Thursday, 30 June 2016

BBY Nearly There

I've got the horn nocks on, but not buffed up yet, the tips are V slim. It's pulling about 42# at 26" now and I'm just going over it checking for any thick spots, taking the nodes on the bamboo down a bit more and evening out the bend that last little bit.
In the pic you may see a V slight stiff spot on the right limb about 2/3 of the way along, there's a fleck of white on the wall just past the stiff spot, I checked with calipers and as I slid them along the limb, I could see it was a whisker thicker there. the left limb is still a hint stiff and I'll get the inner third eased off a tad, a light stroke with the  rasp and then scrape out the marks.
I want the tips unwinding to straight at full draw and a hint of movement over the inner limbs. With recurved tips it can look like all the bend is mid limb, this where looking along the limb as it's being flexed can help... maybe I'll try and video that, dunno if the camera will focus back and forth along the limb like your eye can.
One nice detail I'm hoping to do, is to use the arrow plate from his smashed bow on this replacement, sort of maintain some continuity.
Hopefully I'll get it finished over the weekend and then I'll start on a Yew longbow for the guy that sent me the Yew up from Wales.
I've made a string and tried 5 shots to settle it in.... oooh it's fast, really spitting 'em out. they go where I point it too. (well 3 out of 5)

Monday, 27 June 2016

BBY Improving the Tiller

I've taken an inch of each tip, narrowed the tips and eased off the stiff areas. The tiller is looking better so I've put the initial video and one I've just taken together to show the change.
Of course the work was done in stages and the result each time checked on the tiller, but the gradual improvements were rather subtle. Now a fair bit has been done you can see the change. There is still some work to do, but's now at 40# at about 23" so I have some leeway (I'm aiming for ~42# at 28").

Here's the video:-
Note, back of the bow is still protected with masking tape, scraping the rind off the 'boo and taking the nodes down further is one of the final things I do after fitting the nocks. (the nocks are just temporary ones at the moment)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

'Boo backed Yew up on the tiller

I've got it on the tiller at a low brace with the stiffer limb as the lower one (to the left).
I'll probably take an inch of each tip (I'd allowed for that when gluing up) as it has a bit more reflex than I wanted. The tips aren't working muchl yet, but that's to be expected as they haven't been narrowed and I tend to tiller out from the centre. E.G. get the centre flexing first and work outwards, bringing the mid limbs and tips round.
You can see the left limb is too strong and the right inner/mid limb is doing most of the work.

Had a good shoot yesterday at Celtic Harmony, the Ray Guy memorial shoot, a friendly contest between Celtic and Cloth of Gold (Ray was a member of both clubs). We were lucky with the weather as despite hearing rolling thunder we escaped with just a few spots of rain. I was in a group all shooting longbows. Rose, Ann, Alan and Rob it was good company and we all had some good first arrow kills and the odd blank.
I was getting a bit leg weary by the end but woke this morning feeling looser and fitter than I have for a while. I think Emily the kitten is also a contributory as grovelling around of the floor playing cat games keeps the joints moving. She's developed a penchant for fighting my foot-ware and trying to crawl up my trouser legs :-)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Boo Backing Glued and a New Cat!

Emily the kitten (about 4-5months old) came yesterday evening, she's very self confident and has been exploring the house and running amok all morning.
She wore us all out and then slept most of the afternoon.

I marked out the Boo backed Yew bow to a fairy generous shape, 30mm wide at the grip out to about 10" either side, then tapering to 20mm at the tips.
Then I planed down the Bamboo back and got it glued up so that it will cured for tomorrow. It's clamped up with a bit of deflex reflex, but once finished it will probably only be a subtle hint. You can see from the quantity of shavings that most of a bamboo strip ends up on the floor! A good sharp blade on the plane makes it a pleasant task taking off satisfying curls .

Monday, 20 June 2016

Rain and some Heat bending

It's been stonking down all day so I've spent a bit of time getting the limbs for Boo backed Yew longbow looking a bit more even and better matched. The former is a scrap of ply that I'd used before, I adjusted the shape a bit to suit.
You can see I'm trying to be sympathetic to the original shape of the limbs.
The bow is going to have a hint of deflex reflex but not enough to stop it being considered an English Longbow.
The billets are now glued up, I'll look at trimming them to rough bow shape tomorrow, I'll leave a good margin of error, probably rough it out to about 30mm wide at the grip and 20mm at the tips. I'll check the face where the boo will glue is all on a plane and clean and flat. Then it's down to planing up some bamboo.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Flying Visit

