Traditional Archery Discussions on the Leatherwall


WOODS for BOWS

Messages posted to thread:
BATMAN 23-Nov-17
throwback 23-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 23-Nov-17
Carpdaddy 23-Nov-17
Longcruise 23-Nov-17
BATMAN 23-Nov-17
fdp 23-Nov-17
PECO 23-Nov-17
Carpdaddy 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
Bud B. 24-Nov-17
Matt Ewing 24-Nov-17
fdp 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
fdp 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 24-Nov-17
Okaw 24-Nov-17
Ken Williams 24-Nov-17
Matt Ewing 24-Nov-17
AK Pathfinder 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
Ken Williams 24-Nov-17
Longcruise 24-Nov-17
TrapperKayak 24-Nov-17
GLF 24-Nov-17
BATMAN 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
Matt Ewing 24-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 24-Nov-17
Bob Rowlands 24-Nov-17
RonG 24-Nov-17
Hal9000 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 24-Nov-17
Bob W. 24-Nov-17
fdp 24-Nov-17
Elderly OCR 25-Nov-17
2 bears 25-Nov-17
BATMAN 25-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 27-Nov-17
Kwikdraw 27-Nov-17
Jeff Durnell 27-Nov-17
BATMAN 27-Nov-17
Bowlim 28-Nov-17
Bassman 16-May-18
Stoner 16-May-18
Birdy 16-May-18
Rotten: 16-May-18
From: BATMAN Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member Compton's Traditional Bowhunters
Date: 23-Nov-17




Since I'se dumb and doan gets out much? I have a question for the MANY & FINE bowyers on the site concerning the woods that are used for building bows. I guess that it is more directed with the limbs and WHAT woods are preferred in the limbs when working on them? Sandwiching various woods sounds like a deep dark secret. So is there a miracle recipe for the woods ( Like hickory, maple, cherry etc?) What combos seem to work best with LEAST HASSLE???

From: throwback
Date: 23-Nov-17




Good thread Batman, I'll be soaking it all in.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 23-Nov-17




The industry established Maple a long time ago. ;)

From: Carpdaddy
Date: 23-Nov-17

Carpdaddy's embedded Photo



I’m no pro but I’ll share from my limited knowledge and experience. It depends on what type of bow. You appear to be asking about fiberglass back and belly laminated bows. What appears to be popular (and what I use) is to have two good core woods. Hard Maple as already mentioned, Bamboo is very popular, Walnut, and so on. Then I usually use some thin veneers just under the glass for looks, unless using colored glass rather than clear, then I just use more of the same core wood. The thicker two core lams are most often a taper and a parallel, of course this varies among bowyers. I most often use this four lam setup with glass on both sides of the wood. I’m interested to hear what others do though.

From: Longcruise
Date: 23-Nov-17




An ASL I do with 3 or 4 lams. An RD with 3.

Mostly the lams are maple and sometimes elm. Like carpdaddy, if clear glass then some very thin veneers under the glass.

I've used some other woods for cores and haven't found any measurable differences in any of them.

There's plenty of room for varying opinions on this subject so we should be seeing more thoughts on this.

From: BATMAN Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member Compton's Traditional Bowhunters
Date: 23-Nov-17




@ CARPDADDY....PURDEE BOWS! I guess that EVEN SELF BOWS can get involved with the mix of various woods. This should be VERY interesting. Let's KEEP GOING! I'm already learning quite a bit!

From: fdp
Date: 23-Nov-17




The wood in the limbs is nothing more than a spacer in a glass bow. As long as it has good gluing properties, and reasonable durability it doesn't make a hill of beans. Performance comes from the side view, and belly view profile.

So Maple is as good as it gets and better than a lot of others.

From: PECO
Date: 23-Nov-17




If you build 2 exact bows, one with maple core and clear glass, and one with bamboo core and clear glass, some say as fdp said, it makes no difference they will shoot the same. Some say otherwise. Some say the number of lams makes a smoother drawing bow, some say it doesn't make a difference.

