English longbow - repairing a horn nock

Anglian Archer

New member
Hi,

I have an English longbow with double-grooved horn nocks (for use with a stringer). I must have knocked the bow against something as I recently noticed one of the nocks had become damaged - part of the ridge of horn separating the two grooves has been knocked away.

There's still enough of a ridge to hold the stringer's loop in place, but I was wondering if it was possible to build up the ridge again.

Does anyone have any tips on making repairs to horn nocks?

Thanks.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
I don't think from my experience there is anyway to "repair" it, that's to say you can't make it as it was again. (Building up the ridge will work for a while but will break off again IMO).
BUT you can certainly re-shape it, blend in any damage and make it look pretty again.
I've had horn break off on me whilst doing the early shaping and got away with reshaping. I've also made the top nock as the bottom and had to re-shape.. no prob. Don't worry if you break through the horn a little and expose the parent wood... there is historical precedent in the horn nocks of the Mary Rose bows!
If it holds the stringer and the string it is by definition fit for purpose, so we are talking cosmetics here.
A little judicious work with matal working files and needle files (chainsaw files are perfect for the job) then wet or dry paper, 240 grit then 400 followed by buffing up with a cloth wheel loaded with polishing compound will restore a mirror finish.
Horn is lovely stuff to work with, very like a cross between fine grained hardwood and plastic.
Have a go, a little at first, I'm sure you will both improve it and enjoy the process.
Here is a link to my Horn Nock instructional, part 2.
Bowyer's Diary: Horn Nock Instructional (part2)
Deepen the stringer goove a tad and clean up the lip, simples!
Del
 

Anglian Archer

New member
Hi Del,

Thanks for your response and the link to the website. I was mooching around on the web and found a product called Milliput (a two-part epoxy putty) that looked interesting. I have a broken longbow lurking about somewhere. I might experiment on that. The break has left a gash with some sharp edges to it. I might just end up filling it in.

Out of interest, is it possible to remove nocks and refit new ones?
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Yes you can rasp off the old one and fit new one.
It's a right pain in the backside until you have done a few and got the knack, the right tools also help.
Whereabouts are you? 'Anglian' suggests you may not be too far from me (Harlow Essex)
If you are not too far you could always visit, I could do it in an hour or I could help you to do it yourself.
'Building it up' is ok if there is a good surface area and there is only compressive force on the repair (which doesn't sound to be the case.
Del
Post a pic, it may help me advise.
 

Anglian Archer

New member
IMGP5786.jpg Thanks for the offer. Rasping off sounds quite strenuous, I was hoping you might be able to do something to soften the glue and pull it off. I think I'll leave it as it is for the time being, it's not affecting the bow's use in any significant way. I've attached a picture. I'd be filling the gap more to tidy it up that anything else. I doubt the repair could take any significant shear force so won't attempt to re-create the ridge.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
To be honest, that nock looks (how shall I put it?) rather agricultural.
It looks like the limb tip could benefit from slimming down and a smaller, lighter more elegant nock fitting.
rasping with a sharp rasp is suitably easy and precise. Heat will soften the horn as well as any glue, if it is fitted with epoxy or superglue the necessary heat would damage the horn.
I'll happily do it for you for a bottle of wine (or 2) while you wait if you can get it over here.
I think you have plenty of horn there to re work it. I'll post a sketch in a few minutes.
Del
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
This sketch shows how it could be re worked (side view).
From the back or belly view it could be slimmed everywhere between string and tip.
The slight reduction is tip mass will fractionaly improve cast. Many bows have tips (last 4-6") which are too wide and nocks which are over heavy.
Even warbows from the Mary rose were only 1/2" round where they entered the horn nock!
(mind I can't accurately tell the size of your nocks without a rule in the pic)
Hope it makes sense.
Del
 

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Anglian Archer

New member
I see what you mean by agricultural. It certainly doesn't compare with the lovely nock on your website. Unfortunately I'm not very close to Harlow. I'd also have to come by train, so if it's alright I'll put your generous offer in my back-pocket in case of disaster. Regarding size, in the picture the bow is 13mm across when it enters the nock. In total, it's 41mm in circumference at the same point.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Ok, 13mm is fair enough.
Have a little go with some needle files, you can't do much damage with them as they are so fine :) !
Del
 
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