Archives for category: sinew-backed bow

Last Saturday was the day, to chrono some flightbows and flightarrows I did all over 2013.

 The setup is like follows:

Chrono setup: the chronograph is placed on a rack, all  the lights(LED) in my workshop are turned on, plus the indoor shooting lights of the chrony.

Chrono setup: the chronograph is placed on a rack, all the lights(LED) in my workshop are turned on, plus the indoor shooting lights of the chrony. There is a backstop in the background.

I found as much light as possible gives exact and serious results when doing chronos inside.

Indoor shooting lights for the chrony, installed just above the photo- sensors.

Indoor shooting lights for the chrony, installed just above the photo- sensors.

Inside the chrony with the 9V alkaline battery attached.

Inside the chrony with the 9V alkaline battery attached.

The display told me the chrony is ready.

The display told me the chrony is ready.

Best speed of the 42lbs elm sinew backed bow, shot with a 260grs. arrow made of larch.

Best speed of the 42lbs elm sinew backed bow, shot with a 260grs. arrow made of larch.

Sinew backed elm bow with inuit- style tips, bow is 44" in length, 42lbs at 23".

Sinew backed elm bow with inuit- style tips, bow is 44″ in length, 42lbs at 23″.

elmuit backed 5 72013

Sinew backed elm bow drawn at 9″

The short wild rose sinew- backed bow is 43" in length, 40lbs at 23".

The short wild rose sinew- backed bow is 43″ in length, 40lbs at 23″.

3 new flights sideview 3 2013

It shots an 180grs. hollow cedar hex- shaft arrow at 204,6f/s.

The queen of this session:

Osage bow, inuit styled tips, 46lbs at 23"

Osage bow, inuit styled tips, 46lbs at 23″

iu#nuit side 12 2013

Sideview of the queen

The queen- braced. The arrow is made of thin baked strips of fine grown larch, with the tip and the nock enforced with bird#s eye maple.

The queen- braced. The arrow is made of thin baked strips of fine grown larch, with the tip and the nock enforced with bird’ s eye maple.

That' s it! Best speed of this session.

That’ s it!
Best speed of this session.

Success so far. But I was longing for more: 300f/s!!!!

I ignored my falling concentration and accuracy and ended up with 4 broken flightarrows, the 279,0f/s arrow is lost somewhere in the disorder of my workshop. I even hitted the wire rod of the chrony and failed the backstop, my hands and fingers began to suffer. Remember zen: don’ t overdo it, underdo it.

 The fletchings remained

These arrows are all composites. I guess I should choose the wood for the arrows much more serious and take much more care on the glueing.

The fletchings have survived for the next massacre.

The fletchings have survived for the next massacre.

Scythian hornbow, Persian shield, 3 arrows

The yew flightbow- 3 new flight arrows- still want to make 300f/s and 400yards!!!

The yew wood for this bow has been dried for 15 years and the hit is, that the bow didn´t got any set till now- it´s a 44″ long shortie drawing 51lbs at 23″. Can´t wait first chronos and flights………………..

The ash- longbow for sale- 66" in length, drawing 46lbs at 28"

The ash longbow for sale- 66″ in length, drawing 46lbs at 28″

the ash longbow- after about 18 years of heavy use no sign of set- a true companion.

First trial in cultivating flax- flax loves the salty air of the sea- the sea is far away from here- maybe the fibres will be not as strong as needed for bow strings…….

Our sheep(alpine stonesheep)-Carlos the brown ram, Frida on the left, Betty in the middle, they will provide us with wool, milk( precious cheese) and a lots of more sheep…………….

The plains double-bow for sale, braced- sinewed back

The plains double- bow- unstrung

 

 

 

Are selfmade bows political correct? Dealers will suffer....................

This blog has not turned into a stage for political debates in the face of the worldwide financial crisis. But I wonder  Marx being so actual and very right about the behaviour of the big capitalists. Nothing more to add , but I support “Occupy Wallstreet”. Everything made by yourself will bring the power back to you. I´m still dreaming of a world without any political, financial or whatever leaders and the growing social networks make me very hope. Get your power back, that´s what shamans all over the worlds and times are telling us.

I´ve not blogged since weeks. Main reason was the best fall we´ve ever had here. From August till mid- Decembre we´ve had about 6 rainy days. Too dry for sure, but I could cut a lot of bow- woods ( black locust, rowan, whitebeam, mountain- maple………….), I´ve never had so many staves in stock. I could do a lot of fire- woods too, making some new fences, preparing the grazing land and a barn for our sheepfarming we´ll begin next spring. And a very sad thing has happened: in the last week of Octobre one of our horses, the brown gelding died of some diseases of age. We knew since about half a year that this will happen, but anyway, a horse is so big and he was for about 20 years a true companion!

Even I had been so busy, I´ve prepared a lot of articles about making retro- and other flightbows, flight arrows, about my bow- classes, for not to forget the finishing of the crossbow.

