Author Topic: about wood for making bows  (Read 1153 times)

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Offline lleroy

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about wood for making bows
« on: October 26, 2021, 07:10:23 am »
Does anyone know of a kind of reference on how to harvest and dry wood for making bow staves?
Or else, could everyone post a bit of their experience in harvesting and drying their favorite wood?
Then we could either make a sticky thread, or collect the information somewhere (on a wiki or so?)

What kind of wood, and what diameter tree.
Is there a better time of the year to harvest.
Do you dry it with the bark on or off.
How long do you dry or season it for. (depending on diameter?)
Do you put glue on the ends or on the back or on the whole stave.
From what diameter is it better to split a sapling into staves/billets.
Do you dry it as is, or roughed out to a near bow shape.
Also, does this wood take heat treating well. Is it possible to bend with steam or dry heat, or does heat harm the wood.

(maybe better post multiple messages for each kind of wood rather than mix various information into one post)

Offline Don W

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2021, 08:36:20 am »
I glue the end and usually do a coat of shellac after the bark is removed. I always remove the bark asap , it's just easier.

Then I may rough shape it if I want to use it soon..

I made these to help dry and keep them at mc.

https://www.diy.timetestedtools.net/my-moisture-control-for-wood-self-bows/
Don

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2021, 09:26:24 am »
There have been at least 100 or more questions of this exact nature asked on this board since I have been on it, the answers are always the same. A search here for harvesting bow would tell you everything you need to know.

Cut any size tree you think you can handle, one 10" to 12" in diameter is much easier to handle than a 24" monster.

Harvesting bow wood is easy, cut white wood in the spring, split into staves 3" to 4" wide, peal the bark off, coat the ends and back with a sealant, I use shellac, and store the staves in a weather protected area out of the sun to cure. They will dry at a rate of 1" of thickness a year, trimming the staves down to bow blanks will greatly speed up the drying process.

You can cut white wood anytime but after mid summer the bark is very difficult to remove, save yourself some grief and cut your white wood in the spring.

For osage cut it anytime, the myth of having to cut it in the winter when the sap is down is prevalent, the time of year you cut it doesn't matter.

Split the staves, the bark and sapwood have to come off together or the sapwood will probably check if left on. If you choose to leave the bark on you better spray it with insecticide wood wasp lava or powder post beetles with go to work on your staves.

Like all green staves the ends and back have to be sealed for drying.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2021, 09:29:41 am by Eric Krewson »

Offline stuckinthemud

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2021, 02:07:06 pm »
I've never cut a tree above 8 inch diameter, usually I cut between 4 and 6, but even a 2 inch sappling makes a great bow.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 04:17:24 am by stuckinthemud »

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2021, 08:59:37 pm »
Sometimes if you get an opportunity to cut free osage you have to go for it.


Offline JW_Halverson

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2021, 09:04:35 pm »
Sometimes if you get an opportunity to cut free osage you have to go for it.

Beggars can't be choosers, if that's all ya got...! LOL!
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2021, 01:13:22 am »
traditional Bowyers Bible Volume I has a whole chapter on this.
Jim Davis

Kentucky--formerly Maine

Offline bownarra

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2021, 04:33:54 am »
Sometimes if you get an opportunity to cut free osage you have to go for it.

Struth! Now that is an osage log! Over here in the UK that would go for a whole lot of money, like a few thousand quids worth....some of you fellas with access to this stuff could make plenty if you could cut some to 'order'. I know folks who would buy it.

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2021, 09:03:13 am »
More on the pictures, that was a standing dead osage tree on the edge of a bean field, a real monster. By buddy George got permission to cut it adn I gave him a hand, the temp that day was 100 degrees +, it stayed that way all week.

I tried to get George to make the first split in the logs with a chainsaw but he was determined to split them by hand, it took him a week of splitting in the blistering sun swinging that sledge to finish the job.

Turned out the wood had deteriorated to be somewhat chalky inside, there wasn't a usable stave in any of those logs. Osage is so rot resistant, I had never seen any turn out like this  wood.

Offline stuckinthemud

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2021, 11:33:11 am »
It's a risky business to use standing deadwood, if it was killed by a fungus or beetle infestation there is an extremely high chance the wood is compromised. I used wood from an apple tree killed by a fungus, my first bow from the tree was lovely, the next two snapped on the tillering stick for no apparent reason clean, knot free timber just snapped; got to figure the fungus was involved

Offline Woody roberts

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2021, 03:48:01 pm »
I too have not had good luck with trees that died of ( natural causes)

Offline mmattockx

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2021, 11:22:40 am »
I tried to get George to make the first split in the logs with a chainsaw but he was determined to split them by hand, it took him a week of splitting in the blistering sun swinging that sledge to finish the job.

I think that makes him a masochist of some sort. Just a dumb question, when you use the chainsaw to start a split do you just cut along the length into the pith and then use the kerf to get the wedges started or something else?


Mark

Offline Eric Krewson

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2021, 04:46:25 pm »
I cut the trunk all the way through on my first split with a chainsaw, well, not all the way through because I don't want to get my bar in the dirt on the other side. Most of the way through and put a wedge or two in to finish the split.

I almost always cut osage by myself, minimizing the sledge work (30 minutes or more) on that first split looks like a good deal to me. After the log is in half I like to stick to wedges and a sledge just in case there is any snaky wood in the log.

I was in my late 40s when I started this bow making adventure, not a spring chicken by any means and don't have a problem taking shortcuts. I am 74 now, my osage cutting days are in the past.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 04:50:00 pm by Eric Krewson »

Offline Hamish

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2021, 06:35:43 pm »
 Cutting big osage is fun. Splitting it and hauling it away is not. Splitting a seasoned log is even worse. Its definitely a young man's game.

Offline Jakesnyder

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Re: about wood for making bows
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2021, 07:28:00 pm »
Cutting big osage is fun. Splitting it and hauling it away is not. Splitting a seasoned log is even worse. Its definitely a young man's game.

I've bounced out wedges 4ft high trying to split osage logs