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!










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Perfect wooden Bow? Vol. 1- speed matters

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flight 137.5 braced at about 4" - made of osage at the top and made of rowan at the bottom
The flights unbraced
The bows backs, at the top there is a simple flight- arrow
That´s the speed for the osage flight 137.5- arrow length is 20", it is weighing 195grs.
That´s the speed for the rowan flight 137.5, same arrow as above

I´m a happy man with that speed and a very satisfied bowyer too. It took me almost 20 years for to make wooden bows performing as fast as hightech- bows- that´s great!!!

Don´t ask me now, why these bow- designs are coming out such fast. It´s some try and errors, I´ll need some time for to realize it. I´m that type of guy following something and not really knowing why.

Above all I was heavily inspired by Marc St. Louis recently posted short elm flightbow, have a look at PALEOPLANET

I just want to do it. I thought about it and come up with some variations. Just have read something about the Golden Angle as a very a well known construction principle in former times(A- frame houses) and in nature(flowers, crystals……). So I gave it a try. Instead of joining the limbs with a tapered finger joint, I attached the well prepared limbs(shaping, steam- bending the angle, heat- treating) to the handle and fixed it with dove tailed wedges, the rowan flight 137.5 is done this way. Don´t be confused about some leftovers of the wedges of a former trial. My first trial went wrong cause I bent the limbs backwards to much while heat treating them. So I cut the limbs of and could use the handle again. The handle is made of mountain- maple, the wedges are made of field- maple as well as the v-spliced in siyahs.

The limbs of the osage flight are v- spliced into the handle which is made of flowery ash and reenforced by small logs of blackthorn at the belly, shaped so for to keep the string as near as possible to the limbs and to allow a comfortable and secure grip.

Length of the osage flight 137.5 is 46″, width is 11/8″ at the handle tapering to about 1/2″ at the tips. The rowan flight 137.5 is measuring 50″ in length, width is tapering from 11/4″ at the handle to 1/4″ at the tips.

Sorry, but I´m still suffering from a badly influenza, so I felt not strong and tough enough for to make the chronos at full draw. At full draw speed will be 200plus f/s.

The design is combining ancient designs like the Angular bows of the Egyptians, the Scythian bows, a lot of the insights of Marc St. Louis, Tim Baker, Steve Gardner, Alan Case, the ATARNET- and PALEOPLANET- members, Adam Karpovicz´ ideas and work on “low stack bow- designs”. Last but not least it is a result of the www and the networks, so this is a kind of global bow.

Next volume is updating the chronos and tells the making of the flights 137.5





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.


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.