There´s to much snow outside, vacations, time for heavy blogging.

Some pics of soon upcoming bowxplosions:

From the top: another flight 137.5 made of rowan and walnut, osage retro- flight, the MARX NOW made of black locust, sinew- backed. All made with inserted siyahs (recurves )mountain maple

Same bows as above- backview, they are all about 45" in length

The osage retro- flight bow with a grip made of cherry braced. It´s 49lbs at 23", I´m very sure it will make the 200f/s

The best flightarrow, I´ve ever made- cedar shaft with inserted hardwood- a real burner- it´s making of will be another article with many pics

So far, Christmas is family- time.

Cheers, 2012 is coming, have great times……………………………………

Last volume was dealing with the final shaping of the horn- lam. Now the horn- lam has to be backed with sinew- fibres. But before backing the prod has to be wrapped with bundles of sinew- fibres.

precoating the prod all over its length at least 4 times

The wrappings are enforcing the joints of the horn- slats and the recurves

After having wrapped the prod with the sinew- bundles, the prod is wrapped with cotton- or silk cloth for to press the fibres as close as possible to the prod

2 weeks later the cloth- wrapping is removed- the prod is ready for the backing

About a quarter of  prod´s thickness will be the sinew- backing,  3- 4 layers of sinew- fibre- bundles has to be prepared. According to a total length of 30″ minus the recurves about 25″ of the prod´s length and an average- width of 2″ incl. the sides of the prod , so about 50 sq.inches have to be backed. As a total that means 4-5 buffalo- leg- sinews have to be spliced, at least a job of 8h.

The backed prod- one day after the backing

Closer and better sideview at the backing- one day after it has been done. The backing is still about 1/2" in thickness, when it is dry it will have about 1/3"- 1/4" of the prods thickness.

Waiting time! At first I planned to finish the prod in April or May, that´s to less time for the polymerisation. I´ll do it at the end of August, 9 month after having backed the prod.

So next volume will be focused on the braced and ready to final tiller- work prod.

It is a  must to degrease the wood or the horn, don´t use some of these chemical killers, just use a solution of water and pure wooden ashes. Take care: this is a killer too, it´s a base, historically used for degreasing, use some working gloves.

Wether to apply a sinew-backing to a wooden bow or to a hornbow, to precoat with a thin solution of glue several times is an additional must. Otherwise the glue can´t penetrate deep enough the wood or horn, the glueline is not as stable as it could be.

The sinew- backing needs to be well organized: the workshop has to be well tempered, the glue has to be heated up to 140F or 60C, too much heat will destroy the glue. To less heat will leave the glue to tough.

A dish of lukewarm water has to be prepared for to soak the sinew- fibre bundles about 2 minutes.

The bow has to be fixed in a small vice.

The setting for a sinew- backing: f.l.t.r. dish for soaking the fibre bundles- bow- heated glue

The glue has to be kept to the right temperature with some tealights. The containers used for soaking the fibre- bundles and for the glue have to fit the length of the fibres.

1st: soaking the bundles in water for at least 1minute, when removing them press some water out of them

2nd: soaking the bundles in the glue

3rd: Applying the first bundle right at the handle

Go on applying bundles towards the tip of the first limb. Usually 1 bundle will cover about 1/2″ of the width of a bow´s limb. The bundles should be applied staggered for not to end up with a running through the width glue-line.

Flattening of a bundle on the bow´s back

The guy helping me this post to become true is Stefan, making a Hun- type style hornbow(asymmetrical). It´s his first sinew- backing. The sinew- backing just covers the v- splice with the siyahs.

The first layer is done!

Two additional layers will have to be applied. 2 – 3 layers of sinew- backing is enough, wether it is a wooden bow or a hornbow. Otherwise to much weight is added to the bow. Waiting time is beginning just right now. The elders have left a sinew- backed bow for 4-8 months alone. I don´t know why a lot of modern “primitive bowyers” are ignoring the fact that the so- called drying of a sinew- backing is in truth a polymerization. Polymerization needs its time!

“Time is a healer, where is the patient? “(T.S.Eliot)

Next volume is dealing with the tillering of a sinew- backed bow.


I hope I´ll be able to write an article after some weeks of posting nothing. Sorry, but this winter has begun really hard, after the best fall we have had here, winter has come with really a lots of snow and very cold nights.

winter has just begun- snow and ice at the creek behind our barn

all is white, grey, black, icy

There is much less snow and cold down in the valleys, to live in the heights of the Black Forest in winter is an extraordinary experience. You really feel a bit lonesome.

And it´s every year the same story, everything seemed to be prepared well, but every year you´ve forgot something.

