Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Bows => Topic started by: Canoe on October 02, 2008, 12:58:36 pm

Title: Floor Tillering???
Post by: Canoe on October 02, 2008, 12:58:36 pm
Howdy Group,

I just got done reading an interesting thread about 'Exercising A Bow' between scrapings while tillering.  It was a great thread in that people described their methods in detail.  And, I found that to be very informative - Thanks for that.

So, from that thread, where some guys talked about "Floor Tillering", I would like to hear more details on how one goes about floor tillering.

While floor tillering, how do I know when the bow is bending enough to put the long string on it?
Please don't tell me to "just look at it bending", because I do look at it while floor tillering, and, I still can't see.  I don't know what to look for.

Recently, I screwed up a really nice White Ash stave because, by time I got around to stringing it, the thing was nearly to weight at my intended draw length and the tiller was way off.

I hope this question brings in some detailed descriptions / explanations from some of you guys who have been at it a while.

Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: JackCrafty on October 02, 2008, 01:30:12 pm
I use floor tillering when I'm roughing out a bow, but I bend it over my knee to check if it's bending enough (or near enough to the final draw weight) to brace it.  I was impressed to see that some guys have such a good eye that they can brace a bow after floor tillering only.

"Floor tiller to full draw" must be a skill that requires special traits that you are born with.  Personally, after many bows, I still cannot judge the weight of a bow (or the symmetry) simply by floor tillering.
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: snedeker on October 02, 2008, 01:33:46 pm
you just gave part of the lesson.  Go to long string pretty early in the process.  You really can't go wrong in going to the long string too early.  It will just be so stiff it won't flex and you can take off wood  slowly.until it does and then get into making it curve when flexing.  If on the floor, you push in the middle of the bow and you see the middle part of the limb staying extremely stiff, you know some more wood needs to come off.  

Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: George Tsoukalas on October 02, 2008, 01:38:35 pm
Check out Seneca bow. Jawge
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: wally on October 02, 2008, 03:47:41 pm
I go to long string tillering very early in process, If it's much too heavy still (you'll know 'cos you'll have trouble pulling it) you'll know early enough, especially if you use weight gauge in your line. I thought floor tillering or using tiller tree was just for easiness and speed til you got some bending?
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: Badger on October 02, 2008, 04:24:48 pm
  A lot of it is just experience, if you are making a lot of bows the same length and same style you pretty much just know when it is ready to brace. If you are changing styles or draw weights or bow lengths long string tillering is the way to go. Long string will not give you an accurate assessment of your tiller but usualy close enough for the brace so as Jawge says just take it so far and then switch to at least a low brace height. I know when I am switching around a lot building different types of bows I can't rely nearly as much on feel. If you are out in the woods or away from any scales or anything then just braqce the bow when floor tiller looks and feels about right and you can finish your tiller just by scraping and drawing while the bow is still braced. Steve
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: wally on October 02, 2008, 06:47:53 pm
Just wondering, how did the native Americans or any ancient peoples tiller bows?
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: Pat B on October 02, 2008, 06:58:22 pm
Floor tillering is the first step to see how limbs are bending. I do use a mirror sometimes but mainly I use floor tillering to see the bend of each limb. For me it isn't an accurate look at the bend but it tells me its time for the long string. Just like a long string isn't an accurate look at true tiller it shows me that the limbs are bending somewhat together and then I know I can brace the bow low(about4") so I can see how the string tracks. If one limb is way out of whack I go back to the long string until the limbs get closer.
   I see floor tiller as only one early step in the tillering process. Floor tillering isn't necessary for a properly tillered bow but for me, it helps me get there.    Pat
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: islandpiper on October 02, 2008, 08:12:34 pm
Wallynosocks, THANKS FOR ASKING about the Native ways of tillering.  I have often wondered about that myself.  I can picture the braves sitting around scraping saplings, but not doing the "scientific" tillering we all engage in.  I hope someone has some historical knowledge and will share it here. 

Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: JackCrafty on October 02, 2008, 09:05:56 pm
A complete record of the way Ishi made his bows and arrows exists (somewhere).  I wish I had access to it....maybe it's in a book somewhere and available for purchase?  I dunno.

Here's a quote from Hunting with the Bow and Arrow By Saxton Pope:

The workmanship of Ishi was by far the best of any Indian in America; compared with thousands of specimens in the museum, his arrows were the most carefully and beautifully made; his bow was the best.

It would take too much time to go into the minute details of his work, and this has all been recorded in anthropologic records, [Footnote: See Yahi Archery, Vol. 13, No. 3, Am. Archaeology and Ethnology.] but the outlines of his methods are as follows:

The article goes on to describe the characteristics of Ishi's bow but not the method of tillering.  There are a few general things that probably can be assumed, however:

-The NA bowyer can make a bow in solitude...without the aid of anyone else (to check tiller, to help brace the bow, etc.)
-The skill of bowmaking was learned from a very young age and by the time an Indian was an elder, he had probably made hundreds of bows and probably didn't need to spend much time on tillering.
-War bows (and arrows) were often made by elders...not necessarily the braves.
-The knowledge was passed on and not re-learned over and over again.
Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: son of massey on October 06, 2008, 08:34:25 pm
  the description given for ishi's practices are just very general.   to his mind (as it was described), the bow should bend in an even "arch at all points".   when the bow was thinned out and shaped ishi would apply sinew, at which point the bow would be left for some period of time to dry.   during this time the bowstring was made.   when the bowstring was done, and the sinew backing had been drying for some reasonable amount of time, the bow would be braced.   

   pasting directly from the earlier reference (Yahi archery, 1918 13, 3, 103-specifically on 109:

Usually he made his string with a tapering
extremity which rendered it easier to fasten. Then he cautiously drew
his bow and observed its bend. On cold days, Ishi warmed his bow
over a fire before attempting to brace it. The ideal bow, to his mind,
curved in a perfect arch at all points, and at full draw represented a
crescent. The center bent with the limbs and was the bow s weakest
point. A forty-five inch bow he drew twenty-five inches. No yew
wood could stand such an arc without backing. In fact he broke
two bow-staves, testing them at my request, prior to the application of
   Where the contour showed the bow too strong, he filed or scraped
it on the belly side, thus gradually distributing the bend evenly along
the bow.

Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: Hillbilly on October 07, 2008, 09:21:46 am
Not too hard to figure out ways to tiller without modern gadgets. Here's one we built completely with stone tools at a shoot last year-3 days including cutting the tree down and scraping a deer hide down with a stone scraper to make the string.




Title: Re: Floor Tillering???
Post by: wally on October 07, 2008, 11:38:06 am
Hey hillbilly good photo's and yes it is obvious how you can tiller in primitive style. I wonder if we fuss too much with modern gear when you can just bend it until it looks right. Mind you being able to see if it's right takes experience, which you learn over the making of many bows