Endless Summer, bow- classes, family, things to do during summer and a dog!

Maybe you remember the "Great mulberry swindle"- article posted about one year ago? The mulberry has grown, this scene looks somehow so Chinese to me- I´ve never been in China.

Hey, back again, the longest summer ever? It really seems that a lot of time has gone since my last post. But behind the scenes I´ve prepared a lot of articles and even a new home for the bowXplosion which will be called bowXXplosion.

The main reasons for not posting too much are the great summer, a lots of bow- classes, my lovely family, some renovations at our farm( new fences, the extension of a former barn into a living room……), firewood making, the old- age disease of our both horses( they´ re at the age of 26) and my dog( the birthday present of my wife).

That´s a lot, our adult daughter spent 2 weeks here to relax from Berlin, where she lives since 10 years, we did a lot of  hikes in the Black Forest and in the French Vosges. We´ve had a great time.

Since 12 years  I did a bow- shooting project with mentally handicaped kids. We´ve 4 mornings, this time I let them flight- shooting only, no targets. I would never have awaited the kids shooting so thrilled, shooting without the limit of the target, as far as possible, that´s it. They came up with so interesting ideas to make the arrow flying further. I´ve never enjoyed shooting with kids so much! I´ll go further with flight- shooting in my archery- classes.

The US- National Flights at the Salt Flats have taken place from the 2nd – the 4th of September. Due to the bad conditions not to much exciting news, but more interest than ever and a lot of infos: Bede Dwyer of the ATARNET and PALEOPLANET´S Alan Case

Some weeks ago the gliding arrows- debate came up again in PALEOPLANET. This time I´ll take for real what sounds like a fairy- tale or some rumor. So the upcoming bowXplosions will be focused on flightshooting with kids, gliding flight- arrows, my trial on a Bill Folberth- flightbow- design( yes, Bill Folberth, the ingenious guy who invented the first automatic windscreen apparatus was a famous bow- designer too), Volume 2 of Bows of Roses and the final tillering of the prod for a crossbow. Now enjoy my pics of a great summer:

The Todtnau Cascades- Germanys longest cascade. That´s not the point- there´s a trail uphills just beside the cascade, halfways the cascade has built a pool, there´s a rainbow in the downfalling water. Such a strong place, it is called to be one of the holiest places in Europe, even if you don´t believe in it, for sure you´ll feel it. Such a far out place to be!
In the Vosges at the Hirschfelsen- there is a real thrilling trail right in the rock bank. Even it looks dangerous my wife succeded in overcoming her fear of heights.
My daughters posing around for some pics
Yesterday- another hot clear day- my wife doing some garden- work, her favourite. Our garden is becoming more and more a paradise.
That´s my birthday-present: Cristy- the street- dog from Spain. She was 4 month old when I got her, she is a bodugero/ Belgian shepherd-dog mix with a very pronounced herding dog behaviour. She turned out to be highly attentive and studiously. The right dog for a dog- beginner, she´s a real companion.
Cristy´s first hike at the Belchen mountain- a bit to long for her, she was really very tired the next days. For to use a cliche´: isn´t she lovely????
Kids- project at Rheinfelden- first trials with a selfmade bow and arrow
Shooting altogether now- the finish of an exciting week
Rheinfelden warriors summer 2011

O.k. that´s history, but a great time to remember, pics of upcoming bowXplosions:

A secretely taken pic of the crossbow- prod- drying time is over soon, final tillering has to be done.
Some bows ready to be finished- 2 flights 137.5, a sinew backed juniper bow, another rowan "Holmegaard"- style shortie...........some more
Giving the mysterious gliding arrows a try
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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


Hornbows Vol.6- sinew- backing the prod

Last volume was dealing with the final shaping of the horn- lam. Now the horn- lam has to be backed with sinew- fibres. But before backing the prod has to be wrapped with bundles of sinew- fibres.

precoating the prod all over its length at least 4 times
The wrappings are enforcing the joints of the horn- slats and the recurves
After having wrapped the prod with the sinew- bundles, the prod is wrapped with cotton- or silk cloth for to press the fibres as close as possible to the prod
2 weeks later the cloth- wrapping is removed- the prod is ready for the backing

About a quarter of  prod´s thickness will be the sinew- backing,  3- 4 layers of sinew- fibre- bundles has to be prepared. According to a total length of 30″ minus the recurves about 25″ of the prod´s length and an average- width of 2″ incl. the sides of the prod , so about 50 sq.inches have to be backed. As a total that means 4-5 buffalo- leg- sinews have to be spliced, at least a job of 8h.

The backed prod- one day after the backing
Closer and better sideview at the backing- one day after it has been done. The backing is still about 1/2" in thickness, when it is dry it will have about 1/3"- 1/4" of the prods thickness.

Waiting time! At first I planned to finish the prod in April or May, that´s to less time for the polymerisation. I´ll do it at the end of August, 9 month after having backed the prod.

So next volume will be focused on the braced and ready to final tiller- work prod.

Hornbows Vol.5- the crossbow- final shaping of the horn- lamination

Sorry, sorry again, for this time-delayed report about the making of the prod for the crossbow. The prod is almost ready, maybe within the next 2 weeks I´ll go to do the final tillering.

