Author Topic: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds  (Read 10890 times)

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Offline footfootfoot

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We are part of a small, informal home-schooling group and the other families have taken note of my interest in bow-making and other primitive activities (?) I have yet to post pictures of the two bows I've made so far, but I will shortly.

I'd like to ask for some advice.

There will be 6 girls and one boy with good attitudes, good attention spans (the girls anyway) and a lot of interest. My plan is to have them all build English Longbows from Ash. I have a source for high quality, straight, clean logs. I will split the staves out of the log and do some of the rough shaping then give each child a stave that they then will mark out and shape with spoke shaves and draw knives, then finish with cabinet scrapers.

My question is about how many staves can I expect from a 10-12" diameter log? Is that a good size? should they be smaller or bigger? I was figuring that a 12" log would be about 36 inches in circumference and might yield about 10 staves. I need to give my log guy a week lead time to get the log so I'm wondering if I should get two or just one.

The log will be green and I think it will be a lot easier for kids to work green wood rather than dry, they'll only be putting about 1 hour per week into it, so by the time it comes to tillering the bow should be plenty dry (I'll check MC) and ultimately, this is about learning and hands on.

If this goes well we'll do an arrow making workshop and then a flint knapping workshop, which should coincide nicely with the arrival of spring and freshly plowed fields! ;)

Thanks for your input! I'll post photos of the build-along!



Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire: Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!

Offline toomanyknots

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One thing I would worry about is the wood warping while it drys. I would go for some red oak boards and back em with linen before hand. But than you have to worry about the kids damaging the linen while working it. LOL, sounds like fun.
"The way of heaven is like the bending of a bow-
 the upper part is pressed down,
 the lower part is raised up,
 the part that has too much is reduced,
 the part that has too little is increased."

- Tao Te Ching, 77, A new translation by Victor H. Mair

Offline Del the cat

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Blimey, that's about 6 kids too many :laugh:
Actually I think kids are often under estimated, show 'em how to use the tools right and give 'em plenty of encouragement.
That's a good thing you're doing, catch 'em young.
Good luck, and may the great bow maker in the sky look down kindly upon you.
Del
(Leaving out the axe work is a great call)
Health warning, these posts may contain traces of nut.

Offline PEARL DRUMS/PEARLY/PD/DRUMS

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I dont think an 8 yr old will be able to do much of anything with a stave bow and hand tools. I would consider simple hickory slat bows that wont break. You could just rip a bunch of them 1" wide by 48" long and plane them to 3/8" thick. Let the kids work the leather handle some and maybe cut in string grooves, sand, stain and seal the bows.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.

Offline Ifrit617

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I agree with pearl drums... An 8 year old will not be big enough or strong enough to work a full size stave. Especially not with a draw knife... There is always the chance that a knife could slip from one of those small hands and really injure somebody.  If you want to give them a stave of that size, at least rough them down to almost finished dimensions. This way the kids will be able to enjoy the project more and have a bow sooner. Way to pass on the knowledge.

Jon

Offline davkt

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How about a scaled down version of the first wooden bow project at the back of TBB Vol 4? This thread gives dimensions for a few version with few kid friendly draw weights in ash.

http://www.archery-interchange.net/f137/budding-young-bowyer-111153/

It's what my 7 year old daughter has just started on (in an offcut of a lemonwood stave I've had lying around for ages) and is doing with hand tools (spoke shave, drawknife, plane etc) after I'd roughed out the shape. Oh and make sure you've got a copy of the book around for the kids to read, Chloe found it really interesting and could see how the design she was drawing on the wood from the thread above was following the same principal but at her size. It also made the project that little more exciting to her in that it is a proper bow from a proper book!

The starting size of the offcut is only about 22mm by 15mm so one decent sized big person bow stave would probably give you plenty for the kids with one or two spare in case of disaster mid way through. Think I'd probably work on one while they were working and have another at a similar stage to they were at then if one breaks it isn't the end of the world, the unlucky little bowyer can just pick up from where you got it to.

Sorry Pearl Drums I think you've got it wrong, kids can do an awful lot more than big people seem to think when they are interested and enthusiastic!

Offline Ifrit617

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How about a scaled down version of the first wooden bow project at the back of TBB Vol 4? This thread gives dimensions for a few version with few kid friendly draw weights in ash.

http://www.archery-interchange.net/f137/budding-young-bowyer-111153/

It's what my 7 year old daughter has just started on (in an offcut of a lemonwood stave I've had lying around for ages) and is doing with hand tools (spoke shave, drawknife, plane etc) after I'd roughed out the shape. Oh and make sure you've got a copy of the book around for the kids to read, Chloe found it really interesting and could see how the design she was drawing on the wood from the thread above was following the same principal but at her size. It also made the project that little more exciting to her in that it is a proper bow from a proper book!

