Bows made of roses Vol. 1- beauty all around

Recently, when I was just finishing another bow made of green rowan, I realized the woods of the rose family– rosaceae- have become my favourite bow- woods. So nice to work them with the axe, the draw- knife, they are not at all poisonous like yew, euonymus, black locust…….they smell well……………..an experience for the senses.

Best rosaceae for bows are rowan, whitebeam, hawthorn, wild cherry, choke cherry, cornel cherry, plum, even dog rose will work very well if it is old and thick enough. The trees of the rose family are eye- catchers, wonderful blossoms and fruits. But they know how to defend all their beauty and richness with more or less heavy barbs.

Roses are  a  symbol of life and love, of beauty itself, roses are red like our blood. The most expensive perfums are made of roses. Roses are dedicated to the Gods Aphrodite, Dionysos, Isis, Flora and Eros.

Roses are medically used as an antiseptic, hawthorn is well known of its benefits in treating heart failures. The fruits of the roses are usually called rose hips, fine jellies are made of them, the dried fruits of whitebeams could be floured and added to a bread dough.

Rose, nothing to say
Rose called Ave Maria
Hawthorn flowers
Dog rose flowers
Fruits of hawthorn
Fruits of blackthorn
Fruits of whitebeam
Cross- section of a rose- flower
A petrified leaf of a rose

The wood of the rosaceae is great to work, very solid but not to hard, almost no splintering, easy to bend with steam, one of the best woods for to be heat- treated. But all rosaceae are very delicious to dry, I had to do a lot of trials and errors. Cause rosaceae are little trees or even brushes with smaller diameters they split easily while drying. I prefer to work them green, never had any split when doing so.

I´ve to thank Wikipedia for the pics!

Next volume will be focused on 2 short bows made of dog rose.

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Perfect wooden bow? Vol. 2- is it geometry?

The flight 137.5- bow is made of 2 limbs, 1 handle, wedges. If the wood of choice has no good steam- bending capablities siyahs have to be v- spliced into the limbs.

It´s a must to prepare the limbs very carefully. I´m not to confident with that design yet, I´ll try some more limb- designs, a wider more reflexed one for a smoother draw.

I haven´t had options for to make the limbs of the osage flight wider, the only osage I could find in my workshop were almost as small as the ready limbs. Some leftovers of a recently finished asymmetrical osage- flatbow.

The limbs of the rowan- flight are made of a green rowan. I splitted a stave cut very close at our farm.

The rowan has arrived
Splitting the rowan
The raw materials for the handle and the limbs
View at the limbs back, some bast left- width about 13/4", thickness 1/2"

The handle is made of mountain maple, the 137.5- angle is sawn. A right angle of the handle back to its sides is a must, otherwise the bow could be twisted.

As mentioned above the limbs have to be prepared properly.

Steambending of the limb

Just put the limbs on a pot of water, cover it with aluminum foil, heat the water till it begins to boil, leave it for about 40min. Steaming times depends on thickness of wood and the degree of curve or bend. Usually recurves have to be steamed for about 20min., there´ll be an article focused on steam- bending bows within the next weeks.

Bending the limbs after the steam- fixed with clamps- pieces of wood are used to shape the angle

I left the limbs at least 2 days for “shaping”. The limbs of the osage flight 137.5 are recurved soon after the steam- bending, rowan is hardly to steam bent, so I´ve v- spliced the recurves into the limbs.

I´ve a lot of such diy- recurve molding forms- sharp recurves like that one- soft recurves.......

Again: after steam- bending the wood has to be fixed in a tool for to get its shape. I left recurves for an hour in the tool.

Next is to check again the dimensions of the limbs, they´ve to be equal in length, width and thickness and shape. Thickness should be at least 1/2″ now. The limbs have to fit properly to the back of the handle. Instead of cutting the ends of the limbs to a proper angle, I cut them in a right angle, for to get the space to fit in a wedge. No other need than a cool looking.

After having glued the limbs to the handle the wedges have be inserted

Sorry, this is a bad pic! I´ve chosen the dark- brown walnut as wedges, I´ve used a handsaw, a chisel and a wooden hammer for to adjust the wedges to the handle.

Glueing the wedges for to enforce the joint of the limbs and the handle

After the glueing the wedges are sanded down. There are for sure some more ways to fix the limbs to the handle. The limbs of the osage flight 137.5 were v- spliced into the handle, a somehow delicious job, but I like that kind of jobs.

V- splicing the limbs to the handle

Again a chisel- and handsaw-  job!

View at the sides of the splice- the handle is made of flowery- ash

To insert a double dovetailed wegde would have been another possible joint, I tried it, but found it to unstable.

The angled double dove tailed wedge solution

For gourmets of wooden joinery, another one.

The angled dovetail joint

Next volume is dealing with tillering and heat- treating the limbs adjusting the string- bridges and recurves/ siyahs.

 Yesterday I´ve shot the osage flight 137.5 at 22″ ,same 195grs. arrow:

That´s speeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed...........................
Osage- flight at 20"- looking like a trapezoid- I love it: bowery is geometry, said a friend of Homer!
My daughter wanted to give the osage flight 137.5 a try too- the dog is my birthday- present- a 6 month old dog from Spain- since one week she is mine, what a surprise, she likes my workshop and I love my wife for that!










