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Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

Posted February 17, 2009 12:00 AM by Del the cat

Editor's Note: How do you weather the winter in Harlow, England? Well, you build a bow or two, of course! In the final part of this two-part series, CR4's own Del the Cat shares some excerpts from the rest of his Bowyer's Diary. (Click here if you missed Part 1).

January 16

Today, I'm working down the smaller, worse half of the beech stave (bow #2). The moisture content is staying very high (20%) under the bark, which I'm leaving on and hoping to polish. The back is highly crowned with a length about 63" (2 ½" wide). It will make an "interesting" bow to test the timber before using the good stave, which I have de-barked (using the axe a bit like a draw-knife).

January 18

Bow #2 is coming along very nicely. The moisture content is 15% under the bark on the handle. I pulled a long string onto it and pulled it back to 40 lbs. The limbs only come back a couple of inches, but it's beginning to realize it's a bow and not a log!

January 24

I've take a spokeshave to the back since the steep crown wasn't allowing the draw-weight to come down whilst maintaining the desired width. This means I lose the bark, but I can keep it on the handle. Meanwhile, the remaining bark is a good guideline as the growth rings are very indistinct on the back. I've got the final string on now and it's come back to 40 lbs. at 21". It's strung fairly low, which I shall retain for maximum power. It's looking rather pretty.

January 26

I'm virtually finished with 40 lbs. at 28". Bow #2 shoots 170 yards. It's had a coat of varnish (B&Q quick-drying satin finish) wiped on with a rag, and has been rubbed down with a second coat done.

The tips of the limbs have been lightened and the nocks finished off. I've added a water-buffalo horn arrow plate. I'll rub it down a bit at the limb tips and give it a final wipe of varnish. I've put my monogram and details on it. I'm pleased with it.

January 30

With my new camera, I took some videos of me shooting the bow. It looks good. The videos are better than anticipated.

January 31

I shot the bow at Celtic Archers today. It shoots really sweetly. I can aim a tad higher on the long shots than with the yew bow, which is good as the pile is nearly on the target (still closer than point blank). It outdistanced one of the 50-lb. longbows by about 10 yards!

When I got home, I took a bit more off the nocks and increased the bracing height up to 5" (it was about 4 ¾"). I'm very pleased. The bark almost looks like a burnished coppery colour when the sun catches it.

February

Hmmm. What's next?

Editor's Note: Can't wait for a future instalment of Del's Archery Adventures? Then check out this video of Del's birch bow in action. You might also like to check out this nifty graph.

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#1

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 7:49 AM

I like the chalk lines on the wall showing the progressive draw.
And that graph is cool.
Nice job.

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#2

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 7:53 AM

Wait a second, that looks like a human hand in the picture! I'm starting to wonder if Del is really a cat.

I've never had much interest in archery but I find this all very intriguing.

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#3
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 7:57 AM

Cheers,
(BTW I get my hoomans to help me...that's one of 'em in the video..he's the one wot feeds me every morning)
Del

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#4

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 11:57 AM

Is the graph showing data for when you gradually stress the bow before using ? Like over days ? I was just trying to figure the slight kinks in the lines, and finking if it correlated with weather....Daft, I know, but it's like the Clint Eastwood film - I got to know. Might be just down to some of the fibres giving, but for some idiotic reason I want to know if your bow acts as a barometer ! (beats digression to guns 'n' stuff ). Please don't tell me it's just time of day when you took readings, Ill be most upset if it's too obvious and I look silly.

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#5
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 5:05 PM

The graphs are just done by winching (or pulling) the bow back on the tillering rig and reading off the distance and poundage (over a short a time as possible, 'cos bows don't like being held at full stretch...remember the one that smashed?)...there's a fair bit of error due to parallax and the spring balance being a cheapo job, but it's still pretty.

I just took some figures from one of my crossbows but the graph is too scary to show you guys (although in your current personna...)
Del

Oh well if you insist....The area under each curve is idicative of the stored energy in the bow... just look at that sucker top left bearing in mind I couldn't take it the last inch 'cos it was off the end of my spring balance.

