Tool Kit - What do I need in it?

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Minotaur

Native
Apr 27, 2005
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Birmingham
For making holes, something I have wanted to try for a while is to use a 1/4" hex ratchet on a 1/4" hex drive drill bit and see whether that works. Cannot expect fast rill speed, but more the sort of speed you get with a bit and brace, but more compact.

I have seen an urban set up of a build up of various parts to make a ratchet brace for want of a better description. A set up so you could press down from the top and use the racket handle to turn the screw driver bit or socket. I have also seen someone who did something similar and had some sort of vice set up so you could use normal drill bits to drill holes. I had not thought of using that in a Bushcraft setting.

Have you thought about a tap holder?
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
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That's a good idea:

Look for some flint and just copy Ötzi's tools. The copper hatchet you can make of flint too. His colleagues used stone hatchets.
 
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Minotaur

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Apr 27, 2005
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my guess would be stone tools (scrapers) -- iirc there's a Ray Meade episode where they build a longbow with stone tools and folks have been making copies of "Otzi's) bow using the tools he carried...
Not seen that, any idea what program or series?

The question is about what did they use instead of the shave horse? How did they grip the bow?
 

C_Claycomb

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I repasted your link for you. You need to have the full http and www and then just paste in.

It looks to me like Chris was sitting on top of the bow to hold it down, probably pinned on a log.

To use pulling tools, take a cord, wrap and secure in two places on the limb to be worked on, leaving a loose loop of cord as a stirrup into which you put a foot. Sitting, with foot in stirrup, support bow limb on one knee, nock end towards you, you can now resist the pull of the tool with foot pressure.
See Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Vol3, Tim Baker using stone tools.
 

Minotaur

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Apr 27, 2005
1,222
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Birmingham
it's called "aboriginal bushcraft" and about 16minutes into the movie they talk about bow making...
It Season one episode one of Ray Mear's Bushcraft which is titled Aboriginal Bushcraft however thanks for reminding me of that, really good watch. The interesting thing is how few tools he uses.

It looks to me like Chris was sitting on top of the bow to hold it down, probably pinned on a log.
Yeah not quite sure how he holding it, thinking he pushing it into the ground a lot so leaning on it and pulling towards him.

To use pulling tools, take a cord, wrap and secure in two places on the limb to be worked on, leaving a loose loop of cord as a stirrup into which you put a foot. Sitting, with foot in stirrup, support bow limb on one knee, nock end towards you, you can now resist the pull of the tool with foot pressure.
See Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Vol3, Tim Baker using stone tools.
I have just discovered that it looks like all 4 volumes are available under kindle unlimited for nothing so will be getting that for a month to read them all.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
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We make bows with pull tools; some indigenous tribes make them by pushing down. The end of the bow is against a log or similar and they just shave with whatever tool they are using in the same way as we would shave a feather stick. We get hung up over using the right tool; in the distant past what you wanted was to eat and just made a bendy piece of wood good enough to shoot a pointed stick at a duck to do that (slight exaggeration; they were skilled craftsmen that spent a lot of their time doing it).
 

Minotaur

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Apr 27, 2005
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We make bows with pull tools; some indigenous tribes make them by pushing down. The end of the bow is against a log or similar and they just shave with whatever tool they are using in the same way as we would shave a feather stick.
In the Ray Mears' program mentioned above they talk about the fact that the bow is made wrong, broken however it worked.

We get hung up over using the right tool; in the distant past what you wanted was to eat and just made a bendy piece of wood good enough to shoot a pointed stick at a duck to do that (slight exaggeration; they were skilled craftsmen that spent a lot of their time doing it).
Another interesting thing in the Ray Mears' program was the evolution of flint tools. I do wonder how much the bow making was about the skill of the craftsman?
Another interesting thread for this discussion Building A Cabin With Hand Tools.
 

C_Claycomb

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...
I have just discovered that it looks like all 4 volumes are available under kindle unlimited for nothing so will be getting that for a month to read them all.
I think it unlikely that you will manage to read them all in a month. When I used to read much more, I think I managed one in a month. Back then there were only the three volumes. My own experience was that I wanted to be able to refer back to certain sections repeatedly when I was making by bows. If you decide to make bows, I would recommend picking up at least Vol1 and 2 second hand (Abe Books), where they all go for £15-£30 each. Use the kindle time window to browse, and then maybe read the most interesting bits from the other volumes that won't be of so much repeat reference use.