The starting size of the offcut is only about 22mm by 15mm so one decent sized big person bow stave would probably give you plenty for the kids with one or two spare in case of disaster mid way through. Think I'd probably work on one while they were working and have another at a similar stage to they were at then if one breaks it isn't the end of the world, the unlucky little bowyer can just pick up from where you got it to.

Sorry Pearl Drums I think you've got it wrong, kids can do an awful lot more than big people seem to think when they are interested and enthusiastic!

I don't really think that Pearlie is saying that they are not capable of doing something like this, and I know I'm certainly not, it would just be better to start with a smaller piece of wood than a stave that is 3.5 inches across and probably 4 inches deep. You said that your daughter is working a stave that is about 2.5 x 1.5 centimeters big, which I agree is a perfect size though i may would probably make it a little wider. !.   ;D ;D

Jon
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 07:34:20 pm by Ifrit617 »

Offline bubby

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yeah i think you should at least get them floor tillerd, I used to teach karate and as much as they wanted to learn, full attention span that young topped out @ about a half hour, i think this is a cool thing your doing and however you go about it good luck, Bub
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Offline Ifrit617

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Lol bub. I teach Karate occasionally at my dojo to the younger kids and your right... They're are eager to learn but in a 1/2 hour, they are zipping about the room doing anything but the kata...  ;D

Offline davkt

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All depends on the kid really! My 7 year old will happily work with wood all day if she gets the chance, her 16YO sister on the other hand has the attention span of a goldfish!

Offline Tortoise

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Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2012, 08:26:55 pm »
This is great! And will become addicted early haha.
-Peter
Arizona

Offline Marc St Louis

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Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2012, 08:41:08 pm »
It should be fun but you may be pulling your hair out after awhile.  I've taught several courses to youths and it was fun but very exausting
Home of heat-treating, Corbeil, On.  Canada

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Offline footfootfoot

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Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2012, 12:11:57 pm »
I was in the middle of writing a long reply to this subject (with pictures no less!) when Norton 360 started going berserk due to an email I mistakenly opened thinking it was from a friend.

Everything's groovy now, Trojans deleted and sytem checked out. Another reminder why I like the primitve lifestyle.

My log source is coming through with a bunch of green wood for the kids and a few hickory staves for me that have been aging for a number of years. They were set aside for a bowmaking project that never came to be.
One of the girls' dads is going to split the log into billets. (He's a strapping young buck who hasn't had shoulder surgery yet)

I wasn't clear enough in my original post about how much work the kids are going to do, I will rough out the staves, then let the kids mark out profiles and I will probably do any serious  hogging, letting them finish with spoke shaves and drawknives. These are motivated, non-TV watching kids who are very active and hands-on. Most of them have done two or three wilderness training/tracking courses, they've built leaf shelters and spent the night in them, they've built fires with bow drills, I know this type of thing is within their capabilities.

The girls can stay focused a lot longer than my son, and I plan to spend about 45 minutes with the bow making and then 15-30 minutes outside shooting at a target with some fiberglass longbows ~20# draw. to give them some activity and to put the bow-making into a context for them. I'm hoping as the weeks progress their skill will increase and they will be able to relate what they are doing on the range with what they are making in the shop.

For now we will be using carbon fiber arrows but the next phase of the class (if this goes well) will be to make arrows, and then possibly another class with a local flint guru in knapping.

I'll post pictures as we go along. I think we start in a week.

Thanks to everyone for their advice and encouragement!
Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire: Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!

Offline footfootfoot

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The Fix is In! The Staves Have Arrived
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2012, 11:04:13 pm »
The split log was delivered by my friend today and it was nicely split into manageable chunks. I think with care I can split them a bit further. It's Hickory, the bark doesn't look like Shagbark to me it may be mockernut or one of the others. It came from western CT. Two four foot chunks, well seasoned and a six foot chunk well seasoned, and seven more six footers that are green.

Now, how about some advice and opinions from you folks?

How close to the bark do I want to be? If I can, should I get two staves from a chunk with one being from the outer section and the other from the inner section or does the stuff on the inside just go in the wood stove?

Here are two photos of the proto-staves/chunks. The tape is to give scale.

Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire: Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!

Offline George Tsoukalas

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Re: Shoot me now? I'm leading a bow making workshop for a bunch of 8 year olds
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2012, 11:32:46 am »
Too young. Best I've been able to do with them is give them  some sandpaper and sand down the finished bow. Have some bows tillered out for them and let them finish them up. Go to Home Depot and buy straight grained boards. 3/4 inch thick or rip them out yourself. Make flatbows. Kid tall. Straight grained.  Straight grained.  Straight grained. More on my site. Jawge
http://georgeandjoni.home.comcast.net/~georgeandjoni/
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