From: Carpdaddy
Date: 24-Nov-17




I did a buildalong not long ago on here after winning the drawing from KennyM. It was brown glass so I used all Maple lams. Here is a link to it if any are interested. http://leatherwall.bowsite.com/TF/lw/thread2.cfm? forum=23&threadid=291267&category=

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Fdp, how can maple perform better than so many others in glass/wood laminated bows if the wood species used doesn't matter? Kinda contradicted yourself there :^)

Batman, more hassle? That's a loaded question. I've used a variety of wood 'species' for glass bows and haven't found any to be more of a hassle to cut, grind, or glue up than the others. With glass/wood laminates, regardless of the species, it's basically just milling and assembly. A few require more or less care during selection, or seasoning to keep them from checking, warping, and such, if that's what you mean.

Even though I use some woods other bowyers may not, I don't use just any old piece or type of wood. I try to use wood species that are proven, and/or that I know are capable of making a bow of some sort without glass... i.e. 'bow wood'. Multiple thin laminations and glass on back and belly just allows me to use pieces I likely wouldn't have used otherwise, and glue it into profiles, shapes, dimensions, lengths, draw weights, etc not otherwise possible.

That's not to say, necessarily, that I use 'lesser wood' in laminated bows... often, I cut wood for glassbow lams out of the same stave or log that I use for selfbows. Good bow wood is valued and cuts are planned to make the very most of it. I've carefully dissected single yew logs and used the wood from each to make selfbows, glassbow lams, and lams for bamboo backed bows or trilams.

So, any wood species that can make a selfbow or simple backed bow, like a sassafras selfbow, a hickory backed cherry bow, can safely be used in a glass bow for limb lams.

When working wood down as part of the process of making lams, straight grained, straight ringed wood works better in some tools, like a planer or jointer for instance, but is rather bland to look at under clear glass. Figured wood, swirly grain, like curly or quilted maple, or a piece where multiple growth rings are cut through, are more susceptible to tear out in those cutting tools, so sometimes more work or waste occurs avoiding it with other tools, or with more grinding in the thickness sander, for instance. In such ways, yes, some wood can be more of a 'hassle' to use.

I don't worry about that kind of hassle though because for me, additional work and time in the shop doesn't mean wasted money, it's just "more unnecessary fun"... to borrow a phrase :^)

From: Bud B.
Date: 24-Nov-17




Dave Johnson uses Eastern Red Cedar in his ASLs. I find the red cedar to be very lightweight and snappy as compared to the same style bows of equal draw weight in bamboo and hardwoods. This is just my perception and observation without a chronograph, mind you. However, the lighter wood weight of cedar is not just a perception. I wish I had one in string follow.

Thoughts on red cedar?

From: Matt Ewing
Date: 24-Nov-17




I think it does matter and prefer Osage cores. Maybe it's all in my head but if I believe it then it's true.

From: fdp
Date: 24-Nov-17




No Jeff...I didn't. I said that the wood needed good gluing properties and a reasonable amount of durability/strength. Maple offers both of those. There are woods that offer one or the other, but not a lot that offer them both. I said it works as well as any and better than some. For instance many of the tropical woods create potential glue adhesion problems (Maple doesn't), some woods are naturally brittle (Maple isn't) so it does out perform them.

The gluing properties are one of the reasons that lots of folks that make wood adhesives choose Maple for their wood to wood stress tests.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 24-Nov-17




Frank wasn't really talking about performance.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 24-Nov-17




You could add availability and price as well as workability to the list of Maple pluses.

Relative to a lot of woods it doesn't seem like much of an allergen either.

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Ok Fdp, gotcha. So the wood species DOES matter? ;^)

Sure, maple is good, but since I haven't had a single issue with the other woods I've used, I have to believe they too have 'good gluing properties and a reasonable amount of durability/strength'.

