How to choose the wood type for a longbow

PLEASE HELP TO FUND ARCHERY INTERCHANGE

Phil Sheffield

New member
I am very new to all this I enjoy my recurve but want a longbow too, maybe even a compound one day. On the basis that if ytou don't ask you will never know I have a couple of questions.

I am no carpenter and I'm quite convinced I never will be. Fitting a kitchen is one thing hanging and fitting a door and frame is quite something else so me making a bow would probably be an enjoyable experience to undertake and also be a complete waste of good wood.

That leaves the obvious option I have to buy one.

There are many very experienced makers of bows around and shops willing to be their middle men,
Of course it would nice to find someone within an hour or so of sheffield to ask to make me one but not vital I suppose.

but there are choices to be made and most archers it would seem would rather lend you their partner than their bow... and who can blame them..
Length
Draw weight
Draw length are the obvious ones and are relatively easy to answer or get advice on but.....

So if someone has the time and doesn't mind indulging my interest...

The most perplexing question is which wood or combinations of wood should I choose?
And without getting into a level of technicality that would be way over my head... Why?

Just to satisfy my curiosity... Why do some bow makers ask your gender? Does it really make some sort of difference?
.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
gender doesn't really make a difference but may effect cosmetic choices of nocks, grip and arrow plate.
Height of archer is relevant.
Wood combinations need to be matched in terms of belly and back. As an example a bamboo back would probably be too strong in tension for a cherry belly which would crumple in compression giving tiny hair like compression fractures called chrysals.
There are some tried and tested combinations like hickory/Lemonwood. Bamboo/Ipe. Bamboo/Yew.
Some people like extra decorative laminations in the middle. Personally I like self bows (e.g one piece of wood) or simple backed bows.
The bowyer should be able to explain why he suggests a certain combination. Of course availability effect the timber choice, but the skill of the bowyers effects the outcome most of all.
Del
 

backinblack

Active member
Hi Phil,

I made my own long bow from a kit sold by Bickerstaff - it shoots but the end result was achieved more by luck than by judgement. If you want a cheap way of getting started have a google around to find timber suppliers in your area as most will have ash in dimensions that can be turned into something bow-like without spending big money and without having to laminate a stave. Also there is the option of taking your saw out into the countryside - hazel often comes in fairly straight pieces of wood of good dimensions that can be turned into a bow.

As regards bow staves, they tend to be laminated these days as it results in something more durable with better performance than a self bow which have a habit of "following the string" and thereby losing cast. These days back (the bit facing away from the shooter) is typically hickory or bamboo and the belly often lemon wood or Ipe (though not always) with a third or fourth wood as the meat in the sandwich. Purple heart and green heart are pretty but there can be any number of others. Good yew staves are hard to come by.

As regards the final choice, obviously go for something you find attractive...choice of wood can have an impact on performance (how far and fast it chucks the arrow) but some bowyers say that this can be minimal and that the magic is all in the tillering, but then they would wouldn't they?

The only reason for asking your gender I think would relevant to draw weight and draw length because, speaking generally, they are likely to draw a lighter bow with a shorter draw length than men and, therefore, perhaps need a shorter bow overall in order for it to be working optimally.

Adrian Hayes is in Leeds if you want a bowyer fairly near to you:

Our Longbows - Adrian Hayes Traditional English Longbows Leeds | Adrian Hayes Longbows

I hope that's something to get you going.

Best,
Backinblack
 

Phil Sheffield

New member
Del the Cat, backinblack, thank you both I do appreciate your efforts and am now feeling somewhat enlightened.

Leave the wood choice to the bowyer and if he/she can't jusify their choice(s) then they are probably not the people you want making you a bow.

Dashing off into the wilderness with a saw prospecting for a decent looking bit of wood sounds like it would only be a recipe for disaster in my case. Great swathes of limbless trees where once forests stood and and piles of saw dust as a result of my trial error approach to getting a decent stave and making it into... well .... anything.

If I found a decent stave... I would consider it a great acheivement in itself if I were to have the sense to leave it as a staff or at the very best create a bow rest. mmm I might try making one or both of those. Must look up how long to leave them to dry out properly.
 

thepensbybowman

New member
Del, are you serious about gender making no difference. It's a well known fact that Yew should only be shot by males in their prime. You'll be telling me next that it was completely unneccesary for me to dance round the garden naked at midnight with my new bow!
 

Phil Sheffield

New member
Backinblack.. I was all set to make some enquiries of the bowyer you suggested but having had a chat to a a couple of club members I have been put of that particular artisan. I've also been told that as he has become so popular he has taken on staff and does not necessarily have any hands on time with all the bows that bear his name. Though the latter has not been verified.

I am given understand that there is a quality bowyer in Barnsley but I have only one person's opinion of that and would be grateful for some additional revues and if possible some contact information for this chap if anyone could help please.
.
 

backinblack

Active member
Hi Phil,

Sorry - I should have said that I didn't know his work.

I guess the problem with success is that you get more work than you can handle by yourself - I understand that Pip Bickerstaff has a number of people working for him also.

Good luck tracking down your bowyer.

Best,
Backinblack
 
Top