Thursday, 11 May 2017

Back to it

I've started roughing out a pair of sister staves (two halves of the same log). It's a joy to work with Yew especially with a freshly sharpened draw knife, it cuts like cheddar cheese!
We've been a bit distracted with taking Emily cat to the vet to have her tail docked, (it had no feeling or movement) she goes a bit hyperactive after anaesthetic but has calmed down now. She has to stay in for about 10 days and wear a collar, that's driving her crazy, but we take the collar off so she can eat and wash herself . We have to keep a very close watch in case she tries to bite or lick the wound, fortunately she's leaving it alone, but can have a good wash. Her shaved bum and stubby tail aren't things of great beauty, once the fur has grown back she'll let me post a pic of her sporting her bob tail.

The pictures show some of the issues with cutting a log.
It had one big branch coming out the side, so I sawed the log through that branch so it will be on the side of each half and almost disappear in the finished bows. The pic on the right shows how the knot will end up at the arrow pass as an interesting feature.
The down side of that is that the staves have a sideways curve, and laying out a straight line is a bit of a compromise. The pic on the right shows how I've tried to get another smaller knot positioned so it will be mid limb.
When people ask how long does it take to make a bow it's easy to forget how long one spends just deciding where to saw through a log to get two halves.

The other common question is how long does a bow last?
Well, Paul Bailey one of the best field archers in the country shoots a Yew Primitive that I made for him so I asked him roughly how many arrows he shoots in a week. he said on a 40 target course, including practice it's probably about 80 shots, or 100 if he goes to his club woods.
That totals 180-200 a week in total with practice. Call it 10,000 over a 50 week year. The bow is still shooting as good as new with no string follow after 3 years.
So 30.000 shots and still good, mind being a primitive (wide flat limbs) it is maybe a lower stress design than say a longbow. It's also being cherished and used by a top archer so it's behaving itself! ;-)


  1. Will you try to straighten the sideways curve or lay it out straight and damn the grain?

  2. Hi,
    I've laid it out straight as per the string in the picture. It's only a very shallow angle grain wise, the down side is that is effectively on the twist as it's not central on the semicircular end of the log. I may take the twist out with heat, it's easier to take out twist than to do a sideways bend on a wide flat limb.