One man bowyer's meet

One man bowyer's meet

toxophileken
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toxophileken
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June 5th, 2006, 10:03 pm #1

I went up to a big tournament in Northern California last weekend. I took some tools, a work bench, and a tillering tree, and worked on a bow when not shooting. I was able to take a floor bending ash stave to a bow pulling about 28" and 45# (I will post more about it on the "Slomo(sage)" buildalong, where I showed photos of it floorbending).

This post is not about the bows, but about making bows where other archers could watch me work. Many people showed interest and asked questions. They even gave tillering advice... I was not too proud to take advice from people who had never made bows- they have eyes, too...

I hope the seed was planted in the hearts of several potential bowyers... I told anyone who asked "If I can do it, you can do it..."

Other than not having my bow explode in front of a bunch of people (which I fully expected from that particular stave), and keeping my hands busy, I got other benefits. One old gentleman told me that his neighbor is going to harvest a yew tree, and he will seal the ends for me. My uncle lives not far from there, and will pick up the log and store it until I can return, eventually. I am told the log is straight, with no branches for 10'... Also, another man who lived a little over an hour away, told me if I followed him home he would give me some yew wood someone had given him... I will post photos of that wood on another thread, shortly.


Here is a photo of the ash bow on the tillering tree:




This weekend there was another two day shoot, located closer to my desert home. The shoot was in Wrightwood, California, at a ranch I think would be great for a "knap-in". There is plenty of space and shade, and a pond.

I took my tools and bench and tiller tree again, and worked on several bows. Once again, many people were fascinated. They were able to watch me take a black locust stave from floor bending through low first brace, higher and higher bracing and longer and longer draw, full brace, to full draw. I got plenty of tillering advice again. Once I explained what I was doing, and what I was looking for, people had fun pitching in their two cents.

I had one scary moment when a little boy ran by the limb tip while it was at full draw on the tree, but he didn't hit himself in the face or eye, and the bow didn't pick that moment to explode, so thank God.


Here I am checking the tiller of the black locust bow:





Here I am shooting the bow for the first time, short drawing it (note this year's Chamberlin Ranch shirt):





Here I am shooting the black locust bow the next day, after thinning down the limb tips as far as I dared (for now). I am at full draw:





I will post this bow on the slomo build along, as well (hopefully with photos that better show the tiller - not canted over, for one thing...). It only came out at about 50# at 30" to grip (31 1/4" to back).


I also worked on the osage bow that build along is named for (when it's that hot, you take the leaves in the ear if it means shade...):






One last photo. Here I am looking at a fairly heavy (I hope) hickory bow I started at Chamberlin Ranch and got low braced at the last Pasadena meet:





I just posted all this because I wanted to encourage those guys out there who don't have bowyer's meets to go to. Had I taken some spare staves for other people to either event, I am sure I would have had some people carving their own bows.

I needn't have taken all my tools... All I used was a shinto rasp, scraper, rat tail file, and I did just a little work with a spokeshave. Oviously, the staves had been worked on at home to get them to the point they were ready to start becoming bows...

Don't have anyone to work on bows with? Well, you are more likely to find someone if you let people see what you are doing and get curious about it. It is much less likely someone will knock on your shop door and ask to see what you are doing... A local archery shoot seems like the best place to find people disposed to try it out; but a park might be great, too. If Tom Mills had not brought his primitive gear to the shoots I saw him at, I would not be even as far along as I am today (as little as I have done...).

Ken
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Thimosabv
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June 5th, 2006, 10:50 pm #2

Now that was a refreshing post. Thanks for having the guts and determination for doing all that out in public. And thanks for shareing the adventure. Really good looking bows came out of the time I see as well. I think when we put ourselves in limelight a bit, and take on that added bit of pressure it helps us grow all the faster. It distills the need for utmost focus and concentration.