Chris
 
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Broch

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Whereas I totally agree with Chris about the level of detail and quality of information in the Traditional Bowyer's Bible books I think it's a bit like telling someone that wants to try home vehicle maintenance to go study engine design. Admittedly, there are very few references that discuss making bows in a 'primitive traditional' way but I think, to start out, you would be better off using a much simpler reference. For a complete beginner you could do worse than getting hold of a copy of 'Woodcraft' by John Rhyder for example - that covers using tools in the wood for all sorts of applications, including bow making.

I am not a 'bowyer' like Chris and Dwardo on this forum but I have been making bows since I was a child from a diverse range of materials and, to me, the one thing I think all bowmaking should be is fun!

This thread is all about tools, and you can make a perfectly useable bow with a knife alone - more difficult with a flint I agree :)
 

C_Claycomb

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I didn't actually intend my earlier post, about Tim Baker, to be a plug for those books! I mentioned it like citing a reference for where I had first seen the method. I know that most here see them as being overkill for someone wanting to make one or two bent sticks. I certainly didn't mean to recommend them to Minotaur as his instruction on bow making.

The difference between TTBB and things like Woodcraft is that TTBB explains bow making and things peripheral to it, as well as some history and anthropology, while Woodcraft has a sub section on making a bow as part of its wider subject matter. Different focus and level of detail that will suit different people. If you want to try making a bow as part of bushcraft, get the bushcraft book with a bow chapter. If you are interested in archery in its own right and want to make a wood or primitive bow, get the book about bow making.

I will say that something that you can do with the Bowyer's Bibles, that you can't do with the engine course analogy, is to read only a couple of chapters and do very well. You could read just the one on white wood bows, and the one on tillering, and do very nicely making any number of bows just from that. I don't think I bothered to read all the chapters :goodnight:!
 

Minotaur

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Apr 27, 2005
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I think it unlikely that you will manage to read them all in a month. When I used to read much more, I think I managed one in a month. Back then there were only the three volumes.
Reading them will not be an issue. My superpower due to dyslexia is speed reading. I did not want to buy a set of books that lived on the shelf.

My own experience was that I wanted to be able to refer back to certain sections repeatedly when I was making by bows. If you decide to make bows, I would recommend picking up at least Vol1 and 2 second hand (Abe Books), where they all go for £15-£30 each. Use the kindle time window to browse, and then maybe read the most interesting bits from the other volumes that won't be of so much repeat reference use.
That was the main thing that was stopping me from buying them was to find that I only used Vol 2 or something like that.

Whereas I totally agree with Chris about the level of detail and quality of information in the Traditional Bowyer's Bible books I think it's a bit like telling someone that wants to try home vehicle maintenance to go study engine design. Admittedly, there are very few references that discuss making bows in a 'primitive traditional' way but I think, to start out, you would be better off using a much simpler reference. For a complete beginner you could do worse than getting hold of a copy of 'Woodcraft' by John Rhyder for example - that covers using tools in the wood for all sorts of applications, including bow making.
Weirdly I have said the same think about the Ashley book of knots over on Bushcraft USA. There is a thing about this in Tim Ferriess' book Four Hour Chef in that he basically points out that all recipes are made by chefs for chefs. It has completely changed the way I read and use cookbooks. To give a sort of example if you read a recipe that uses a wok they have a habit of doing things while woking however Ken Hom lists that as the number one mistake people make. You should prepare everything and then wok. The basic point is it is very hard for an expert to remember what it was like to be a beginner.
I will go looking for a copy of Woodcraft as it sounds very interesting.

This thread is all about tools, and you can make a perfectly useable bow with a knife alone - more difficult with a flint I agree :)
Watching the Ray Mears' video above it was amazing to think that as far as I could tell the expert maybe used maybe two flints and a piece of leather with some sand to make a really nice bow. The fault with the bow was that he re-made a badly made bow to start with.

I didn't actually intend my earlier post, about Tim Baker, to be a plug for those books! I mentioned it like citing a reference for where I had first seen the method. I know that most here see them as being overkill for someone wanting to make one or two bent sticks. I certainly didn't mean to recommend them to Minotaur as his instruction on bow making.
I think no one would argue that they are the definitive books on bow making. To be honest I had not even heard of a starter book to look at. I was helped to make a bow a long time ago (I am not working it out :) ) by a scout leader. My main reason for coming to this forum is to learn from people who know more so plug away.

