Making a longbow

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:09 pm

Ha! Good work, I ended up spending a lot of time on the Bowyer's Diary, he has a good eye for what will work, however kooky!
I was sizing up some Yew branches that have been cut recently, they look rather skinny though...

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by skalla on Sat Sep 21, 2013 5:22 pm

indeed - it's nice to see how you can make a cool bow with wonky wood!  He does a good Yew stickbow from some very wonky material....

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by skalla on Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:38 pm

Checked that Hawthorn stave on my return today, and the well painted ends have not split yet.  However the rest of it has torn itself to pieces and is riven with splits.

I thought that it may so i'm not so disappointed and everyone will be getting spoons for Chrimbo.  A worthwhile experiment, to see if reducing stress on the log by reduction to a roughed out bow/stave thingy would work, and it didnt.  Maybe if it was cut in winter it would be different, but the next one will be left for a couple of years before even removing the bark.  Guess i'll be off out with my saw again asap Sad

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:00 pm

the best way to reduce splitting is to make sure the pith hhas been removed by cutting the pole, then seal the ends with a pva glue including the last few inches, I do this when storing wood for turning ut some wood is prone to split however you treat it. some also needs storing upright others laying down.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by skalla on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:14 pm

Aye, i basicly did that, the log was reduced by half to the pith and the ends well coated with 4 coats of emulsion (@4 inches) which works almost as well as PVA in my experience, with sticks at least - trouble is hawthorn is very wet compared to a lot of woods and more prone to splits... was worth a try Smile

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:52 pm

the worst wood I have come across is Holly - as you say a lot depends on the time it was cut if the sap was rising.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by skalla on Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:09 pm

Yar - hawthorn is not as fickle as holly but it's fairly close.  I should really have marked the location of the tree and come back in winter but it was in the very overgrown corner of a factory carpark that i snuck/trespassed into through thick bushes and a gap in the railings on a quiet sunday!  once i saw it i got the red mists and my ninja skills took over pirat

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:17 pm

I have to admit a fail on that first bow, it was just too twisty to make work, any pull from the tiller made it turn and wriggle free and it drove me insane! I could have tried to take the twists out but I have doubts about some of the knots etc. Good experience though...
So I'm making another, this time with nice straight grained kiln dried wood! I'm cheating a bit but will post some pictures soon.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:03 am

" />
Ok, bow no. 2. This is a piece of rift sawn American White Oak (Quercus alba) it was the only plank with acceptably straight grain in the saw mill, I gather English Oak (Quercus Robur) will work just as well. Its got a worrying sideways warp to the wood but as you can see once marked out you can get a straight longbow from it, just have to work one side down much more than the other.
The plank cost £20 and I got two pieces cut from it suitable for longbows and a nice wide off cut with the grain a little more wavey.
This piece in the picture is 6 foot 1 inch long X 1 and a quarter inches wide and just under an inch thick.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Sun Oct 12, 2014 4:14 pm

are you going to make a fancy nock out of horn? -

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:57 pm

Nope, that's more Medieval than Neolithic, to be fair though the Neo ones look almost the same as the Med and the modern longbow, apart from horn nocks! I've now finished this bow and its shooting great so I'm sort of posting this retrospectively.


" />This is the bow after initial shaping being stretched with the long string. Stupidly I didn't take any pics of the shaping. Embarassed

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:38 pm

Back in June last year Skalla posted links to the backyard bowyer's PVC pipe bows heated and shaped by either a stove or a paint stripper heat gun. Looked like a fun and quick project so I've done some research.
He uses between 3/4 inch and 1 1/4 inch "schedule 40" PVC to make his bows, now this thickness of pipe is available in the UK but is stupidly expensive.
I'm looking into a UK pipe that will be something similar... will post what I find soon.


Last edited by mr.hertzian cone on Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:17 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Got the pipe I recommmended and its too thin!)

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:29 pm

" />
I improved the tiller, added nails to hold the string rather than the saw cut slots and got it to stand up. This (along with a spirit level) made things better to judge along with having a horizontal line to see where the tips were ending up, the shed slats in the background did fine work here! You can see the bits of wood inserted underneath to staighten up the tiller on the wonkey patio slabs.
Still not much stretch at this point but looking even.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:23 pm

" />
This is the bow further down the line and after shaving little bits off here and there to get the limbs kind of balanced. The left limb had a slight kink once some pull was applied but each time I noticed it a little more wood was removed and now it's getting where it needs to be. This is full draw with the long string.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:25 am

thats come on a treat.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:29 pm

" />
The finished bow with a handle wrap of nettle string and some hemp twine to frame it, also the arrows are modern with brass tips for shooting (all arrow accessories where bought from Richard Head bows apart from the wood which is diy dowel). The brace is a little slack but I weighed the pull on some bathroom scales and at 27 inches of pull its about 55 pounds. not bad at all!
The string was made from 14 strands of 40 pound braided fishing line smeared with some bees wax. I'm very happy but too bad its not for me, pooo.


Last edited by mr.hertzian cone on Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:31 pm

" />
Take that sewing machine box!

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:47 pm

great idea the fishing wire, sewing machine hey - i take it it was the other halfs birthday present Smile

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:24 pm

He he! Close, an anniversary present! The missus was about to do a dress making course. I did get into trouble for putting holes in a usable box though.
In the picture of the bow at full stretch there is a book on the floor that helped no end in making this, here is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Backyard-Bowyer-Beginners-Building/dp/0983248109
Get it if you ever want to build a bow, the man has fewer tools than most and walks you through all the stages and makes great bows out of sawn boards. I made the long bow with the only alteration being that I made it 1 inch longer and used white oak rather than red. That's also where I got the fishing line bow string tip from.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:42 pm

You know what? I might start a thread (pun intended) on natural materials that will make a good bow string soon. Let's see what nettle fibres can do...
Gather them nettles soon as they are fading fast right now, although I have read recently they are at thier best after the first frost.

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by grendel on Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:27 pm

Will you be trying to make one from gut?

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Sat Nov 22, 2014 7:50 am

will be interesting to see how the natural strings perform, i have made loads of nettle string and think it might become to brittle when dried out maybe it could be coated?

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sat Nov 22, 2014 10:53 am

Fair point, I've seen nettle fibre string dipped in hide glue or gelatine. That should help.
Gut is good but my local butcher already thinks I'm nuts!

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by the barnacle on Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:06 am

I can see it now - 6 pork sausages, a pack of bacon, pork pie and as you are about to leave drop the bombshell have you a pack of guts to go with that Smile

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Re: Making a longbow

Post by mr.hertzian cone on Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:37 pm

LOL Laughing Mmmmm... guts... mmmmm.

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Re: Making a longbow

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