which is just into the field, he was having a quiet read. I went to speak to him for the obvious safety reasons and we got chatting, he was very interested and he'd never shot a bow before so I let him try a couple of shots, he was quite taken with it. Anyhow, I walked down the far end and shot with the wind (which was quite brisk), it also gave me the chance to see how the laser rangefinder worked sighting up on a telegraph pole (actually it's a power line pole... but whatever!) I got 176 yards, it didn't seem to make much difference which arrows I used, the rangefinder picked out the pole very well.
Back home I tried shooting at a white disc on my target (10 yards)... I could group the arrows, I could shoot all round it, couldn't hit the darned thing... is it the bow? I tried good old Twister, same thing... just one of those days and I'm out of practice. My Son joined me and we even tried drawing a smiley face on the disk, eventually we both hit it... I think we were using Monkey bow by then.
My basic problem was I was tense, my neck is a bit stiff and it was into overthink. Once I realised this I stopped trying, relaxed my stance, crouched over slightly, bounced slightly on the balls of my feet to feel balanced in the manner of a goalkeeper, just focused on the disc, drew and loosed... yup hit it.

I'd noticed the bow had taken a little set, (more in the upper limb) maybe because it's had so little time seasoning, it had maybe lost a pound or two draw weight but was still just over 40#.
I lightly strapped it up with some rubber strap, the tip being about 60mm out of straight, I heated the belly with the hot air gun (on low), not trying to heat treat it, just encouraging it to straighten and maybe ensure it was well seasoned ( I protected the edges with copious masking tape)  I worked the heat along the limb for about 10 minutes by which time the strapping had pulled it down to about 10mm. I strapped it down straight, gave it a few more minutes of heat and left it a few hours.
This morning it feels back to it's old self, although I noticed a few hairline cracks in the bark, I'll wax it some more, as it will be nice if it stays on although it's only cosmetic of course. I tried 3 shots, better but didn't hit it... I then remembered what I'd done last night and relaxed, settled into a comfortable stance, focused, draw loose... hit it.
While I was sorting the shelves I noticed two off-cuts of Hazel from when I roughed out Wonky Hazel, I checked the moisture content with my meter (which I rarely use) 15% which isn't much over what I'd expect for our climate on seasoned wood, this shows it has seasoned fairly well (12% is pretty much the norm) I can't test the actual bow as the meter relies on pushing it's pointed probe pins into the wood and I don't want a bow looking like a pin cushion.

If you want me to take the time and effort to explain more, you must take the time and effort to leave a comment saying which bit needs more explanation. Either that or send me a bottle of wine ;-)

Friday, 26 August 2016

Yew Logs & Cider

My mate Stuart who helped cut the big Yew log came over to help run it through the bandsaw, but before he came over I needed to clear away the apples I'd been collecting for my cider.
I've got 15L done the last 5 being a second pressing from the compressed "cake" left over from the first. The apples had been hanging around for a couple of weeks and I also collected a load that had fallen onto a cycle track, they were nicely bruised but hadn't started to rot. I think having aged them I got more juice, I also noticed they started fermenting very quickly, in fact the cake from the first pressing had a nice smell of cider before it got pressed the second time (I didn't need to add extra water to encourage extra juice). For those of you who worry about why there are 4 demijohns not 3. Three are cider and one of Gooseberry wine.

Having got the first batch of cider making out of the way I had room to trim the log. We took the worst half first and ran it through making two cuts along its length to give 3 staves, however there wasn't much heartwood and they were disappointing. For the good half we decided, better to just run it through once and get 2 good staves rather than risking more. They looked much better.
It was certainly a two man job, but I'll be able to manage them on my own from now on. We had a good old natter and I gave Stuart a couple of Osage off-cuts from the flight bow so he can have a go with it and enjoy the feel of it, there's enough to make a small native american bow.

