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Main Discussion Area => Bows => Topic started by: mmattockx on October 15, 2021, 01:10:03 pm

Title: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 15, 2021, 01:10:03 pm
Back before fibreglass lams existed there were plenty of all wood commercial bows produced. Considering the inconsistencies inherent with wood and the time required to carefully tiller each bow to match the properties of the wood in that particular bow, how did anyone manage to turn all wood bows out on a production basis and have a quality, consistent, reliable product?


Thanks,
Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: bownarra on October 15, 2021, 02:47:16 pm
Laminating :)
If you can get quality STRAIGHT grained backing woods consistantly you are off to a good start (Velum was a pre-glass 'glass' which helps here).
Same with the belly wood really, wavy grain, dips, wiggles etc lower compression qualities so making tillering more important. The straighter grained the wood the more consistant it will react.
Grinding cores to a taper that will get you very close to tillered at glue-up/clean up is another way to skip a whole bunch of work. Understanding your designs width taper and how that correlates to thickness taper will take the guess work out of taper rates.
Don't go too 'extreme' with your designs.
It's not that hard if you can get the wood ;)
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: PatM on October 15, 2021, 03:06:12 pm
Back before fibreglass lams existed there were plenty of all wood commercial bows produced. Considering the inconsistencies inherent with wood and the time required to carefully tiller each bow to match the properties of the wood in that particular bow, how did anyone manage to turn all wood bows out on a production basis and have a quality, consistent, reliable product?


Thanks,
Mark

 They typically used woods which lend themselves to mass production.  Lemonwood and Hickory.
   Then lamination was the next step.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 15, 2021, 03:10:17 pm
Laminating :)
If you can get quality STRAIGHT grained backing woods consistantly you are off to a good start (Velum was a pre-glass 'glass' which helps here).
Same with the belly wood really, wavy grain, dips, wiggles etc lower compression qualities so making tillering more important. The straighter grained the wood the more consistant it will react.
Grinding cores to a taper that will get you very close to tillered at glue-up/clean up is another way to skip a whole bunch of work. Understanding your designs width taper and how that correlates to thickness taper will take the guess work out of taper rates.
Don't go too 'extreme' with your designs.
It's not that hard if you can get the wood ;)

What you describe is basically my approach to this with the goal of removing as much of the art of tillering as possible from making a bow, but I also measure the stiffness of each piece of wood I use and have to customize limb dimensions to suit that particular piece of wood in order to hit a target weight. I can't just buy a lift of boards and make a bunch of bows from them with identical dimensions and have them all come out at the same weight and performance. There is just too much variability in the wood for that to work well.

Perhaps getting consistent wood was much easier a century ago, but it still seems amazing to me that it could be done on any commercial scale without having each bow fine tuned by a skilled hand.


Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 15, 2021, 03:46:41 pm
I think if they hit within2-3# they called it good for the most part. But Iím not as old as some of the guys here and have only been at it for 17 years . But yes what you see left mostly are Lemmon wood and hickory. Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Don W on October 15, 2021, 04:15:05 pm
You're talking about a time when skilled labor was skilled. Think about all the tools and equipment mass produced that took skilled workmanship. The industrial revolution brought about advancement in production, but finishing steps where still skilled labor for many years after and I'm sure the Europeans had bow making down even before that.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: bownarra on October 16, 2021, 02:56:49 am
You can't completely remove the tillering. Even glass bows need some tillering.
I wouldn't bother measuring density of the wood. Feel is good enough to get you in the ballpark. As long as you aren't dealing with junk wood!
The way to hit weight is simply to make the bow 5- 10# overweight then remove the excess by narrowing it. Weight loss is proportional to width reduction.
There were lots and lots of bows made from fancy tropicals but you tend to see the lemonwood and hickory bows because they were mass produced, just lots of them in existence so you are bound to see more of them. These were cheaply produced in large numbers for youngsters. Check out the TBB for the section on laminated bows....plenty of examples of old lam bows there - with fancy woods aplenty. These sort of bows are valuable and mainly in a collectors collection, hence why you don't see them.
Here in England the bowyers of old could get any wood...not now! Not saying I agree with how they were acquired but they could get just about any wood.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 16, 2021, 10:58:27 pm
You can't completely remove the tillering. Even glass bows need some tillering.

I understand and agree with that, I am just trying to minimize it.


