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    Non power tool working information

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    Frode
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    Non power tool working information

    Post by Frode on Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:24 pm

    Hello all,
    I wonder, can anyone point me in the direction of information on medieval woodworking methods, particularly as relates to cross bow tillers? I certainly use power tools, nothing against them whatsoever, though lately I find when working on wooden bows I'm really enjoying working with hand tools. My tools aren't period reproductions by any means, but the principle remains. I work a lot with a plane and various spoke shaves, scrapers, and the occasional draw knife, and while I wont claim to be any good, I think I'm starting to get a bit of a handle on how to get some good results with them.
    But, when it comes to things like drilling out for a roller nut, or pockets for trigger mechanisms, and the like, I'm at a loss. It's something I'd like to know how to do, though. And besides, it's probably a good excuse to pick up a few more hand tools Very Happy .
    Thanks for your help,
    Frode


    Last edited by Ivo on Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:53 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Topic moved to Woodworking forum)
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Todd the archer on Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:58 pm

    Hi, You could use a hand brace to bore a hole for the nut. For trigger passages I have used a power drill, chisels, and misc. carving tools. It is a tedious job, but if working with hand tools is what makes it more satisfying go for it. Have you seen the video of Glen St.Charles making yew bows. I think he talked about the ethics of using power tools to make primitive weapons. The other thing different with making crossbows compared to primitive bows is you most likely will be working with metal for various pieces such as triggers.sears,stirrups, bow irons etc.

    Todd

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Frode on Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:31 pm

    Hello Todd,
    Thanks for moving this to the correct forum , by the way Very Happy ! As soon as I hit "Post" I wondered if this was a bit specific. I have not seen those videos (yet), but the issue of modern tools and materials (glues, in particular) comes up from time to time on other forums I'm on. For me it's been a good way to unwind after being on a computer all day. Sometimes I just head down to the Underground Lair and pick up a shave and start going. Doesn't seem to matter that it isn't going fast, kind of relaxing actually.
    I have used chisels and gouges in the past, but I have yet to try a brace.
    Thanks,
    Frode
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Ivo on Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:36 pm

    Hi,

    Take a look in the "wood working books" topic. I've posted a link to a Woodworking book that might be of interest to you, it's on an Internet Archive site.

    The site is not limited to just wood working, there is university grade professional material available through that sight(perhaps a bit outdated compared to today's books, but that might just be the jewel you're looking for Wink ).

    http://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/t126-woodworking-books#2378

    Enjoy!

    Ivo




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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by testhero on Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:55 pm

    One of your problems in looking at medieval woodworking for Crossbows is going to be shortage of sourses and that most wood working was done using wet/green wood so many of the potential sources of information will not be very usefull to you.
    Spoke shaves, scrapers, and draw knifes used in wet/green wood let you aproach the working speeds of power tools.
    Durer did a series of woodcuts showing tradesmen at work including their tools.
    A lot of the hard work was done by water powered mills, polishing mills for armour etc. take offs to drive bellows for forges. I have seen an illustration of a boring mill for cannons I am sure something similar but smaller would have been usefull for boring out Nut pockets.
    Most steelbow guilds were in cities with large guild or carft areas meaning the crossbow maker had access to other skilled workers and specalised machenery.
    At a guess tillers were roughed out while wet/green with saws,planes and draw knife then dried and seasoned. Finishing would then probably be with files (we might call them rasps) and sanding.
    Alternitvly a friend Daniel Diehl (Constructing Medieval Furniture, isbn0-8-8117-2795-5) maintains that during the midleages the process of aging and curing wood was unknown or unused. Wood being plentifull you would chose a piece with a very straight grain to prevent warping and work the whole tiller wet.
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Todd the archer on Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:14 pm

    Hi Testhero, most of what you said sounds good. But I don't completely agree that they didn't season their wood. Certainly the makers of English longbows allowed their staves to season, sometimes for years. Though they probally partially roughed them out while green being easier to work and to speed up the drying process.

    Todd
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by testhero on Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:13 pm

    Yeah Todd the Welsh longbow is the example I always used while arguing wood with Daniel but it is the only example of seasoning wood I can find. Yes they do shape the stave before drying. There is a particular shape to cut them to to ensure a good finished longbow.
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by mac on Sun Apr 03, 2011 7:48 pm

    Testhero,

    I'm with ya' about roughing the tiller while it is green, but it really has to dry before you can finish the "nut well". Other wise the bone bearing blocks will cause the tiller to check when it tries to shrink.

    I find it easy to imagine the old makers roughing out stocks, and then leaving them alone for a year or so before they complete them. This would be unsatisfying you an I, because we are making them one at a time, but to a pro, it might all be part of the rhythm of process. He might have hundreds of partially completed tillers drying peacefully on shelves in his shop. I have seen videos of modern Korean boyers who leave large numbers of composite hand bows in all different states of completion, hanging in the shop to dry.
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Geezer on Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:14 pm

    Working green wood? There is certainly evidence for green wood (treen) being used by medieval wood-turners.
    On the other hand, ship-builders have been using wood seasoned in cold, fresh water for many centuries, as have instrument builders. So I would say medieval bowyers must have been cognizant of the advantages of seasoning wood.
    As for more wood being available in the old days, there may have been more wood on the planet, but an ideal tree fifty miles inland might be practically unobtainable. I once read an interview with a harpsichord maker/restorer, who said the wood in very old instruments was often surprisingly bad. It looks like medieval/renaissance craftsmen mostly had to make do with what was available.
    On a related subject, the best yew wood for longbows was grown on plantations in the uplands of Spain and Poland. Wine importers in England were required to import so many yew staves for every tun of wine, and even then, bowyers were only allowed to make a certain percentage of their longbows in yew.
    So I'm afraid the whole question of seasoned vs. green wood may require more research. Geezer

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by 8fingers on Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:00 pm

    See if you can find a translation of Jacques-Andre Roubo's (1769- 1775) book L'art du Menuiser ( the Art of the Woodworker)4 volumes. My sources say there isn't one but they could be wrong. Clear illustrations from the extracts I've seen.
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by testhero on Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:05 pm

    mac
    I'm with ya' about roughing the tiller while it is green, but it really has to dry before you can finish the "nut well". Other wise the bone bearing blocks will cause the tiller to check when it tries to shrink.

