My second attempt at making an Ash bow... failure...
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Discuss My second attempt at making an Ash bow... failure... at the Bow Building within Archery Interchange UK Forums; Well after failing with AshBow1 i started on AshBow2...
Similar profile to my first attempt... ...
My second attempt at making an Ash bow... failure...
Well after failing with AshBow1 i started on AshBow2...
Similar profile to my first attempt... 24mm deep belly to back, 30mm wide and about 14mm at the tips, 76" long.
Wood was kiln dried ash turned through 90deg.
After my first attempt i was taking it much slower. Once i could pull the strind past brace height i started to shorten the string (Del thanks for the toggle tip, was working a treat).
I needed the stringer once the string was approx 1.5" shorter than the nocks and once on the tiller and pulling it a few times to warm it up i heard a horrid crack...
As you can see from the picture below a crack has appeared on the back about 10" from the nock!
So, what was i doing wrong?
I had taken it slow,
the brace height was being worked up slowly, went crack with a 4" brace height,
never exceeded 46#.
was starting to look good on the tiller.
I'm tempted to source some differnt wood and try a traditional ring chased chunk of Ash and not one turned through 90 deg, as this stuff seems a little 'brittle'.
I did put on some goggles, a chunky coat and some gloves and pulled her back to 14" to see if anything horrid happened... it didn't, so i'm considering carrying on regardless for practice... even tho i'm now scared it will blow... but i have gloves, goggles and a hard hat!
Still not deterred... but if number three fails my enthusiasm may wane!
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I'm suspecting the grain didn't run correctly in the board you chose. On the next board you select go for flat ringed grain (as you suggest), you can then chase it down to a single ring - this will give a back that will not lift a splinter as here. Edge ringed boardsa (yours) are harder to read and even with perfectly straight line on the ace of the board the fibers can still be 'stepped' through.
The best way to save this bow would be as you say remove wood from the back until you are back to sound wood and then back it with maple or ash. This is quite a tricky process as you will have to make the back of your bow PERFECTLY flat for a good glue line and have a good piece of maple or ash for the backing.
I make quite a few self ash bows for re-enactors all using kiln dried ash ive never had a problem with the grain 1/4 sawn, ash does like to be kept dry do you know what moisture the wood is the only way I could ever think ash would give out is being to moist. Also something to look for is white marks that can apear anywhere they will always crack like you have there.
If it had a high moisture content it would not break indeed it would be less likely to break - it would simply take more set. This has broken due to the wood fibers being cut through eg. the orientation of the board in the tree was not parallel to the surface of the tree.
Just to restate... i haven't chased the grain as a traditional bow but was reccomended on my first attempt (at bow making) to turn the grain through 90deg and just cut out the shape of the bow in striaght lines - i then had a bow shape to practice on very quickly!
Although as bow of these have 'blown' in the same place i'll be chasing the ring next time - although peole have told me they can get 90# bows this way - i was after 60# tops.
It did feel wrong as i'm workign against the wood - but i went for simplicity.
It was all going so very well and the tiller was coming good.
Also, i have a reenactor bow cut like this 35#(ish) draw that works very well and am a bit miffed with the two failures i've had
Any other cheap woods to practice on other than Ash?
Stick with ash for your first few bows, it is very forgiving as it's a fair bit stronger in tension than compression, doesn't chrysal too easily and can make excellent bows. As I stated before the fibers were cut through in this board (confirmed by you saying that you had a similar failure on another bow). When you select a quater sawn board you have to be very careful with the fiber orientation. In your photo you can see that the grain lines are wavy - this indicates that the trees surface was not completly flat hence the fibers have to be cut though to make a flat board. I have made many many board bows and I am pretty good at reading boards grain now! If you go for a 1/4 sawn board again make absolutely sure the grain lines are dead straight and I mean dead straight. Plain sawn boards and bias ringed boards are not quite as fickle, slightly wavy grain on plain sawn boards is almost unavoidable and is acceptable. Granted most backing strips on laminated bows are cut out of 1/4 sawn boards but then again most backing strips are made from hickory. Hickory can handle fiber violation much much more than most woods due to it's interlocking grain. If hickory didn't have such interlocking grain you would see a lot more longbows exploding.
