Pics of my workshop

Today I just post some pics of my workshop, I did them today. Wintertime in the heights of the Black Forest. This winter turned out to be really cold, almost every night temperature falls to -10Celsius. Not as much snow as last winter.

But you can feel the upcoming spring, since some days the animals are obviously very active. And I had been in the woods looking for some black locust and maple for bow- staves and burning wood for the next winter.

On the pics you see the inside of my workshop, our small farm- house, at the right side of the entry to my workshop is the great cave for our handicapped magpie Elliott, he is the honey of our family. Always lucky and trying to imitate our human language. You should visit him, he talks almost to everybody. If he can´t stand someone he started to cry very loud and terrible. So he is the perfect guard for our house and my workshop. For to be honest he hates people wearing uniforms………………….

My workshop is the former hen- and pighouse of our old farm. It was a lot of work to convert it into a bowyers- workshop. with enough space to do bow- classes with 3-5 participants. It was necessary to renew the roof with completely isolation, to make a fireplace with a  new chimney,  to plaster the walls,  to lay out a new wooden floor, to make windows…………………I´m a former cabinet- maker and so I could do a lot of this work by my own. With the help of some friends it was worked out and since almost 2 years I´ve my new workshop. Even with a small exhibition space and my office ( this is the place, where you´ll find me never, I hate doing paperwork or accounting work).

bows and shield
more bows and persian cane shield
our farmhouse
farmhouse with the cage for magpie elliott, workshop at the left
inside my workshop
our farmhouse january 2010
vorderheubronn 2
bows on the wall
small exhibition in my workshop

Euonymus! my favourite bow- wood

almost 15 years I didn´t take care to much for bow- woods like euonymus, hawthorn, blackthorn, wild plum, there are for sure some more of these little trees or bushes worth bow- making. I live in the heights of the Southern Blackforest in Germany , so I ´ve just to drive a bit down to the nearby valley of the Rhine river and there are a lot of hedges surrounding the fields of the farmers or a vineyard or an orchard. This region in the very Southwest of Germany is called German Toscana and it is really the warmest region in Germany. It is indeed a little paradise, but for the needs and dreams of my family it is overcrowded and somehow sophisticated.

But there is  enough for to make a bowyers dream come true.

For almost 15 years I´ve done my job as a bowyer with the common bow- woods: ash, elm, black locust, maple, osage- orange, yew, juniper, for sure somemore. I´ve done sinew- backed bows like a Native American, hornbows like the Scythians, the Greek, the Mongols……………more and more refined bow- designs.

I have to admit: for some years selfbows were something like trash, no challenge to make them………………

In the summer of 2008 I was surfing the www a bit for selfbows, I came across the PALEOPLANETE- forum, there was just running a very heated debate focused on selfbows vs. hornbows. At that time I felt myself to be a fanatic-composite bowyer. What the hell these selfbowyers believe! A hornbow has to be the cream of the cake!

But some arguements of the selfbowyers made me suspicious: these guys are able to do very fast selfbows, as fast as modern bows, as fast as hornbows, what do they know, what I don´t know, what the hell I´ve missed in selfbowery

One of the side- arguements made me thinking: hornbows are bows of dictatorships or tyrannies, to make them, a very straight society is necessary. I´m a basic- democrat, but I´ve never looked in a political way at bows.

I gave those selfbows a chance, somehow excited I began to check the new designs and woods.

The new design is based mainly on the Holmegaard  or Mollegabet bow with its long skinny tips, but done shorter than our ancestors. The woods I wanted to try are listed above.

I´ll add a pic and go on tomorrow, thanks a lot to all the PALEOS…………………..…………making dreams come true!

2 euonymus bows, made of the same stave, the upper one is made of the reflexed half of the stave, it draws 45lbs at 28″. The other one is made of the deflexed half  of the stave, it draws 50lbs at 28″.

european spindlewood (wiki)

japanese spindlewood (wiki)
spindlewood develops cork

There are about 150 different spindlewoods, but the best known are euonymus americanus, euonymus japonicus and euonymus europaeus. Spindlewood grows as brush or as a little tree. Due to the shape of their fruits spindlewood is also called “cap of the pastor”. The fruits are very poisonous, 2 years ago 2 children died after having eaten them, attracted by the nice outlook of  the colourful appearance of the fruits.