I wouldn't bother measuring density of the wood.

I'm not measuring density, I am measuring the material stiffness. I make a bend test sample from each board I am going to use and measure/calculate its modulus of elasticity so I can calculate how thick the limbs need to be for my desired weight. As I build up a number of data points for the various woods I am using I will need to do less testing and will be able to look at past results instead but I haven't done enough to have a good baseline yet.


Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 17, 2021, 12:01:03 am
Farm out the tillering if needed. If this is about mass production. But I think you are on the right track to eliminating as much tiller as possible. Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: PatM on October 17, 2021, 12:28:22 am
It would be interesting to see how density compares to material stiffness.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 17, 2021, 01:41:57 am
Farm out the tillering if needed. If this is about mass production. But I think you are on the right track to eliminating as much tiller as possible. Arvin

I am not thinking of production for myself, just was wondering how people made it work considering how much variability there is in wood. I'm avoiding the tillering as much as I can because it is a hard skill to gain and I don't want to make 300 bows just to get a handle on it. So I substitute engineering ability for artistic tillering ability and use the skills I already have to make it work instead. Lots of ways to skin the cat in the end.


It would be interesting to see how density compares to material stiffness.

See, there you go making me think I need to start keeping track of that as well. It isn't hard to work out with boards as my source material but I haven't been bothering for the most part. Maybe I will start measuring and recording density as well going forward. In theory, more data is better but eventually you have so much data it becomes difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff and get useful information out of it.


Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Gimlis Ghost on October 17, 2021, 01:52:51 am
By the time of Henry VIII England had over harvested its best stands of Yew to the point that it was difficult to get decent quality staves for long bows. It was necessary to import Yew from mainland Europe as far away as Central Europe. Even then over harvesting in some countries forced them to curtail further sales to England.

Its unlikely that by the late 19th century any lumber companies were specifically harvesting trees with an eye to the best wood for bow staves but some no doubt put aside the best straight grained wood to be picked through by buyers. Anyone in the business of making bows would pick and chose from what was available, paying a premium for wood that suited their purpose.

While Osage Orange is widely considered the best wood for bows, while the trees are very commplace in much of the USA its not that easy to find mass quantities of straight grained staves. If it were all wooden self bows mass produced in the USA would have been Osage Orange.
Years ago I looked up a few sites selling Osage Orange staves and could not find any that I'd have risked making a bow of with my limited skills. I did find a number of staves that had fine looking wavy grain for half the length , the grain giving it the look of a Kriss sword. I considered buying two such staves and cutting them in half to make two takedown bows, one with straight grained limbs the other with those snakey Kriss shaped limbs.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 17, 2021, 06:40:06 am
It would be interesting to see how density compares to material stiffness.

Pat you will find a direct coalition between densely and stiffness Iím pretty sure. Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Don W on October 17, 2021, 08:15:42 am


I am not thinking of production for myself, just was wondering how people made it work considering how much variability there is in wood. I'm avoiding the tillering as much as I can because it is a hard skill to gain and I don't want to make 300 bows just to get a handle on it. So I substitute engineering ability for artistic tillering ability and use the skills I already have to make it work instead. Lots of ways to skin the cat in the end.




Mark


I started a similar thread with a similar idea a while ago. I've actually started trying to take detailed measurements of bows (I have a few posted on my website) with the thought of reproducing of the measurements of a working bow.

If the wood species are the same it will get you pretty close. Adding extra "even" thickness for higher weight or a different wood (until it's known) will also get you close.

My suggestion was if enough people helped keep track, eventually we'd have a pretty good database full of known dimensions of good working bows.