This was yesterday evening and this afternoon I've tidied up the 3 bad staves and they are looking a bit better, at least one is usable and one will probably yield billets. It has little heartwood in the middle but plenty at the ends so it can be cut in half and turned ends to the middle.
It's a bit hot to do too much today, but I'll probably get the other halves trimmed so they can go up on the shelves.
Looking forward to shooting the Wonky Hazel on Sunday... whoops just noticed it's not this Sunday, it's the 4th of Sept' !.., I've burnt in a circular mark for the arrow pass and tied a nocking point on the string, seems to be shooting clean and true, dunno if I will tho'.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Wonky Hazel Finished

I had considered an arrow plate, or putting my bowyer's mark on it, but it's a primitive so I think I'll leave it unadorned, although I may brand in a dot to mark the arrow pass.
Back on the tiller to check the draw weight having shot in a few arrows bent it a tad at the grip and finished it off... midway between 40 and 45# at 28" perfect, I didn't really want 45# as I felt it was working rather hard.
I've taken some video of it actually being drawn to get realistic pictures, I've also tried to capture some of the character.
I'm pleased with the tiller, although maybe the tips could work more, but it's tricky due to the character in the limbs.
The lower limb looks stiffer, but if you hold a CD (other circular objects are also available) up to the picture and move it around to match the curve to the upper limb and then move it down to the lower limb they are very similar. The lower limb looks much shorter than the upper, in reality the upper is only 3/4" longer which is less than on many bows (see footnote), the top nock is a little longer due to the extra stringer groove which makes it look longer.
Click on the pics to bring 'em up full size.
The head on shot shows the wide limbs and the waggle nicely, also how canting a broad limbed bow allows a good view of the target.

 Footnote:- Traditionally/conventionally you have a 4" grip with the arrow pass 1" above the geometric centre. This means that 1" of the grip is above centre and 3" are below, making the lower limb 2" shorter than the upper.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Very Interesting!

The Wonky Hazel now has a string and it shoots where you point it...
But the arrows waggle viciously from side to side!?? (See pic, accurate, but arrows sticking in at odd angle.)
I increased the brace height and relieved the arrow pass a tad, no real difference.
I'd noticed that they flew smoother from a higher position where the grip swells back out towards the limb.
Maybe the arrow pass is too close to (or even beyond) centre shot?
In true scientific fashion, having formed a hypothesis we must test it.
I took a scrap of wood about 3/16" thick from the scrap pile and taped it onto the arrow pass with some masking tape. Perfect arrow flight! Hypothesis proved.
So what's the fix? As usual there are multiple possibilities.
1. Heat bend at the grip to correct the string line.
2. Glue on a sliver of Hazel to the side of the grip.
3. Add a thick chunk of Waterbuffalo horn as an arrow plate.
Well 2 and 3 are a rather poor last resort type fix, I'll jig it up for some steaming of the grip, same as last time (see pics) but a bit more.
Thinking about it, if I want to move the middle of the bow over by 3/16" then I need to move the tip over by twice that, 3/8" which is a fair shift when all the bend is at the relatively thick grip. I've jigged it up and filled the steamer right up with water so it's had about an hour steaming.I must resist the temptation to un-clamp it until tomorrow morning. Note:- In the pic above, once it had about half hour steam I tightened the clamp with the yellow jaws to pull the limb nearest the camera right across to the wooden jig.

Once again this illustrates the difference between a bow, and a good bow. Having had this minor set back it was nice to get an E-mail from a mate of mine for whom I'd made a new bamboo backed Yew longbow.
"...thank you for the bow which is without doubt the best I have ever owned.
It’s light to carry and being only 40lb at last I am anchoring properly but despite it lightness it’s as fast as  bows I have owned with heavier poundage."

Update:- When I unclamped the bow the tip had moved across about an inch and a half! Oh dear, have I over done it? No, give it an hour to relax and it's already moved back a good deal. I'll leave it all day and see where it finishes up. Heat bending can be V tricky, sometimes heat treating ( getting up to about 200 degrees C) will help fix a bend in place as it stiffens and hardens the wood.
Update 2:- 8 Hours later it seems to have stopped moving, I've strung and shot it, clean and true arrow flight.

