Author Topic: ELM for bow wood  (Read 18110 times)

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Offline Scrub_buck

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ELM for bow wood
« on: August 24, 2009, 05:36:23 pm »
I think I might have gotten my question answered in II Byrds post, but i am going to ask anyway.

I was cruising timber today and found a great ELM ..either slipepry or winged (the tree was so tall, I could not see the 'wings' on the branches)... but it had a good ~80 inch long butt section with only two knots and straight grain according to the bark pattern.  If the fellow I was cruising the timber for buys the tract, the tree is mine.

Other than it being hard to split, what is the pitfalls of elm for bow wood?  Would it be considered a white wood, or would I have to chase a ring?  I have never worked with elm before.  I know folks are going to tell me to forget it and find osage if I can, but the tree will be free and is about 15 inches in diameter.  It will give me many chances at selfbows and maybe a backed bow or two. 

So teach away, and educate me about elm!!!

Offline Josh

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2009, 05:38:16 pm »
I have heard that Winged Elm makes a fantastic bow.  i too have a couple of staves drying at home.  Go for it dude.  It is a pain in the rear to split though...
“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is you never know if they are genuine.” —Abraham Lincoln

Offline JustAim

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2009, 05:57:33 pm »
Elm is an excellent bow wood. Just remove the bark and draw the bow out. No need to chase a ring on elm.

Offline michbowguy

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 08:09:51 pm »
i make awesome elm selfbows just from sapplings....very good bow wood indeed.

Offline Hillbilly

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2009, 09:55:31 pm »
Elm is one of the best whitewoods, IMO.
Smoky Mountains, NC

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Offline tombo

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2009, 10:17:31 pm »
Scrub dude, I'm in deep S. Texas and have made several "cedar" Elm or Texas Elm bows. My observations are........Elm is a hard wood when seasoned well, knots are bad in Elm... and Elm (at least cedar elm) will spring an arrow very quick. Go for it.

Offline M-P

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 11:06:52 pm »
Hi,  I've only made two elm bows.  One is american elm and the second is red (slippery) elm.  Both wound up as nice bows.  There is a tremendous difference in density.  The american elm is much heavier wood.  I don't know if it's a species difference or just different trees.  Anyway my point is that once the wood is fully dried, you will want to assess the specific gravity before laying out the bow.
Oh and buy, or make at least twice as many wedges as you think it will take to split that trunk, cause it will take that many or more to get the job done.  Better yet cultivate a friendship with somebody who likes swinging a mallet and let them split the dang log.     Ron
"A man should make his own arrows."   Omaha proverb   

"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."    Will Rogers

Offline RidgeRunner

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2009, 09:30:53 am »
Elm is very HARD to split and it will warp and twist something terrible.
It takes a long time to dry and will absorb water quite fast in a damp environment.
Elm will also spalt on you after it is cut if is not dried fast enough or allowed to get wet once it is dry.
It also seemes to be very bad to get bugs in it if the bark is left on.

All that being said ELM makes a fine bow.

My advice would be to:  Cut the log a bit long.  Split it into half's.  Peel the bark off.  Seal the back and ends well.  Put it someplace dry like in a garage.  A well sealed barn might also work.  Allow it to dry for a year and then split it into quarters and let it dry some more.  Split out a stave and rough shape the bow.  Do NOT flex the bow at all.  Tie or clamp it very securely to a 2 x 4, belly up, and put it in the rafters of your attic for two or three weeks in the middle on July. Take out and finish your bow.

David Key / N.W. Alabama

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: ELM for bow wood
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2009, 09:52:59 am »
Wait for Daivid Mims, AKA DCM, to chime in. He is the elm expert having made some mighty fine bows from elm. He also has preferences on which species of elm makes the best bow.