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    Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

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    stoneagebowyer
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    Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:14 pm


    Hello, fellow Guild members.

    I am just beginning this thread, and please be advised that I will add as I have the proper content and photographs to add value to this thread.

    To take this back to the beginning of this project, Mike in Wisconsin has commissioned me to build a German style crossbow incorporating two key components, a heavy hand-forged prod by the German scholar and prod maker Jens Sensfelder, and a cranequin made by Matuls in Poland.

    Both Mike and I agree that the German style is our favorite style. Others are very worthy (such as the Spanish style bows found in the Padre Island shipwreck, Northern European, Finish and other regional styles), but for beautify and functionality, the German style is an ideal to strive toward.

    I am keeping the use of power tools to a minimum for this build. That means mainly the use of the adz (my very favorite tool, and mine is a hand-forged replica of a Norse adz found at Hedeby), draw knife (some Roman-period hand-forged knives as well as a 19th century drawknife I treasure), spoke shave, rasps, and files, and cabinet scrapers. I will be using very limited use of power tools, primarily a drill press, and a 7x10 bench top lathe for turning the rolling nut. Top deck (table) inlaying will be done using chisels and mallet (large mortising chisels and a wonderful new set of Stanley Sweetheart chisels I’ve wanted for a long time, since I do so much work with chisels for crossbows and other types of projects.

    Inlaying of bone will also be executed underneath around the tickler inlet, in the nose of the bow, and into the sides of the tiller following specifically the circa 1475 Southern German crossbow on display at the Higgins Armory in Worchester, Massachusetts. The tiller with be asymmetrical as per the Higgins bow and other historic examples, as well.

    Extra efforts will be put into the safety and durability of this bow by building a reinforced rolling nut unit and mortising the entire unit into the body of the tiller. Nut lugs will be reinforced with heavy steel pins. The front area just behind the prod socket will be reinforced with a steel rivet, as well. Trigger sear and trigger will be treated as well.

    The specs on this bow are:

    Bow No. 116

    String length: 645mm / 25.39”

    Cross Section in Center: 40mm x 11.5mm / 1.57” x .452”

    Cross Section on Outer Limb: 31mm x 8mm / 1.220” x 0.314”

    Bracing: 65mm / 2.559”

    Spanned: 150mm / 6.102”: Weight: 367 kg / 807.4 lbs.

    Spanned: 160mm / 6.299”: Weight: 403kg / 886.6 lbs.

    Bow Weight: 1908g / 4 lb. 3 oz

    The primary deviation from history will be the use of modern adhesives for gluing various components, and I feel that is a small price to pay for durability.

    Bow strings will closely follow historic examples, and will be rated for far higher in breakage than the weight of Jens’ prod. I am making strings out of high-quality hemp, as well as linen and possibly modern B-50. I built a new string making jig, and fabricated a very large serving tool to accommodate large rolls of material. I have a good supply of various sizes of hemp thread, and some beautiful rolls of 4mm three strand hemp rope for the bow’s bridle. The bridle hole will be round, in keeping with this period.

    Tiller will be black walnut. I selected two large timbers, and the tiller will be one piece construction, as per originals, not laminated construction. I have sources all the basic materials by now, including the wood, all required bone, antler, and steel.

    Right now, the nut is in process, and I am sourcing a craftsmen who can perform heat treating for me. I will as necessary engage other craftsmen such as a blacksmith for other parts if I feel it is warranted and will give Mike the crossbow he wants and deserves.

    This is a big, big challenge, but I think of it as playtime on a grand scale. When the bow is finished, I have a friend, a combat veteran (armor branch, or DAT, but a good DAT) who will be helping me with critical testing (chronograph, distance shooting, penetration, and so on), with appropriate photo and data collection. I am also documenting the entire build very carefully, and will produce an illustrated document to present with the crossbow. A nice coincidence is that at my outdoor club (Franklin County Sportsmen http://fclsc.org/ ), we are finishing building a brand new outdoor archery range, a goal I have been working toward for the past 5+ years, and it will be ready in more than enough time to do proper testing, plus we have a 200 yard rifle range for more long distant testing of the bow. With some care and extra precautions, we can go for more distance for flight shooting.