My problem is time, and there didn't seem to be much interest in participating.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 17, 2021, 09:36:11 am
Don I think TBB already addressed this in that the more dense the less the wood would float. So pine had to be about twice as wide as Osage for example.  I think that weight = density= stiffness they all three make up the mass in a working bow. How you distribute the mass is the secret to better performance. This  Is more technical than I can do the math for . But itís my gut feeling. Mark it might be easier to build 50 bows . Just saying. Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: bassman211 on October 17, 2021, 10:58:14 am
I made quite a few bows for the boy scouts, and girls scouts in my area. Some times a run of 6 to 10 bows in the 20 to 35 lb. range. so that all would have their own bow. Made them from straight  grain hickory wagon wheel staves which were 1 and a half by 1 and half inch staves a bought from the Amish, and cut them edge grain. I laid them out Pyramid shape. Cut them carefully on a good band saw, and with a little belly tillering, and a linen back could turn  out a decent bow in short order. Not mass producing, but the best quickest way I found  to make decent bows by the numbers in the 20 to 35 lb range.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Don W on October 17, 2021, 11:48:03 am
Don I think TBB already addressed this in that the more dense the less the wood would float. So pine had to be about twice as wide as Osage for example.  I think that weight = density= stiffness they all three make up the mass in a working bow. How you distribute the mass is the secret to better performance. This  Is more technical than I can do the math for . But itís my gut feeling. Mark it might be easier to build 50 bows . Just saying. Arvin

This doesn't help a beginner bow maker until he (or she) understands what it means, and that means making a number of bows. As you said, This  Is more technical than most beginners can understand until you've seen it working, if you can ever. And you need to understand the variations in the wood itself and give a little leeway.

Most beginners want to make a bow that shoots well and is within some reasonable draw weight range.

Take this bow for instance
http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,70563.0.html

Take this comment specifically (which helped me, and should help anyone else reading it)
Correct observation by bownarra and should have mentioned it but I don't make too many bendy handled bows myself.Making that thickness of .84 extend out a few more inches either way from the handle for a more eliptical tiller.
Shooting heavier arrows does reduce handshock a bit too making the bow more efficient with bows 5.5' in length.To really see if a bow has no handshock shooting an 8 grain arrow will show you too.Right now your shooting around a 11.5 grain arrow.


If I had beginning dimensions of this bow before going through the trial and error, I would have made the .84" longer. The only way we knew it was .84" and the .84" needed to be longer, was I documented it. I haven't documented the final numbers yet, I wanted to wait until it was well shot in, but the point is, someone could now take a HHB stave, match my measurements (or stick with the original and just make the .84" longer) and they would have much less trial and error to go through.

There will still be final tillering, but not nearly as much. I've copied like this twice now, and it's got me very very close. I haven't even needed to floor tiller and final tiller on one went straight to shooting.

I typically take a spreadsheet, layout the dimensions, then create a new row that adds .02" to each measurement. One could be a little safer and add .04", to give some leeway in tillering or add a little draw weight.

TBB is a great start, but there is a lot of conflicting information from vol 1 - vol 4, and it can get very confusing at first.

I've only done this with HHB, but I think Hickory would be very close to the same dimensions. I don't know how far off other wood would be.

If everyone documented their bow this way, and we could compile that info, a beginner could say, "I want a 60" maple bow, 45#@28" and if he could find a few examples with dimensions like this, I believe he could make his first bow shoot, if he had the woodworking skill to follow the dimensions as I described.   

Maybe he'll eventually learn to tiller a tough knarly knot ridden bow, or maybe he'll make 3 bows his entire life he hunts with.

I know an experienced bowyer can make a bow by feel, and I get that, but my 2 dozen shooters, and my three dozen broken remnants in the corner hasn't gotten me there yet, and at my age, I may not ever get there, but this kind of information will help me and many others make bows to hunt with, shoot when they want, and continue to make better bows (whatever that means)
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 17, 2021, 12:31:34 pm
Don Iím not saying this information is not a good way to start. But then there are the Arvinís in the world that canít do the math . 😁😁 bowanarra was right about the tillering and Don you know how I feel about character bows. Iím all in on straight line bows. Does not matter how we get to a good shooting bow . The hope is we end up with one. Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: RyanY on October 17, 2021, 01:28:47 pm
Mark, if you can nail the width/thickness tapers to result in your desired tiller, you could make bows slightly thinner than expected with proportionately more width for the draw weight. My hunch is that most hardwoods donít vary so significantly in elasticity that they would need to be different thicknesses. Width would be the biggest area for adjustment.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 17, 2021, 09:59:17 pm
Mark it might be easier to build 50 bows.

Arvin, that works for you the way you can crank them out but at the rate I make bows I may be dead before I reach 50. Now that I am moved out to the country and can get settled for good here it should improve but my shop time is still limited enough that I will never be a big producer of bows.


