Author Topic: Yew school  (Read 1232 times)

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Offline Doug509

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Yew school
« on: February 10, 2024, 07:36:11 pm »
I'm working on a stash of Yew that I got a permit to harvest two years ago.   I am very much a novice and thought I would share my experience and hope I can learn from the experts here. Let's start by trying to post a few pics of the harvest.

Offline Doug509

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2024, 07:41:34 pm »
I field split the tree with wedges to follow the wood grain a ended up with some wonky staves and a few that I will save for graduation from Yew School. All the staves were sealed on the ends and dried in about 9 months based on weight loss.

Offline Doug509

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2024, 07:49:23 pm »
I estimate this tree was a sapling when the Mayflower landed.   It has about 40 rings per inch.   I choose the stave fourth from the right for this project.   It's dipped, bumpy, twisted and bent.  Perfect for learning.  Here is the stave laid out with the bow following the grain
« Last Edit: February 10, 2024, 07:54:27 pm by Doug509 »

Online JW_Halverson

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2024, 09:41:15 pm »
Wow! Nice stash, brother! 

Always start with the worst piece you have so you don't feel so bad if things go wrong, and you'll feel like the Big Boss if you get a shooter!
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline Hamish

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2024, 02:01:16 pm »
Are you already proficient in building selfbows? If not, I would do any learning of tillering skills with board bows, or white woods. Like you said this is an ancient tree with premium wood and it deserves the absolute best you can do with it.
If you are proficient then what type of yew bows do you want to build?

Offline superdav95

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2024, 07:17:05 pm »
Are you already proficient in building selfbows? If not, I would do any learning of tillering skills with board bows, or white woods. Like you said this is an ancient tree with premium wood and it deserves the absolute best you can do with it.
If you are proficient then what type of yew bows do you want to build?

Totally agree with this.  You got some nice yew there it would be a shame to cut your teeth so to speak on such premium stuff.  Some white woods are much easier to come by.  I started out on white woods way before I went to Osage and yew.  I had stock piled my more premium staves in prep for when I felt more ready.   
Sticks and stones and other poky stabby things.

superdav95@gmail.com

Offline Doug509

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2024, 10:36:49 am »
I have cut my teeth with vine maple and feel I'm worthy of the challenge.   In between chores and football I have reduced the stave down to the intended layout dimensions.   I plan to use steam to correct the twist and straighten the limbs. My understanding and experience is I should start with steam to make big adjustments then fine tune with dry heat.   

Offline superdav95

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2024, 11:39:59 am »
Well then you are in the right place to get some solid advise when you need it.  Keep us posted as you go and should be able to avoid some early mishaps.  Looks like a decent chunk of wood with decent ring count.  Best of luck on it.  How thick is your layer of sapwood?   
Sticks and stones and other poky stabby things.

superdav95@gmail.com

Offline Muskyman

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2024, 11:53:25 am »
I have only made one yew bow. So I canít really help you. I know that del is probably the master on here when it comes to yew bow wood. Not that some of the other guys on here donít know how to work it and make some beautiful bows with it. I actually have a stave on the way to me that my son got me for my birthday. So Iím gonna watch your build and glean what I can from it.
I will put one little piece of advice I got from my yew build on here. Yes wood is toxic. So use a dust mask or respirator, if you have one when youíre working on it.

This is off the internet

Is yew wood toxic?
Yes, Yew wood can be harmful due to the presence of taxine, a toxic alkaloid. Exposure to Yew sawdust might lead to breathing issues, skin allergies, and other health concerns, so proper safety gear is crucial.

Offline superdav95

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2024, 03:09:42 pm »
I have only made one yew bow. So I canít really help you. I know that del is probably the master on here when it comes to yew bow wood. Not that some of the other guys on here donít know how to work it and make some beautiful bows with it. I actually have a stave on the way to me that my son got me for my birthday. So Iím gonna watch your build and glean what I can from it.
I will put one little piece of advice I got from my yew build on here. Yes wood is toxic. So use a dust mask or respirator, if you have one when youíre working on it.

This is off the internet

Is yew wood toxic?
Yes, Yew wood can be harmful due to the presence of taxine, a toxic alkaloid. Exposure to Yew sawdust might lead to breathing issues, skin allergies, and other health concerns, so proper safety gear is crucial.

Good advise.  Yes.  Use a respirator if you got it at bare minimum use a face mask.  Not as much a concern if outside doing most of your sanding and bulk wood removal but still good idea.  It sucks to use a mask but getting sick sucks worse. 
Sticks and stones and other poky stabby things.

superdav95@gmail.com

Offline Del the cat

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    • Derek Hutchison Native Wood Self Bows
Re: Yew school
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2024, 04:34:17 pm »
I have cut my teeth with vine maple and feel I'm worthy of the challenge.   In between chores and football I have reduced the stave down to the intended layout dimensions.   I plan to use steam to correct the twist and straighten the limbs. My understanding and experience is I should start with steam to make big adjustments then fine tune with dry heat.
I don't think you need to worry about that slight twist.
My go-to primitive is called twister and it shoots just fine :)
Del
Health warning, these posts may contain traces of nut.

Offline Hamish

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2024, 04:57:22 pm »
I have cut my teeth with vine maple and feel I'm worthy of the challenge.   In between chores and football I have reduced the stave down to the intended layout dimensions.   I plan to use steam to correct the twist and straighten the limbs. My understanding and experience is I should start with steam to make big adjustments then fine tune with dry heat.

Okay, good to know. You are going to love yew, it is noticeably lighter in the hand when shooting than other bow woods.

What sort of draw weight, and draw length are you looking for?

Get the bark off, and thin the sapwood if necessary. Start floor tillering, to remove excess wood . That will make any potential heat corrections so much easier to do..

Offline Doug509

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2024, 10:38:51 am »
Appreciate the advice.   I  was under the impression that only the bark contained toxic substances once harvested for cancer treatment.  Del I like your use of sticks to help visualize the twist for adjustment. I'm targeting a draw of 45 to 50 lbs at 28".  I have left the upper limb 1" longer and NTN should be 64".  Sapwood is not very consistent and ranges from 2mm to 12mm.  The handle has a big dip on the right side back, and feels awkward.   I removed bark and glued an extra piece of Sapwood to even out the handle shape. I think with a leather handle it's going to work out just fine.   Besides the handle the limbs are very inconsistent in sapwood which will challenge me along the way. I hate to violate the beautiful white sapwood but I know it's going to need it.

I would like to clarify the tree I harvested was doomed and marked by forest service for removal.   

Offline Gordon

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2024, 01:57:07 am »
Quote
I have cut my teeth with vine maple and feel I'm worthy of the challenge.

If you can tame vine maple, then you can handle yew wood.

Quote
My understanding and experience is I should start with steam to make big adjustments then fine tune with dry heat.   

Definitely.
Gordon

Offline Doug509

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Re: Yew school
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2024, 10:46:10 am »
I have been able to progress to floor tiller with the limbs evenly consistent in width and depth.   One limb has a big bend and a twist.  I steamed for 60 minutes then clamps and wedges to get fairly straight.  I then used dry heat to remove the twist.  Del's suggestion to use sticks really helps visualize the limb twist and to know when it's straight.