Yesterday, I pulled out my nicest piece of hard maple for a buddy who's going to make a baseball bat for his grandson, but now I'm thinking I should probably hang on to it and burn off all that other trashwood I have ;^) NOT

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Hey, we're talking all kinds of bows here now, right? Let's talk about all those maple selfbows, and bamboo backed maple bows and such out there too ;^)

From: fdp
Date: 24-Nov-17




Not the subject of the thread Jeff. The question was is there a perceptible difference in performance between wood when building glass laminated bows.

My experience and the experience of many old bowyers that I have talked to says no. There is more difference in individual pieces of the same species then there are in the characteristics of different species.

And the gluing properties are what they are. Some folks have trouble with them, some folks don't.

And I never said any wood was "trash" wood. In fact I'll use wood that many folks won't. including Red Oak from Lowe's. No discernable difference in performance, but, you do have to take some precautions when gluing it, because it will soak up glue and leave a dry glue joint if you don't. White Oak can be worse.

The secret BATMAN is having the glass to wood ration right regardless of the wood used. Jack Howard was a master at that as was Fred Anderson. Many bowyers these days use the same amount of glass regardless of draw weight, and make all the change in the core stack. Not the right way in my opinion.

The ratio has certain parameters to stay in for recurves, slightly different for D/R longbows, and different again for straight "Hill" style bows. Each type has an increasing ration of wood to glass with recurves having the lowest ratio.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 24-Nov-17




Yeah, Maple is an awesome all around self bow material as well. Makes a great backing strip too.

Come to think of it, that really establishes it as the king. ;)

From: Okaw
Date: 24-Nov-17




I've switched from maple to white ash for my Black Rhino bows. It's easy to find perfect, straight grained and clear white ash. Harder to find maple like that.

I get very close to the same weight per thickness with white ash, and it is slightly lighter in physical weight than maple. The wood has a little more color and grain than the maple, also. Saws and grinds easier than maple.

One of the things I really like about the ash, is that it doesn't warp nearly as much as the maple when I bake it for a few hours in the bow oven before gluing up the blanks. That tells me it is dryer and more stable than maple.

Chuck

From: Ken Williams
Date: 24-Nov-17




I did not know maple was a choice for a self bow wood. Is there a species of maple that is the best ?

From: Matt Ewing
Date: 24-Nov-17




Ken I think silver maple is to brittle. That is just what I have read.

From: AK Pathfinder
Date: 24-Nov-17




I prefer ether yew or bamboo. Why? Just cause. Of all the longbows I've built those two woods have consistently produced the bows I enjoy shooting the most. No science, just personal preference.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 24-Nov-17




Sugar(Maple) is the top readily available one. Vine Maple of course is excellent but not as readily available for many.

White Ash isn't going to be easy to find soon.

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Frank, with respect, Batman mentioned including selfbow wood in this conversation in his second post... but has yet to mention 'performance'. I agree with the rest of your last post..

Elderly OCR, yep, maple is the King of bow woods! Thanks, I was beginning to wonder if you guys had a sense of humor :^)

Ken, yep, I guess it's an option. But construction and design parameters that would lead to success with maple, in glassless bows, are more narrow than they are with better all-around bow woods. Sugar Maple is generally what we're referring to for use in bows. It's also known as Hard Maple or Rock Maple. You have to be careful and able to identify them from soft maple boards if you're going to go that route because many places don't differentiate, and throw them in the same bin.

Like OCR said, Vine Maple is harder to find in person, growing along the western coast, grows in smaller diameter with very thin rings, but will make a good bow if properly selected, designed, and constructed. I made one, quite the character bow, and would like to make another someday. Actually, it's not that hard to find if you shop for it, you'll find vine maple selfbow staves offered by the stave suppliers before you'll find sugar maple.

From: Ken Williams
Date: 24-Nov-17




Thanks

From: Longcruise
Date: 24-Nov-17




The thing that has been sorta touched on but bears repeating for the benefit of those who are not familiar with bow building is that wood species and selection is far more important when building a self bow than when building a glass/wood lam bow.

You can make a self bow out of just about any wood but the wood will dictate the design. Not so much with glass/wood lams.

