Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Do You Like?

Ok, opinions wanted here.

Cresting on an arrow can take a lot of different forms. I doubt there is an arrow maker out there who hasn't developed their own style, and it's likely going to be at least a little different from other arrow makers.

One difference in cresting style that we see is long vs. short or many lines vs. a few lines.
I've seen a few arrows that have cresting extending for over two inches, and some extreme examples that have lines the whole length of the crown, about nine or ten inches. One local arrow maker bragged to me that he was working on arrows that had over 100 lines.

My personal preference is for relatively short cresting. Most of what I do is well under two inches. I feel that while the cresting is an important design element of the arrow, its main purpose is to soften the transition from the crown color to the rest of the shaft. It should look good but not dominate the appearance of the arrow.
Of course, this is a modern interpretation of the purpose for cresting. It used to be used as an identifier for the owner of the arrow. It still can serve that purpose but the rest of the arrow is generally so different from what our companions are using that there is little danger of confusion.

I'd like to know is what you like. Please take a couple minutes to leave a comment to let me know what kind of cresting you enjoy the most on your arrows.
Lots of lines?
Not so many lines?
Don't worry if you're not registered with Blogger. You can leave an anonymous comment without having to register. But please do leave a comment, I'd really like to see what other archers think on this subject.

Happy archery!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PaleoPlanet Fund Raiser

For the past three or four years the PaleoPlanet forum has raised money to send a North American member to Bulgaria for a primitive skills gathering held there. The event is organized by Iliana, a PP member who lives in Bulgaria. It's a truly wonderful event held in a beautiful part of the world and everyone who has attended has really enjoyed themselves.
Fundraising this year didn't seem to be up to its usual excitement, probably due to the depressed economy so many of use are experiencing. There was a danger that insufficient funds would be available to purchase airfare.
Then Iliana had an idea. She got in touch with a couple people to see if they were interested in her idea. After receiving assurances of participation she put her idea out to the forum to see if there was sufficient commitment there to make it work.
Iliana wanted to offer a set of archery gear: bow, leather goods, and arrows. Tickets would be available for a fixed price and the winner would be drawn out of a hat.
The tickets went like the proverbial hotcakes and enough money was raised to put us over the top and achieve our goal.

The bow was made by Steve Gardner, one of the premier amateur wood bowyers in the U.S. today. Steve makes a number of designs but particularly enjoys making flight bows. These bows live on the ragged edge of absolute top performance and making them has given Steve a considerable education in making wood bows.
Iliana herself made the leather archery accessories. She made a bowcase, quiver, bracer, tab, string keeper, and accessory pouch; all of which have beautiful tooling and designs on them.
I put in some arrows that would be built to the winner's specifications to properly match the bow and archer combination. Of course, the art on the arrows would also be to the winner's wishes.

The drawing was held while a number of us were at the Chamberlin Ranch shoot in April so we didn't find out who it was until we got home. Salvador, a good friend and archery mentor was to be the lucky recepient of this armful of goodies.

At last Sunday's Pasadena gathering we finally got Salvador nailed down so Steve could give him the bow, I could give him the arrows, and we could get a picture of him with his winnings (Iliana had already sent the leather goods to him from Bulgaria).

Here are the arrows I made once Sal told me what he wanted.

The Bulgarian gathering is taking place as I write this. From all reports they're having a great time.

If you'd like to see what past gatherings were like this thread on PaleoPlanet has links to a number of pictures taken by various attendees. Be warned, once you see the pictures you'll want to go, too.

Happy archery!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Something Special, New Arrows for a Warrior

Let's see if I can write this so it makes sense.
About three months ago Matt contacted me to make some red arrows for him. As we discussed the red arrows I learned that Matt's wife has been battling breast cancer for about the past eight years and was finally coming out on top of the battle.
It is obvious that Matt dearly loves Pamela and is very proud of her strength and determination. Matt mentioned that there isn't a "pink" event in their area that they don't attend to support other survivors and women going through their own battles with this horrible disease. When I learned that someone was making a pink bow for Pamela I decided to surprise her and Matt with a few pink arrows to go with that new pink bow.
Jump forward a couple months and Matt made a post on TradGang that showed, in part, the pink arrows that I and three other fletchers had given to Pamela. He also mentioned that while attending a 3D shoot in Vanderpool, TX they met Melanie, a woman who has been having her own battle with cancer for 20 years. After the shoot Pamela sent Melanie some of her pink arrows and they arrived just before another round of chemotherapy. It sounds like they cheered her up a bit.
I couldn't bear the thought of Melanie not having some special arrows of her own so I got in touch with Matt and got a bit of information. I'll put Melanie's new arrows in the mail tomorrow and she will have them in a few days. I hope she likes the way they turned out as much as I do.
Health and Good Archery, thanks for reading

Update - Melanie called me Monday to let me know she got the arrows.  I won't go into details on the conversation lest I embarrass  myself. Let's just say she was surprised, and she does like them.
Thanks, Melanie. You really made my day.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Bow Bench Lives!

