Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Bows => Topic started by: Fox on November 17, 2021, 11:59:46 am

Title: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Fox on November 17, 2021, 11:59:46 am
Whadya do if you got a winter hickory stave with rings so small you canít see them? Taking the cambium of with sandpaper and a scraper and there absolutely no way of not violating a ring. Am I going to have to back it or something? Or should it be fine with the violation?
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: bassman211 on November 17, 2021, 01:00:14 pm
Hickory is tough stuff, but I back staves like that. If it is a nice clean stave, I run a hack saw blade on the back ,and sinew back it. You can use other backings like raw hide, or linen, but I like sinew best. I always have a good supply of it around just for that reason. Good luck .
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: PatM on November 17, 2021, 01:23:29 pm
Steam the bark off.  Shave it thin and run it through a covered pot.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Hamish on November 17, 2021, 04:35:41 pm


There is a point where hardwood rings actually get too thin to be unbacked and make a durable bow.
Exactly how small are these rings? Less than 1/16".
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: RyanY on November 17, 2021, 07:21:40 pm
Are there better rings in the stave and enough wood to chase to one?
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Eric Krewson on November 18, 2021, 08:59:03 am
I have made several hickory bows, 15 or 20 perhaps, not all had a pristine back, I didn't back any of them, none of them failed. I would trust very tight rings over wider rings because these were the kind of staves I used most of the time. I have made hickory bows with grain runout as well, none of them failed either. I do make all my bows 64" or longer NTN.

My first 4 hickory bows were from a small sapling that I cut from the bottom of a very deep hollow, it was only 7 or 8" in diameter, a ring count showed it to be 50 years old, I made four bows from this sapling in 1996. These were actually bows #3-4-5 and 6 in my bow making journey. I didn't chase a ring on any of them, none of these bows failed until someone else tried to alter them.

I gave one to a friend who could mess up an anvil, he decided to rework it an broke it, he probably tried to retiller it on a belt sander, I had seen him attempt this before, none of the bows survived. I gave him one more of these bows many years later, it popped a splinter on the back but after the guy reworked it to be a short static recurve.

I bamboo backed one of the other ones for a friend and brought it up to my current level of bow making in the last few years because the initial bow was like any beginners bow, poorly tillered with a lot of hand shock.

Just curious; how many of you have had a tight ring hickory bow pop a splinter on the back because of a ring violation? Tell us your story.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Hamish on November 18, 2021, 06:04:02 pm

Eric, Never had hickory pop a ring, but I haven't used any really thin ringed, for single growth ring bows. I mostly use hickory for sawn backings, I haven't found any issue with thin ringed backings.

I have had thin ringed osage pop. The stuff was literally paper thin, and almost impossible to follow without accidently cutting through one ring. It was thin, but still it was heavy latewood, made bows with good cast, but they eventually popped  at violations. Easily fixed with a rawhide patch. I would back another stave like that with rawhide from the start of floor tillering and avoid the risk.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: bassman211 on November 18, 2021, 07:44:18 pm
Yep, at least raw hide, and if it is a nice stave sinew backing it can make a  very good shooting durable bow with little worry about the back cracking , or letting go on you.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: JW_Halverson on November 18, 2021, 08:12:31 pm
Steam the bark off.  Shave it thin and run it through a covered pot.

I am attacking a hackberry stave soon, and it has had the bark drying on it for something like 10 years. It is a real pain to get it up and I think I may just try this little trick of yours.

As for the hickory, or any white wood for that matter, a pristine back is always the best back. Take your time and work on a few square inches at a time if that is what it takes. Years back someone in this group had a hickory stave that undulated like mad. They sharpened a old stainless steel spoon and used that to get after the grubbly little bits.

Another idea is to purchase a small spoon carving knife. They are an absolute pain in the sitting muscles to sharpen when they get dull, but the quality ones are very hard steel and the edge should last for a decade or more of scraping bow backs.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Fox on November 18, 2021, 08:23:52 pm
Hmm well to back it or not? I liked Ericís question, how many of you have had splinters pop on hickory like this?
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Eric Krewson on November 19, 2021, 08:59:44 am
A lot of folk here offer opinions, that is why I asked the question and gave my experience with unbacked hickory. If I don't have any experience in an area I don't say a word and don't offer advice.

My last batch of hickory was compiled of 17 staves, this was late cut stuff, it took me two weeks to get the bark and cambium off, with all this drawknifing I did violate some of the backs. On most of them I left them as is, on a few the others I chased a ring just to see if I could, this was tight ring stuff from the deep woods with 1/32" rings on some of them. I have chased rings on more osage than I can remember and found chasing these hickory rings very easy with a card scraper, a light touch and the proper lighting above the stave.

I will never cut late season hickory again. I supply hickory staves for what few students I run through my shop as it is the perfect wood for a beginner to start with.

The other picture is my student Wes and his finished bow made from the hickory I mentioned.
 



Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: PatM on November 19, 2021, 10:42:04 am
I wouldn't worry about Hickory failing due to violated rings as Eric says.  Especially if the wood is clean.   In any even you are more likely to be just flattening all the tiny ridges than straight up cutting through a ring in spots.  Think of a Hickory backing strip, they hold up fine.

 You will note that most museum specimens of Native bows show little evidence of pristine back rings.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Pat B on November 19, 2021, 10:48:19 am
Every hickory I've cut around here had paper thin rings. Most were summer cut so they all had pristine back rings after peeling off the bark. The ones that didn't and I violated when trying to get a back ring I rawhide backed, whether I needed to or not. I've never had a hickory failure except from backing strips I cut from what turned out to be compromised by fungi.
 Many years ago at the Southeastern Traditional Championships in Elberton GA I met a little Cajun guy in buckskins from Southern Alabama or Louisiana named Johnny. I think Eric knew Johnny. I bought hickory backing strips from Johnny that were sawn from lumber so they were heavily violated. I backed many osage, ipe and mulberry bows with these backing strips and never had a backing failure. Hickory is the only wood that I don't worry about violated rings if the violations aren't too drastic.(maybe yew sapwood)
 Get the back of your hickory staves as clean as you can and if you are still worried about them add a rawhide, linen or silk backing and you should be OK.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Fox on November 19, 2021, 12:42:45 pm
Okay guys, thanks so much for all the advice. :)
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: JW_Halverson on November 20, 2021, 07:14:41 pm
I am with those that are posting actual experience in working with hickory. I have never had one fail from lifting a splinter on the back.

The only hickory I have had trouble with was hickory board bows where I accepted extreme risks with bad grain. And even then, I have gotten away with some pretty second rate boards when backing them with rawhide.

Any violation on your back should be sanded smooth so that there is no jagged transition from one ring to the next. Smooth works fine. It's the sharp transitions like a nick or scratch that allow the splinters to propagate. If you feel like you are not comfortable with that, get a hold of me and we'll work out a deal for a couple think deer rawhide backing strips.
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Fox on November 21, 2021, 02:40:34 pm
Thanks for the advice and offer JW :)
Title: Re: TINY hickory rings
Post by: Allyn T on November 22, 2021, 08:24:10 am
Fox I don't know if you can see how thin the rings are on this hickory.


(https://i.imgur.com/lx6Rssu.jpg)