Storing a longbow stave

PLEASE HELP TO FUND ARCHERY INTERCHANGE

albatross

Supporter
Supporter
I have just acquired a nice laminated longbow stave from a bowyer. He has done the initial shaping for me. I am currently storing it in an unheated bedroom in my house. I have it suspended by a string loop tied in one of the self nocks he made for tillering. He suggested that occasionally I should put it in a shower room when the shower is in use to allow the wood to absorb some moisture. he said that would prevent the wood drying out. What do you think?

thanks
 

Phil Reay

New member
I'm afraid I don't know much about sticks but the idea sounds good to me. A bit like putting indoor straw bosses out in the rain to stop them drying out. Only thought I have is if the stave is waxed, will the water get through?
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
It all depends where you are!
If in Texas Australia or Alaska maybe a little humidity may help. If you are in the UK we have plenty enough humidity!
All my staves are stored in an unheated garage which is nice and draughty. It is part of the house so it doesn't get too cold or too hot.
I have heat treated staves (hot air gun at about 200C and just given 'em a day to re hydrate... no messing with showers) It's hard to get wood too dry in the UK.
Del
 

albatross

Supporter
Supporter
Luckily I'm in the U.K Del. Thanks for the advice about keeping the stave in a garage. Mine is attached to the house so its frost free and drafty. The stave is heading for a new location.
 

GlenH

New member
So what about storing a finished bow, that has a finish on it. How do you store them and does it need to be exposed to moisture to keep it from getting too dry?. Our winters here in my part of Canada get dry, once the temp gets well below zero C.
 

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Same applies. store 'em somewhere that doesn't get too hot too cold or too dry. Say a hallway or some such, maybe have a humidifier if necessary ...
Del
 

albatross

Supporter
Supporter
So what about storing a finished bow, that has a finish on it. How do you store them and does it need to be exposed to moisture to keep it from getting too dry?. Our winters here in my part of Canada get dry, once the temp gets well below zero C.
My finished bow (another one) has a beeswax coating on it which I reapply regularly. So I suppose any moisture in the wood when the first coat of wax was applied is 'locked in'. I now store that bow with the new stave in my garage. Luckily we don't get the temperatures as low in the U.K as you do in Canada.
 

WillS

New member
Wax is good, but it won't "lock" moisture per se. Only a very thick coat of modern varnish will come close, and even then it's permeable so you'll never keep moisture out. At some point, the wood is going to end up having the same RH as the air around it - it's unavoidable, but not a bad thing. If a bow is too dry it will become brittle, and of course if it's too wet it takes on excessive set.

Some woods like ash, maple and elm are very bad when they get wet, and it's always better to resist being "traditional" with waxing/oiling and just seal the bow in a modern waterproof varnish if you want the bow to last. You can apply wax over the top to dull the finish and get the feel of a waxed bow, without it constantly taking set or shooting like a damp noodle if it gets wet or the air humidity is higher than normal.

Most of the traditional finishes we know about were for yew bows, which are extremely good at being consistent in all weathers. Just because a yew bow can be waxed and oiled and not be affected by humidity doesn't mean that white woods can as well. In fact if you talk to the guys who really know their stuff when it comes to making selfbows out of whitewoods they recommend putting the bow on the radiator daily when working on them, constantly washing your hands to avoid sweat coming into contact with the wood and gently toasting then immediately sealing with modern varnishes the moment the bow is finished. None of this is necessary with woods like yew, but of course many people read about the romantic, traditional beeswax finish or boiled linseed oil / Danish oil and think it applies to all longbows!
 

albatross

Supporter
Supporter
WillS. That is a really interesting reply. I always thought that wax was 'waterproof', as with my 'Barbour Wax Jacket'. Looks like I might have to remove what I have applied and use a better sealer. Possibly an 'indoor' type varnish as they are not designed to be porous and allow expansion/contraction as moisture is absorbed or lost.
 

WillS

New member
As far as I'm aware, wax is waterproof in that it will "shed" water droplets which is why its used on boots and jackets. Not sure that has much effect when concerning humidity, and the moisture that will always be inside wood.
 

OTDEAN

New member
Just drive two nails into your wall that are level and keep the wood on those horizontal. If its a big piece of wood, use big nails or a shelf. I dry all my wood indoors in a central heated house in this position. You can store your bows like this also on a wall and they will be fine as long as you maintain them once in a while with a top up of oil, wax or lard just to keep moisture at bay. You can also just drive a nail into the wall and hang a bow vertically off this with a piece of string tied onto the end of the bow, just make sure the bow bottom does not make contact with the ground.

- - - Updated - - -

Varnish by the way another modern sealants are no good if the seal breaks and moisture gets into the wood. Always keep topping up the finish with oil/wax.
 

Corax67

Well-known member
None of our club members leave their longbows in their cars after a shoot, especially on a hot day like today - found this out after our league match when everyone brought theirs into the clubhouse :)
 
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