Bow staves Vol. 1- harvesting rowan and whitebeam

Fall is just beginning, the first cold nights, in the morning and in the evening I light a fire in the wood stove in the kitchen. It smells and sounds of winter. Time for the lumberjacks to begin felling the trees  for to earn the money the forest district needs.   

If possible I cut dead wood for to make bows, look for “Harvesting wood- dead wood” .   

In the heights of the Black Forest the lumberjacks have to be very busy, cause the forests are growing faster, due to the fact that the  young ones are leaving their farm- homes for a kind of better life in a nearby city. It´s really very hard to get by being a farmer, cause of the law of inheritance grasslands have become more and more very small. Grasslands and fields are mountainous too.  

The forest ranger is never at a loss to be asked for fire- wood or bow staves, if you cut it by yourself it´s for free. I´ve noticed that the lumberjacks are leaving a lot of great wood, cause they are ordered to work fast and to cut the big trunks, the “moneymakers” and easy to work woods like pine, fir, spruce………….when the lumberjacks have done their job, my job begins.  

Last week the wooded slope opposite to our farm has been thinned out, the lumberjacks know me and have laid aside  2 whitebeams and 2 rowans. Not to big ones, cause the slope is faced to the northeast, so the trees there have been grown slowly and straight, with long trunks, so called norhtern wood. Last Monday I went for cutting the wood, taking it home and checking it out and splitting it to bow staves.   

Usually I pick up the whole tree, we need fire wood for our stoves, we collect the berries of the rowans for to make marmalade, the meal of the  dried berries of the whitebeams is a great additive in every kind of bread for a better taste and for to keep it fresh. My wife is a passionate weaver, she is using natural fibres only and dyes them with plants, so she needs a lot of leaves, bark and lichens growing on some trees.  


lichens growing on a rowan

Lichens are such a great dye, you get real unbelievable strong colours.  

beard- lichens(lat. usnea) are very interesting to watch at, these ones have blossoms looking like tiny ufos
remaining fire- wood and some fence poles- cut-offs, knotty, twisted.......

I check the cutted tree for staves by looking for knot free  straight or slightly curved  sections measuring about 80″ in length and 2″ in cross-section at least. It was a heavy job, cause the slope is steep and I had to throw the staves downhills near the track my car was waiting for to be loaded.  

rowan and whitebeam- a lots of bows

For an easier handling I split the bigger woods into halves before bringing them home.  

splitting a big rowan to halves

I prefer heads of axes and hammers for splitting woods, cause the splitting of bow- staves demands for more accuracy than the splitting of firewood.  

splitting the rowan- step by step
splitting rowan- the end is near..........

This rowan trunk is slightly reflexed making the splitting a delicious job.  

splitting the rowan- some blows from the other side are necessary

Almost done, there is a clean reflexed half for to make a bow, the other half is firewood.  

...........done, me too.........

It was a lot of wood, finally it took me about 7 hours to work on 2 trees. At home I did a closer look at the collected woods. It´s very important to look for a lengthwise harmony, when cutting the woods.  

grown harmony in the woods
grown harmony- cut it like the stave below

The harvest: about 12 very straight staves for longbows, another 10 staves for flatbows, some small diameter staves  to be used in bow- classes for kids.  

Now I´ve to be patient, my wife and friends call me very patient, drying time of these staves is beginning right now. About 2 years curing in a breezy dry place.  

I´m a patient guy but to curious for not to have given bow- making of green woods a try.  

where is the bow?

Next volume is dealing with drying and curing of bow staves and the making of  the bow I explored within the rowan above- a how to make a bow of green wood.

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