I took the new bow bench to the SCA tournament this past Saturday and got to give it a good workout.
I have to say, it worked great and I'm quite pleased with it.
The bench occasionally seems a little rickety if you sit on it and wiggle your butt but in use it is reasonably steady and holds the stave just fine. While I had no issues with the stave slipping as I reefed on it with a draw knife I am on the lookout for some heavy rubber-like material to put on the clamping surfaces.
Putting it together and breaking it down at the end of the day was a breeze. I kept a wrench handy and used it to remove the foot pedal support arm. That allowed the clamping head to come out; remove the legs and it was ready to go into the truck.

If it looks as if we were set up away from everyone else, we were. That's the hazard of putting up the overhead before you see where the others are going up and of forgetting that in the SCA everything revolves around the fighting eric. On the other hand, just about everyone walking to the bathroom had to go right by us and many people stopped to chat and ask questions about what I was doing.

Happy shaving!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Arrows for King Arthur and Arrows for Kate

Remember I mentioned that I would be making some arrows to donate to the San Diego Archer's King Arthur's Tournament to be held on June 20th?
Well, they're done and in their hands.

The arrows are Sitka spruce, #45/49 spine, weight matched. I left them full length so whoever wins them can cut them to the appropriate size, 125gr field points are in the box with the arrows. I trust that they'll go to a loving home.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the shoot myself as that's the same day as the monthly Pasadena gathering. I hope you guys have a great time!


Kate wanted arrows that would be easy to see.

All I can say is, "be careful what you ask for!"


Tomorrow, June 12, we'll be at an SCA event in Fountain Valley, CA.
This is the Gyldenholt Anniversary event and will be held at the archery range in Mile Square Park.
There will be archery, heavy weapons, and rapier competitions. For those of a more gentile nature, an Arts and Sciences Champion will also be chosen.
I can't sell things at this event so I'll be taking the new Bowyer's Bench to play with in the shade of our overhead. If you come to the event, please drop by and visit for a bit, I'd love to meet you.

Happy archery!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bow Bench Project

Back when I started learning how to make wood bows I put together a simple bench using 2" x 12" Douglas Fir and an inexpensive bench vice I had laying around. It didn't work out too bad but it doesn't break down and is pretty heavy to throw in the back of the truck.
I've been looking for something a little better. Essentially, I wanted a shaving horse that I could disassemble to take to events or gatherings. Now that I'm doing SCA events again, I really wanted something that would work well there, too. For a variety of reasons I can't sell my wares at all events so I figured if I took a bow bench and made a spectacle of myself shaving wood I could hand out business cards if someone had an interest.
Lo and behold, I found what I needed. While reading back issues of various magazines I ran across the Fall 2005 issue of The Bowyer's Journal (since changed to Trad Archer's World). In the magazine were plans for building a Bowyer's Bench, just what I needed.
The plans didn't look too difficult and they used lumber and hardware I could get at my local home improvement store. The only exception was the leg brackets. I couldn't find them in a local store and ended up ordering the Grizzly G3312 Saw Horse Brackets from

For your reading pleasure, here is a pictorial journey for the construction of my Bowyer's Bench:

Gotta start somewhere. Tools are gathered, the plans are handy, the first cut is for the bench itself.

Ok, the legs are done.

Here's one of the Grizzly saw horse brackets. Pretty cool design, actually. The wingnut forces the wedge down to hold the 2 x 4 legs tightly in place yet the whole thing may be removed easily. Just what I need.

So far so good. This is going to be an easy project. I'll have it done in a day.

A couple holes need to be cut in the top of the bench for different members to fit through.

Um, yeah... I discovered that my jig saw doesn't saw straight up and down. I don't know if it's the saw or me, I suspect the latter. So some clean up is necessary when I use the jig saw.

I'm supposed to cut what and put it where!!??

The bench top also gets a hole.

I dearly dislike circular saws. To tell the truth, they scare the crap out of me.

This hinge block goes under the bench top and over the bolt for the saw horse bracket on one end. Since I wanted to be able to remove that bolt for transportation I elected to purchase a longer one at the hardware store so it could go all the way through this hinge block for removal when necessary.

I may end up re-making this piece at a later date. The bench top pedestal gets holes drilled through it so it can be moved up and down to raise and lower the bench top. A piece of steel rod goes through the holes to hold the adjustment. When I drilled the holes (not shown here) I managed to drill them in a decidely un-straight manner. Just for my peace of mind I may re-make this later and try to drill straighter.

Figuring the angles on this was interesting. I had to email a recent college graduate to ensure I was doing it right. He asked his wife. Thanks, Paige!

Cleaning up after the jig saw.

It's starting to look like it may work.

After carefully measuring and cutting the slot for the foot pedal I had to remove a little wood for a perfect fit.

It's too small... too small... too small... crap, now it's too big.

I needed four of these pieces for the clamp head.

Stacked up, screwed together, and ready to be bolted.

Cleaning up after the jig saw again. This is the piece that holds down the stave being worked on so I wanted it to be right.

I may not be able to saw, but apparently I can rasp.

Not too bad. It actually does hold a stave pretty well. I still need to stain it and put on a protective finish of some kind as well as figure out if I'll decorate it in any way.
All in all, it was a little more difficult than I expected it to be but it really wasn't very hard. The foot pedal support seems a little long and after using it I may decide to shorten that piece and re-install the foot pedal.
And, uh... yeah... it did take longer than a single day. 
Other than that, not bad!

I was way too busy and preoccupied to take pictures of the process so I can't thank Fayme enough for taking over that task and for doing such a great job.

Happy bow building!