Explain more... I'm not sure which bit, but I'll assume the arrow flight.
Without a high speed camera I can't be sure what's happening but I have my experience to go on, so I'll go through my thought process.
Here's the stuff I know

1. The string line was a bit to the left, known from having made the bow.
2. 45# @ 28" draw weight, length and brace height about 5".

3. experience tells me my arrows suit a bow of that draw weight, length and brace height so should fly straight.

Experience tells me that generally arrows waggle when they are too weak spine, the arrow pass is too far left (e.g The arrow has to bend a long way to get round the bow).
I normally find that moving the arrow pass towards the centre line and/or raising brace height improves things... it didn't this time.
I've found that over a lifetime in electronics design and in other things that sometimes the answer is in the opposite direction to what you expect! So I had the theory that the arrow pass was too close to centre rather than too far away. My experiment proved this to be the case.
But it begs the question how can it be too close? Surely centre shot is ideal? Well you'd think so, but modern target recurves have a pressure button to give fine adjustment and they are generally slightly less than centre shot.
Why? ... My guess is that as the string slips off the fingers and initiates some lateral movement the arrow is normally forced against the side of the bow, if it is cut away too far the arrow can come away from the side of the bow an there is no friction to damp out or constrain it's oscillation. Put simply, it has too much room to waggle!
This theory is supported by my observations with the flight bow a few weeks ago where I had two arrows smash during loose, the addition of some stiff bristles from a brush prevented it.

Hope that extra explanation is some help.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Wonky Hazel Full Draw

I put the horn nocks on, slimming the tips and went over the belly with the scraper to take out the tool marks. Had it brought it back any further? Nope!
Hmmm, I'd got the tiller looking really good and was reluctant to do much more work, but I went over it again with my fingers and eyes looking for thick or stiff spots, I looked at the pictures and the tiller again. A little light rasping with a cabinet rasp here and there mostly on the wonky lower limb and it came back a bit more... but then the right limb needed easing off. Back on the tiller and now it's near as dammit, mind the tiller can maybe still have a tweak! (I think the lower limb is always going to look a bit odd due to the wonkiness)
I'll maybe ease it down a tad on more on the right limb to fine tune it and bring the weight down a whisker. The spec' was 40-45# and it's a bit over at the moment so I a tiny bit of room for fiddling and fettling.
I've tried the CD test against the pic and it looks pretty good, I think the extra white wood on the left limb draws the eye and makes the tiller look odd, there is also a hint of deflex on the left tip. (Feel free to comment)

Doubtless, I could have heaved it back to 28" a couple of days ago, but with a risk of chrysalling the belly, it still would have been a shoot-able bow and indeed there is nothing to say that after 100 arrows it won't suddenly chrysal. That reminds me of when I was at the Tennessee Classic, a guy (who shall remain nameless to spare is embarrassment) was showing me a gorgeous bow that he'd made and it was well shot in. He suddenly stopped dead... he'd seen some chrysals, that hadn't been there the day before. I really felt for him as it spoiled a bow of that quality... but if one of your first bows, don't worry, get a bit of shooting out of it. Better to make an under weight bow with some set or chrysals than not to have made a bow at all. And don't worry even the best have bows that go wrong. Another time a chap was showing me a bow he'd had made by a reputable bowyer... I spotted a chrysal, fortunately the bowyer replaced it with no fuss.

The nocks need polishing and I'll make a decent string. I'm booked into a field shoot in 10 days, I'll probably take it round and see how it performs, get some pics of it in action too.

Note:- anyone who is extremely sharp eyed may notice the rule beneath the tiller has been adjusted slightly, that's because the grip is quite deep and my draw length measurements were about 1/4 " out. Yes it's a bit obsessive, but it takes attention to detail to play this game.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Hazel on the Tiller

I've taken off a little more and put it on the tiller to review it. The tiller was good, but in reducing the weight by removing wood from the bally and adjusting the width here and there it shifts.
You have to constantly check it on the tiller and be hyper critical. Even if it's reasonable, keep a watch out for potential trouble spots. I'm going to leave the inner end of the left (lower limb). I'll have a look along that limb as I'm flexing it and see if it is twisting as it is drawn and I'll ease off the inner yyof the right limb a bit (mid and maybe inner? Not sure, I'll use my eyes and fingers to decide...).
One thing I need to do is compare it with the unbraced bow, some "faults" may just be features in the limb. This process is very much hare and tortoise... "A thousand Quatloos on the tortoise"!

