For the last two years I have searched the internet on an almost daily basis hoping to track down some yew suitable for making a good bow. Having finally located a good piece, and made a bow I am happy with, I resigned myself to making it last as it was looking unlikely I would find any more.
But life has some strange twists to it and I was surprised one day at the beginning of May to find Linda, a lady archer that I shoot with at my local club and one who I have built a bow for, waiting for me outside my house when I returned from a walk.
Linda had been tipped off that a tree surgeon was about to cut some yew on some local church property. She had also been in contact with the contractors who had told her we could have what we wanted as long as we could pick it up quickly as the site was being cleared in the next hour or so.
A quick trip to the other side of town found that a very helpful team of workers had separated any pieces of wood that might be useful to us and were ready and waiting to load them into Linda’s car. They have also promised to tip me off when they are cutting some clean ash.
I have ended up with three pieces, one is about 7 ½ “in diameter, one about 7” in diameter, and the other 4” in diameter. The shortest one is 7 feet long the longest over eight. The two largest both have a branch coming out of one side but have fairly clean sides opposite. I have sealed the ends well and after leaving a month decided to speed the seasoning by getting it down to slightly oversized staves as early as possible.
I don’t have a band saw big enough for this job, especially as it is green wood, so rather than risk just splitting it, I used my electric, circular hand saw to cut a 1 ½ ” groove down either side of the log at a level that was just behind the branch on the biggest piece. Then, using a hammer and bolster, split the piece using the grooves as a guide for the bolster. It worked a treat. I then had a fairly flat surface to use the circular saw on again to cut the good side in half.
I used a power planer to square up the staves to about 2 ½” by 2 ½ “, leaving plenty of room to follow the natural grain later on. The smaller stave I have trimmed down to a little bigger than this. There is a lot of sap wood on this one, and something like half of it will have to be removed at some point.
The undersides have been given a coat of PVA to try and stop cracking and I have weighed and dated each stave so as to be able to keep a watch on the rate they are drying. All three staves are now clamped to a sturdy ash board to help keep them straight as they dry.
The last log I will leave for another month or two and then treat it the same as the first. But will leave what will be another two staves, (giving me five in all) in one piece, so that they do not all finish seasoning together. Needless to say the first bow will be for Linda.