From: TrapperKayak
Date: 24-Nov-17




When I was out hunting today, I came across some really straight hop hornbeam, about 5 in diam. Had a saw, but did not cut it down. Will never be able to find it again probably. Would have made a great selfbow I bet.

From: GLF
Date: 24-Nov-17




Common sense and my bows I've had made with different tell me theres almost no difference in recurves, almost. But there is a speed difference in thick core bows. Think about it, you add a heavier arrow the bow slows down from 5 fps on up. You add heavy tip overlays it slows slightly. So how could one say in a thick core (wood) limb , heavy wood making a heavier limb would not slow it down?

From: BATMAN Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member Compton's Traditional Bowhunters
Date: 24-Nov-17




Hi GUYS, This is very interesting! I am learning a lot (even though I am not a bowyer) about SOME facets of bow construction. Always a amazes me when people can do things like that. Let's keep going. BLESSED BE!

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Trapper, you got my attention. A straight 5" HHB is a good find. That there ironwood gets heavy quick though, so I tend to better remember the ones closer to the roads ;^)

Anybody ever have an ironwood glassbow? I've made bamboo backed bows with it, but not a glassbow yet. I cut a bunch last year, resawed some slats from around the staves, and it should be ready to grind any time now. Need to order some more glass.

From: Matt Ewing
Date: 24-Nov-17




Jeff please keep us in the loop on that. I bet it would be great.

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 24-Nov-17




Yeah, it would probably do fine performance wise. Hophornbeam, like Maple though is diffuse porous, mostly colorless and plain looking, the sapwood anyway. If I don't have a few hearwood parts more handsome to show under the clear glass I'll have to put a veneer there.

From: Bob Rowlands
Date: 24-Nov-17




My lam bows are maple. My sons lam bow is maple. So, maple it is.

From: RonG
Date: 24-Nov-17




Batman, My Howard Hill Old Three Toes longbow was bamboo and Yew, it shot very well, wasn't very fast, but at the time I was shooting my D/H Mamba 60lb bow and that thing is like lighting the after burners on an F-14, that thing would bring a big smile on anyone's face.

From: Hal9000
Date: 24-Nov-17




doesn't Marc St Louis make some pretty mean maple selfbows?

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 24-Nov-17




He has but he's using it a lot for backing lately it seems.

Check out his latest 135# at 30" Maple backed HHB recurve on PA.

From: Bob W.
Date: 24-Nov-17




Tapered Ipe belly with a tapered thin maple core and boo on the back R/D 64" long pulling 62@ 27" does it for me!

From: fdp
Date: 24-Nov-17




I don't think I've ever seen a glass laminated bow with Ironwood as the core.

From: Elderly OCR
Date: 25-Nov-17




Likely for no other reason apart from the trouble of locating and wrestling a milling size hhb out of the woods.

Adam K is said to be using it for his composite bow cores.

There seems to be a pretty sharp dividing line between self bowyers and glass guys with only a very few like jeff actually cutting their own wood and using it both ways.

From: 2 bears
Date: 25-Nov-17




A number of woods make good bows. The idea of the wood is to be lighter than the glass or you might as well just use glass. So Light,solid,wood,with good glue retention is the goal for most bowyers. Originally bows were either solid wood or solid glass. The combination of the two is the best of both.>>>----> Ken

From: BATMAN Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member Compton's Traditional Bowhunters
Date: 25-Nov-17




This is GOOOT! I like hearing the discussions about the various woods and ways to put a bow together! Always in AMAZEMENT at PEOPLE who can do those things! I am the original fumble fingers!

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 27-Nov-17




It might be a neat challenge to try to make as many different types of yew bows as possible from a single log. Say an English longbow, a selfbow/flatbow, a glass bow of some sort, a bamboo backed bow/trilam, etc. That might be fun... and would be cool to have them all standing there together afterwards, take them to the range together, shoot them for distance, etc. Hmmmmmm.

From: Kwikdraw
Date: 27-Nov-17




Great thread Bat, and great idea Jeff, and a very informative thread! Would like to see the 4 or so bows off one log deal. That could be very valuable as well as interesting! Wyatt

From: Jeff Durnell Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member
Date: 27-Nov-17




I doubt it, but I'll look to see if I have a piece that would allow me to try.