I haven't actually seen a change in draw length this time, but I've not taken much off. It's very much a "little and often" approach with constant tiller checks. You have to spot the problems before they are obvious, and you have to check that your small changes are making matters better rather than worse. It's very easy to work on the wrong limb or get carried away. The easy mistake is to work on one limb, stop for the night, then pick it up in the morning and work again on the same limb. So always check on the tiller before and after any work.
The devil is in the detail, if you make your tiller rig easy to use, it's easier to check.
I've included an annotated pic showing how I see it.
Update:- Work on the right limb ( and a tad off the left) has evened up the tiller and brought me back another inch of draw, 25" at 45# The bow is taking a hint of set now which is ok, I'd rather have a hint of set than chrysals or a smashed bow. The set also shows where it is working hard and shows that I need to bring the tips round. That sounds like it's time to fit decent nocks and really slim those tips.
Before doing that I decided to steam the grip to adjust the string line by about 1/2" at the tip, it should make the whole thing better balanced and sweeter.
I did check, the lower limb is coming back without twisting, it's just that the back isn't uniform and also as the limb narrows it shows more white wood and less bark.
Explain more:- Not really sure what is needed, but try holding a CD up to the picture of the bow. If you move it back and forth you can match up the right limb to the curve of the CD, If you try it with the left limb, it shows the weak point bending too much, or if you match the curve to that area of the limb, then the outer doesn't match and loos stiff.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Back to the Hazel

The Hazel has had another week to season a tad more and the wood feels good and crisp uner the rasp.
It's really starting to move now, I've cleaned the upper limb, filled a couple of knots and waxed the back to encourage the bark to stay on.
The knots weren't very solid on the belly side but didn't go right through to the back else I'd have cleaned 'em out and left them as character holes. I filled them with Yew dust and epoxy to match better with their original colour.
The lower limb is a tad stiff and I'm now working on bringing that round a bit more, the brace height has now been increased to about the final height. There is still plenty of draw weight, but I'm not pulling it too hard until I've evened up the limbs a bit more.
I'm on the home stretch now, but taking it very carefully to avoid chrysalling a limb.
Cleaning up near the grip reveals some pretty but subtle figure round the central pith of the stave, I think it's beginning to get more elegant as it progresses.

I've rasped a whisker off the lower limb and put it up on the tiller 45# at 21" so getting close now. I'll probably have it to full draw by the weekend, although I'll also be apple hunting for my cider!
Update:_ teased it back a bit more 45# at 24"
Hope to post some pics or video tomorrow showing near full draw.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Whew What a Scorcher

Went to the Medieval Society roving marks shoot yesterday in Norbury park in Surrey. Beautiful setting great company and superbly organised shoot despite their catering equipment being stolen the night before. They managed to find replacements at short notice, kept calm and carried on.

I shot the 60 pounder Yew hunting longbow which served to finish its shooting in. It performed well, but was hard work by the end of the day... mind I should hardly complain when there were those shooting 100# and over.
The weather was pretty hot despite the forecast saying overcast so my forearms and face are a nice shade of red this morning and I have a pale stripe across my forehead from the reversed baseball cap!
The were some very tricky shots over distances from about 100 - 210 yards which were difficult to judge, I only scored on one mark where I was aiming near vertical, the arrow was in the air so long we had time for a drinks break before it landed.
Sorry no pics as I limited what I was carrying to keep the weight down.
I travelled with my mate JT, which was good as it kept the driving down... shattered by the time I got home but a quick shower and a roast dinner soon fixed me up. The shoulders were a bit sore, an asprin and an early night has left me remarkably bright and breezy this morning and feeling very limber.

