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Anonymous

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I was looking to make my own bow (in the archery sense).
I was wondering if anyone here has attempted this or has any suggestions
 

wudhus

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Hi dagon,
As a long-time 'lurker', I think I can add something to this thread - as a former toxophilist!

I assume you're talking about making a 'traditional' long bow - not a recurve, compound, or a cross bow. The limbs of the first two are usually made of a wood/GRP or wood/carbon laminate, whilst crossbows use a variety of materials (some were steel, I think).

There are various books on the subject of long-bow making, such as here: http://www.archery-centre.co.uk/Catalogue/Books.shtml
or you an buy a kit with full instructions - http://www.english-longbow.co.uk/cat20.htm

I've never tried making my own, but I can imagine that trying to pick out a suitable piece of timber is not easy for starters. Straight grain, with the right amount of 'spring' is very important, especially if you want to shoot with it. Shooting from a twisted bow adds an extra challenge to getting 'golds'!

And here's some general useless information for everyone - Robert Hardy, the actor, is an authority on the long bow including advising on those brought up from the Mary Rose.
 

wudhus

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Correction:
I used to be a toxophilite - now I can't even remember the word correctly, let alone hit the target!!!
 

frank

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dagon, wellcome to the forum, if you get the august issue of good woodworking richard head talks about longbows .or look at www.english-longbow.co.uk . it might be of intrest to you
 

Dewy

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wudhus":tdzr2ckd said:
Correction:
I used to be a toxophilite - now I can't even remember the word correctly, let alone hit the target!!!
You'll be telling us next you never heard of Roger Ascham, 1515 - 1568, author of Toxophilus (1545) the definitive work on archery. :lol:
He was an author and also tutor to Elizabeth 2nd.
A longbow is a D shape of yew and has a heck of a kick and takes years of practice.
A yew selfbow was sold in sports shops and is much easier to pull.
I once bought a 44lb selfbow but soon got rid of it because it was too strong for me.
I still have the 28lb bow I bought over 40 years ago along with 2 dozen wooden arrows that I bought before everyone used aluminium shafts.
 

MikeW

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Dewy":2557cudr said:
...I once bought a 44lb selfbow but soon got rid of it because it was too strong for me...
Hi Dewy,
When I moved the family up into the mountains of Idaho in the 1070s in our back to the land days, I traded for a 65# recurve (not a compound) to hunt large game.

It took a fair amount of getting use and practice. The hardest part, of course, was holding it long enough for the target to be in place...makes my arms sore thinking about it.

dagon, if you do decide to make a bow, please let the forum know the process as you do so. I know I would be interested and might even decide to make one myself.

Thank you, MikeW
 
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Anonymous

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I asked because we recently cut the yew in the garden and i knew that it was the traditional wood.
At the moment the only tool i have for the job is a plane -(most tool money went towards motorbike stuff, but it has since been squished and I figured that woodwork would be a usefull tool)
I was thinking of getting a brand saw, spoke shave and some wood files for the string nocks since they seem the best for the job

Thanks for the welcome, its nice to be here
virtual round on me as a thank you
 

Pete W

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Dewy":3u9mz14m said:
He was an author and also tutor to Elizabeth 2nd.
He's been around a bit, then! :)

I saw a repeat of a Meet the Ancestors recently (British history/archaeology TV series, Mike) where they made a replica of a Bronze Age bow. Apparently the trick with yew is to a use a length of wood that incorporates both sapwood and heartwood. The sapwood is more elastic while the heartwood is stronger in compression so you get the benefits of a laminated bow from a single piece of wood.

I never cease to be amazed at how clever folks were 5,000 years ago and more.
 
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dagon":2wmnxabz said:
I asked because we recently cut the yew in the garden and i knew that it was the traditional wood.
At the moment the only tool i have for the job is a plane -(most tool money went towards motorbike stuff, but it has since been squished and I figured that woodwork would be a usefull tool)
I was thinking of getting a brand saw, spoke shave and some wood files for the string nocks since they seem the best for the job

Thanks for the welcome, its nice to be here
virtual round on me as a thank you
Hi dagon!

Here is a dandy site on bowmaking. I've made a couple of board bows from ash following the directions on that site. I hope to harvest some Osage Orange next year and make some self bows.