Spindlewood owes its name to its former use in making gear wheels and other parts of early machines.

I met it when in spring 2009 I came across a wood turner, who would never use any other wood for his work. Its historical proof as a bowwood is known only in Japan. Alex S. a japanese member of the ATARNET- bowery forum was so kind to post a list a bowwoods used in Japan. Spindlewood means nothing else than bowwood, so it is highly appreciated in Japan.

I can´t find any other proof of the historical use of euonymus in bowery

I´ll go on next week with some more euonymus- bows. Have a look at my article “A bowXplosion” here, it deals with a very special euonymus- bow and it is the origine of  this blog.

A bowXplosion

Traditional bowery and archery,  real bows´n arrows, no fake no!

I want this place to be a great place for sharing infos and experiences focused on traditional bowery and archery, real bows´n arrows, no fake no! Do we really know what a fake is?

I´ll post nearly every day some insights into my workshop, making bows, arrows,  into my bow- and archery- classes.

I´ll begin with posting the outstanding bow made of euonymus which its the origin and inspiration for to open this blog:


During a real hot day, the past July of 2009, my daughter and me were roving around the so- called Dinkelberg, a very magic hilly place with caves and lots of exciting thinhs to see. We both love to meet rare stones, plants and animals…we came across a thicket, many plums, hawthorns, cherry- trees, blackthorns, equipped with heavy barbes, we entered it carefully, another world,  we could feel fairies and elves around, my daughter heard a red kite or hawk crying and went for it. Suddenly I realized that I was standing just before a very old euonymus- tree, with a lots of dead branches…… bowyers heart began to beat loud, I checked the branches, looked for the bows in them and cut the chosen branches, I got 2 almost perfectly grown branches and a highly reflexed one. The last one made me nervous from the first moment on……………… as usual I left some sage for to thank the old euonymus……. my daughter came back, she has seen a younger red kite crying sadly, I told her: maybe he´s still afraid of flying……………we left this magic space.  We went to the car, drove down to the city, where I left my daughter for her ballet- class.

Again and again I was looking at the treasures we´ve found, but the reflexed branch made me nervous, long enough for to make a bow with 50-55″ in length, material enough for  to make it at a 26″ draw, no knots, straight but a heavy grown reflex of about 8″.

I debarked the branches, noticed the wood yet being dry enough for just to begin a bow. I took my splitting tools and without any problems I could get 4 straight staves, a deflexed one, a highly reflexed one.

You can see 2 of these bows in the ” Euonymus! my favourite bow- wood”- article.

I worked the reflexed stave very carefully till it began to bend enough for to check its tiller. I designed it with the limbs as wide as possible, but with skinny tips for to get more speed. everything went allright, even the first bracing, but when I was on the way to draw the bow for the first time, all my courage was gone, I became nervous again……I did what I was usually doing when such a moment is arising: leave it for today.

Next morning, every courage was gone  when I looked at the bow, I decided to protect the back with one layer of sinew, just for safety! Maybe I did it for to delay the finishing of the bow, the backing´s drying time meant another 4 weeks recreation for my nerves.

4 weeks later my nerves had been recreated, the sinew- backing has enforced my courage to draw this bow further, I draw it at 20″………… was working, but I looked for 25″. At that time a pupil(Andreas loves selfbowery, he´s highly gifted, I´m sure he´ll become a great bowyer) was doing his internship at my workshop, we both love to listen to blues or experimental rockmusic while making bows, we just listened to the Jon Spencers Blues Explosion, while I was trying to draw the bow again on the tillering board now till 22″……….it was working, no sounds of a sudden explosion……..I have to call this bow BOWXPLOSION……. Andreas  heavily agreed.

But for to be honest, it tooks me another 6 months to draw this bow at 25″.  Its draweight is 44lbs, 5″ of the reflex are still left after hundreds of shots. It shoots a 360grs. arrow at 152f/s.  I love this bow.

The painted back of the bowXplosion

BowXplosionunbraced                                                                                              BowXplosion at 22″