If everyone documented their bow this way, and we could compile that info, a beginner could say, "I want a 60" maple bow, 45#@28" and if he could find a few examples with dimensions like this, I believe he could make his first bow shoot, if he had the woodworking skill to follow the dimensions as I described. 

I asked similar questions when I was making my first bow and there was very little in the way of solid info. All I wanted was very rough dimensions to get me in the ballpark and then I figured I would work it from there. I don't know if people are not interested in sharing or very few record much data on their bows and genuinely can't answer that sort of question, but it does make it tougher on the new guys trying to end up with a functional bow.


Mark, if you can nail the width/thickness tapers to result in your desired tiller, you could make bows slightly thinner than expected with proportionately more width for the draw weight. My hunch is that most hardwoods donít vary so significantly in elasticity that they would need to be different thicknesses. Width would be the biggest area for adjustment.

That is an interesting approach to getting close quickly and then fine tuning from there. Once I have some more experiments out of the way I may give that a shot and see how it works out.

I have seen 10-15% variation in stiffness in maple and red oak, which is a fair amount to cover with just tillering the width. I have some hickory I will be testing next year and am interested to see how that turns out.


Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Hamish on October 17, 2021, 11:02:07 pm
In this day and age no matter how much you rationalised the production process, trying to make self or laminated wood bows, you would soon realise that you could make more bows/profit from making them out of modern materials, like fg, carbon fibre etc.



Mike, known as Bowanarra here made a pretty good effort at it a few years ago, with quality made bows, from quality materials, self and laminated traditonal bows (as well as some nifty fg bows too).  I think it ended up being a lot of work, for not enough profits, which is a real shame because he does a great job. (correct me if I'm wrong on why you stopped producing bows for a living please Mike?)

It was a different matter pre fibreglass. Timber suppliers knew what to look for, to meet the needs of the industry, so if you bought a truck load of timber you could be assured that most of it would be suitable for bows.

Patterns for layout, glue presses for laminating, jigs for splice cutting were all available at least since the 19thC. So too were mechanised saws, table routers for shaping the bellies of English longbows, various power sanders, belts and  inflatable drums for tillering, rather than scraping.

The best bows of the industrialised era were still made by skilled craftsmen, professional bowyers.

James Duff book Bows and Arrows, has some insight into how it was done professionally.
 Stemmler's book Essential's of Archery also has some good insights into the process too. He provides information on dimensions for bows of certain materials, styles and draw weights. In practice they won't necessarily give you an even well tillered bow, if you make them to the said dimensions. They might be whip tillered, overweight, underweight, twisted etc. You still need the eye and the experience of a bowyer to correct the issue when things don't go  how they were supposed to.



Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: bownarra on October 18, 2021, 02:35:09 am
Exactly right Hamish :) and thanks for the kind words. I'm still knocking the odd one out for some pennies but not for much longer. I want to get back to making fun bows, pushing the limits and breaking stuff.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Badger on October 20, 2021, 03:51:06 pm
One time I had to build about 2 dozen bows for a reenactment group. I built 28 assuming I might loose about 4 of them. I only had one weekend to build them. I cut them all out on a bandsaw and tillered them with a spoke shave. I believe I had about 30 minutes into each bow and they came out decent, weight went from 25# to about 50#. None of them broke. I spent the rest of the week making the strings.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Hamish on October 20, 2021, 05:46:15 pm
I'm impressed by bowyers that can make a decent bow in one day.
There are many excellent bowyers out there, that can make a wonderful bow, given their allotted time.

There are only about 2 bowyers I would trust with a 30 minute bow. Badger and Tim Baker. Both individual legends of the modern wood bow renaissance.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 20, 2021, 07:27:53 pm
I agree with that!! Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: bassman211 on October 22, 2021, 11:29:23 am
Badger, what wood, and were the bows cut from staves?
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: txdm on October 22, 2021, 02:26:23 pm
mmattockx and others,

Does bamboo provide a more consistent elasticity from tree to tree than hardwood? If so, then maybe bamboo laminates would be more predictable and mass produce-able...and couldn't you then use almost anything for the core?

Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: mmattockx on October 22, 2021, 08:01:22 pm
mmattockx and others,

Does bamboo provide a more consistent elasticity from tree to tree than hardwood?

That's a fine question that I don't know the answer to. Hopefully someone else can answer it or point to some research that answers it.