Now for the good part: TOOLS! :lol: The tools I found handiest were a drawknife, a couple of spokeshaves, a block plane, a couple of rasps, hand scrapers, and a round file for the nocks. I assume you meant "band saw" instead of brand saw. Don't bother unless your yew is very large and needs to be ripped down to size. Even then, a half hour with a hand ripsaw will probably take care of your needs. A sharp drawknife will quickly take green wood down to a rough blank shape for drying. After drying, a drawknife will get you close to final dimensions. Then a spokeshave & rasps followed by a block plane to smooth the limbs and begin tillering. Hand scrapers and sand paper will fine tune the tillering and finish smoothing it.

This is a fun project that takes a minimum of tools. Let us know how it turns out.
 

Dewy

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I was just watching a programme on the UKTV History channel about the longbow.
They had no idea of the draw weight of the mediaeval longbow until the discovered 80 bows when the raised the Mary Rose in 1982.
The weakest longbow had a draw of 100lb and the strongest at 175lb.
It needed daily practice from an early age to develope the strength and accuracy needed for such a powerful weapon.
From the age of 13 all males in England had to practice at the butts daily.
One thing that has always been said wrong was that it was the English longbow.
This programme actually mentioned both English and Welsh bowmen.
The longbow was a Welsh weapon which had caused havoc among the English soldiers for a long time.
To finally bring Wales under English rule The English king said that his first born son would be brought up in Wales with Welsh as his first language.
This first Prince of Wales was known as Monmouth Harry and later became Henry V.
During the war which ended at Agincourt the English bowmen were paid 3d a day with the Welsh Cheshire bowmen being paid 4d.
That shows the value placed on those who had used the longbow longer than their English counterparts.
Contrary to belief most bows were not made of English yew but Spanish yew.
By law every seaman returning to England and Wales had to carry ashore a bundle of Spanish yew staves to ensure a constant supply of longbows.
As well as spokeshaves for forming the bow an important tool is a tiller.
This holds the bow in the middle while tension is put on the bowstring which shows how the bow bends so it can be trimmed for an even bend.
This also gives the yew its 'memory' when drawn.
 

Alf

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Dewy, thanks for that. Interesting stuff indeed. I remember there was a lot of coverage of the Mary Rose bows at the time but I can't remember half of what I'd like to be able to. I do vividly recall seeing them testing some, literally to breaking point, which seemed amazing given their age and historical value. But I suppose finding how much they could do was of even greater value and no-one'd notice the break line when they were put on display. They also discovered a good number of woodworking tools from the Mary Rose as well IIRC.

Cheers, Alf
 

Dewy

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Another thing that came from the longbow is the well known sign of contempt, the V sign.
Because Henry Vths army was suffering from hunger and dysentry the French thought them unable to fight so offered ransom for all the nobles and the British bowmen were to have the 1st 2 fingers of the right hand cut off so they could never again draw a bow.
Henry rejected this and the result was the great victory at Agincourt.
From then on whenever the English & Welsh bowmen faced the French they held up their 2 fingers to show they stil had them to taunt the French with the words "Pluck Yew"
Over time this has changed to the obscene taunt used today because it was easier to say F then PL.

Come to the UK workshop forum and not only get lessons in woodworking but history and English lessons too. ;)
 

MikeW

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sxlalan":319x7eqb said:
Pete W":319x7eqb said:
Dewy":319x7eqb said:
He was an author and also tutor to Elizabeth 2nd.
He's been around a bit, then! :)
but not as long as MikeW! :)

MikeW":319x7eqb said:
When I moved the family up into the mountains of Idaho in the 1070s in our back to the land days
Ya know, I'm constantly having to edit dates. Seems my stubby little fingers can't tell the difference between a 9 and a 0...and of course, I'm not (<--sheesh, I can't even edit correctly <g>) smart enough to catch those little slips. And these laptop keyboards are a bit tiny :roll:

Some days I do feel that old, though...
 

Cutting Crew

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Hi Dagon,

Welcome to UK Workshop, you've discovered the glory of this forum, not only have you been pointed in the right direction for making a bow but you also got a history lesson thrown in for free as well.

Regards....CC
 
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