The guy I'd made the 80# @ 29" Warbow came to collect it with his brother.
It was a bit of a rush as they were running late. He had a few shots with it and looked very comfortable, getting to 28" no problem. Doubtless when warmed up with longer arrows he'll get it even further. I showed him a couple of bows and he had 3 arrows with 'Twister'... I had a paper cut out rabbit target on the boss and he hit it plumb centre with one shot, a testament to both him and the bow.
I gave him a jar of Lord Sheraton's polish which was about 2/3 empty and a 29" flight arrow as an extra.
It wasn't until he'd rushed off that I realised the flight arrow may not fit on the string... if it's tight it could split the nock!!! I wrote a quick E-mail to warn him to check it before trying it out, and to open out the nock a tad with a round needle file if necessary.
It was shame they didn't have time for the full tour, but I think they had a long journey ahead of them.
mean while I've been tidying up the billets and splice for the Boo backed Yew and generally having a lazy fathers day. I've got beers and the promise of pizza while watching the football tomorrow night (England vs Slovakia in Euro 2016)... some home made jam tarts too.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Starting a Boo backed Yew

I've just about had enough of arrows, but I need to get some repaired for a shoot next weekend. I've put new points of 4 where they'd snapped off full length (28") arrows, they will now be part of my 27" set. Three that had worse damage have had a few inches spliced onto the end, they'll be ready for new point tomorrow (I use 24 hour epoxy for the splices).
A while back I'd sorted out some of my billets and roughed out some possibles for a boo backed Yew for a friend of mine. I've done a bit more cutting the splice and thinning one billet to remove some some manky wood round a knot.
I was going a bit stir crazy being indoors most of the day so I popped out for a bit of a walk along the river bank, it was a tad chilly but I saw some good critters which cheered me up. Kingfisher, adolescent moorhens, ducklings, rabbits. The kingfisher is always spectacular with a big flash of bright blue as it drops and flies off just above the water.

The bottom pic shows the billets put together with a bit of natural deflex reflex. They will be thinned and a bit with heat, maybe even heat treated before being glued up.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Flight Arrow Nocks

The old skirting board seems pretty good for flight arrows, they are thin and stiff, almost as thin as the bamboo, straighter too.
I do the nocks by sawing a slot and letting in a sliver of horn, two flats are filed on tapering to the tip giving just enough width for the string to bear on. Two wings of horn added, these are blended in and then whipped with fine linen thread soaked in low viscosity cyanoacrylate (superglue). It's then sanded down and wiped with epoxy.
You can see I'm refining it and getting the nock slimmer and tidier so it's almost the same diameter as the end of the shaft.
The guy who I'm making these for has just told me he wants four not three, I've got a spare shaft that has a bit of a thin spot in the middle so I've sanded it out flat and glued in a patch. While I had some glue mixed I noticed that the thin off-cuts from when I sawed them out, were about half thickness, so I've glued two of them together as a laminated arrow shaft! Dunno how it will turn out, but with the grain running in slightly different directions maybe it will be more uniform and stable... anyhow, it's an interesting no cost experiment.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Random Stuff

I had an E-mail from the guy who shipped the Yew up from Wales, he'd seen the previous post and said the rotten Yew had been cut from the tree in that state. I can easily believe that as there's an apple tree near me that has lovely dark red apples which are a nice addition to my cider in the Autumn. A few months back I'd noticed it was leaning right over almost on the ground, I'd assumed one of the people who park next to it had rammed it, but on close inspection the trunk was about 80% rotten and cracked with no bark and it had probably fallen in the high winds we'd had. There's still a thin strip of bark keeping it going and it has since bloomed and the fruit is setting, so I'm hopeful my cider will still get it's contribution from the tree.
Talking of booze, I've just done my Summer batch of Hoppy Copper Bitter from Wilko, its just a beer kit, £8 and a bag of Demerara sugar and that makes 5 gallons. Lifting a bucket with 5 gallons of beer onto a shelf at waist level takes a little care to avoid ricking one's back.
While I was sorting out the shelf where I keep my wine, cider and beer I noticed at the back a 5L plastic bottle of wine which hasn't been bottled up yet, probably Rhubarb and Sultana, woo result!

On a more archery related topic, I'm still messing with trying to make a decent flight arrow. I had an off cut of well seasoned Yew which was pretty clean and straight so I spent about half an hour running it through the bandsaw and belt sander to make a rough 3/8" shaft. Testing it for spine it turned out to be substantially softer than the Cedar, Maple and Ash shafts... oh well never mind.
Although I have some old pine skirting board circa 1960 stored up on my ladders under the ceiling of the garage, that might be worth a go. Just in case you're wondering why I kept the old skirting, it was because it will match up to some of the other stuff in the house if necessary... much more useful for arrow shafts though!