    In furnature making they placed the dowel holes off set so that the predictable shrinkage of the wood pulled the piece togeather as it dryed they may have used a similar technique using an oversize hole that shrinks trapping the bone blocks in place.

    I find it easy to imagine the old makers roughing out stocks, and then leaving them alone for a year or so before they complete them. This would be unsatisfying you an I, because we are making them one at a time, but to a pro, it might all be part of the process. He might have hundreds of partially completed tillers drying peacefully on shelves in his shop.

    Yes I can Imagine that too. I just can't find any documentation to shed any light on it. I have seen illustration of a crossbowers workshop with bows at all stages of production around the workshop but unfortunatly no handy stacks of Tillers or rough outs drying to confirm that they seasoned the wood first.
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by testhero on Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:37 pm

    geezer
    Working green wood? There is certainly evidence for green wood (treen) being used by medieval wood-turners.
    On the other hand, ship-builders have been using wood seasoned in cold, fresh water for many centuries, as have instrument builders. So I would say medieval bowyers must have been cognizant of the advantages of seasoning wood.

    Yes I think that it is probable that the tillers were seasoned but I can't prove it and it is possable to make a tiller without seasoning.

    As for more wood being available in the old days, there may have been more wood on the planet, but an ideal tree fifty miles inland might be practically unobtainable.

    We have plenty of detail and illustration on lumbering in the middleages temporary camps or comunities of crafts people would often set up in the forests to produce lumber and or finished items to ensure a good supply of material and prevent having to transport the large amounts of waste material.

    I once read an interview with a harpsichord maker/restorer, who said the wood in very old instruments was often surprisingly bad. It looks like medieval/renaissance craftsmen mostly had to make do with what was available.

    Yep. and they had to also subsitute for woods that were otherwise prohibited or reserved for other trades.(eg ash cherry elm)

    On a related subject, the best yew wood for longbows was grown on plantations in the uplands of Spain and Poland. Wine importers in England were required to import so many yew staves for every tun of wine, and even then, bowyers were only allowed to make a certain percentage of their longbows in yew.

    They were allowed to make as many bows of yew as they liked. There was just almost never enough to be had. It was very carefully controlled/rationed for a long periods of time.

    So I'm afraid the whole question of seasoned vs. green wood may require more research.

    Yeah I think I have Dragged the topic off Course some what. So now that everyone is awear that tillers may have been fashioned out of green wood and Were almost certainly roughed out green we can get back to how to fashion bows using the tradition of woodcrafting surviving to us, that of seasonded lumber.

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Frode on Sat Apr 09, 2011 9:04 pm

    testhero wrote:
    ... question of seasoned vs. green wood may require more research.

    Yeah I think I have Dragged the topic off Course some what. So now that everyone is awear that tillers may have been fashioned out of green wood and Were almost certainly roughed out green we can get back to how to fashion bows using the tradition of woodcrafting surviving to us, that of seasonded lumber.

    To the contrary, I find the green wood discussion informative! It does seem logical to start with green wood, and from what (little) I've read of green wood work, something the size of a crossbow tiller would dry fairly quickly, and would certainly be easier to rough into shape while still green. I've been puttering around with a piece of kiln dried red oak, chiseling a groove into it, and green wood would make the whole process much easier!
    Keep it coming!
    Thanks,
    Frode
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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by testhero on Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:13 pm

    Well if geezer can point to some resources on the shipwrights technique of seasoning wood in cold fresh water You have the plan for a super special medieval crossbow build.

    Some of the surving informatoin on Medieval and renasence wood working with draw knives and spokeshaves is from the pattern makers guild-craft. Various texts on using spokeshaves to fashion longbows are still exant.

    If you are fortunate enough to know a saboton-clog maker they are one of the few who still train with all the right tools. I figure there has to be video of them at work.

    If you start with a felled tree you will need wedges and and an adze to fashion your starting billet/s fortunatly the techniques of splitting are fairly common and shaping with an adze not too uncommon (mind your toes)

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by mac on Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:06 am

    I am sure that it a true that shipwrights stored their timber under water. There are period engravings that show the great pools they had at the dockyards for this purpose. I have also read of "seasoning" long bow stock by letting it sit in a a stream for several years.

    I don't know what this is supposed to achieve. This is certainly not consistent with the modern idea of "seasoning" of wood. Today we are interested in reducing the moisture content until it is in equilibrium with ambient humidity.

    Can someone explain this discrepancy?

    I am sure that the shipwrights knew what they were doing. On the other hand, I never trust what I read about how longbows "should be made".

    Mac

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by JMC on Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:09 am

    I think it's europeennnes cow horn with a piece of yew to stiffen the doll .
    This method was used for certain wooden bow in europe

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    Re: Non power tool working information

    Post by Troodontid on Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:49 am

    heh heh, I made a similar topic to this one just before I noticed it...good thing I deleted that one and read this one. No sense in clogging up the forum with the same questions over and over. Besides, this is one is plenty helpful.

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