When it comes to sinew- backing I´m getting always enthusiastic. It´s such a great technique and a prime example for an absolutely sensemaking cooperation of humans and nature. It´s a highly holistic and synergetic technique. Maybe we´ve heard something like…….” the old ones have used every part of a hunted animal………….”. It comes true when making a sinew- backing. For to make a sinew- backing we need leg- sinews and hide- glue, so called by- products of a fine steak(I´m a vegetarian, using the “waste” of the meat eaters?). I could philosophize hours about sinew- backing…

The principle is to enforce the back of a bow to withstand the tension when drawn by using  one the most flexible fibres and glues nature offers( nature is never cheap, it is always luxurious). So a modern backing made of artificial fibres and epoxy are nothing new on the planet- same principle- but highly poisonous and polluting, for nothing to say about its durability. A well done and well treated sinew- backing will survive any bow backed the modern way.

It´s very important to know that any backing will add a lot of weight to a bow decreasing its efficiency. It makes no sense at all to back a bow longer than 55″. Historically the bows of the Plains Indians and hornbows have been sinew backed. So the bows of the horsemen have been sinew- backed,  they had to be made rather short for a better handling on a horse´s back. This is the case in the sinew- backed wooden bows of the Plains Indians. Hornbows need a highly flexible backing, cause horn is by far less tension- strong than pressure strong

A sinew- backing is often recomended for to repair a bow. It works very well if there will be a small crack at the back, or it is a good option if the bow- stave seems not to be as perfect- maybe there are many tiny knots or some loose splinters etc…………..

There are another types of historical bows that were not only backed but completely wrapped with bundles of sinews: remember the hornbow for the crossbow I´m just reconstructing, the highly delicious bow- constructions of the Egyptians and Scythians, the joints of the siyahs( the highly recurved tips of hornbows) to the bow- limbs.

I´m wrapping almost every extra piece of wood I add to a bows handle. Sinew fibres are used for to adjust the feathers at an arrow, for to enforce the fitting of an arrowhead to the shaft.

Sinew fibres had been the sewing thread of the past. Its real power is evoked when soaked into water for some minutes before using it, when it dries it is shrinking at about 30%, that´s a lot and it makes clear how our ancestors had been able to produce waterproofed seams.

It is often told that a sinew- backed bow is very sensitive to humidity. That´s really true, any sinew- backing or sinew- wrapping has to be sealed with an oil(linen-seed, walnut, olive, bee´s wax…….). A sinew- backed bow is a weapon to be better used in a dry climate for to come into its own. Historians are telling that the Osmanians would have conquered Central Europe too, if their hornbows wouldn´t have performed so bad in the more humid environment.

The best sinew for to make a backing of a bow is leg sinew of deer, elk and buffalo. I prefer buffalo leg sinew, cause it is easy to split. But it is hard to get. So I often  have to use deer- or elk- sinew, elk- sinew is longer and easier to split than deer- sinew.

leg sinew of an elk- tools for getting the fibres

The length of the elk- sinews is about 11″, the hammer is needed for to tenderize the sinew. After a few blows the skin will peel away and the colour will become more white.

pounding the sinew on a stable wooden log

progress in pounding

Where the sinew is dividing into 2 strings it is very dense and hard, I cut this part off and offer it to our cats and our tame magpie, she likes to play with it, some day I watched the magpie soaking the piece of sinew in her small bird bath, I was really done!

take a gripper or caliper for to go on

take a gripper for to go on

progress in splicing the sinew with the gripper

It´s really a hard work to do, the fibres are sticking together very strong.

the fibres within the sinew are building a kind of a very close net

Having a closer look to sinew its main constituent is keratin, a protein and a polymer. Polymers are building chains, these chains are cross- linked heavily.

some sinew backed bows l.t.r.: a west coast style painted juniper bow- another west coast style painted hickory bow- a typical unpainted Plains bow- a splitted limb Epyptian hybrid hornbow- and the sinew fibres of one elk- leg sinew

sideview at the Plains bow, a ready sinew- backing is so thin, almost not to see on the pic

To splice one elk leg- sinew takes me about 2 hours, usually for a Plains bow or a hornbow you need 3- 4 sinews, backing the bow will take you another hour.

For to get sinew ask your local hunter, give him some money, cause it´s a bit of a delicious job to cut the sinew proper. Dry it at a save place for 3- 4 weeks, mice, dogs, cats……… like fresh sinew.

Don´t use sinew of farm animals. I´ve had to make a very sad experience when preparing my first sinew- backing. I got some sinew of cattle from a farmer nearby, when I begun to pound it, it returns to dust. This cattle has never been walked on grazing land, has always been chained in a dark stable till the butcher was coming.

Next volume is dealing with the applying of the sinew at a bows back.

Sorry, I´ve announced the Hornbow Vol.1 to be published today, but when beginning the article I can´t find the corresponding pics. I was almost flipping out, but finally I met the pics in a false folder.

O. k., that´s history, tomorrow, maybe Sunday Hornbow Vol.1 will be out.

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