Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Damn it Exploded

I'm rather fed up as the bow was looking really good and wasn't far off full draw. I was studying the tiller flexing it back and forth, I wanted to take it a tad over 45# just to see where it was flexing and how close I was to 28". After all it had been pulled to 50# before.
BANG... Predictably it went at one of the feature knots, but the break/split spread along most of the limb, so it was all rather stressed.

In an effort to learn as much as possible about the break, I sawed through the limb just the grip side of the break, it shows the cross section is good with a nice proportion of sapwood, although there is some blue discolouration in the sapwood and on the heart/sap boundary (see dark streaks where it has split in the bottom pic)

One has to be philosophical. At least it didn't break in the hand at full draw, but it's a little upsetting after the amount of painstaking work I'd put in. That's why character bows are so highly prized, they look good and are rare due to the difficulty of creating them.
On the plus side, the spliced tips didn't break and the grip and lower limb are ok so maybe they can become a novelty Frankenbow at some point spliced onto a longbow limb or something.
I'll have to tell the guy I was making
it for that he won't be getting a bow... mind he's not lost anything, although I'm sure he'll be disappointing.
Dunno what I'll pick up next and when... maybe something simpler!

Monday, 28 November 2016

24" Draw and Closing...

The character primitive is getting very close now, the lower limb is bending more in it's outer 1/3 and I've been cleaning up the belly with a scraper.

The big feature knot hole area is still a tad stiff, but I wondered how sound it is on the belly, after all the hole goes in very deep from the back and I've taken a good bit off the belly. I did some gentle probing and sure enough there was very little wood there.
The big question is do I open it out an leave it as a feature hole or do I fill it on the belly side down to about half the limb dept to prevent it crushing an pinching? I'll probably fill it. Feature holes in Osage are quite common but it's a much denser wood and I'd rather err on the side of security than style.
The work I've done on the back is paying dividends as it is beginning to look really good now, photos rarely do a bow justice, so I'll wait until it's finally finished before trying to show it off.
Mean while here's a pic showing working on the belly and the feature knot.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Getting There

I'm making good progress now and the Yew primitive character bow is really looking and feeling like a bow.
It's at a decent brace height (not quite full brace) and I've been going over it feeling for thick spots and easing off round the knots, tidying up the back and when the bend is even I've been rasping evenly along the belly to bring down the weight a bit at a time. I've been narrowing it slightly and rounding the edges too, allowing the odd small knot to get rasped off the edge.
It's pulling 50# at about 22" now, so getting pretty close, time to slow down a bit more and to really look at the finish and detail as I continue teasing it back.
You may see in the pics that the right limb is bending more, (that's the one I've just been working on) and the left is stiff in the outer 1/3 so I need to ease off the left a bit now. It's important to maintain the tiller as it's teased back the last few inches, and you have to remember that the the last 6" of draw only amounts to 2" of extra tip deflection, so it has to be right now, if it's to be right at full draw.
It really shows the value of taking video and and then looking at the still, I hadn't noticed the stiff outer on the left limb until I saw the picture. You can't beat being able to sit back and have a good look, as you don't want to be holding a bow at full weight for any longer than necessary especially if it isn't fully tillered.
I sometimes think maybe I maybe get too fussy too early, but experience tells me if you try to rough it out too close to final dimensions and try to rush the early work, it can all run away with you and you end up under weight.
It's not a race, little and often, slow and steady.
I've just been easing off the belly of that left limb tip, there's a pair of knots showing on the belly which looked fairly solid, but as I rasped down I could see a slight black line round one of them, as I picked at it with my sharpened needle file it just crumbled away opening up to form a hole which goes right through to a pin prick hole in the back. I've cleaned it out and filled it with Yew dust/epoxy mix. It just goes to show that you can't trust a knot to be solid, just because it looks solid on the surface.