It was great to meet up with old friends and particularly to have a chat with Chris Boyton and show him the Osage flight bow for comment. I said I might slim the tips a bit more and he commented " There's always wood to be removed from tips" which I rather liked. I also showed him some of the patches on bows (several of mine, and many of his, were being shot) particularly a belly patch on the 130# Warbow which was to protect a pinch. "I do that" was his response which I found very encouraging.
I'd recently seen a very disparaging remark from a bowyer who was criticising such work and proudly saying how he only uses perfect staves. He really needs to get out more! Some of Chris Boyton's bows were from superb staves, but there were also plenty of character bows incorporating dramatic knots missing from the side of the bow and roller coaster undulations.
So if you are trying your hand at making a bow and you meet a problem, don't just saw the bow into firewood, try to find a fix or a save, it's how we learn and don't be afraid of imperfect wood.
If you insist on waiting for the perfect Yew stave, you may never make a bow.

In the heat of the afternoon, I got drawn into a slightly heated discussion with a guy shooting a 100# bow who claimed it shot flat at 90 yards. I explained that an arrow drops about 8" over a 10 yard flight! After some explanation and order of magnitude maths, it transpired he meant the point blank range (point on distance) was 90 yards. He then started to explain to me what point blank range meant... I had to laugh and say I did actually understand this stuff. It ended in a good natured manner. But it does illustrate how careful we need to be our words else we end up with people who think modern target bows have paradox and point blank range is zero.

Thanks to all at Med' Soc' for a great day!
There, I've added a pic to cheer you all up... courgettes from the garden at last... yum!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

New Distance PB :-)

I made up a couple of flight arrows yesterday and tried 'em from the Osage flight bow in the evening, my first shots were a bit tentative, and the best was only 267 yards. I had another go with a much firmer left arm and a crisp loose as I drew the last inch. 307 yards as measured with a laser rangefinder.
I was really chuffed, mind to be fair there was a tail wind, but I think there is more to get from the bow. The arrows were 5/16 diameter cedar shafts of the highest spine I could buy which have been fairly heavily barrelled (266 and 325 grain ) If I can go smaller diameter and say 250 grain with reduced fletchings, I should get a bit more. The nocks where slightly tight too as it was all done in a rush.
The arrow flight was good, but I lost sight of them near the top, there was a hint of porpoising, but no visible waggle. Adjusting the nocking point should cure the porpoising.
Off to a roving marks shoot tomorrow with the Medieval Society, I'll be meeting up with some old friends so it should be fun.

The top pic shows how Osage ages to a darker colour from the bright Yellow when it is first worked. The bow on the right was used as a reference to give me some idea of dimensions. The little shorty was made from an offcut and makes a fun demo bow, showing how much power you can get from an apparently innocuous little stick.
The pic of the tips shows how those of the flight bow are much slimmer. The temporary Hickory nocks got tidied up and have remained.
Bottom pic shows the slight cut away and shelf lined with leather suede side out. The shelf may get enlarged, but it seems to give good arrow flight at the moment.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Osage Flight Bow V Close

I've heat bent some deflex, heating at the fades and improved the curve of the tips, but then the string line was out, I think it had shifted where I'd heated it so near to the grip. Clamping it up carefully and doing another correction has got it back again. The moral is, you can't have too many clamps and you should spend as much time jigging up a bend as actually heating it. I've posted a pic of the clamping arrangement for the tip bend which also took out a little kink from the early tip alignment bend.
Other pic shows unbraced which is looking quite pretty, but note I've gone fairly subtle on the deflex and reflex. The drawn pic is about 65# at 22" so that's damn close. I'm going over it cleaning up, checking the thickness for thick points and rounding the edges, then I'll take it to 24".
I'm not having a cut away arrow pass and shelf, but I may do that later on once I've tried it.