Making bows of Green Wood- Vol.3- the rowan bow is ready

After having drawn the rowan bow up to 18″ I had to work the tiller a bit for an equal bending. I left it aside for about 7 weeks, last week I could finish the bow. Checking tiller again, sanding, cause of the beauty of the wood at the handle I didn´t wrap the handle with leather or some woolen cloth:

A very fine grain in the wood at the handle

I always try to leave the natural grown shape of a stave. Usually I end up with a very charming and comfortable handle.

Belly- view at the handle- I´m in love with the natural shape of this handle

The string is made of linen, two- coloured, some natural coloured strands mixed up with some yellow dyed strands.

The padding of string is done with red silk.

Backview of the bow

I left some tracks of the inner bark(cambium) at the back.

The bow at 4" brace- height

The tiller of the bow is looking uneven, but limbs are still twisted a bit, maybe I ´ll try to balance it. Depends on the performance of the bow.

The wood is dry now(12%), I picked up the stave 5 month ago.

In the meanwhile I´ve done some more bows of green wood, I really prefer to do wooden bows of green wood now. I could exercise much more control on the drying- process, the wood seems to be much less stressed by the drying, done the usual way causing splits and twists. Now you´ll always find some preworked green staves fixed at square timbers.

Green wood seems to respond way better to a heat- treatment and could be pre- shaped by just fixing it near to the final shape at a square timber for some weeks.

Bows made of green wood perform as well as bows made of 2 or more years air- dried staves!

I´ll shot the bow for performance this weekend and will update you soon.


Bow staves Vol.4- new year staves

After having survived 3 winters here in the heights of the Black Forest, the actual winter began a bit lately in December but such heavily with tons of snow.  Around the 15th of January there was a bit thaw, but the snow came back, again icy temperatures. We all were awaitng spring to come at the earliest in April. But my horse was telling me another story, since a week or so I was wondering why she was rubbing her winter coat off.

shayela- my 18- years old pinto mare forecasting an early spring 2011? The donkey of my daughter wants to be posted too

Last Saturday I found it to comfortable outside for not to go for staves. Last fall I´ve cut down some locusts nearby, time for picking them up and to split them. The last 3 winters there was no way to go to the forests for picking up staves cause of the heavy snows.

......still alive after the snow......its such impressive to feel the freshness all over
tracks of does, deer and maybe boars along my way to the locusts
tracks of does, deer and maybe boars along my way to the locusts
the locusts I´ve felled last fall

The slope where the ranger has adviced me to fell down the locusts is quite steep, the ground was still frozen, a bit dangerous for to handle my chainsaw. I preferred to use my heavy tenon saw.

It was quite exhausting to carry the logs to my car, cause I had to leave it about 100m away.

Last Monday I splitted the logs into staves.

A look at the cross- section shows a first drying crack

The drying crack indicates my way for to split the log, again self bowery is much on cooperating with nature.

A first wedge is blown into the drying crack

Using the first drying crack will guiding the split just right along the center of the log, 4 blows with a light hammer did the job.

The center of the log- on the right there´s the progressing split to be seen
Having split 2 logs into halves

Almost knotfree straight staves, some of them reflexed and so some deflexed staves too.

First staves 2011 are done!

After cutting of the bark it´s drying time, I´ll leave the staves outside till it will rain or snow, the first warm breezes of February will let the staves dry fast.

Next bowXplosion will be of “The perfect bow Vol.1”, a picture- heavy build- along of a real ideal design for wooden bows including how- to´s and measurements, heat-treating revisited and explaining “the tracking of a selfbow”.



Making bows of green wood Vol. 2- A very helpful jig

Another advantage of using green wood for to make selfbows is the possibility to shape it while drying. Vol. 1 was focused on working  a green bowstave a bit longer, wider and thicker than the final dimensions will be. So drying will help us again in making working easier.

But for to draw the drying wood into a shape a jig is needed, a kind of “shaper”. Don´t expect to much what is possible to get. I recommend slight deflex, reflex or recurve. For more curvature I reommend steam- bending( there will be an article about it soon). Anyway I´m not a friend of highly reflexed or recurved bows, maybe they are somehow looking wild or fast, but their performance is often quite disappointing compared with the challenge of making and shooting them.

The jig: as a mindful reader of the bowXplosion you still know it. It´s one of these multi- jigs I prefer so much, it could be used for heat- treating too. And its easy to do.

the jig- sideview, it´s 60" in length

It is made of a squared timber of douglas fir(2″ x 4″ in cross- section). Be generous and choose a real stable timber, maybe some found beech would be a better choice.  The curvature is suited for to get a slightly deflexed bow with long slightly reflexed tips. Usually bowyers have more jigs with different curves: more or no deflex, reflex all over the complete length, more reflex or even some more recurved tips. Anyway it is a good idea to have more than one of such jigs avaible, when a bow made of green wood is drying you can´t use the jig for heat- treating.

.......take care of the right angle.......

The most important thing is to get a right angle all over the length, otherwise you´ll end up with a twisted bow.

Draw parallel lines on the jig- at intervals of about 1/2"

The parallel lines are indicating a center- line for to fix the bow straight.

......the jig could also be used as a ruler for to check the straightness of a bow

Sorry this pic is not to good, but you see the string of this is running just at the edge of the handle:  the bow should be fixed at the jig  so, that the string is running a bit more towards the center of the handle. Heat- treating is so genius, it is possible to correct twists, to add deflex or reflex and at the same time drawweight is increasing!

Heat- treating or drying- jig without curves

Anyway it is possible to use a squared timber without sawing any curves, just straight and stable enough, the shaping could be done by using blocks of wood or cork  as displayed above.

Next volume is dealing with tillering the dried bow.