Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Longbow Work

The longbow has a bit of a dogleg in it with a sharp reflex and a slight deflex at the tip on one limb. I've steamed it a bit to take out a little of that, it's reduced the reflex from 3 3/4" to 2 3/4" some more of this will pull out during tillering. (Compare the pic on the left with the one in the previous post.)
This deflex and the sideways waggle in the stave makes it a pig to get braced and gives it a tendency to try and bend sideways.
I've teased it slowly back to get it to a decent brace and pulled it to about 22" at 50# so it's well on the way, as I'm working it down I'm taking care to improve the string line and increase the lateral stability*. I haven't really decided which is the upper limb yet as both have features, the lateral waggle, a cluster of pin knots, a small but very dead knot through back and one big knot coming therough the side. The big knot looked very worrying, but as the belly has been worked down it is slowly disappearing leaving a nice swirl of grain and a dip in the heart wood.
I think it will need a lot exercising and slowly teasing it back to full draw, but it should maybe be ready for a test shot by the weekend assuming it doesn't explode!

* As the bows thickness is reduced but it's width satys much the same it becomes increasingly easy to bend towards the belly rather than sideways. I have some extra tip width which allows me to remove wood from one side or other of the tip to adjust the string line to help avoid any tendency to bend sideways. Once the bow is nearing completion the tips get narrowed to fit the horn nocks.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A Visitor and Some Staves

I had a visit from Brian who is fairly local to me, it was a bit of a shock as he's 6'4" with a 30" (approx) draw. The Laburnum I'd hoped to use for a longbow for him doesn't have enough length so I took down the spliced billets from my shelf which I'd done last February (so the glue should be dry by now ;-) )
We had a good chat and a try out with a couple of bows measuring his draw length as about 29.5" I sorted out 3 of the spliced staves which might suit a 50# @ 30" bow, I'll work each one down a bit to see how they feel.
The first has a good deal of natural reflex and has been roughed down with bandsaw and drawknife, it's begining to flex already. It's quite a good stave but there are a few tricky areas, but it is promising.
It's good to get back to feeling wood under the drawknife again. I've got it 74" long at the moment and with 30" draw and that reflex, the wood will be working fairly hard, although 50# isn't too much strain.
He's currently shooting a worn out old club bow that's only about 30# but he seemed comfortable pulling Twister (only to 28" on strict orders and with my arrows) He felt 45# would probably do, but I said if we aim for 50# maximum, I can always loose 5 or 10# but it's much harder to put it back on if he'd wished for more.
I'm sure I can find a bit more cast that the soft old club bow.
Now I've got the bit between the teeth I'll press on!

I reviewed some of my other staves too, but the best of the ones which will suit primitives aren't seasoned yet, but could maybe be roughed down a bit to hasten the seasoning.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Shooting Down an Idiot!

I just stumbled across this old video and I though it might tickle you guys. 
On an archery forum back in 2013 someone asked if spine was important when sourcing material for crossbow bolts. 
I said no, as there is no sideways force to flex the bolt.
Some know-it-all bawled me out for giving "dangerous advice" and said a bolt could buckle under the force. 

So, I said I reckoned I could make a bolt out of paper that would shoot from my 50# @ ~6"bow pistol.
Was I right, did it work?
I've just put it up on Youtube:-


Monday, 9 January 2017

Cooee Folks

Just to let you all know I haven't fallen off the planet, I'm just a bit busy with decorating the kitchen... It's that time of year when wives get fed up with the dull weather and being stuck in doors, so they get their husbands to decorate! To be fair I've been putting it off for a good few years and I get off fairly lightly so I shouldn't complain, and to be honest I enjoy it once I get started. I s'pose that's one of life's secrets, if you've got to do something you may as well do the best you can and try to enjoy it. I s'pose I was fairly lucky in my working life insofaras I enjoyed it, though it's better being retired.

I haven't stopped thinking about bows and I've been writing up pieces for the Field Archery News UK online magazine, the next bit is about heat bending and heat treating, I'll take some pics off this blog to be included.
I've also been planning some projects, I have some Laburnum which is a bit curved, maybe I'll make a pair of billets and do a boo backed Laburnum or even Yew backed as I have some good strips of Yew sapwood.

The garage is pretty much unusable for bowmaking at the moment as I'm making a couple of tall  broom-cupboard doors out of MDF and they take up a lot of room, the MDF makes a horrendous amount of dust too, it's horrid stuff compared with real wood, but is quick and stable and flat. I found I have a router bit which has give them nice rounded edges which will look good. They will be painted with white emulsion to blend in with the walls which is a blessing as it's quick and easy.
The bit I'm dreading is washing down the walls which are a bit yellowed and greasy up near the cooker hood, I did a try out with sugar soap which is usually pretty good but didn't shift it, maybe I'll try oneof these fancy new products, I don't hold out much hope as generally they are just flim flam. I bought some "stain block" spray once to cover a watermark on a ceiling, totally useless, used some old gloss paint in the end and that did the job... maybe that's where the expression gloss over it comes from?... Probably just no substitute for hard work I'm afraid.
tried some Cilit Bang that was lurking in the cupboard under the sink, that seemed to cut through it, I'll probably buy a commercial equivalent from screwfix or Toolstation (doubtless cheaper).
I'll be chomping at the bit to get back to some real wood soon.
Anyhow, I've just rubbed down one door and dusted it off, the dust should have settled by now, so I can go and give it a lick of paint.
Then it's tea and toast.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Festive Harvest