The difference between TTBB and things like Woodcraft is that TTBB explains bow making and things peripheral to it, as well as some history and anthropology, while Woodcraft has a sub section on making a bow as part of its wider subject matter. Different focus and level of detail that will suit different people. If you want to try making a bow as part of bushcraft, get the bushcraft book with a bow chapter.
At this point I have to many books to buy one without having a look at it. I want to do more outdoor stuff and bushcraft has to be part of that so it sort of both. As you will see below.

If you are interested in archery in its own right and want to make a wood or primitive bow, get the book about bow making.
My chance of an Olympic medal has been put on hold due to the fact that I finally did my beginner course, got ill and then Covid so really interested in Archery full stop. Really interested in archery and making my own bows as well. Archery really pushes my buttons because you can do it with everything from a stick to a high tech compound bow. Love me some tech.

I will say that something that you can do with the Bowyer's Bibles, that you can't do with the engine course analogy, is to read only a couple of chapters and do very well. You could read just the one on white wood bows, and the one on tillering, and do very nicely making any number of bows just from that. I don't think I bothered to read all the chapters :goodnight:!
That is the major reason I wanted to read them first to see which one I would use first and most.
 

C_Claycomb

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Minotaur,
HA...hello fellow dyslexic! Sadly, I don't think mine came with any super powers. Reading isn't a problem, but a speed reader I am not!

All my books live on shelves, I find it much more convenient than having them stacked on the floor ;).

I bought my TBBs 1-3 when I was at university, so 1996 through to around 98. I joined the archery club and after the the first year wanted my own bow. I had almost no tools and no one in the family was a wood worker, so I was starting at a pretty low entry level. I had met a bowyer who had advised me about making a branch bow and I tried that in my room on campus. Made a hell of a mess, both shavings and the piece of wood. Didn't break but it wouldn't shoot worth spit. Got Vol 1, which is the most important to start with, and over the following summer made a linen backed hickory flat bow that I still have.

During that time at uni I met Hillary Greenland, she was based in Bristol while I was at Bath. I got a copy of her book but it didn't really do it for me. The LeatherWall on Stickbow.com was the first forum I joined and it was quite cool that several of the authors of the TBBs were members and regular posters at the time, including Tim Baker.

For anyone else who is interested in what is in the Traditional Bowyers Bible books, contents of each volume is listed here. I have highlighted the ones that I used to build bows and gear, and the ones that were just interesting to me:
There is also a peak inside the first 164 pages of Vol1 which takes one up to the end of Ch6.
and first 156 pages Vol 2 which is the end of Ch5.

Vol. 1 Content:
1. Why Traditional by Jay Massey
2. Cutting and Seasoning Wood by Ron Hardcastle
3. Bow Design and Performance by Tim Baker

4. Yew Longbow by John Strunk
5. Osage Flat Bow by Ron Hardcastle
6. Other Bow Woods by Paul Comstock
7. Western Indian Bows by Steve Allely
8. Glue by Tim Baker
9. Splices by John Strunk

10. Sinew-Backing by Jim Hamm
11. Other Backings by Paul Comstock
12. Tillering by Jim Hamm
13. Finishes and Handles by John Strunk

14. Self Arrows by Jay Massey
15. A Comedy of Arrows by Jim Hamm


Vol. 2 Content:
1. Tradition Begins with the Past by Jay Massey
2. Bows from Boards by Tim Baker
3. Eastern Woodland Bows by Al Herrin
4. Ancient European Bows by Paul Comstock
5. Composite Bows by Dr. Bert Grayson
6. Bending Wood by Paul Comstock
7. Recurves by Jim Hamm
8. Strings by Tim Baker
9. Helpful Hints and Shortcuts by Jay Massey
10. Steel Points by Glenn Parker
11. Improving Accuracy by G. Fred Asbell
12. Quivers & Other Gear by Jay Massey
13. “Old Ugly” and the Little Buck by Jim Hamm


