New project - Ash longbow

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New project - Ash longbow

Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

04 Nov 2017, 10:54 #1

Heya!

I'm currently building a new bow, a ash (fraxinus excelsior) longbow in the style of the medieval english longbows. Started with the idea to have the D-design but came back from that and now I'm going with a rectangular design with rounded edges on the belly, with should also give about the look and is supposedly better for the wood.


It is a quarter log, so the back is 1 growth ring.

some info:

the log is 2m long (about 78,5")

planning to have it nock to nock at 77" - 77,5" with an additional nocking point behind for easier stringing.

The taper is as follows: 8" handle area it is about 1 2/5" (36mm) from there it tapers to the nocks about 9/10" (24mm) I know it is ash, and it is not wide as I want it to have the look and feel of a ELB, that's why I'm making it that long.

Now my target poundage is: 70#, however will settle for 60# if need be.

For tiller I'm going for bend in the handle, with 8" stiff tips I suppose:

Will update this post as I keep on building it, failure or succes....

Image

Stave in rest, it has some nice reflex to it I think.



Image
First tillering stages.... and this is where I'm at at the moment.



ImageThese are the growth rings, and here I have some doubts... I didn't see it from the start that the rings for the back were so thin, stupid mistake..... That's why I would settle for 60# if need be, any suggestions on this, or will you think it could hold?


Also thougth of heat treating the belly first, to give it more compression strength but thinking about it now, with those small growth rings on the back it would give me tension problems I presume

all criticism is welcome, good or bad !
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Stalker
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Joined: 30 Sep 2015, 11:04

05 Nov 2017, 13:15 #2

Was that a board?
Filip
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

05 Nov 2017, 15:30 #3

Stalker wrote: Was that a board?
Nope, a quarter log
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JoachimM
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Joined: 17 Jan 2014, 10:29

08 Nov 2017, 06:49 #4

Don't think the narrow rings on the back will give you too much trouble. The reflex you'll lose in the tillering process. 
You will need every cm of working limb to avoid set, so I wouldn't make the tips entirely stiff, make them bend a bit. 

Wait with the heat. Start tillering first till you get to 22" or so. Never draw the bow past 70# during tillering. If it holds well, is well-balanced and in a good nearly circular (slightly elliptical) tiller, and you can control set till 22", give it a heat treatment.  
If on the other hand it's taking a lot of set at 22" already, reduce your target draw weight. 

Ash can make a very good bow. It is strong in tension, but rather weak in compression. Heat treatment will reduce this difference. Still, an ELB design is not where it shines. It will perform better as a flatbow. 
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Dark Factor
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Joined: 29 May 2016, 16:15

08 Nov 2017, 18:42 #5

Hello. I don't see problem with narrow rings. For me, that's better. Ash can make 60-70lbs longbows without problem if the rings aren't too thick. For me, it's better not to spend time with heat treatment... Time consuming.
2m is long... But it depends you draw length, at 32" that's good, but if less, that's better to make a shorter bow (but yes, it prevents it to break or having compression problems ... and you can cut later if the draw weight isn't as you want).
you think about 60-70# at 28" or 32"  (that's not really the same).
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

09 Nov 2017, 19:08 #6

Hi!

glad to hear your opinions on the narrows rings, it makes me less nervous now to continue tillering... was kind of worried about it

anyway: length is long yes, 2 reasons for that:

First: my goal was to make a ELB, and through reading I found out these were actually very long, I read somewhere as far as I can remember low bows existed 2 m or even more.

and second; to make it a "true" war bow it needed at least 70# I read that somewhere as well, but I also wanted to play safe with that kind of weight, and the narrower profile I use than a genuine flatbow for ash.

but as I said, I'll settle for 60# as well should I think 70# wont make it, have another similar piece of ash if the first one isn't going to make it (however if it is, then my other piece will become a flatbow, not sure yet which design)

As for the draw length; again I want to play safe and I was going for the 28", I also had 32" in mind and I might still do it, I don't know, however, limbs would again have to bend more and it defeats my purpose of playinf safe, what would be the advantages of 32" draw length? probably more energy storage is my guess?

also; further updates on the bow depend on the weather of saturday; I can't work indoors I have no room, I must put my tillering tree and pulley always outside... on weekdays I'm gone working from dark till dark, so no time to be outside and when it's raining, it's obviously also not good to tiller my bow outside so, if updates seem slow... this is why...
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Dark Factor
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Joined: 29 May 2016, 16:15