I've done a bit of Youtube video showing how I work down the sapwood, tidying it up as I progress, it's a bit of technique I've not seen explained or shown before. I don't claim it's "right" clever or funny, it's just what I do and may be useful to anyone scared of working down Yew sapwood!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Back a Little Further

The Yew primitive character bow is coming back by degrees. I've made a little video showing some of the features and it pulling to about 17":-

Some bows make you nervous and some fill you with confidence, mind you just don't know in reality until it's fully drawn. I've got a nice even bend and I'm working with rasp and scraper now easing off any thick areas and tidying up the back around the knots. I've got it braced a bit higher now and have been working on the upper limb. It's pulling about 45# at 15" which is 3 pounds per inch (45/15) this gives just a rough and ready figure when multiplied to 28" draw of 84 pounds draw weight! This gives some idea of how much wood I've got to remove, taking wood off the thickness has much more effect that taking it off the width. In fact, theoretically I could saw the bow down the centre line and make two bows each of half the width and 42# draw weight.
The main reason for not drastically reducing the width is that I'd have proportionally more knots on the back. E.G:- A 7mm wide hole in the back of a 40mm wide bow is a smaller proportion of the width than a 7mm hole in a 20mm wide bow.
Also a thinner wider bow is less stressed than a thicker narrower, the problem with reducing thickness is that I don't want to remove all the heartwood, or conversely break through the sapwood on the back.
So it's slow and steady, a little off here, a little off there, and I'm taking the working limb further in towards the grip EG:- effectively shortenning the grip and making the fade from grip to limb a little quicker. An extra mm of movement at the root of the limb will give maybe 10mm at the tip, and 10mm at the tip equates to about 30mm extra draw.
In terms of width I can gradually narrow and shape it to an elegant leaf profile which will also be easing off the weigh and increasing the draw.
You can see that despite having a long way to go, small changes and tweaks will ease it inexorably back towards full draw. The lower limbs needs some work, by which time I'll be closer to 20" draw... slow and steady wins the day.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

First Flexing at a low Brace for the Character Primitive

I've got it to a low brace and looking fairly even at about 45#. It's steady work from now on to slowly remove wood from the belly keeping the tiller good and easing the draw length back whilst holding the draw weight at 45-50#.
I'll need to keep a close eye on the knotty areas, they will have to do some work and contribute to the flexing of the bow, but mustn't be over stressed. I'll also be cleaning up the back getting it close to a single growth ring where appropriate.
Here's a V short video of it on the tiller.
Bit of a rant! :-
Bad Design, we bought a Bosch vacuum cleaner about a year ago because the Dyson is so bloody noisy. The reviews were good, and it is lovely and quiet...until... it's just started to fail because it's "lifetime filter" is so clogged it needs ripping open and washing out.
It has a clacker mechansim that is supposed to rattle out the dust when you rotate a knob. One of the clacker fins has snapped off because it wasn't designed by a bowyer. It has no taper on it and so it snapped off at the root... I'm sure it was fine on the CAD system (sigh), anyhow I'll clean it out and rebuild it, meanwhile I'm getting subjected to a noise roughly equivalent to shoving my head up a jet engine.
Fair do's to them, I posted this rant on their Facebook page, they have responded V quickly and will send a new filter.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Saw it Longer!

It's often said that it's good to make a bow an inch or two longer than planned as it's easier to saw a bit off than to saw it back on.

Well this stave was always a tad short so I've sawed an extra 2" onto each end! The splices are pretty good but I've left the tips rather bulky for now to allow some room for adjustment of string line etc. The overall shape of the bow is looking good and the tiller even and almost back to brace height. I've narrowed the grip just a little to let me feel how it will sit in the hand, but as it progresses it will become more elegant and graceful with the grip narrowed substantially.

Pics also show the big bulging feature knot on the back of the lower limb.