The final shaping of the horn- lam is a delicious job to do, cause while drying horn-lams are more or less twisting sidewards. The job to do is to end up with a straight, symetrically prod- lengthwise, in width and in thickness with oval cross- sections. The cross- section of the recurves should be rectangular. I don´t use any machine for this job, machines are nothing else but very fast hand- tools, too fast for delicious jobs, no machine can replace the feeling I got from shaping and tillering thousands of bows by my own hands.

That´s how the lam looked after glueing- no recurves added, not shaped

A rough shaping has been done, the recurves had been spliced in, time for final shaping.

The draw- knife is my favourite tool for shaping the horn- lam

My wife will use the horn- splinters as a fertilizer in our garden. The white lines on the back are cutted through glue- lines.

.......done- isn´t it looking elegant?

I´ve even bent it some 5″ for to check an even tiller of the 2 limbsif you do bend a horn- lam the first time, it´s a horrible experience, cracks and cracks, that´s the usual sound………when I bent my first horn bow years ago, my nerves were done.

Next volume is dealing with the sinew– wrapping and sinew- backing of the horn- prod

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.

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!










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





Sinew- Backing Vol. 2- nothing new on the planet- applying a sinew backing

It is a  must to degrease the wood or the horn, don´t use some of these chemical killers, just use a solution of water and pure wooden ashes. Take care: this is a killer too, it´s a base, historically used for degreasing, use some working gloves.

Wether to apply a sinew-backing to a wooden bow or to a hornbow, to precoat with a thin solution of glue several times is an additional must. Otherwise the glue can´t penetrate deep enough the wood or horn, the glueline is not as stable as it could be.

The sinew- backing needs to be well organized: the workshop has to be well tempered, the glue has to be heated up to 140F or 60C, too much heat will destroy the glue. To less heat will leave the glue to tough.

A dish of lukewarm water has to be prepared for to soak the sinew- fibre bundles about 2 minutes.

The bow has to be fixed in a small vice.

The setting for a sinew- backing: f.l.t.r. dish for soaking the fibre bundles- bow- heated glue

The glue has to be kept to the right temperature with some tealights. The containers used for soaking the fibre- bundles and for the glue have to fit the length of the fibres.

1st: soaking the bundles in water for at least 1minute, when removing them press some water out of them
2nd: soaking the bundles in the glue
3rd: Applying the first bundle right at the handle

Go on applying bundles towards the tip of the first limb. Usually 1 bundle will cover about 1/2″ of the width of a bow´s limb. The bundles should be applied staggered for not to end up with a running through the width glue-line.

Flattening of a bundle on the bow´s back

The guy helping me this post to become true is Stefan, making a Hun- type style hornbow(asymmetrical). It´s his first sinew- backing. The sinew- backing just covers the v- splice with the siyahs.

The first layer is done!

Two additional layers will have to be applied. 2 – 3 layers of sinew- backing is enough, wether it is a wooden bow or a hornbow. Otherwise to much weight is added to the bow. Waiting time is beginning just right now. The elders have left a sinew- backed bow for 4-8 months alone. I don´t know why a lot of modern “primitive bowyers” are ignoring the fact that the so- called drying of a sinew- backing is in truth a polymerization. Polymerization needs its time!

“Time is a healer, where is the patient? “(T.S.Eliot)

Next volume is dealing with the tillering of a sinew- backed bow.


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.


Hornbows Vol. 4- the crossbow: rough shaping, attaching the recurves

Vol. 4 of “Hornbows” is posted right now!

The first bracing of the crossbow will be soon, I think it will be in April, my report about its making of is time delayed.

After having “puzzled” pieces of horn to a solid block, the block needs to be roughly shaped and the recurves have to be attached. I wanted to use antler as recurves, but I can´t get any antler solid enough for a heavy hornbow, so I ended up in using tips of the waterbuffalo- horns I´ve used anyway for the bow.

Checking the horn- body of the bow- sideview

There is a slight reflex in it, that´s what I wanted, don´t care about any imperfections here, the hornbow needs to be shaped, it´s still to wide, to thick to long.

Rough layout of the final shape for to attach the recurves matching the centerline

The bow has to be cut according to a centerline at 23″ in length, width is 11/2″ in the center, tapering to 1″ at the beginning of the recurves, thickness is about 3/4″ . Thickness and oval cross- section will be worked before wrapping and backing bow.

The recurves will be spliced in, the splice measures 3 3/4″ in length, the recurve itself is 4″ in length. So the bow will end up at 31″ in length.

The v- splice for the recurves

A v- splice is stable enough, even at such high draw- weights, the bow will be wrapped with sinew- fibers completely and sinew- backed. When the splice is cut the recurve will be worked for to fit in the bow.

Even I prefer hand- saws I use my bandsaw with a slaughterhouse- blade for to splice in the recurves
The v- splice is finally worked with a rasp and a handsaw
Checking the fitting of the recurves- the tips of the recurves have to be in line with the handle- section of the bow

For a proper glueing all glue lines are criss- cross hatched with a saw- blade, before final glueing is done, the glue- lines have to be coated with a thin solution of hide-glue.

Next volume is dealing with the shaping of the cross- section, the wrapping and backing of the bow with sinew.