You are not working against the wood! This board simply couldn't make an unbacked bow due to the wood fibers being cut through. !/4 sawn boards can make bows just as heavy as if the same wood had a single ring for the back. This bow can be fixed by putting superglue into the crack / splinter and flexing the limb slightly - you will see small air bubles being sucked in and out when the glue has got all the way into the crack. Then clamp it and let dry. Then back it with linen or thin rawhide.
If you are stuck for wood I have many staves and could sort one out for you. Just PM me if your interested.
It took me about 5 goes before I had one make it to full draw.
If they've both broken in the same place I'd wonder if you are doing something wrong with the tillering. Or it could just be that you've been unlucky!
I had an ash stave recently which looked perfect. Chased down to a single growth ring, straight grain, 71 inches, best one I'd worked with. Broke on the tiller at about 19 inches. Shape was perfect (I take photos to check the curve) but there was a tiny pinhole knot INSIDE the wood. I'm guessing that was enough to weaken it.
Next stave, 65 inches, cr@p grain, not a single ring, made it to 70Lbs at 28 inches. Go figure.
Bow making is a tempermental mistress. It sometimes smacks you about when you don't deserve it and rewards you when you least expect it. With all respect to the expert opinions on air dry vs kiln and 90 degree grain vs cross grain remember you are dealing with something organic. I'd stick with ash, it can be very forgiving, and try again.
And don't think of it as a failiure. Think of it as part of the process of learning. If you wanted easy and predictable you'd be using fibreglass right?
Bow making is a tempermental mistress. It sometimes smacks you about when you don't deserve it and rewards you when you least expect it. And don't think of it as a failiure. Think of it as part of the process of learning. If you wanted easy and predictable you'd be using fibreglass right?
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Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement!
I need to get some more wood amd as its getting sunnier i think this time i'll have a go at ringchasing and start with a dinkier bow!
I'm really hoping i wasn't doing owt wrong as i was taking it reaaaaaaaaaaaallllly slow and steady and it was looking lovely...
... but for two to go pop within a week then hmmm... the only consistent thinks are me and the wood!
Had a few thoughts on your successes (successful learning experiences). Found the quote I was thinking of. I don't know if its true or not but if its not, It SHOULD be
Edison invented the lightbulb and changed the world. It took him about 6000 attempts over 13 months.
On one occasion a young journalist challenged Edison saying to him, "Mr. Edison, why do you keep trying to make light by using electricity when you have failed so many times? Don't you know that gas lights are with us to stay?"
To this Edison replied, "Young man, don't you realize that I have not failed but have successfully discovered six thousand ways that won't work!"
Firstly, your tillering.
Don't know if anyone else has advised you of this one but the way I do it (if I'm feeling careful) is to take a photo, then put it in paint and try to draw an arc on top of it. If the bend is even then it should be possible to overlay an arc if you stretch it right.
Here is my attempt at yours
Its damn near perfect. Fraction stiff in the limbs but I've got away with much worse. So I'd say you're doing something right on the tillering.
Both your bows, if I read you right, failed when you were "exercising" the bow. Were you exercising too vigourously? or beyond the point to which you'd tillered?
Finally, the split in this one is on one side only. Was there a twist in the limb which would explain the tension being uneven?
Main thing though is to keep at it. I've been where you are and it is deeply gutting. However I promise you the first time you get a good solid bow to 28" it is SO worth it. First time you shoot it... well its just a sublime satisfaction. Brings a tear to the eye.
The memories have faded and i've had another go...
As previoisly mentioned there was a split on the back of the bow, so i thought that rather than chase draw weight i'd go for a nice tiller, even if i end up with a 12# bow!
So... to get round the problem of the split i planed the back away until it had gone. I then hid my scales and concentrated on the tiller.
I was taking it nice and slowly... in the garden... a few beers and a lesiurely pace... and got her to 26" with a most splendid looking arc - checked with a dinner plate - and all was going so well...
So, i thought now i'd check the draw weight amd was pleasently surprised at about 40# - felt much less and was very smooth... so i smugly pulled her to 28" and KAPOW!
... i now have a nice bruise on my shoulder! Quite disheartened as i was sure this was going to be the one!
Oh well - next time i'm going for traditional grain and will chase the growth ring.
Although i have just realised that although i had put on a shorter string - as soon as i could, i never adjusted the brace height beyond about 4" so am wondering if this played its part.
Oh, she blew in the same place as the other two from the same plank...
Nearly there... although i am worried as i draw 29"... what is the collectives view of where is a sensible place to tiller to, 30?