Vol. 3 Content:
1. Traditional Roots by Jay Massey
2. Tools by Paul Comstock
3. Bows of the World by Tim Baker
4. Korean Archery by Jeff Schmidt
5. Plains Indian Bows by Jim Hamm
6. African Archery by David Tukura
7. Take-Down Bows by Jay St. Charles
8. A Stone Age Bow by Tim Baker
9. Preventing and Solving Problems by Paul Comstock
10. Wooden Arrows by Gabriela Cosgrove
11. Custom Shafts by Gene Langston

12. Stone Points by Scott Silsby
13. Passing the Torch by Jim Hamm

Vol. 4 Content:
From the creator of the first 3 classic volumes, this is essential reading for those who make wooden bows. Tim Baker, Paul Comstock, Jim Hamm, and many of the other top bowyers today provide insights into what thousands of bows have taught them. Includes Heat-Treating Bows, The Mass Principle, Character Bows, Design and Performance Revisited, Laminated Wood Bows, and Ishi’s Archery Tackle, among many other ground-breaking chapters.
 
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C_Claycomb

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From a general bushcraft point of view, the information about string making gave me a big leg up when I tried making nettle cordage on my first bushcraft course. The information about cutting and seasoning wood is relevant for any wood/tool projects. The chapter on stone points is the best information I have seen for flint knapping anywhere and stood me in good stead when I took a knapping course with the Lords.

I cannot remember where I first read about how these books came to be, but it was a very different creative process from how most books happen. A brief bit can be found here, which is an interesting insight in itself. Can you imagine getting 17 bushcraft experts to collaborate, each writing a single stand alone chapter, but getting to review and critique each other's work?


I never got the feeling that any of the people writing about how to make things had forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. I was a beginner and I managed to make bows and custom footed shafts just by following the instructions in the books.
 

Minotaur

Native
Apr 27, 2005
1,222
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Birmingham
If you want good beginner's bow making books, i could mention The Traditional Archers Handbook, by Hilary Greenland; and then have a look at the forum at www.primitivearcher.com. That would cover most if not all basics needed by anyone to get started.
Thanks for that interesting book with some very interesting pricing. It £12.50 new, £19.99 or £40.00 used.
Will have a look at that forum.

HA...hello fellow dyslexic! Sadly, I don't think mine came with any super powers. Reading isn't a problem, but a speed reader I am not!
Book for you, The Dyslexia Advantage really interesting read. First time I learned how I can read which made no sense to me before.
Did you know you were disabled? Dyslexia is now on the registered list so you have protection under the disability laws.
Thanks for the break down by volume.

All my books live on shelves, I find it much more convenient than having them stacked on the floor ;).
LOL I trying to get all my books on shelves. There too many of them.

During that time at uni I met Hillary Greenland, she was based in Bristol while I was at Bath. I got a copy of her book but it didn't really do it for me.
Damn, will see if I can find a physical copy to nose at.

The LeatherWall on Stickbow.com was the first forum I joined and it was quite cool that several of the authors of the TBBs were members and regular posters at the time, including Tim Baker.
Another Fourm to go though.
I still cannot believe I post on the same forum as John Fenna. I have 2 folders of articles that must included some of his and a diary/book which I am sure has some of his stuff in.

I cannot remember where I first read about how these books came to be, but it was a very different creative process from how most books happen. A brief bit can be found here, which is an interesting insight in itself. Can you imagine getting 17 bushcraft experts to collaborate, each writing a single stand alone chapter, but getting to review and critique each other's work?
That sounds really interesting.

I never got the feeling that any of the people writing about how to make things had forgotten what it was like to be a beginner. I was a beginner and I managed to make bows and custom footed shafts just by following the instructions in the books.
That is what makes a really good teacher.
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
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Minotaur,
Will look up the dyslexia book. Didn't know it counted as a disability, but with so many people with so many more serious problems, the difficulties I have related to dyslexia seem very much like "first world problems"! :lmao:

Main reason for the reply is to say that I would not now recommend the Leatherwall unless one is very serious and patient. It appears they have never updated the software software and the interface and usability is awful by comparison with every other forum I visit. There is still great info, but hard to search for.

Paleoplanet is easer to navigate.

as is the Primitive Archer forum that Bob recommended.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
4,603
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Chris, do you have volume 4? Is it worth getting in your opinion? There's more in the first three volumes than I will ever have chance to apply in my lifetime so is there stuff in V4 I really shouldn't miss out on?

I know the intro says 'it's essential' reading but would be interested in a practical viewpoint :)
 
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