09 Nov 2017, 19:58 #7

a 60#@28'' bow is about 75#@32'', so that's a bit different if you plan the draw weight for 28 or 32''.
but 32'' will bend the bow more so this could break easier. that's why it's better to have longer bows at 32''. At 28'', the bow will shoot faster if it's about 170cm long, at 32'' this will be better if190cm long... but don't calculate too much, make it as you desire. 2m long is good to succeed the bow making. 
About draw length, normally you have to know what is the draw length you prefer for shooting, best position, the most accurate... but if you make a bow to shoot the most far possible, that's better to overdraw to 32'' or more. Yes, more energy storage, so shoot faster.
I think the Mary Rose bows were long for 1m80 to 2m10.  Haihabu bow is 1m95 long (but with long tips).

For me, 60lbs @28'' is already very strong except if you often shoot with such bows. Warbows aren't really a goal, not sure there are still people who make war with bows... make a bow you like to shoot with... it has always been my goal. Just my point of view! I prefer 45-50#@28''
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JoachimM
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Joined: 17 Jan 2014, 10:29

09 Nov 2017, 22:08 #8

Exciter wrote: also; further updates on the bow depend on the weather of saturday; I can't work indoors I have no room, I must put my tillering tree and pulley always outside... on weekdays I'm gone working from dark till dark, so no time to be outside and when it's raining, it's obviously also not good to tiller my bow outside so, if updates seem slow... this is why...
Sure hope you store the wood inside. Our climate is already so moist, it's difficult even inside to get below 70% ambient moisture (which translates into c. 12% MC in the wood). Unless you have some special airconditioning with heat pumps and so on. Then the ambient moisture can be so low it becomes dangerous for bows!
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

10 Nov 2017, 18:36 #9

@dark factor

You made me thinking, probably gonna go for 60# at 28" and retiller it further to 32" and see what comes out that would be nice... it's long and the historical ELB probably also had longer draw length's than 28"? I'm gonna give this more thought

And no it's not for waging war, hahaha... I just happen to also be interrested in history and in particalur history of warfare, a warbow seems good for me to make then, that's what I want to shoot at the moment :), that was actually my plan when I started creating bows. Most of my bows I will make however will also be in 40-60# range no need to constantly build strong bows people can't use right! I just want to see what that "high" poundage can do (I know there are even stronger bows) I figure 70# is about the max I will be able to shoot 'comfortably' I guess... don't really know for sure.. Only thing I worry about is space for shooting actually :)

@JoachimM

It is inside yes, not in the house tho, it's in the porch, it can be completely closed, but no heat or anything, and during day the door is open so it should take humidity air levels of outside. I think cold or warmth don't affect wood except for slower and faster drying right? I regurarly check my moisture in my stash of wood... It's always between 6.5 and about 8.5% so I think I'm fine.
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Dark Factor
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Joined: 29 May 2016, 16:15

10 Nov 2017, 19:03 #10

Yes, i suppose warbows were used at long draw because they have to shoot very far without real accuracy. A french-seaking medieval text say archers have to put string to the right breast... which is already very far and more than 32'' for me. Also, the draw weight were very high and  that's better to make it a bit longer in order to limit the stress in wood.
but yes, don't worry, you can make the bow you desire! lol... it's just that I know a lot of people who desire strong bows but can't bend them to their correct draw length or they can only shoot 5-10 arrows at full draw (a bit ridiculous). but if you shoot often, you can bent stronger and stroner bows step by step.
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Dark Factor
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Joined: 29 May 2016, 16:15

10 Nov 2017, 19:05 #11

Also, 6-8% moisture is very low for a bow and I don't really understand how this can be so low in a porch. Whithout heating, that's hard to be under 12-14%
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

10 Nov 2017, 19:12 #12

It's not the most costly moisture meter.... I also find that weird to be honest :)

Also I thougth I read that 6% is the minimum for bows so I should be fine I guess??
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river rat
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Joined: 25 Nov 2015, 15:24

13 Nov 2017, 07:22 #13

wish you good fortune with your bow.
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WillS
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Joined: 01 Sep 2012, 10:15

13 Nov 2017, 12:17 #14

Ash makes a superb warbow, right up to weights over 160lb.  77" is a good length, especially if you tiller to 30".  32" is a modern "invention" - they weren't drawing 32" in the middle ages.  30" and 28" are the two most common arrow lengths from historical artefacts.