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#9
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 2:40 AM

Oh .....I wanted some agonizing story of cracking sounds as you loaded the thing and heard fibres breaking.At the very least, "Nice sunny day today, bow has drooped more than expected.."

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#11
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 2:46 AM

When I made my first longbow it was 350lb draw weight, it snapped at full draw with a huge crack crash bang and decatipated me, fortunately I had a few lives left.

There dear squirrel, is that better?

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#12
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 4:10 AM

..much - I'll figure out if it's head or body typing later. You shouldn't have tried hanging on it !

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#6

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 11:01 PM

Looking good sofar, do you make the arrows also if yes, did you notice any difference in using different materials for arrows?

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#26
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 3:50 AM

.

I make my arrows from Port Orford Cedar shafts which I buy.
Shafts are rated by stiffness (spine) in pounds relating to the draw weight of the bow.
The stiffness of the arrow needs to match the power of the bow, as the arrow has to flex around the bow (I've posted videos of this effect) you can google or you tube 'Archer's paradox' to see more about this.

I havn't tried other materials...
Yes you too should have fun....sorry I neglected to reply earlier..I do try to answer everyone..but I have a very demanding Squirrel to look after.

Del

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#7

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 11:29 PM

Wonderful! I'm an avid traditional archer and finished my first bow recently. Then promptly snapped it. (after 2 dozen shots) It was a 70# hickory flatbow... I think 70#s is too much for hickory. Fortunately I live in an area with an abundance of Pacific Yew and have started whittling on some staves I harvested a couple of years ago. I've enjoyed your posts. Thanks!

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#10
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 2:43 AM

with an abundance of Pacific Yew.

Whaaaaa I'm soooo jealous
Yew is really gorgeous as a bow, looks great with the natural two tone look, and nice cast too.
Here's a pic of the handle area of my longbow...I had to work around that big knot, I joke to the modern archers that it's where I screw in the stabiliser.
Have fun
Del

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#14
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 4:41 PM

Did you ever use or hear of using black cherry for bows? I can see the dual nature of the yew grain....one appears to be able to compress while the other can stretch......perfect for a bow no? Lots o Yew at Kew by the way.........not to suggest anything mind you.

Reason I ask is because after harvesting a few of the mature trees here a violin bowmaker came by and 'saw' what he was looking for. Apparently the grain has to have a specific spiral which starts close to the heartwood about halfway up the trunk. Not exactly easy to see and has to be 1/4 cut at the mill to be able to be seen. Out of one tree he could only get four 5' lengths that would make the bow. The other five trunks didn't make the grade.

The hardwoods here at at their most northerly limits and the grains are tightly grown.

I thought I'd mention it remembering your telling me how ones sees the bow in the wood.

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#15
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 4:57 PM

I have a black locust that has to come down in the spring. It's about 32" at the base, nice and strait and healthy. Unfortunately, in the wrong location.

I've not heard of it for bow-making, but it would seem to have all the properties. Any advice?

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#16
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 5:14 PM

Black locust:- just looked it up in 'TTBBvol1', it says it needs carful seasoning, don't let it dry out too quickly as it can start splitting. Suggested bow width 1 5/8 " so make a wideish flat bow, say 66"long, (not a longbow D profile). Pretty much like the bow in this blog. Apparently it has a thin layer of white sapwood...doesn't say if this is any good to leave on as the bow backing ...I'd guess not.
Try googling Black locust bow...you may find some good info.
Del

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#19
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 5:28 PM

Thanks. I'm gonna do some research and try it.

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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 5:45 PM

Good luck and have fun...
You can always PM me if you want any tips.
Del

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#24
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 2:54 AM

But no answer for me

i will use catgut for my next bow

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#22
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 6:53 PM

It's got good outdoor properties and lasts a long time. For indoors I wouldn't advise because it produces a lot of gas.

Other than that I don't know much about it.