"What does not kill us, Makes us stronger."
F.N.
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toxophileken
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June 5th, 2006, 10:56 pm #3

I meant to post the following comment in the first post, but somehow after Thimo' kind words, it seems appropriate here:

Can you guys imagine the crowd Thimo would draw if he were to take his tools and bows out in public? Not counting the archers that would be interested, imagine the general public's reaction to our "tasmanian devil" of a bowyer... I bet people would take an involuntary step back just from the look in his eyes as he drew his war bow... Ha!

Thanks, Thimo.
Ken
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Thimosabv
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June 5th, 2006, 11:02 pm #4

Or they may call security and the paddy-wagon.

No, seriously. I have considered this for some time, but then I chicken out. That is why this post spoke too me. "Resistence" is our own worste enemy. And you feel it's tugg when ever you are about to step out and face the music. Feeling that fear is usually the best sign that your onto something potentially adventurous if not life changeing.

Now I just need to flip "resistence" the ole-bird and move on.
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Gallus Sinensis
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June 5th, 2006, 11:10 pm #5

Very nice idea, this tillering outside.

Nice pictures too !
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DCM
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June 5th, 2006, 11:29 pm #6

Great pics and great bows Ken. Thanks for posting.
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George Tsoukalas
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June 5th, 2006, 11:51 pm #7

Nice works. Geat tiller on that bow. Thanks for sharing. I like that tiller tree How is it anchored to the ground? Jawgehttp://mysite.verizon.net/georgeandjoni
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toxophileken
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June 6th, 2006, 1:16 am #8

Thanks guys!

Thimo, if I was worried about making a fool of myself, I would never have shot a tournament, and still wouldn't... Ha!

George, I made that base from metal I had lying around, other than the center section, which was more expensive, as it sleeves a 2x4. I use rebar to hold it down. There are four legs, with two rebar stakes at opposing angles on the end of each leg. Since the pully is low on the beam, all forces when you pull are closer to the ground, for less leverage to pull the base off the ground. I am pretty sure I could get away with four stakes, but you will find that I overbuild everything...

I am going to post a thread on that thing, I guess. Back to the photography salt mine... Ha!

Ken
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howweird
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June 6th, 2006, 1:33 am #9

Hello all , and yes I agree we all need to go out and show we are around and how the skill and enjoyment of bow makeing and shooting is alive in the 21 century .
this next week ned I will be at a gathering of fellow N.A> and others and I will have osage shaveing horse and bows there . Showing all that I am here to stay and answer queitions if I can . there will be one other there doing the same he does it more modern than I but we all are in it for the same sort of reason .
then the 4 of July I will be at it at a state park for same reson , but dressed in pre 1840 dress and camp gear .
so Yes we all should do this . And be dang the ones that LOL at us for the joke is on them .
Howard
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NorthShorelongbow
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June 6th, 2006, 1:48 am #10

Cool thread !!!
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Richard Saffold
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June 6th, 2006, 2:01 am #11

Ken, I too think that's a sweet tiller! Great stuff!<A HREF="http://richardsbowyery.bravehost.com/in ... >Richard's Bowyery!</A>
GoodlandArchery.com
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toxophileken
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June 7th, 2006, 4:47 am #12

Thanks again, everybody. I will take your word on the tiller... I think I will know I have learned something when I can tell if the tiller on my own bows is good...

That is something I noticed about photography- the really good photographers I have worked with know when they have something good. Less experienced photographers keep tweaking until they ruin it, or frustrate the clients...

Dave complimented the photography... I need to mention that it was kind volunteers (is it "volunteering" if you are "shanghaied"?) that took these photos, under my direction.
One of my favorite things about digital cameras is that you can know right away if you are done... Not an insignificant consideration if you are on top of a mountain photographing a car, and the nearest photo lab that processes 8"x10" sheet film is an eight hour one way drive away in Salt Lake City...
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PaleoAleo
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June 8th, 2006, 3:36 pm #13

Ken, you're like the Johnny Appleseed of Bowmakers! You've singlehandedly corrupted the minds of many Trad-Archers. They likely have visitions of wood shavings dancing in their heads now!

Excellent!