Cleaned it up, borrowed the string from the previous flight bow and tried it with my regular field arrows (5/16" about 400gn). Damn hard to draw it initially until I got the feel, It's like the start of a warbow draw (it interpolates to about 90# at 32" which I can just about manage, and that's why I chose this weight). It's fast but it fractured the arrow... fortunately my son spotted it as I was asking him to video me shooting... lucky escape from arrow embedded into left hand.
So I cut a small shelf to minimise paradox and thus arrow flex, then I tried one of my 11/32" 490grain arrows. V smooth and very hard hitting. It also hit home straight and true, roughly where I was aiming.
BTW. I marked the arrows at 24" with masking tape, as a draw length indicator.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Not Much Room Inside

Blimey the seasons are moving on apace. My neighbour's apple tree is one of the first to start dropping fruit, they leave the windfalls on our front porch and I give 'em a litre of last years cider. I've got the apples stored on the garage floor on an old bamboo roll up blind, add in the Yew I have on the floor and I'm running out of room. I don't think it will be a big apple harvest this year due to the late frosts.

I've pressed on with the Osage flight bow and it's beginning to flex. The string line is good, I'm a bit scared of it, It's not braced yet and I've only pulled it to 55#... now from my own advice I know that if you want a 70# bow, you have to pull it to 70#... I don't want to end up with a 55# bow, but I also don't want to over-stress it until the tiller is looking good.
You can see from the pic the tips are back just about far enough to brace it, so I should give it a careful try at a low brace.
Maybe I'll heat in a little deflex at the fades and recurve the tips a bit more.

The problem is, I don't want to use all the bend up just bracing the bow, but conversely, that's the way to get a flatter force draw curve. Bottom line is... it's all guesswork. If I end up with the nocks about in line with the back of the bow and a reflex/deflex shape that will do fine.

To put it simply and to exagerate slightly:-
Do you have very thick stiff limbs deflexed back to almost brace height so the early draw weight is low, but it ramps up very sharply and the limbs don't actually have to bend back very far to reach full draw. Or do you have thinner softer limbs with a lot of reflex which takes a good poundage to get braced and the early draw weight is high and it comes up smoother and slower... BUT the limbs actually bend a much greater distance from unbraced to full draw?
Obviously with modern materials you can go for the latter, with natural materials it's less straightforward and to be blunt the maths/physics is verging on the impossible. Even those who have analysed this stuff rely on vast simplifications, and those who try to explain it in layman's terms are often somewhat confused. Just try to explain or understand exactly how reflex achieves an improvement, and why. Is it an improved force draw curve? A better acceleration profile? Is it due to change of string angle or an effective shortening of the limbs as the string makes contact?I know enough to recognise I have no idea and I just go by gut feel and watching the wood.

Update:- I've evened up the right limb a tad, had it on a low brace and back to 60#. Then I clamped it up to heat treat in a little deflex. I'm following my old adage of doing about half as much as I think I should.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Working on some Osage

The Hazel is having a few days rest to help seasoning any freshly exposed wood, meanwhile, on the Osage...
I've followed a growth ring on the back and decided to go for a shortish flight bow about 70# at 24".
Just to get some sort of reference I took my only full sized Osage bow  (45# at 28") over to the flight field and let rip, it sent one of my regular arrow 197 yards and a flight arrow 206 yards.
Osage is pretty heavy, so I'm hoping to do a design with nice slim tips to minimise the moving mass, maybe with some deflex to help get it strung and maybe some reflex or flipped tips for some punch. I've cut it to 58" long to avoid some of the bend and waggle at the end of the stave.
The big problem is a lateral bend in the stave... it will be too stiff to try and bend it at the grip, unless I leave it until the grip is narrowed, but even then bending at the grip is tricky as it takes very little angular bend to make a big difference, also bend tends to spring back, so it's very hit and miss.
I'm messing with the Osage.
I had a cunning plan which was to ignore the last 5" or so of each limb which will be a slim tip/lever, lay the bow out straight and the n fit the tips in along the line of the wood and heat bend 'em into line.
Now that probably doesn't make sense, do I've done a pic.
I did wonder if this idea was totally bonkers, but I'm posting it on Primitive Archer as it progresses and the guys there agreed that it was a sensible game plan, which is very reassuring.
Note I've left the tip wide to encourage the bend to happen where I want it. Also the centre line is still a tad off centre, but it is biased towards the arrow pass. There is no truth in the rumour that I originally marked it out biased the wrong way round and had to lop 1" off one limb... another reason for always cutting a bow 1" longer each end than you want !