Good ash will take a rounded belly, but in reality the famous "D-section" is reserved for light Victorian target bows, and has somehow ended up becoming synonymous with warbows as well.  The actual cross section of the Mary Rose bows amongst other earlier finds vary from a slight D shape with a rounded back to a full, fat "galleon" section with swollen sides and rounded belly and back.  For heavy ash bows a slightly elliptical "pill" shape works best and is safest if you don't know the particular limits of the stave you're using.

If you are making a warbow type bow, be careful about the tips - you mentioned 8" of stiff tips and I'm not sure why you'd want that.  Your final goal at full draw is to have the bow either describe a perfect circle so no stiffness anywhere, or an ellipse to some degree which would mean a stiffer centre section and mid-limb to tips working slightly harder but certainly not stiff.
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

13 Nov 2017, 19:35 #15

River Rat, thank you for your wishes!

WillS, thanks for all that info, a man learns something new every day!

About the tips: I'm fairly new to bowmaking, haven't made a lot of them I just thought stuff up I read about bow making, and there's so much info and knowledge to be had on the subject and sometimes too much at once, mixing up stuff and what not ... However someone earlier already said I should go for working tips, and I get why I should now, so that is the way to go...

I find it strange tho opinions are sometimes so varried about the wood.... Sometimes I read ash is not good for high poundage or this or that, but I guess it's all to do with personal experiences with the wood?? (also 160#? holy! who can pull that kinda weight? it draws more poundage than I weigh)

Interresting stuff on the shapes also... To get a true "pill" shape a sapling with a nice rounded back is preferred I guess? I'm working with a log I'd say the rounding is moderate..

As for the section I have  it's about this: (the black)

and final shape should be rounded with the red... something like that

It's drawn in paint but I even think the back is about the same on the real bow, maybe a bit less radius on the real bow... it gives you an idea

Image


Anyway here is the 'progress' from this weekend not much but I think I am fairly consistent in my arc, it bends throughout maybe not enough on the tips yet I think. next step is when saturday is dry to tiller it further to it's target poundage... The whole bow has a little twist to it also, but I think it wont matter it's not much.


ImageImage
(it is not raining btw, it was over)

It is strung with a loose string about the length ntn. drawing that to about 20" is about 40# already. It still goes back to it's original reflex. (which I am glad about, when I made my other bows, they quickly took "set" if that's the correct term).

I do have a problem stringing it however with a normal length string 4" shorter than ntn. I use paracord 4mm it's quick to make a string and strong... (have dacron and waxed linen and plan on learning the string making but first learning to make the bows) However, when I string it with my paracord (I need to pull it to the 20" with the loose string I mentioned) the whole thing just pulls my string and back it goes again to it's reflex shape. The string thus stretches I guess, paracord to stretchy for heavy bows? Have to figure this one out by the weekend as well...........

anyway this was the update sorry for all the text!
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WillS
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Joined: 01 Sep 2012, 10:15

13 Nov 2017, 19:41 #16

You'll want to knock those corners off the top before you do much more. Way too sharp and edged.

160lb is nothing compared to what some people can shoot these days, and certainly "back then" as well. Ash is just as good as any other wood, provided you treat it carefully. It won't tolerate hinges or moisture but if it's kept dry and well tillered there's really no weight limit.
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Exciter
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Joined: 02 Aug 2017, 11:21

13 Nov 2017, 19:57 #17

should they be rounded a lot, wont that affect my one growth ring back?
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WillS
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Joined: 01 Sep 2012, 10:15

13 Nov 2017, 19:59 #18

You only need a complete growth ring running down the middle of the back. Corners are stress points, so get them rounded right off (match the belly with whitewoods)
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JoachimM
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Joined: 17 Jan 2014, 10:29

13 Nov 2017, 23:00 #19

Dark Factor wrote: Also, 6-8% moisture is very low for a bow and I don't really understand how this can be so low in a porch. Whithout heating, that's hard to be under 12-14%
Indeed, equilibrium moisture content in wood at 72% humidity (conditions in Belgium) indoors at 20°C is 13.6%. 
see http://www.csgnetwork.com/emctablecalc.html (convert Celsius to Fahrenheit). 
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JoachimM
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Joined: 17 Jan 2014, 10:29

13 Nov 2017, 23:05 #20

By the way, your left limb is quite a bit stiffer.
ashbow_exciter.jpg
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