    That is all for now. Look for updates as they become available. Any feedback, insights, or suggestions are as always very welcome. This forum has been a catalyst for tremendous improvements of my existing skills and a source of invaluable new information, and I value all of you who contribute this site.

    Thanks,

    Dane
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by mac on Mon Apr 09, 2012 6:13 pm

    Dane,

    That sounds like fun!

    If you are serious about wanting feedback, it would be good to post your sketches and plans before you cut anything. I am always delighted to offer my opinions while a thing is still changeable. Once it is under way, though, I feel bad about saying "ya' know, ya' really should have...".

    Let me offer a couple of observations, right now, though.

    The proposed pins in the fingers of the nut are probably not necessary. I have never seen them on authentic bows of this size. They are really only present on crossbows of extraordinary strength. If you use good antler, they won't needed, and if you don't use good antler they wont be enough.

    I think your decision to use modern adhesives is probably a good one. I have never been able to keep bone glued to wood without epoxy. whenever I have used hide glue to secure my nut bearing blocks, they get lose. It's clear that our ancestors did it with natural glues of some sort, but I certainly don't know how.

    Mac
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:39 am

    Thanks for the great response, Mac. I will take your advice to heart and be sure and post ahead of some important operation or step. Not needing the pins in the nut ears is good news, and one less step. The antler I use I obtain from Moscow Hide and Fur, and every product I have ever gotten from them has been top quality, including the latest antler I am using.

    On ancient glues, Asiatic composites were and still are made using a kind of fish glue (from the bladder of a certain type of fish, if my memory serves right), and that is supposed to be the finest of the natural glues. Maybe they did something similar in medieval Europe? We need 15th century shop notes! Smile

    I look forward to sharing this project with you and the rest of the community.

    Yours,

    Dane
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:14 am

    BTW, if you go the fclsc website, and click on "archery," you will see myself as a Roman auxilia archer shooting a very nice real composite bow, not a fiberglass simulation. Ignore the glasses (safety trumps accuracy) and the car in the background Smile
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by Basilisk120 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:05 pm

    Just checked out the archery pic, Nice bow Dane, I have had an itch lately to get a "horse bow" just to try out. Where did you get it or is it something you made?



    As to period glues. I fairly certain fish glue was know in medeveil Europe as it is just a high quality, clarified Hide Glue. The glue comes from Isenglass, the dried remains of fishes swim bladders. Isenglass can be found in brewing stores, though I haven't tried making glue from it.



    But to glue bone to to wood I wonder if the prefered glue would be Casin Glue (cheese glue) It dried hard, more cement like, and is water proof. I have seen a couple of examples of chees glue in action and it does make strong bond.



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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:44 pm

    The bow was borrowed from a comrade in Legio III (I did make all the clothing you see, at least ha ha). He I believe got his from a maker in Eastern Europe, one of the "horse bow" makers who does offer actual composites too, rather than just the fiberglass models. And it is a very sweet shooter. He refused to part with it, and I dont blame him. Romans did use composite bows, as evidence by bone ear reenforcements at at least one archeological site.

    I do have one of the fiberglass ones as a knock around fun bow. It is a ton of fun to shoot and always really impresses folks who shoot it with how it performs. And it is nearly indestructable, being made of fiberglass.

    Cheese glue! I have never heard of that. Does it taste good with wine and crackers? Smile But the waterproof charactaristic sounds very interesting to me. I will have to look more into this kind of glue. Glues do facinate me.

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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by Basilisk120 on Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:54 pm

    Here is were I found out the info on cheese glues: www.rocks4brains.com/glue.pdf (Warning PDF) It contains all sorts of interesting info on Period glues. Maybe more info than you want buts its a good read and my go to source for all things medevial glue.



