Den update: Longbows and slow progress 28/02/2021

Wet Woodlands today.

Today is the twenty second of February. The last month has been a rather slow and sad one with little progress happening in the woods despite the rapid improvement in the weather. There has been minor progress on the back wall and the front loft. As well I have been working on a new hazel longbow and then getting in a lot of practise.

Slow slow progress on the back wall.

The cabin is developing very slowly. Since the last update I have really not been in the mood to do lots of work and have struggled to find the motivation to get stuff done. That said I have managed to get one or two things done with some encouraging help from a friend. I have now cut down, cut to length and stacked all the wood for the cordwood back wall. I also mixed another batch of cob and cobbed in a set more logs meaning in the middle of the back wall I am only one log away from the top. The end of the back wall is in sight at long last.

The back wall is looking rather good.

I needed to fill a gap with all this spare time and without motivation for the cabin building I needed a new hobby. So I picked up my old ash longbow and took it out for a good few shoots. Bought myself some new arrows and my new adventure was in play. My old ash longbow is about 4 years old and draws 42lb at 28″. A respectable bow but I figured as I am getting older it is time for an upgrade. So, I took a stave and a day. In my parents garage I made myself a new longbow.

Roughed out longbow stave in a rather messy workshop.

I choose hazel for this bow as I had a large amount of it cut already from this years coppice work. I choose a straight pole from the pile about 6ft long and 3 inches in diameter at the base. With this I started to slowly carve out a rough stave. After axing the corners in all the rest of the work is done with a drawknife. I tape the limbs down to a tapered width on both sides uniformly. Once this has been done I put her on the tillering tree and see how she bends. With the large amount of wood on it bent very little. Tillering has begun.

Left limb is a little soft but tillering nicely.

I continue this process of bending the bow and marking stiff spots and removing wood there. This long process eventually yields a bow that bends in a smooth even curve. Once this has been done and I am happy that it bends true at my draw length of 28 inches then it is time to make and set a string.

Making a string is a straight forward process once you have got use to it. I use dacyron B50 for my strings. I measure out 10 strands of black thread and 10 strands of red thread. I cut them to a length of a bow and a half. This is to account for the shrinkage when twisting the cord. I take these strands and overly and twist the end to form a loop. Twisting the threads in pairs away from me and then wrapping the two bundles together towards me. This will create a rope that will hold together. I use bees wax to help the threads stick. I continue this twisting and then wrapping till I reach the ends of the bundles. I tie a small overhand knot to help them from un twisting.

Once this is done I slide the bow string over the end of the bow and set it down 3 and half inches from the top end. I tie a bowline with the over end so it loops over the other nocks. Once this is done I bend the bow and set the string. If they string is too loose take the string off and twist it smaller and twist it longer as needed. I like a brace height of about 5 inches.

Archery out on the warm range.
Strung longbow ready for action.

Published by The Den Workshop

I am a 21 year old woodsman who lives in the woods in my timber framed cabin.

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