Author Topic: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics  (Read 17440 times)

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Offline Ryan_Gill_HuntPrimitive

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Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« on: August 23, 2013, 08:23:29 pm »
This bow is very special to me. At the very beginning of my interest in native bow woods I had asked on a site about good bow woods in Florida. Someone had mentioned "Snakewoood" and that it was believed to only be in Southern FL and may no longer even exist. Trying to find a tree by a common name like snakewood is pretty much impossible. As years went by it was the sort of ghost that eluded me and I had hoped to one day stumble on something I could relate to it.  From different rumor sources, it was to be obviously very hard and very heavy and should sink in water even when fully cured. I searched in all species in hopes of attaching a scientific name to a common named tree and to obviously be able to make a bow from it. I looked into well known trees that could be associated with being snakey, like live oak, sparkleberry and musclewood....all of which do make good bows, but none exceptional. The problem here was, none of these were isolated to southern FL and none sank in water!  So by all rights I was not satisfied in my findings. My buddy Dax stumbled across an article by Cliff Huntington. He did exteeeensive researched to find the "Snakewood" that was used to make Howard Hill's bows. I contacted him and got a copy of the article and he had a great deal of information and has some suspected woods but he himself had never laid hands or eyes on this wood and could not confirm.  His article included 2 scientific names along with great information. After some google searching of the scientific names I was able to memorize what the tree looked like in case I should one day stumble across it.  Well one day it happened. I was in South FL and knew it immediately when I saw it. Most of south FL has been cleared at some point, but this was a piece of virgin ground and I was sure of my findings. I cut a couple pieces and left them to cure for one year.  A year later I took up the job of making the bow. I first did some tests.  The water test was 100% successful, it sank in water, even fully cured. I threw a piece of osage in for fun and it floated like a cork!  I then examined the rings and found these small saplings to be extremely old. Some have 60+ rings per inch!  extremely dense and extremely heavy. These were my first clues that I had laid hands on the elusive tree. North American woods are simply not dense enough to sink, but the supposed snakewood of legend was only found in south, FL because of it's density and was supposed to sink... That was a huge step for me.  After finishing the bow out I did find it to me extremely good bow wood. very fast, very strong and very bendy.   Now, I am sure many of you have a lot more questions as to the  location and descriptions and specifics to this wood that I have kinda kept secret until I tested it out.  I am working on an article to submit to PA magazine all about my research and findings and will include scientific names and how it reacts to bow making.  Unfortunately you will have to wait for the article to come out to find out more b\c there is a lot to the story and I could seriously talk for hours about it..... That's what happens when you look for a specific rare tree for several years! It unfortunately isn't as simple as getting the scientific name and going to look for it.  There are also legal parameters that need to be covered because one name listed is a protected species b\c it is so rare, however the one I have, although nearly identical is not protected... it's complicated! Years of research and leg work can't be explained in a quick forum post.

So here is the finished bow for you all to see.  It is 54" long  and 51# @ 24"   It does not respond well to heat corrections!  but I managed to tweak a tiny bit of reflex into the tips.  It is un-backed but veneered with beautiful Water Moccasin skins. It has a deer leather grip and and finished off with some Venetian Trade Beads.  I have actually had the bow finished for a couple months now, but I was waiting for skins to finish it out!  But now it is done and ready to be viewed. So here she is, and yes this is most definitely my hunting bow for this year. I hope you enjoy!  - Ryan
Formerly "twistedlimbs"
Gill's Primitive Archery and HuntPrimitive

Offline Ryan_Gill_HuntPrimitive

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2013, 08:24:25 pm »
more pictures
Formerly "twistedlimbs"
Gill's Primitive Archery and HuntPrimitive

Offline Ryan_Gill_HuntPrimitive

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 08:29:24 pm »
The pictures are even a bit deceiving, you can't even see all the rings clearly on camera, but you get the idea!
Formerly "twistedlimbs"
Gill's Primitive Archery and HuntPrimitive

Offline Badly Bent

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 08:39:59 pm »
Beautiful all around, one of the nicest bows I've ever laid eyes on. Skins, grip, profile and tiller all flow perfectly to suit
that style of bow. Have any close up pics of the belly wood Ryan?
I ain't broke but I'm badly bent.

Offline 4dog

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2013, 08:43:37 pm »
Why is it called snakewood, just curious.
"SET" is always there !!!

Offline Ryan_Gill_HuntPrimitive

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2013, 08:52:35 pm »
I'll try to get you a belly close up later.  no unique colors or anything, just tight rings. not overly pretty wood really.

4dog- My guess for it being labeled snakewood was that it grows extremely crooked...it took me a while to find a few that would yield a bow. The smooth bark also does have some snakelike characteristics. Otherwise..your guess is as good as  mine. All it takes is one person to start calling something by a name to make it stick
Formerly "twistedlimbs"
Gill's Primitive Archery and HuntPrimitive

Offline Ifrit617

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 08:53:22 pm »
love it and absolutely awesome story.

Jon
Given enough time, any man can master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man can become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both... And surpass the results. - Tien Tai

Offline Saxton

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2013, 08:53:27 pm »
That's one sharp looking bow . There's a lot of nice looking skins in those pics . Did you tan those hides yourself ? Seems like everything in that state sinks   :laugh:

Offline Zion

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2013, 09:26:16 pm »
Looks like a badass little bow  :) Would you say it's well worth the effort of finding it, or does it seem kinda like a averag wood for bows (beside the density ofc) ?
The secret of life is learning to make your own luck.

Offline Marc St Louis

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 09:54:59 pm »
Actually there is a tree that grows in Central and South America that is called Snakewood, I think it's because of the markings in the wood.   The wood is listed as being good for making bows.  Perhaps this is the wood that Howard used.  You can see a picture of the wood here http://www.kjpselecthardwoods.com/Wood-Pages/snakewoodlumber.htm
Home of heat-treating, Corbeil, On.  Canada

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Offline JonW

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2013, 10:02:18 pm »
It goes to show that patience and persistence pays off. Nice bow and the tiller is sweet.

Offline soy

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2013, 10:18:54 pm »
Very nice!!! can't wait to see the article ;)
Is this bow making a sickness? or the cure...

Offline Thesquirrelslinger

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2013, 11:08:28 pm »
That is totally freaking cool.
period.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

Offline Parnell

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2013, 11:14:20 pm »
I might be this bows biggest fan.  Just tremendous.  A great accomplishment, Ryan.
1>1

Offline Joec123able

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Re: Re-discovering Snakewood. Finished bow pics
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2013, 11:16:09 pm »
My gosh that is a beautiful bow I've never heard of the wood type and I didn't know there were any trees native to north America that sink in water Very cool finding
I like osage