Tom
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toxophileken
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July 13th, 2006, 6:39 am #14

At the end of June, I went to a family reunion with my Grandma in Utah. They have one every two years, and this is the third one I have been to. The other two were up on the Kaibab Plateau near the Grand Canyon in Arizona. At both of those, I taught anyone who was interested how to shoot a bow, and held an impromtu archery contest on the last day...
This year, I supervised the archery while making bows.

About 145 people converged on this nice cabin, with a huge yard, a meadow for RVs, a covered pavilion, and a pond with a pier. If you are wondering why there are no people in the photo... It is after everyone left; and my first and only tour of the property. I spent almost all of my time at the archery range, which we set up in the area you can see between the cabin and the flag pole in this photo, with the hill as a backstop.





Here is where I spent the four days I was there... I parked where I could set up under the shade, and worked pretty much after breakfast until dark...





I made my first two elbs here. This photo shows me working on the second, a BL "throw away" piece I salvaged and steam straightened. I have seen straighter snakes... It took quite a bit of work to get even marginally straight! The mirror is a great aid to me in floor tillering.





I took a whole mess of linen backed oak boards that I had roughed out previously. I was up until 2am the morning I left getting the linen glued on. I neglected to wrap them... I ended up spending my first evening and morning regluing wherever the linen had lifted. Here is a bunch of them redrying in the sun, as the eager archers start to swarm the area...





Here are a few of the enthusiastic archery minions. Some were veterans from two years ago; but many shot bows for the first time at this reunion. If the modern materials bows offend your eyes, keep in mind I spent most of my time making the oak staves from the last photo into kids bows... These kids are just getting the important first taste of archery; and this year they got to see where real bows come from...








Here is a little archer, properly supplied with a wooden bow. He is testing it out for me... The handle isn't finished yet...





My most enthusiastic and persistent archer was Nick. He shot more than anyone else... Enough to pick up some bad habits, and then get rid of them... Ha! I had a piece of ash salvaged and straightened from the log the bow I showed earlier on this thread came from (thanks again, Alex!), and Nick and I made it into an elb (my first). Maybe it is not a true elb; but it was more stacked than what I usually make, and bent through the handle. I gave it to Nick (the only one I didn't charge at least a little bit for a bow... I didn't want them not to appreciate them. Nick put in sweat to make it, so I knew he would respect it...). Here he is shooting that bow and testing another linen backed oak board bow. I tried to learn how to elliptical tiller on that one. Comments needed!
(I think the upper limb looking weaker is an optical illusion... but maybe not).





Speaking of tiller, here is the BL elb on the tree. I accidentally pulled it 30" to the grip (my draw length)...






I made that bow for my cousin Carol. She lives in Fredonia, and liked shooting so much that I lent her a recurve after one of the other reunions, and picked it up the next time I hunted the Kaibab. When I first tried to string this bow, it was too crooked (the reflex probably didn't help), so I used the gas stove top in the cabin to heat it up. I would yell for everyone to get out of the way and sprint out the door up to a forked tree, and finally got it corrected after a few tries. I really wanted to finish it for her before she left... Since I accidentally pulled it to my draw length, I got to shoot it. What fun! It was very light, but it was fun to feel the handle bend. The arrow she is shooting is about 1/4" shorter than mine... So I am I think the bow should last for her.





Here are some artifacts that one of my relatives showed me:





I had a great time, and it was nice to get re-acquainted with
relatives I would likely have never met if I hadn't gone to these reunions...

I was able to supply only relatively few people with bows, but they were very happy. Next time I hope to have some ready...

My favorite part of the whole thing was the children. Their enthusiasm is so winning, and they made friends with me so quickly. One of them forgot my name and called to me, "Hey, cool guy!" Probably the first time someone thought of me as cool... Ha!

I ended up making two little girls cry... What a bummer for me! They both made serious safety violations, and their parents applauded my being stern with them; but is there anything worse than seeing a little girl cry? At least they weren't crying because they had been hit by an arrow... They were soon back to shoot some more, so I guess I didn't traumatize them as much as I did myself...

On the way home, I stopped to harvest some juniper for bows... But that is another story...

