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:
I always try to leave the natural grown shape of a stave. Usually I end up with a very charming and comfortable 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.
I left some tracks of the inner bark(cambium) at the back.
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.
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.
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.
The most important thing is to get a right angle all over the length, otherwise you´ll end up with a twisted bow.
The parallel lines are indicating a center- line for to fix the bow straight.
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!
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.
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.
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:
What looks straight is a bit snaky and twisty too, but with someheat-treating I could get by with it.
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.
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.
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.
Next volume will be focused on making a jig for drying a greenwood- bow, it could also be used for heat- treating.
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.
There are still some details to work, tillering it at 30″, about 55lbs, sanding, polishing, coating with walnut- oil.
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.
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.
The bow stave is half the work to do a good reliable selfbow. To go out cutting wood is the beginning, to grade the staves and to assign them to a design and to the purpose of a bow is the 2nd step. If you want to make a great performing flightbow, the wood has to withstand heavy tension and compression- forces choose the best stave you´ve, if you´ll do a kid´s bow take the smaller staves. Keep in mind: the handle- area of a selfbow does usually not bend, if there is a knot don´t care to much about it, but it´s a matter of your evaluation. As a rule of thumb you´ll get by if a knot´s cross-section is not more than about 1/3 of the handle´s cross- section.
To debark or not to debark is another question. I do usually debark the woods with shorter fibers( rowan, maple, birch, whitebeam, cherry, plum………..)cause they trend to rotten soon if humidity can´t escape. I left the bark on the long fiber- woods(black locust, osage, elm………..), if they dry to fast they´ll split.
Super bow- woods like hawthorn, blackthorn, euonymus(spindlewood) are told to split soon and heavily while drying. That´s cause of their usually small diameter cross- section. I cut them roughly to a bow´s shape while green and force them with clamps into the chosen design, not any problem working them this way! Look for “Bow staves Vol.2- making a bow of green wood”.
I post a lots of pics of handling bow staves, the stave is 50% of the bow:
This rowan is dedicated to become a deflex/reflex– flightbow, the deflex is naturally grown, the reflex at its ends will be enforced by heat- treating. For to succesfully split a smaller stave, debark it and mark the splitting line. Go for enough material: handle thickness about 11/2″, limbs thickness at least 3/4″. If the split will fail, stop it and use the bandsaw.
Usually a twisted tree is easy to recognize, but some trees like rowan hide their growing. Lately while splitting them you´ll see what´s up. Trees with a thicker and rough bark like elm, black locust, osage, hawthorn, blackthorn tell you soon if they are twisted. Maple, cherry, whitebeam, rowan and plum are less kind, almost no signs of twist in their thinner bark.
Black locust is one of the woods with long fibers, grown straight and knotfree it is a pleasure to split, a few blows and it is done…………………..
The string of a bow has more or less to cross the handle- section. The best case is the string lays towards the side where the arrow is shot off. So for to check the straightness of a bow stave use a chord and string it over the back- side of the stave. It is possible to make a bow with both limbs pointing in an opposite direction, the main thing is, that the string crosses the handle.
There is the rowan from above again. I found this stave just cutted by the forest- ranger for to thin out a hiking trail. It has been rainy, the thicker end of the stave was covered with leaves and some other cutted smaller woods, great conditons for a rottening.
I debarked the stave soon, splitted it, stored it at a breezy and dry place, rottening can´t cause any further damage. The bow will be made as a skinny tip design(holmegaard, mollegabet), so I´ll get by with this stave.
There is a whitebeam to split, a part of a real big tree. One side is to knotty, the other side is knotfree but somehow snaky, anyway a delicious to do bow. But due to the capablities of whitebeam as a bow wood and its beauty it´s very worth to do it.
One of the best rowan staves I´ve ever come across, one straight half, so easy to split.
The bow within this rowan sapling is in its knotfree slightly reflexed half, cause it is of a small diameter, I´ll not split it. The only knot is just in the center, at the bows belly- side at the handle, there is no bending.
Bow staves Vol. 4 will be focused again on making bows of green wood.