I noticed on the previous post the 'explain more' box has been ticked. I'm not sure what needs further explanation, but if someone leaves a comment, I'll do my best to elaborate.
Ha, a comment has been left asking for pics of the shorter log, so I've added a couple. You can se I've sawn it through that big side branch, such that it will probably fall off the edge of the bow, and will be at the grip anyway, so should n't be a problem. The alternative id to saw the log to give one clean half and have that branch coming out dead centre of the other half making it just about unusable.
the log is a bit short, about 69" so it will probably make primitives, they will be about 62-64" long that will give some room to put the knot where I want it in the grip.
69" will make a longbow but it's getting a bit short, and this log just says primitive to me as it's fairly wide. Not wide enough for two longbows though, mind it's deceptive, you'd think there were two longbows there but of course the edges of the log haven't got any thickness. If you draw a semicircle and try to mark out two longbows, you'll see what I mean.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Pleasantly Tired this Morning

I got some decent exercise yesterday, I went out and cut a couple of Hazel logs. I'd been threatening to do it for ages, but I thought, I'd better get out there and do it else I'll have no Hazel for next year, and I've sort of promised a primitive Hazel bow for a friend.
It was harder work than I expected as the limbs are threaded up through the tree so you can't be certain how their weight will bear down and try to jam the saw.
Did that bit of flight shooting too, only 9 arrows from an 80# bow but I really stretched out to try and get 32" (my left shoulder feels it this morning) also fair bit of walking too and fro. I was good and tired but feel better for it this morning.

I'd noticed my lathe was producing a finish akin to a burnt sausage, also that it was tight at one end of the travel. I did some searching online and found a good pdf about overhauling a lathe, coupled with what I've learned by using it, I set to and tuned it up. The main ways were slightly worn where the carriage is normally operated and tight at the ends. I didn't use a lot of fancy measurement techniques, just some common sense and a good deal of patience and care. Just like tillering a bow, do a little and check it. A little gentle work with an oil stone just eased off the unworn areas and now it's much more even along the length, I could probably have done more, but didn't want to risk spoiling what I'd achieved. I tightened/adjusted up everything and it's giving a much better cut now.

I'll put a new coarse blade on the bandsaw today and process some of my logs.
Bugger, the shortest log would easily make two lovely primitives and maybe some offcuts for arrow shafts... if it wasn't rotten. Looks like it had been lying on the woodland floor or somewhere wet before it was collected, or maybe stood up end on on a damp/wet floor. If you click on the pics you can clearly see the rot, and I could easily push that screwdriver into it.
The second log is much better, there's an interesting feature at the top end where the log forked with a lot of manky stuff quite deep into the wood, some dark patches further down too, but I don't think it's rot. The other end is a bit suspect and I've sawn about 3" off to try to get to clean looking wood, my gut feeling on it isn't very good, but hopefully being in favourable conditions it will start to dry properly and the rot will stop.

Just for the record, to season wood it needs to be off the ground and under cover with plenty of free air movement around it NOT with a tarpaulin draped over it which will trap the moisture. If logs are stacked, they want thin offcuts between the layers to allow air circulation. Air circulation is more important than warmth. Painting the ends is good. I've heard people say it's not necessary, but the Hazel I cut yesterday had already started a radial split from the centre at the ends just 24 hours later... draw your own conclusions.

I've got the Yew and the Hazel, sawn and painted. I'll get it up on my shelves tomorow when the PVA is dry.
I won't bore you rigid by posting pics of every log!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A Cautionary Tale

I've just finished a 32" flight arrow with parchment fletches. I thought I'd test it using my only 32" draw bow and another couple of similar weight flight arrows.

I drove to a playing field which is big enough for 2 cricket pitches (almost 1/4 mile long.)
There is one bloke jogging round and it's a completely clear view... or is it?
I got my bow ready and checked, yes still clear, but in the centre of the field are some cricket nets, well I can see through them, there are also two cricket sight screens. Well if anyone was walking behind them, I'd have seen them come out by now.
Ah, but every man is his own safety officer, so I moved 50 yards to one side, and sure enough 4 young kids were now visible playing and walking their dog! (I was there at 2pm on a school day specifically to minimise the chance of kids being there).
My blood ran cold as that's exactly where my arrows subsequently landed.
Is it ever safe to take a blind shot?
No... simple as that.

I waited for the kids to go and the jogger to be at my end of the field, effectively behind an imaginary shooting line.

