Author Topic: Hemlock Branch Bow  (Read 1067 times)

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Offline PlanB

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Hemlock Branch Bow
« on: November 22, 2021, 10:52:28 pm »
A couple weeks ago I was cutting a dead ash for firewood in the woods in back of my house, and there was a hemlock in the way of the fall I needed the ash to take. Otherwise it was going to hang up, so I decided to fell the hemlock first and cut it up for spring shoulder season fires. It had some nice looking branches, so I decided to take a couple of those and try a bow out of them.

Tonight I started to peel one. The bark on hemlock branches is very scaly and rough. There's basically three layers, the outer scales, then a stringy layer, and then a crusty spongy layer. I took the scaly layer off first with a dull pocketknife. It was kind of fun, relaxing not thinking about anything else.

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Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2021, 10:56:02 pm »
Next I started on the other two layers -- I spent a couple hours on this because that got me down to the sapwood layer, which I wanted to keep. I marked the upper and lower surfaces of the branch. The top will be the bow back.

 
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Offline bownarra

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2021, 02:26:08 am »
Interesting but hemlock isn't really bow wood? It will be interesting to see what you make.

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2021, 01:37:41 pm »
No, not a bow wood.

Bark all peeled. Ends will be painted with melted paraffin wax. The branch curves in the wrong direction, sideways to the top and bottom.

« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 01:44:07 pm by PlanB »
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Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2021, 02:02:27 pm »
This is an old branch. About 50 rings. Butt and tip both show reaction wood toward bottom. Tip has off center heart.
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Offline PatM

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2021, 05:52:09 pm »
I would bet it would make a good two wood style bow as used in North Eurasia.

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2021, 08:59:29 pm »
I've thought about that a lot. I have black, yellow and white birch, all three, growing right in amongst the hemlocks, so backing with a birch is almost a natural combo. But I'm going to hold off on that and see what I can do with the hemlock by itself first.

I'm thinking a relatively long bow with deflexed tips and a trapped or rounded belly. Basic and modest.

This is eastern hemlock, btw. Canadensis.

The hard part is going to be the side bend. There are better branches in the world.

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Offline PatM

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2021, 09:40:27 pm »
I would maybe get a few pieces for a bend test first, just to see how it behaves.

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2021, 10:19:25 pm »
Hard to say without a dry sample. But I built my house 20 years ago with about half the framing hemlock, which I milled myself. Hemlock is very high in compressive strength, less so in tensile. Therefore dry sticks tend to snap apart when bent past yield. It gets very hard when dry and it can bend nails.

The branch wood will probably exaggerate the difference between compressive and tensile strength. I guess I could rapid dry a sample cut from a branch and try it. But I bet it acts similar to the above.

So, long bow, modest draw weight, and trapping or rounding the belly is my guess for survival (of the bow when drawn). Or maybe it's just firewood.
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Online simk

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2021, 08:37:38 am »
I dont think you will make a selfbow fom these branches. If...then you need bigger diameter. I haven't tried that but its weak in tesnion - I have seen oone from a branch with a rawhide backing once. Two wood bow is the best way - the lower side (compression side) makes a very good belly. But this for sure is not the easiest way to get a first bow. good luck.
look here for an example:
https://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,68758.0.html

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2021, 11:28:27 am »
Beautiful bow, simk. I admire that one a lot.
btw, this isn't a first bow. But I admit there's a good chance it won't work out. I'm just interested to try.
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Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2021, 12:46:15 pm »
Some specs........present branch weight is 1134 grams, length is 71".  Diameter at butt end is 1.5" and at tip 1". A good bow for my draw would be 40 lbs on 27".
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Online simk

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2021, 01:08:10 pm »
only from top notch bowwood (for example dogwood) you will get a bow at these specs from a thin branch like that. one of the main problems you are confronted with small diameter pieces  is the extremly high crown concentrating massive tension in one spot. If...then only a very good bowwod can do that. but you anyways gonna try,....sometimes some things just gotta be  (-S 

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2021, 01:27:16 pm »
Lashed down.
I love it when a plan B comes together....

Offline PlanB

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Re: Hemlock Branch Bow
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2021, 08:52:23 pm »
After a day indoors, 1063 grams. Original curve 6", now 4-3/4".  Re-lashed tighter.
Happy Thanksgiving.
I love it when a plan B comes together....