First post since months – no excuse – just more bows and arrows!

 

Hope you enjoy the bows and arrows posted above, details will be posted soon.

I did a lot of bow- classes the last months, our new family members, the mountain- sheeps needed a lot of time: they turned out to be world class escapees, so we’ ve to try out different types of fences. Finally I ended up in making lots of the good old sheep hurdles, I don’ t like to see sheep dying in an electric fence.

This winter is really hard, not to cold but snow since five months, I almost forgot how the world is looking without snow. Where is the spring of 2013? Outside it’s still very cold and there’ s still this snow!

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Speed, Speed, Speed………………….is the place!

Recently I came across the following discussion http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/11885/Questions-about-really-fast-wooden-bows?page=1#.T69m8JOljb4 in the PaleoPlanet forum. Asking if anybody has made a so- called catamaran– bow  in the same forum I got some comments focused on very fast wooden bows: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/50882/very-fast-wooden-bows#.T9YPeZOljb4 in general, but no comment about that bow. I guess nobody has made it to date.

Anyway I decided to give this design a try by modifying 2 bows I´ve yet done as flightbows. Maybe you remember my article “Making of a wooden flightbow- 2.5×2 double dragons” and this pic:

 

I chose the osage bow(2nd from above) and the euonymus bow( at the bottom). 

The osage bow was 44lbs at 23″.

First I made a jig for to steambend the long non- bending tips of the bow into an about 30° angle. The bending worked well, osage is really one of the best woods for to be steambent. I left the bent tips in the jig for some hours, then I heat- treated them for to dry and to fix the angles.

Originally I wanted to split the tips with my small bandsaw as Tim Baker has posted it in his comment about the so- called catamaran bow. But when I braced the bow for to check its new tiller, I was heavily surprised by its power and springiness.

I´ve made my experiences with split- limb bows when being the bowyer of a research- project focused on the reconstruction of Boeotian and Egyptian bows. Cause there had been some problems with stability I decided not to split the tips. But for security reasons I added some string- bridges, they are thought to be removed when I´ve  done the first shots with the bow.

Bow unbraced, sideview
Bow braced
Backview, some leftovers of the pics I had originally glued to the back
Bow drawn to 20″

The length of the bow is 45″, the handle is 51/2″ in length, the tips are 91/8″ in length. The limbs are 13/8″ at the handle and about 1/2″ at the nocks. The draw- weight has increased to 51lbs at 23″.  I´ve left the tips in their grown shape. That´s it.

The chronos were done with a 155grs. hex-shaft made of cedar.

First shot, drawn to about 21″

The following 8 shots were 240- 255f/s, one last shot for today.

I´ve never expected such a killer- speed!!!!!!!

I couldn´t help to do another shot, but ended up with 262f/s.

To chrono a bow is a somehow a tricky thing, it depends a lot on the release of the arrow, I don´t find myself to be very experienced in speed- or flightshooting, I´ve still to practise it much more.

I´ve  to thinkover this design and this high speed,actually still enjoying it.

Some adds: I was really hesitating to post the high speed of the bow, cause I´m not quite sure what´s the reason for. I´m still thinking over it and above all I´ve to do more chronos for to confirm the results. And I hope the rainy weather we are suffering from since weeks will stop very soon for to make the flightshoots with the bow, I´m expecting shots at 350- 400? yards.

If I look at the working of the limbs it is very obvious that the further the bow is drawn the straighter the limbs become, so the long tips are not working like static recurves at all. Maybe my wife is right when stating that this bow is built up of 6 bows, 2 longer bows( main limbs), 2 short bows( the transition from the main limbs into the tips) and 2 stiff bows(long tips).

Next BowXplosion will be on the modifyied euonymus- bow mentioned above. 

Don´t be to impatient with the crossbow, it is still in the drying state, cause I´ve had to add another sinew- layer for tiller- reasons.


THE KIDS GOT IT! 33 NEW SELFBOWS = 1 TO BE SELFBOWYER

Ready for spring 2012, we´ve finished our selfbows we were working from last fall on!!

Wow, I love those kids! 

