Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Salt Cedar Bow Update

Since I had a little spare time over the last week, I worked on Salt Cedar Bow 1 – 


There is still a bit of twist to the bow, but it doesn't seem to have much impact on performance, and it seems to make the the string line up almost as if it was a centerfire bow.

I didn’t really have a target weight in mind, so it ended up a little stiffer than I expected, probably around 70# at full draw.  And it appears to handle that without any trouble.

Again, I didn't do a fabulous job on the tillering, a bit softer on the right than the left.
I didn't measure the set, but it does hold onto some.
It’s relatively short, about 55” strung, but I think that it came together very nicely in the end. 

My arrows from Nice Archery came in this weekend also!  Naturally, I didn’t have time to try them out over the weekend, since my family just came home, and father’s day happened, and the next three days have predicted 20+ mph winds, but they look very pretty!  I’m sure they will be awesome.  It will be interesting to see how they do with Salt Cedar Bow 1.  

I had been playing with my one carbon fiber arrow and Autumn’s flimsy plastic ones, and it seemed a lot more accurate with the floppy pink ones J

I will have to make another one - good thing I have three more pieces.  I think about 50# will be my target for the next one.

Monday, June 9, 2014

And that's not all

In addition to working on the Salt Cedar bow this weekend, I spent some time on knives.

One of my co-workers asked me if I could make a machete, so I cut a big piece of 1095, and got started. 

Two forging sessions later
Its going to be a monster - If I remember right it started out at 21 inches (the Kindjal ended at 20), and its definately stretching a bit.  I need to mitigate the curve some too - it looks fancy, but doesn't feel right yet.

I put a handle on the Uncle Jeds Country Skinner MkII - its a pretty massive knife.  Still needs a bit of finishing on both the handle and blade. Honey Locust handle, with a wrought iron guard.

As promised, AR70 got a brass pommel.  Which still needs polishing... and the handle needs re-finishing.

 This little utility blade is also pretty old,  but now that my carbide bits came in I can punch holes in metal again.  Still needs a lot of finish work, but at least it looks like a knife now.  No idea what they handle is made of -that's the problem with trying lots of different woods - they don't stay labeled long enough.

And this is the revised Kershaw Antelope II - it had broken off in the handle, so i had to grind down the blade to get enough tang to hold the blade in place, and I like my handle better anyway :)  I'll polish up the blade a little bit more too. Katalox handle.

Here they are together for better sense of scale. 

I made this little S35VN stainless steel blade a while back, but never got around to it, but it came together nicely yesterday - just needs its mark, and it will be finished.  Looks like it was in 2011 - my how time flies.
Its got an Amaranth (Purpleheart) Handle with Raaen pins, Nickle Silver Accents and an antler piece as well.


Salt Cedar Bow

As a new bow maker, I wouldn’t call myself a bowyer, I certainly don’t have any experience, or much other than basic woodworking skills, and who has relatively successfully made all of one bow, I immediately did some research on what people thought about different woods.  Everyone seems to think that Osage is great, Yew is great, and lots of other will make a serviceable tool, or that lots of others are awful. 

Looking around for quantification I came across this article at the Wood Database –

In the article, the author (who, like me, isn’t a bowyer or materials scientist) came up with a formula that he thought might estimate the quality of the wood for making bows. I thought it was interesting.

Then I thought about the scrap wood that I had lying around and remembered that I had a couple of Saltcedar/Tamarisk staffs. I looked at them and decided they were useless for bow making. But it got me thinking, I wonder what the physical properties of Tamarisk are. I checked the wood database, unsuccessfully.

With a little Googling I found the analysis of a closely related species, Tamarix aphylla – Athel Wood, now, I know it’s not the same species, but it should be somewhat similar, or not, so I decided to do the math…. MOR/MOE*1000 = bow rating;  88.5/7533*1000 =  11.75!   That is up there with Yew and Osage. 

So now I have to try it.  I found a nice 6’-ish 6” diameter log, which is mostly straight, and split it into 4 staves.   Two I had to shorten due to some branching/knots, and they are closer to 5’.  I painted some glue on the ends of all 4 and put three into the shed to dry some. 

I took one of the shorter pieces and started with that – before it had much chance to dry.  I peeled the bark off the back and brought it down to a single growth ring.  Smoothed out the sides and the belly a bit, tapered the limbs and then put it away for a few days

Despite liking the center cut of the Oak bow, I shaped both sides of the center, and added a hard maple riser.  There is fairly substantial twist in the limbs at this point…might be something to letting it dry first.

I ordered some more fiberglass tape for the back, and some real bow epoxy, I can’t say I expect it to work all that much better, but who knows.  They arrived the other day.  I also bought another string so I can play with two bows at once.  In the meantime I foolishly messed with the string of the Oak bow, and I’m not sure 

I got it back to the right length when I realized how stupid that was. Oh well, now I know.
I may start playing with one of the longer pieces too.

The last piece is the current experiment.  It is one of the shorter pieces, and definitely is not as stiff (at this stage) as my oak board bow was  - but it isn’t as thick or wide either.  I stripped the bark off of it, following a growth ring – since that is the way most people seem to recommend doing things. 

It’s not straight, has some twist, but I’m plowing ahead with this one.  I will probably back it with fiberglass again, since it’s pretty cheap, and I think it stiffens things up nicely, and should keep things from shattering if it all goes wrong.
I’m going to use a hard maple riser this time, rather than something more exotic, and I’m not going for a center fire this time, since the stave isn’t quite as wide.


My fancy epoxy came in, and I decided to make the bow red.  Here it is curing with the first layer of fiberglass.  So did my extra string.


We'll see how it progresses from here.