Mark
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: RyanY on October 22, 2021, 08:18:07 pm
I could be wrong but I think some bow makers have done that with the outer face of the bamboo on the back and belly. Likely tapering the lams to very specific dimensions and minimal tillering done with removing material from the width.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Hamish on October 22, 2021, 08:33:36 pm

Bamboo laminates have consistency, but so would laminated wood from a proven bow species.

The problem with bamboo is that the "wood" under the power fibres is not as strong(in both tension and compression). To process the material into lamelles requires flattening, and much of the power fibres are removed.
It is possible to maximise the powerfibres, but it involves a lot of time, and effort to ensure you are doing it properly, so its not a cheap, or quick method if you do it properly.

Bamboo for the belly is more resistant to compression if you heat temper it, so that adds another level of time and labour.

Before fg was invented all bamboo laminated bows were seen as the apex of bow performance in regard to durability. They were some of the most expensive bows to buy because of the skill and labour involved.

Manufactured bamboo floorboards make a good belly timber, in regard to resisting chrysals.  They do take a lot of set, so it should be  glued into a reflex. The stuff is relatively light because much of the power fibres have been removed, so the limbs will look a lot thicker than a hardwood bow of the same draw weight. They still need a hickory, or bamboo backing, as the nodes have been severed and will break in tension sooner or later. They usually survive tillering and shoot in though. Don't be fooled.

Bamboo laminates are ideal for core woods, as it is relatively light, yet strong for its weight. 'That's why they are used for modern fg bows. You still need to remember the fg is doing all the work in tension and compression.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Selfbowman on October 22, 2021, 09:41:57 pm
Well put Hamish. good evening 107.77.219.88 Arvin
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: txdm on October 23, 2021, 11:23:18 am
Great info, thanks hamish!
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: PatM on October 23, 2021, 01:27:29 pm
Wood bows could still just be churned out with good tiller and then grouped by weight according to how they turned out.  There isn't really a need to  overly plan the finished weight by analyzing  the wood properties beforehand     When the tiller is good, weight the bow and assign it to a group  and move on.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: RyanY on October 23, 2021, 01:55:36 pm
Wood bows could still just be churned out with good tiller and then grouped by weight according to how they turned out.  There isn't really a need to  overly plan the finished weight by analyzing  the wood properties beforehand     When the tiller is good, weight the bow and assign it to a group  and move on.

Plenty of lower quality mass produced board bows are done this way. Use hickory for higher probability of survival with poor grain quality. The problem with those other than the grain is that the layouts are generally awful with poor tiller for the design.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: PatM on October 23, 2021, 02:56:19 pm
Definitely today but in the past the skill level of workers was clearly much higher and timber selection better.  A lot of old Ben Pearson hickory bows  still look pretty good even if showing bad set from years of being left strung.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: RyanY on October 23, 2021, 05:15:25 pm
Definitely. I come across them once in a while and am surprised how good they look. Some have a thin backing of some kind. Not sure if itís fiberglass or what.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Badger on October 23, 2021, 05:38:03 pm
Wood bows could still just be churned out with good tiller and then grouped by weight according to how they turned out.  There isn't really a need to  overly plan the finished weight by analyzing  the wood properties beforehand     When the tiller is good, weight the bow and assign it to a group  and move on.

Plenty of lower quality mass produced board bows are done this way. Use hickory for higher probability of survival with poor grain quality. The problem with those other than the grain is that the layouts are generally awful with poor tiller for the design.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: PatM on October 24, 2021, 12:18:33 am
Definitely. I come across them once in a while and am surprised how good they look. Some have a thin backing of some kind. Not sure if itís fiberglass or what.
   Often "fiber" backing which is essentially paper rawhide.
Title: Re: Wood Bows in a Production Environment?
Post by: Hamish on October 24, 2021, 08:04:16 pm
Paper rawhide is a good analogy Pat.

You can still buy fiber. Vulcanised fiber/fibre is used in the electrical industries, also gaskets, and linings for knife handles.

Most of it is small sheets but it is available in rolls long enough to back a full length bow in one piece.
I haven't tried any yet. I definitely reckon it would would be worth a try.

Strong enough, yet not as strong as fibreglass which tends to cause more set if used on a wood bow that doesn't also have a glassed belly. Whatever the reason was, set or ease of manufacture this style of backing did not last long before ground and tapered laminations with a back and belly of fg took over.