    But alas I don't think the cheese glue would be good on crackers with the lime and all.

    Becareful with making the glue, the PDF goes into the details and the warning and what not but it seems like kind of pain to make.


    Last edited by Basilisk120 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:51 am; edited 1 time in total



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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:47 am

    That is a seriously good document, Basilisk. Thanks for providing it!
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by mac on Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:37 am

    Basilisk120 wrote: The glue comes from Isenglass, the dried remains of fishes swim bladders. Isenglass can be found in brewing stores, though I haven't tried making glue from it.

    I have made glue from Isenglass which I bought from an herb store. It came in thin sheets, which I broke up and steeped in water. The resulting glue worked well for sinew backing.



    Basilisk120 wrote: But to glue bone to to wood I wonder if the prefered glue would be Casin Glue (cheese glue) It dried hard, more cement like, and is water proof. I have seen a couple of examples of chees glue in action and it does make strong bond.

    I have thought about the possibility of using cheese glue for holding the bone to the wood, but have not tried it. It seems like casein glue is the "other great preindustrial adhesive".

    Does anyone know of a source for small quantities of powdered casein glue? A google image search for "casein glue" shows that the Chinese make it, but I haven't found any retailers.

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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by Basilisk120 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:36 pm

    mac wrote:Does anyone know of a source for small quantities of powdered casein glue? A google image search for "casein glue" shows that the Chinese make it, but I haven't found any retailers.

    What you don't want to buy a ton of the Casein Glue from an importer? tongue

    I think the best source for the strong casin glue would be to make it yourself, unfortuantly. If you want to try weak casin glue then Elmers would work. Turns out that is form a Casin glue and the cow mascot is because the glue is made from milk.



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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by mac on Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:05 pm

    Strangely enough, I don't really want shipping container of the stuff. I could stand to have a pound or two. Hell, I might even find use for a 5gal bucket of powder. I suppose that it probably keeps well as long as it's dry.


    As far as I can tell, Elmer's *used to be* a casein glue, but they switched over to a PVA formula. This link http://nautarch.tamu.edu/CRL/conservationmanual/File2.htm says they switched to PVA "20 years ago", but I think is has really been quite a bit longer than that.

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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by Basilisk120 on Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:49 pm

    Ahh so that's why it no longer tastes good Razz



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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by stoneagebowyer on Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:57 pm

    Mac, I took a look, and it seems impossible to find anymore, if you dont want to resort to importing the stuff in mass quanitities.

    Basilisk, it still peels so nice off the fingers, however. Smile

    Pictures soon, but I just finished turning the antler. Center drilling and facing is next. It went well, and is a really nice hunk of antler. Shed antler, too. I always feel better knowing that.

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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by Armbrustier on Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:44 pm

    Hi Mac!

    Powdered casein glue is sold in Sweden! Do you want some?
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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by mac on Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:16 pm

    Thanks Micke! ....but it does seem crazy to ship it all the way over here.

    I have been in contact with a representative of a casein glue manufacturer here in the states. It looks like I can buy (relatively) small quantities from them.

    The rep. from National Casein http://www.nationalcasein.com/ was very helpful. http://www.nationalcasein.com/ Apparently, most of their glues have a lot of plasticizers, de-foamers, buffers, fillers, etc. He thought that their product called "4420" was the one with the least additional ingredients, and was the closest thing they make to plain old "cheese glue". Their minimum order is $60, and he thinks that will get me a few pounds of powdered glue.

    I will probably get some. Since it will be more glue than I need, I will have some available. Is anyone interested?

    Mac

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    Re: Heavy German Crossbow Build Announcement

    Post by 8fingers on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:05 pm

    I think I saw a recipe for casien glue in one of the Tradition Bowyer's Bibles.; I'd double check the library for a 'Formulary", a 19th century recipe book for just about everything a person could need from paint to tooth paste.

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