Since 10 years I´m instructing  kids of the Hans- Thoma– Gymnasium in Lörrach to make selfbows and arrows the traditional way. The lessons take place every Thursday afternoon, 90min., we begin in the first week of October, usually we´re ready at the same time when the first warmer days of  spring are finally happening. That´s a perfect time management. The kids are such excited after having finished the bows and arrows, they want nothing else than to shot. Even me can´t wait to see them bracing their bows, drawing them and releasing the arrows, but there has still some instructions to be done about the handling of the bow, not to forget the safety rules.

The first bracing is done! Ready for the shots!
Some unavoidable posing
They should better look where the arrows will go!
Anyway it is done.

I instruct kids in bowmaking the old way since 19 years, the great thing beside being around with following up generations is the fact, that of every workshop I did there´s at least one guy or girl having found a passion and will stuck for a longer time to selfbowery. Or far better will become a self- employed or part- time self- employed bowyer. I know 2 former disciples of mine being now full time bowyers, about 10 being part- time bowyers, quite a lot of them making bows and selling them via ebay or flee- markets or instructing bow- classes. I´m really proud of that.

Spring, Spring, Spring…………………….

After a short but very cold wintertime, spring is back again!

First outdoor shooting 2012 with my kids- bow-class at the T.Heuss Gymnasium at Schopfheim. The times inside we made new arrows, armguards , we did some maintenance of the bows and strings and some gymnastics focused on the course of motions when shooting a bow.

The  kidswere fit as fiddles, Simeons first shot 2012 was a “kill”, the balloon explodes!

Checking the bows and arrows, dressing the new selfmade armguards
Stephen shooting a bamboo bow
Looking for the arrows, the red balloon is still alive
Simeon( in the middle ) has just "killed" the balloon with a mountain maple selfbow.

Spring has come.

Next bowXplosion is on flightbows again, the retros are ready as well as an interesting tonkin- cane bow with forged limbs.

The Great Fibre- Glass Mind Destroyer!!!!

As the BOWXPLOSION has turned out to be one of the most popular blogs focused on the making of PRIMITIVE BOWS and ARROWS ( the term primitive is used proudly) worldwide, I´ll enforce my posting. I´ve persuaded some guys to leave their high- tech archery tackle and to give the primitive way a try.

That´s great!

This year turned out to be the year of wooden bows. Bowyers from all over the world have contributed to enforce  the capablities of wooden bows. Now we´ve got it: wooden bows outperforming fibre- glass bows.The 200f/s bareer has been broken several times.  Thanks to Marc ,St.Louis, Steve Gardner, Alan Case……….for to call a few of these restless guys.

This year turned out to teach much more children and teens for me. My cooperation with schools has heavily increased, I love it. For to make it short: the kids told me that target archery is a mess! I do more and more flight- archery with kids, that´s it! I would go so far to recommend every archery beginner to do flight- archery at first, cause it reqires every capablity needed for accurate shooting without that boring, outmoded kill- pressure. Make your arrow travel as far as possible, kids love it, you´ll love it! Target- archery is a male dominated one-way road.

I´ll post a closer look to flight- shooting kids soon.

Mindful readers of the bowXplosion just have noticed my own growing passion for flight- archery, that´s true, since almost 10 month I´ve not done any target- shooting. I´ve tried to make some great performing wooden flight bows and succeded. It is pure fun to shoot one of my flights 137.5 or one of my double dragons and to think over how to improve them or my flight- shooting style.

This will end up in a new design for the bowXplosion- blog too, more focused on flight- shooting and a closer look behind the scene.

This is an old traditional Hopi kachina- the spirit of the bow- hunter- the first great fibre- glass mind destroyer


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.



Making bows of Green wood Vol.1- Rowan flightbow

O.k., first article 2011. It´s a “to be continued” of “Bow- staves- Vol.2- making a bow from green wood”

The mentioned rowan- bow is ready, but to far away from 50lbs at 23″: 27lbs at 23″, what´s wrong about it? I did the bow to thin! That´s all, cause of my lack of experience in making bows of rowan- saplings. To fail is the teacher you´ll never forget.