The sub title for this post is:-
Why serious flight shooters build shooting machines.
With 3 arrows, shooting each 3 times I got inconsistent results.
Not enough data and too many variables. I didn't take accurate measurements as I was only interested in the relative distances.
If the arrows are B (for 'boo), P (for parchment fletches) and C (for cedar). In order of distance they were.
Shot 1:-  P, then 4 yards on C, then 17 yards further on B
Shot 2:- C, then 3 yards on B, then 9 yards further on P
Shot 3:- C, then 5 yards on P, then a real flyer 16 yards further on B

Make of that what you will.
The thing I really noticed is that 32" is beyond a controlled draw for me even at 80#, it's not the poundage but the draw length.
I s'pose the logical test is to fletch B with parchment too.
The main differences in the arrows are B is smaller diameter. B has a balance point only just forward of centre and is the heaviest.
B=530 grain
C=595 grain
P=612 grain

Interesting to note that the 'boo is both lightest and smallest diameter. Some organisations (ILAA) don't allow 'boo flight arrows, all a bit random and arbitrary, but I s'pose 'boo isn't in keeping with ELBs or Warbows.
The longest shot was about 260 yards, it shows that the loose is very important when all other things are similar and can may 20 yards difference easily.
Should I go and make a shooting machine?

Anyhow that's it for now, stay safe, I'm so glad I took that extra look.

The parchment fletchings stayed on fine and didn't scrape my shooting hand at all. With a Warbow or ELB the nocking point on the string is usually about 1/4" above the point where the arrow would be at 90 degrees to the string (braced) this helps the fletchings to clear the hand. For flight shooting, this should probably be reduced, or a bit of bristly hide added to the shooting glove to provide what is a soft rest for the arrow. I don't know if this would be frowned upon by the ILAA and I can't be bothered to pore over the rules.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Bits and Pieces

I've been finishing off the 80 pounder which I'd been working on back in early may. The guy is going to collect it later this month. I advised he have an arrow plate if he's going to shoot heavy arrows with whipped fletchings as the whipping rips the wood. I did a fairly substantial but discreet one in pale horn, the bow has had a few coats of danish oil on it and is looking very handsome. You can see the splice showing in the pic, it's the heaviest spliced bow I've made, but it has plenty of meat at the grip to give it a good warbow look.

I had a guy send me some Yew logs up from Wales, they look pretty good, I hope to cut them into staves at the weekend so I can have a better look at the wood. I'll be making him a bow.
Another chap E-mailed me with an odd tale of the string popping a bow I made back in 2012. He dropped the bow in for me to have a look at. The problem was mostly the string loops having opened up, but the nocks were a rather odd shape which didn't help. I reshaped the nocks and re-did the serving on the Y of the loops. That should keep it in order for another few years.

I've also been tinkering about some more with the flight arrows, I got some bits of parchment from a friend and was wondering how to fit parchment flights. A slot cut in the shaft should help so I dug out a little mini drill that had belonged to my Father in law (it will run off a 12v battery) I bought some little cutting disks of the internet and by mounting 2 on the mandrel it should cut a nice slot. To cut it nice and straight I made a holder to mount on the lathe from an old hose clip and a scrap of wood. Here we are, slot cut to a nicety.
Dunno how I'll test this arrow, but maybe I'll shoot it from a lower power bow, (80# @32" ) and compare it with one of my other flight arrows. There are a couple of places where it will be quiet first thing in the morning and a quick two arrow test shouldn't be noticed by the local constabulary. The long par 5 on the local golf course is nice and straight (just kidding!).

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Holiday Yew Spotting

We had a family break in Norfolk, the weather was cold and windy but we made the best of it and had a good time.
Top pic shows Felixtowe docks across the River Orwell from the farm where we were staying.
On the farm there was a Yew tree tucked in amongst a small copse, basically it was two trunks, one of which was about 10" diameter and straight for about 7-8 feet. I spoke to the lady who ran the barn/cottage where we stayed and she wasn't averse to me harvesting it. It will be a bit of a drive and a two man job, but you don't get ow't for now't. I explained I'd cut it by hand to minimise disturbance and offered a reasonable payment.
On our drive back we stopped at Welney wetland centre near Ely and saw a great variety of birds including a Mash Harrier. There was even a Swallow nesting inside one of the hides. It was the best place we've been to for bird spotting, very accessible with a great cafe where you can overlook one of the lagoons and the bird feeders in comfort. There was another vast hide/study centre, with vast windows, books and comfy seating. It was warm and fully wheelchair accessible.
We also visited Sutton Hoo and and Owl sanctuary which was was V enjoyable despite the weather.