I got an E-mail from my mate Stuart suggesting some Hazel Harvesting over the holiday as an excuse to get out doors and into the woods. It was a well needed breath of fresh air, he got a nice haul of Hazel shoots for arrows and a few staves for Native American style bows and primitives. I cut a nice length of Elder that I've had my eye on for a while as maybe a flight bow or a primitive.

I've added a point to the Archer Automaton's arrow so he can shoot at longer ranges (up to 10 yards so far!) and have the arrow stick in nicely. I drilled a hole in the end of the arrow using my lathe and inserted a cut off length of panel pin.
I've also fine tuned his free pivoting elbow joint for a more reliable catch of the string.

Mean while I've been reliably informed that I should make some cupboard doors for an alcove in the kitchen and re decorate it too. S'pose I shouldn't grumble as I've been manging to stall on this for about 2 years!

Hey happy 2017 to one and all, maybe if we are lucky we'll avoid WWIII

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Funny Old Year 2016

Ha! I've got the archer automaton fished:-

Been a funny old year even ignoring world politics (which I try to do here).
I've made some decent bows, a 150# Warbow being my heaviest yet, an Osage flight bow that stretched my PB out a few yards to 310 yards. not to mention the hickory flight bow that was a bit dodgy with it's arrow snapping, 'shoot through' window.
The wonky hazel was fun and there were other primitives too, not all of which survived! A half of the Yew heartwood primitive which I ended up destruction testing became a mini bow which I shipped to the states for the Marshall  Primitive Archery Rendezvous mini bow challenge.

At a personal level, my funny turn at the start of the year made me wonder about the nature of memory and self, having lost my memory for several hours. We lost a pet cat and got another (rescue cat) I've retired and had plenty of visitors both old and new friends. I've harvested some Yew with friends and kept pretty busy. Retiring in September has given me more time to ejoy making bows and doing other stuff on my 'want to do' list.

The archer automaton has been engrosing and has been well received on Youtube, as have the two video series of making a Warbow and an ELB.
At times I get a bit jaded (especially after a breakage) and take a rest from making bows, but they always call me back. I'm still making a few to commission, but I'm getting more inclined to only make them for friends or those who are close at hand, that way I can maintain them... it's worth noting that having Warnbow shooting friends is an education in itself and the bows do need some care attention and maintenance to maximise their life.
Anyhow enough blethering on, all the best to all who read this and those I see at shoots I wish you all good fortune good health and good shooting for 2017.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Chasing a Mirage

Ah! The automaton is a bit like a mirage which vanishes just when it appears to be within your grasp. Fortunately I like problem solving!

At one point he was catching onto the string nicely but as it drew back all the force was bending the upper bow limb and the string became slack below his hand and came off the lower nock. It took a while to work out what was going on.
There are so many changing angles and variables in timing and position between the two movements. Even when it works successfully, there is no guarantee it will work right next time.

I'm slowly taking the slop out of the mechanism and designing in stuff to make it work correctly. Firsly I've made the bow pivot in the bow hand which ensures even tension on the string both above and below the hand. (Yes that's yet another bow...)
The control rods are being uprated again to steel cut from sheet, fortunately the bandsaw will manage thin mild steel (not finished yet). I'll be improving all the pivots by drilling tighter tollerance holes with a nice set of drills which I've got Santa to order from Axmister tools . I've also ordered some tiny self tapping screws (size 0, from E-bay), the plan is to remove the slop and then make the hand that catches the string adjustable so that it can be set in the correct position to reliably catch the string.

I'm pretty sure I'll get there in the end, and I've made one more crucial piece... the nock on the string which the hand catches onto was made of linen thread with superglue soaked ito it, which I'd then tried to file into a conical shape. The conical shape allows the hand to slip past it in one direction and then snag on it as it pulls back. Now I'm sure you can imagine that trying to file something like that is nigh on impossible, so, I thought I'd turn a cone on my little lathe, but from what material?
Trying to drill a 1mm hole in something hard is tricky, then I thought maybe horn, then, even better antler!... it turned brilliantly and even parted off cleanly, it was fine up to the point when I dropped it on the floor never to be seen again! Oh well the lathe was still set up and the antler still in the chuck so I just made another. I haven't tried it yet, but I've threaded it onto some of the linen thread I use as the bow string.

I'm enjoying this and it will give me something to tinker with over the holiday period. No pics now, I'll save 'em (and hopefully a working video) for my end of year review.

Talking of which, I looked at last years review and what I had planned for 2016 I was a bit optimistic when it cam to flight shooting, but I did gain a few yards!