First try at a whitewood self-bow

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As I have recently acquired a large quantity of ash, I thought I'd have a go at making bows (as you do).

Not having a drawknife, and being a devout cheapskate, I made a drawknife from an old file and set to with wedges, carving axe , drawknife and spokeshave.

From this:

Ash_1.jpg


Via this:

Ash_2.jpg


and this:

Ash_3.jpg


To this:

Ash_4.jpg


It's come out at about 50lb @ 30" - not as much as I'd hoped, but respectable for a first try. It is now sitting in clamps to finish drying prior to heat treatment, while I start on No2 :)

My daughter has claimed this one already - I'm aiming for something in the 60-70lb @ 30" for myself, so the next one will be a bit shorter and a bit wider. I'm getting slicker at making strings as well, having made 3 in the space of a week (the last bowstrings I made were some 30 years ago :) )

Thanks for looking :D
 

dwardo

Maker
Aug 30, 2006
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Nr Chester
That came out great ;) You say finish drying?
Looks like it might a little flat spot mid limb left or is that prop twist? Either way for a first try that is excellent!
String making is the work of the devil never manage to get my head round it.
 
That came out great ;) You say finish drying?
Looks like it might a little flat spot mid limb left or is that prop twist? Either way for a first try that is excellent!
String making is the work of the devil never manage to get my head round it.

Thank you, kind Sir :)
Finish drying - I may have been a bit impatient to get started... It's been down about 6 weeks, and split for 4. As the garage temperature hasn't got to double figures for longer than that, I doubt the stave is anything like dry enough. I just hope I haven't done the belly too much harm, and will try to contain my enthusiasm on the next one :D
Yes, there's a bit of flat spot on the left, and hint of a hinge just out from it. A little more work needed, methinks.

Stringmaking doesn't seem that difficult with a jig - mine is made from scrap bits of Unistrut! - and I had a big spool of Dacron from years ago in the Box of Useful Items.

Hope you are recovered from the man-flu ;)
 

dwardo

Maker
Aug 30, 2006
6,290
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Nr Chester
Thank you, kind Sir :)
Finish drying - I may have been a bit impatient to get started... It's been down about 6 weeks, and split for 4. As the garage temperature hasn't got to double figures for longer than that, I doubt the stave is anything like dry enough. I just hope I haven't done the belly too much harm, and will try to contain my enthusiasm on the next one :D
Yes, there's a bit of flat spot on the left, and hint of a hinge just out from it. A little more work needed, methinks.

Stringmaking doesn't seem that difficult with a jig - mine is made from scrap bits of Unistrut! - and I had a big spool of Dacron from years ago in the Box of Useful Items.

Hope you are recovered from the man-flu ;)

Just about thanks.

Yeah shame on you bending green wood ;) I tend to move the wood into a warm room pretty quickly especially with ash due to its a low native moisture content. Once roughed out and in a warm room its usually only a couple weeks before its down to a nice MC%
Careful too if the woods still too green heat treating can cause the wood to split.

Cracking first bow once again. I would show you my first if it wasnt used for kindling. Saying that there might still be a bit stuck in the workshop roof..
 

dwardo

Maker
Aug 30, 2006
6,290
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Nr Chester
Hmmm - I'll have to sneak it into the house and hope the Management doesn't notice :D

Is there any way of telling when the MC is low enough, without spending one's hard-earned wedge on a moisture meter?

And thanks for the tips!

Happy to help and dont mind as many questions as you can ask.

Set of reasonably accurate scales is about the only way. Dont use a moisture meter my self but have got used to the way it reacts in tiller and weight over the past few years.
If you weigh the bow every day or so and record its weight, then when it stops losing weight for a while its ready. Some say a third of the time its been drying.
If you do heat treat only after its near dry then make sure you give it a day or two to re-hydrate before you bend it. Even steaming a bow removes moisture and the wood needs time to recover.
 

ateallthepies

Native
Aug 11, 2011
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hertfordshire
Buying a cheap humidity/temperature meter could also be useful then place the wood along with the meter in a warmish room then let dry a couple of weeks using Dwardos scale method. Once the wood looses no more moisture at whatever humidity environment it has been drying in you use this table to see what moisture content your at. Aim for about 9% or a little higher.

relyz3.jpg

As long as the temperature and the humidity remain fairly constant once the wood finishes loosing weight it will stay at that level of moisture content forever and will only gain or loose if the temperature and humidity changes.

Example:

If your drying room is 50% humid and roughly at 20 degrees C your stave will finish drying almost bang on the 9% sweet spot.

Steve
 
Last edited:

Exbomz

Full Member
Oct 19, 2004
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0
East Sussex
Also, once dry, you want to check the tiller. Final tillering when still green will not be the finished result, and may give you too much set, following the string. Rough down, dry, then tiller is my humble advice.
 
OK, 'tis finished :shoot1:

Just south of 40lb at 30", and has taken a couple of inches of set (probably due to me tillering before it was dry enough).

Sarah (my eldest) has called dibs on this one, and did the artwork for me.

Ash_5.jpg


Sarah doesn't believe in wasting any available drawlength...

Ash_6.jpg


Decoration...

Ash_7.jpg


Ash_8.jpg


Drawing just under 28" to the head.


It shoots quite nicely, with a bit of hand-shock. Feels reasonably quick, but that will have to wait until we get it down to the wood.

I have had a suggestion elsewhere that slimming down the tips might reduce the hand-shock a bit, so will probably try that.
 

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