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Hazel Osage and Decking

I've been pretty busy with all sorts. I did the arrow pass on the 60# Yew, it needs a few coats of Danish Oil and a few more arrows through it, I may take it to a Medieval Society roving marks shoot next weekend, that would get the shooting in nicely finished.

I've done more to the Hazel and got it to a low brace. I rather jumped onto doing the hazel and ignored some of my own advice ... I cut the grip in slightly and I'm now struggling a tad with the string line... mind it was always going to be problematic with that dogleg in the lower limb. I can feel the wood is seasoning nicely, it's feeling drier under the edged tools and where it's tearing a bit round some of the knots I can feel it crisp under the rasp. With this sort of stave it's very touchy feely with plenty of looking to see where the stiff spots and weak spots are, it's certainly not a make it by numbers job. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to help the string line, but I know from experience, trying to steam or heat bend at the grip is very tricky as the wood is thick and a it's only a tiny bend that's needed.
What I can do is to take 1" off each tip, this takes is down to where the limb is a bit wider and thus gives me a little extra width to shift the nock across. There are even extreme options like splicing in short levers.

I know some people are keeping an eye on this bow so I'll try to post some good detail. I've pulled it to 40# from a low brace, I thought I'd put it back on the long string and take a pic at 40# so you can see the difference it makes going to low brace (ignore the tilt in the bow in the second pic and the slight change in scale... it's hard to zoom in the same each time, I was doing it quickly).
One pic shows a knot which has a lot of tiny pins within it, on the belly the wood was tearing a bit and I used a rasp rather than the spoke shave. It looked a bit like there was a pinch or a crack, but cleaning it up revealed a row of tiny pins, I've left a hint of extra width there, but it's really down to seeing how the limb bends (Other pic shows L for "leave" marked on a slightly weak area)... a bulky knot may be a stiff spot or a potential failure point, it's down to gradually working down the thickness and the width to get an even bend... if you rush it you can easily get a hinge and a chrysal. That happened on the last Hazel primitive I did, but I patched it and it ended up being a lovely bow.
Here's a brief video, showing the progress:-

I've made a start on the Osage stave I was given back in 2014 at the Tennessee Classic by Clint "Osage Outlaw" on Primitive Archer, this stave was from a monster Osage tree. I wasn't sure what to do with the stave and I'm still not certain but I've at least chased a growth ring along the stave to give me a clean back. My options are all a sort of take on an English longbow, but they vary from a flight bow (70# at 24") to a Warbow (90# at 28") or even adding some deflex reflex whist meeting the ILAA specification for a longbow.
I'll be mulling it over while I help the wife and cat do some work in the garden, re-furbishing and extending a patio area just outside the double patio doors, to improve wheelchair access to the garden... the cat's help has been mostly to roll around in the soil.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Hazel Primitive

I'm always blethering on about how the best way to start making bows is with a Hazel stave, and how you can season it quickly if it's reduced in size.
Well, I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is, but just to make it interesting I'm using a wonky or "character" stave. I also decided to make it for a friend who had a bow from me a while back, she's a health care professional (to use the current terminology) and has a penchant for buying bows most of which are modern things (and pink!). She's into all forms of archery, and very enthusiastic, so I thought I'd indoctrinate her into the joys of a Primitive style bow for field shooting.

Now seeing as how I volunteered myself for this build I thought it would be nice to donate any money we decide the bow is worth to a charity that she supports.
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)
Anyhow I'm jumping the gun... the bow may not turn out... but here are some pics.
It was cut on the 9th of June  so it's not even had a full month yet, mind it was roughed down soon after being cut and stored somewhere warm and draughty.
It's just flexing a little at 40# on a taut string. I'm aiming for 40-45# at 28" and at the moment, I have some doubt about the string line and the fact that it barely flexes... but I have to trust my instincts.

I don't know if the bark will stay on the bow as the stave was cut in the summer. Note there is a sort of concave area on the back, half way up the lower limb (top left pic) that should be interesting!