Ken
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toxophileken
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July 13th, 2006, 6:48 am #15

Post script to the above... I was looking for one of my own arrows that had glanced up the hill, and kept seeing this tree... It took several hard looks before I could convince myself it was juniper... It was right next to some pines, and as straight as them, with no branches for 15' or so. It was about 10" in diameter... It was so perfect I couldn't convince myself it was juniper for quite some time...

I wasn't really tempted to steal it, even though it was behind other trees, and it would not have been missed. It was someone else's property. There is always the chance I can get permission to harvest it when I return on a hunting trip...

If it wasn't a hallucination...

Ken
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2traxx
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July 13th, 2006, 7:01 am #16

Now,thats just one cool thread.Thanxx fer sharein.
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stovie
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July 13th, 2006, 8:26 am #17

Brilliant Ken. There's something special about all those youngsters together shootin' arras...
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Greenchile1
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July 27th, 2006, 2:27 am #18

Ken

Great pictures looks like everyone had a wonderful time. I'm sure a lot of those kids will be waiting for the next reunion.

Greg
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toxophileken
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August 8th, 2006, 6:58 am #19

Thanks guys. The kids are probably my favorite part of this stuff...

Well, last weekend, I skipped the excellent and extremely challenging Mammoth Traditional shoot to enjoy a weekend of camping in Morro Bay, California with my family.





I looked up every so often from chasing the back ring on a piece of osage and actually did interact with my relatives...





I also met a couple of guys from Redondo Beach who may come by PP and find out about the Pasadena meets.

By the way, here are some photos from the Mammoth shoot last year - my first "One Man Bowyer's Meet", and the first outing for my tillering tree.





Here is a photo of my the first bow I made that came to my draw (not in this photo, though... Sorry - only photo I have) which I finished at that tournament. Only about 25# and it is taller than me... Weak lower limb, and huge handle. My friend Big John (6' 10") who sets up that shoot (making EXTREMELY challenging shots with evil glee...) loved to shoot this bow (he had a shoulder injury). Later that weekend, I got an oak board bow to 50# at my draw length. Sorry about the redundancy here and below with my "Personal Milestone" post.





This weekend, I went to the Big Bear 3d shoot - the largest in Southern California. I shot terribly, but I had a great time anyway, as I was blessed in many ways.

As bad as I shot, I made it through the hole in this steel target... Those are mostly wheelboys' arrows, broken there. I take them and cut them down for kids to use. Little kids never have enough arrows...





Here was one of my favorite parts of the shoot...





I worked on my hickory bow (more details on my "Slomo(sage) Buildalong"). Here is me about to make a mistake by trying to use the flat faced Shinto rasp to try and round out the fades.





That put some ledges in, and after a couple hours of 80 grit sandpaper, I wised up and used the tool I should have used first, the round face of a #49 Nicholson rasp. Now I might just buy that #50, too... Someday.

You can tell from that last photo that it got cool in the mountains. Here I am warming myself in the sun before trying to pull my bow. Or maybe I am dreaming of finishing my hickory bow...





Which dream came true... I stayed after pretty much everyone had left, and worked on it until I got to full draw. It is the first bow I have made that came to my full draw, and of a weight I can enjoy shooting (80#-90#). A big deal for me...






Here is a funny photo showing how much confidence I had on the first few shots... Ha! Terrible form (dropped bow and fly away release), and a hilarious expression of trepidation, along with hunched shoulders... Maybe I should just talk someone else into test firing my bows...





After the photos, I got back to work, and got my Hop Horn Beam stave to about the same place the hickory bow was at the beginning of the weekend - so it is within "striking distance", too... I hope. More details soon to come on my slomo buildalong...

Ken
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toxophileken
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August 8th, 2006, 7:03 am #20

I forgot to mention that I had a break through on chasing the back ring on that osage stave. The other ones I have tried were too green, and tore out a lot. I sharpened up my draw knife, and this one was more dry. It was just like chasing the ring on black locust... I was pretty happy about that, as I put a lot of time in learning to get BL rings...

Ken
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