In the pic of it on the tiller, the right limb looks thick over the outer half, that's because the limb is slightly twisted there, it's not a prob' just part of the character. There is also a slight optical illusion caused by the sapwood showing more near the grip, this makes the heartwood (and the whole limb) looks slimmer. the proof of the pudding will be in the bend of the bow.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Splicing on Tips

Now the bow is 60" long, which in theory could give a 30" draw if tillered expertly with good wood and a sound design... But, this stave is full of character knots and bumps, I also want it to be smooth and reliable rather than operating on the edge and stacking at 28"draw.

As an illustration of that, I have a terrible confession, the character bow that shared "Bow of the Month" exploded some time after, I glued it back together as a memento/wall hanger, mind that one was full of discolouration, rot, burrs and streaks which is why it was pretty.

Anyhow, back to this one, it has one big character bulge which will give at least a 1" stiff area another couple of knotty areas, these will reduce the actual working limb.
I'm thinking I'll splice an extra 2" onto each tip. I've sketched up what I'll do, and picked out a nice off cut of Oregon Yew. The extra length will allow gracefully tapered stiff tips, while leaving the full length of the original stave to remain a bit wider and flex closer to it's ends.

I jumped in and made a start on it this morning, there is only so much thinking and prevaricating one can do before trusting yourself and going for it. I already have a good feeling about doing this, as the splice will add extra strength and stability to that longitudinal split in the sapwood. (If you click on the pic of the splice to enlarge it, you can see the crack, it actually runs up into the splice and on to the centre line). I took some rough dimensions for the tips from "Twister" my go to Yew primitive.
I've also picked out a couple of loose knots, they went very deep, I put in a little low viscosity superglue to help seal out any moisture if I leave 'em hollow like that, although I may fill 'em with wax.
I've ordered some more glue, Cascamite this time, it's the same stuff as Resintite, but i found a supplier via E-bay that does smaller tubs (220g, or half a pound in old money) which is useful, as it does have a shelf life and the 1.5kg tub just doesn't get used up.
Progress may ease off a bit next week as we have visitors for a couple of odd days. I've also got endless pension phone calls to make and paperwork to fill out too (my excitement knows no bounds).

Really noticed it getting cold here, I'm thinking of going to the ILAA Roving Marks shot at Windsor Great Park early December, but I'll need to keep a weather eye out, if it's fine it will be cold and if it's warm it may be soaking wet. Once it's below 10 degrees C or I get wet I get even more irascible!

Update:- I've got both splices cut fitted and glued and clamped, I've taken a lot of trouble to get a good fit and hopefully a near invisible glue line. I'll be able to have a look at 'em tomorrow, I may bring it indoors overnight, the glue will have gelled by then so it won't be dripping and making a mess and it will be warmer than the garage.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A bit more on the Yew Primitive

I've had it on the tiller and it barley flexes at 45#, but I can see which limb is stiffest and take some off the other one. I've been chasing growth rings on the belly a bit, really just to try and get a fairly consistent thickness of sapwood. On a stave from a fairly small diameter log it can be tricky to know how much to remove, so roughly following a ring can help avoid  breaking through to heartwood.
There is one group of small knots that bulges up on the belly, I've left it proud, but I can still see a change of colour where it's more like heartwood, this is because the heart sap boundary doesn't actually correspond to a ring, it can bulge up where there are knots or it can simply wander about not concentric to the rings. "Ridgeback" is a good example of this in a longbow.
It's beginning to flex fairly evenly now, there's still a way to go before I can get it braced, but it's starting to move and I'm getting a feel for it.
One feature is a drying crack in the sapwood which isn't a problem, but will look alarming to someone who doesn't understand wooden bows, I may fill it with a wafer thin sliver of sapwood or sapwood dust and epoxy, but I have a sneaky urge to get some Walnut or Purpleheart dust to make a feature of it. Meanwhile I'll follow my mantra of when in doubt don't!
Here are a couple few pics showing some of the features, one pic shows how the drawknife is likely to tear in on a knot and that's the point to stop and use a rasp, other shows the heart/sap on the end of the limb and the drying crack. Last pic shows a knot which is a bit loose and manky, this will get picked out and filled, but it may well disappear as the belly is worked down.