I had a huge locust which produced six inch spikes on its trunk. I cut it down after finding a skewered flying squirrel stuck to it....good design for supplying it's own nutrients.

I tried burning it as firewood but the damn wood nearly melted my stove.

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#25
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 3:09 AM

don't know much about it

Quackle it !

One of these (#2 I think) is Black Locust, and guess what it is.......

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#27
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 7:10 AM

A boxwood with a red x in the middle?

Quackling http://duckduckgo.com/Black_locust (cute, that) don't say much about the nature of the wood eg..how much it shrinks when dried, is it safe to use inside, will the grain unravel with time etc etc. Seems the only thing it's used for is outdoor furniture and decking.

Too bad it wasn't an American Chestnut. There's fences from the 18th century that are still standing made from it. Makes nice looking furniture too.

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#28
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 11:03 AM

Now I've got excess space as well !

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#29
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 12:05 PM

Look like dildos to me.................

hee hee

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#31
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 12:45 PM

Baaad duck !

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#32
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/20/2009 7:30 AM

Well, they do look like dildos. I use 'em on an old 42' two masted wooden New England sailboat a chum and I restored. Besides what the conventional thinking is a dildo is in fact a tapered wooden peg used as a temporary tie down cleat. It's also the name of a town in Newfoundland the residents of which bear a striking resemblance to the statues pic you posted.

And to think I got booted off this thread for mentioning it.

most offended....sniff....

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#34
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/20/2009 8:51 AM

.....a tapered wooden peg used as a temporary tie down cleat....

Thanks for that enlightenment - many years ago I had a discussion about what those 'things' were called - Now I know!!!

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#35
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/20/2009 1:56 PM

I feel your pain - it's like when you're packing explosive in a hole and etc. The list is long, but I'll spare poor Del's thread.

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#36
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/20/2009 4:29 PM

I know what you mean. It's always best to check for cats in the hole before plugging it.

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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/21/2009 3:12 AM
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#30
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 12:12 PM

Oh, man, those spikes are brutal. There must be some poison in them, as if you get bit by one, instant infection.

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#33
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/20/2009 7:56 AM

It's some kind of nerve toxin. Burns for hours.

I discovered that the hard way. Also, the spikes that are on the ground don't rot for years.

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#17
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 5:20 PM

Dunno about cherry...some people say most fruit woods will make a bow but I'm not so sure as I know Pear is poor under shock load.
Cherry is certainly a very attractive wood.
When in doubt make a miniature, say 18" long, it's much quicker than making a full sized bow and you'll learn a lot about the wood, and cause some amusement too.
You'll soon find out if you've been bitten by the bow making bug too.

Del

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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 5:22 PM

Tight grained Yew...you teaser...you are making me reall jealous now..I may just have to come over now.
You wait there, I'll just be a minute or too....
Del

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#21
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 6:34 PM

Ya...no kidding. These trees take 3 to 4 times as long to grow up here as in parts south. Northern hardwoods and pines are particularily sought after for strength and tight grain. The only problem is that the soils are highly mineralized causing the log to crack if not dried correctly eg.de-barked and out of the sun.. I keep some of the best in the 'pond' for a number of years for the guys who build guitars and violins and stuff...usually spruce... but now I've got my eye on the yews in the town park (they're growing wild and nobody prunes 'em).

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#23
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/19/2009 1:27 AM

Saxson and/or Pope said the best Yew for bows is to be found in Humboldt/Trinity counties in Northern California. My backyard. There are some beautiful yew groves out here. Sorry, I don't mean to make you too jealous. Until I finish my yew bow I shoot 72# Tonkin cane 68" longbow. Bamboo makes for a great shooter. Thanks again for your posts.

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#8

Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/17/2009 11:56 PM

OK Del, I'm calling you out! Your location says England, yet it's not raining in either one of your videos. Come on, tell the truth. You really live in Texas, don't you?

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#13
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Re: Del's Archery Adventures (Bow 2)

02/18/2009 3:33 PM

It doesn't always rain in merry olde England....

Sometimes it snows!!!

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