From: BATMAN Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member Professional Bowhunters Society - Associate Member Compton's Traditional Bowhunters
Date: 27-Nov-17




I hear from a fellow Waller that HOP HORN BEAM (?) works very well? Also that some fruit trees like Cherry? Any other fruit trees like apple, pear etc? Do I remember Persimmon?? This will be good for after the hunt / season discussions. BLESSED BE!

From: Bowlim
Date: 28-Nov-17




If wood is just a spacer, then you are all using it the wrong way. In composites when you use wood as a core in glass, the correct way to orient the fibers are perpendicular to the glass sheets. When used that way you can drop down to balsa wood, which is dramatically stiffer in a core, than most woods, and is obviously very light. Structures built that way are much higher in stiffness to weight ratio than parallam structures. I can't say I have seen it done in anything that has a deflection ratio anything like a bow, so it might well provide a nasty surprise, not to mention looking weird under clear, glass, though a lot of bows are there already. But given one can make good longbows out of cedar, there is at least a chance some endgrain core would work. The balsa is a widely used commercial product, but mostly in low deflection ratio setting.

A principle with wood composite glass structures is the glass does not add stiffness faster than the wood on a weight basis. On a thickness basis it does, but overall they are fairly well matched which is why one can get away with all kinds of things building these bows. On the other hand it took archery 30 years to catch up with carbon fiber in wood structures, they couldn't figure it out and stuffed it in bias on the neutral axis, or under sheets of glass, because they didn't know how to deal with the fact it didn't load share with wood very well.

So given all that, I doubt very much that the wood doesn't mater. It is more the case that nobody is trying very hard to measure it. Archery is weird that way, we are further out frot that then aircraft industry, or musical instrument industry, on grading the wood we use for arrows. I don't know anyone who does what we do there. But on wood, once clear glass was invented, it's a case of pimp my ride. If one is selling their bows on looks, and luxury veneers, how much progress should we expect on structure.

From: Bassman Professional Bowhunters Society - Qualified Member
Date: 16-May-18




MAPLE CORE GLASS BOWS HAVE BEEN THE STANDARD OF THE INDUSTRY FOR YEARS.COMPANIES STILL MAKE TONS OF BOWS THE SAME WAY TODAY.I HAVE TRIED MAPLE, BAMBOO, CARBON FOR CORE MATERIALS, AND FIND ONLY MARGINAL DIFFERENCES PERFORMANCE WISE WITH THE EDGE GOING TO CARBON PLACED JUST UNDER THE GLASS TOWARDS THE BACK OF THE BOW.THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT I HAVE SEEN ON ALL MY BOWS IS THE SHINNY FAST FLIGHT STRING, THAT I PUT ON ALL OF MY BOWS,EVEN VINTAGE BOWS, BUT I ADD ALWAYS PHENOLIC TIPS OVERLAYS ON THEM WITH GOOD SUCCESS.NO FAILURES YET.THIS IS JUST WHAT I HAVE FOUND,AND OTHERS MAY NOT AGREE.I CHRONY MY BOWS, AND HAVE FOUND SPEED WISE THAT SKINNY FF STRINGS, HAVE IMPROVED MANY OF THE BOWS UP TO 12 FPS.I MAY HAVE GOT OFF THE SUBJECT A LITTLE, BUT I JUST WANTED TO SHARE MY EXPERIANCES.TAKE IT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

From: Stoner
Date: 16-May-18




Good thread, I am currently reading "Traditional Bowyer, more unnecessary fun". I want to build without the use of FRP's. Though I will continue to build fiberglass backed bows also. Trying to understand woods better for compression & woods for tension. John

From: Birdy
Date: 16-May-18




I like boo

From: Rotten:
Date: 16-May-18




I’m not a bowyer, but have shot a few different bows. I like bamboo for the consistency, and to be honest the sustainability. That being said, my second choice would be red elm cores.





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