Update:- Saturday morning I've been working on the left (lower) limb which was stiff, this is about the 4th time I've had it on there, and it's just starting to move at 45-50# draw weight. The outer limbs need to work more, but it's a matter of working on the knotty areas trying to get a vaguely even thickness taper and bend. Too early for any real decisions on tip shape etc, but it's getting there.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Busy Busy Bowyer!

I've had a great couple of days, refurbishing the bandsaw, glazing the summer house and adding a drip edge to its roof.
Done some more on the bow too.
The bandsaw was in a bit of a state, the thrust bearing that is out of sight and out of mind underneath the table had got graunched to buggery (technical terms there), I managed to make do and mend for a day or so by temporarily by turning it round. The blade guide bearings are the same size, so i decided to replace them too. While I was at it I turned the upper thrust bearing (big circular job in the top right pic) on my little lathe to give it a clean smooth face. It runs much smoother now.

I was hard at it most of yesterday getting the summer house glazing done with 4mm Acrylic sheet which I ordered online. I think I could possibly have got away with 3mm, but the 4 gives a more solid feel, so if anyone is wondering what to go for, I'd say 4mm.

Working on the Yew Primitive bow is fun,
I can feel it flexing a bit now if I lean on it, so I may put a long string on and pull it on the tiller to get a feel for where I am.
I've a sort of idea brewing to maybe splice some little levers onto the tips a bit like what I did on Monkey bow , this would still be in keeping with a Primitive bow but could make it a little different and maybe give it some extra cast. It's all just an idea at the moment, but bearing that in mind I'll avoid doing too much to the tips, that way I'll have plenty of wood for splicing if I decide to.

 I'm letting the wood dictate where it goes, but it dawned on me... I say that, but what the heck do I mean? Well in one pic showing the edge of the bow there are some small knots running across the belly and out to the edge. As I work down those knots they disappear, but the wood will tear out or the drawknife may dig in. The choice it to allow the drawknife to rip out along the grain and go with the flow, or to use a rasp, also as more heartwood is removed on the belly, it can expose sapwood along the edge, I've decided to a) Let the drawknife run with the grain and b) narrow the limb where any sapwood shows on the belly. The effect of those two things is that the width of the limb will follow the whims of the wood, rather than being straight.
The other pics show a group of knots which come through the back, I'm leaving these fairly proud, and the grip area which is left thicker and shows the nice colour of the heartwood.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Back to the Bows

Whew, I've tidied the garage, put the legs back on the shave horse and saddled her up ;-)
I couldn't resist working on a Yew primitive for a guy who wants one and a Hazel primitive for his wife.
The Yew maybe isn't the best bit, but he wanted some character, it's also a tad short, so I'm thinking maybe a bend through the handle or a V short handle, any how it's a case of let the wood dictate the bow... ye cannae use wha' ya have nae got!
I often think it's the constraints that help one produce the best work, be it a piece of sculpture, a bow or even a meal! Remember as a kid being confronted with a big piece of paper and being told you can paint or draw what you want.... much better to have a constraint whereby you have to use say just 2 colours or it's got to be a picture of a pile of school chairs or flowerpots.
It was good to feel the wood under the drawknife, and have the challenge of using what I've got. If it doesn't work out, I'll have to do a major review of my staves, mind, I need to do that anyway.
It's sometimes easy to get sucked into stuff and end up worrying about can I do it, will it work, will in be finished in time, then I tell myself, hang on, I'm retired, I merely promise to endeavour to make a suitable bow, if someone doesn't like it, they have no obligation to take it... there are no time constraints, I'm doing it for the fun of it. It's a delicate balance between being driven to do stuff on the one hand and pressing on too hard with it on the other, I think the trick is to make sure you are enjoying the work in hand at the time rather than forever wishing you were on the next job.
In danger of getting philosophical there!
The Acrylic for the summer house windows is coming tomorrow and I'm looking forward to fitting them.