Anyway I heat- treated much more reflex into the bow, I didn´t succeed in increasing the drawweight: if there is to less material, it is a no- go to enforce a selfbow. It´s quite better to cut away to less wood 20 times than to cut to much wood away one time! It´s not possible to add wood to a selfbow. Usually I keep such a failed bow, sooner or later a customer will ask for it.

The bow was tested, 27lbs at 23″, I did no chronos, it shoots a 350grs.- arrow at about 130yards.

th rowan bow is on the left
The rowan bow at 18"- checking the tiller

Beside the failed drawweight the bow is matching my expectations. I want the slightly reflexed limbs to become straight when drawn, most working is just beside the handle, so there is a quite well energy- storage.

This bow is a kind of study for to more get confident with the deflex/reflex- design I´m actually studying.

The second trial with a rowan- sapling:

The rowan stave

What looks straight is a bit snaky and twisty too, but with someheat-treating I could get by with it.

This stave is still green too

Cause the stave is green, it´s really easy to straighten it finally, but there´ll remain some tracks of its naturally growing- pattern. That´s what makes selfbows such distinctively genuine.

Checking the center- line of the stave

The handle is almost completely beside the center- line. Laying out the handle and the skinny tips. I wanted to make a longer handle as usual for to shorten the working area of the limbs. Combined with the skinny tips, this is a way for to mix the qualities of a longer bow with the capablities of a shorter bow: good leverage and a quick movement of the limbs.

Working the stave roughly with the ax

My Swedish ax is one of the best tools I´ve ever bought, this blacksmith is making single pieces, just tell him what you want. The most important thing is a premium blade, highly durable and not to heavy. If an ax is to heavy, it is not possible to make exactly cuts and your hands will be tired soon.

Using my shaving horse beside the warm wood-stove while winter has heavily begun

 

The design is cut
The skinny tips- finally the tips will be thicker than the bending/working parts of the limbs
The extra long handle
So far: the bow is ready for to clamped on the jig
So far: the bow is ready for to be clamped on the jig

Next volume will be focused on making a jig for drying a greenwood- bow, it could also be used for heat- treating.



Asymmetrical bow- designs Vol.3- maruki- yumi made of juniper

Maybe you remember this stave:

 

juniper stave spring 2010

 

I have cut it last spring, just when winter has gone, look at: harvesting wood

In the meantime it has become a maruki- style bow, a yumi made of a single piece of wood, the fore- runner of the delicious to do yumi made of bamboo. It measures 75″ in length, 11/4″ in width at its widest point at the handle.

 

the juniper maruki- at 26",48lbs

 

There are still some details to work, tillering it at 30″, about 55lbs, sanding, polishing, coating with walnut- oil.

 

juniper- maruki braced- slight recurves

 

The recurves are steam- bent, the s-shaped natural growing was at first heat- treated, but without any appreciable succes, so steam bending was required. The bow insisted on keeping a bit of its natural shape, I agreed, the string is running across the handle. Juniper is quite delicious to heat- treat or to steam bend, cause of its content of essential oils. The workshop smells great when working juniper. Store the splinters as a remedy against clothes moths.

The ratio of the length of the upper limb to the length of the lower limb is 1.61- the Golden Ratio.

 

sideview- unstrung

 

 

belly view- s- shape, the string is crossing the handle at the left side, where the arrow is shot off

 

The string is made of linen, the slight recurves are wrapped with thin  buckskin, the handle is wrapped with a thicker buckskin, buckskin is naturally tanned with fat.

Eventhough I prefer short bows, I like this style of “primitive” yumi, due to its asymmetry it makes you feel to shoot a somewhat shorter bow than it really is. For to use it to full capacity, I guess I´ve to take some kyudo lessons.

This bow makes me feel very happy: juniper is one of my favourite plants, but I´ve never succeded in making a juniper- selfbow, they´ve all broken. I succeded in making shorter bows of juniper by backing  them with sinew, juniper is very compression strong but tension weak. But this stave is completely knot- free with very thin growthrings- perfect. Done as long selfbow, it is a durable character bow.