Gotta replace some of the blade guide bearings on the bandsaw too, they started making a funny noise the other day, it will be worthwhile to give it a good once over, as it's been a real work horse over the last week or so. I ordered some off the interweb... (from Bearingboys) oooh I do like clicking the "add to basket" and "buy now buttons"

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Rain and Crab Apple Jelly

I still can't finish off the summer house as the acrylic hasn't arrived yet, they say 5-7 working days so it must turn up Monday or Tuesday. Yesterday was a good day, Emily Cat had her stitches out the previous afternoon was allowed to run free at last, she went bonkers, running up the Yew tree and disappeared for long spells before coming back home tired out.
I picked up some crab apples and made a small test batch of crab apple and chilli jelly, I let it mature for a full 7 hours before trying it with cheese and biscuits... very nice, sweet with a bit of tang and a chilli heat that comes though afterwards.
I gathered a load more fallen crab apples, got 'em stewed up and straining through some old net curtain. I used a workmate bench upturned in the garage to let it strain overnight. I'll do a few jars of different flavours, rosemary, sage, ginger, chilli. It's a bit of a fiddle but it makes something a bit different to have on cold meat (I'm thinking Boxing day cold Turkey here).
It's stonking down with rain which is stopping me doing too much, I'd really like to get the garage tidied up so I can get back to working on bows. Gotta do the weeks shop later... groan.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

No Work on Bows Still

Emily cat has been very lethargic being confined indoors with a "lampshade" collar on, so we bought a pink harness and lead so we could take her out in the garden and take the collar off for as long as possible each day.. It's worked and she's got her mojo back, but is now driving us bonkers. Just another day or so until her stitches come out and we can all get back to normal.
She was going stir crazy yesterday afternoon so I took her out on her lead and we ended up about 15 foot up the Yew tree... yes I was a bit silly! I worked out, the best way to get her down was to hook one of her claws into my top lip and get down quickly whilst she was preoccupied in trying to tear my face off. Actually she was very good as plenty of soothing words kept her calm, it could have got nasty.
This morning she was nicely distracted for half an hour by a mange tout she found on the kitchen floor, eventually she mauled it to death and the peas burst out of it, she ate a few of them before realising that she hadn't eater her breakfast which she then wolfed down.

I've ordered Acrylic for the summer house windows which should hopefully be here by the end of the week, then I can get it finished up and weather tight. By then Emily will be back to free roaming and I'll be able to go in and out to the garage to work on bows without setting her off yowling.

I walked up to the town to do some food shopping, I went up through the woods and took some Autumnal pics.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Door Hanging

Fiddly old job hanging doors, had the damn things up and down like a fiddlers elbow. Taken 'em off again now for a final tweak and some varnishing. Looks good, I've got to do a lot of fiddling about to create the window frames for two windows to the right of the doors, then I can order some perspex or polycarbonate, not sure which to go for.

Been an odd week, haven't got much done as Emily cat has been confined to indoors 'cos she's got a nasty wound on her drivers side rear leg ;-) , probably a scratch in a cat fight that turned into an abscess.
She was on antibiotics for 5 days and has had it stitched up today, that means another 10 days indoors driving us bonkers as she runs around like a loony.

I've packed up a bow for shipping, it was supposed to be collected end of September, but I'm now having to ship it. UPS seem to offer a reasonable price, so I'll prob' use them. I must admit I'm getting a tad tired of the summer house and wanting to get back to the bows. It's a pain shipping bows, I'll prob' insure it as I've heard horror stories of bows broken in transit. I'm getting more and more inclined to just make bows for people I know or who are close enough to visit, anyhow, certainly only bows that pique my interest, like the pair of primitives I'm hoping to pick up soon.