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    Starting a New One

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    Post by OrienM Wed Dec 28, 2016 1:12 pm

    First topic message reminder :

    Greetings all,

    Well, I had to do it eventually...looks like I'm going to be building another crossbow. The dang things really are addicting! My last build is only a couple years old, but I just know I can work out the last few little bugs on this next one (or maybe the one after that, lol! Razz )

    Since my current Xbow is rather big and beefy, this one's intended to be compact, but powerful, with a short, heavy (appx. 200#) wood/sinew prod, antler socket reinforcements, and a bone table for wear resistance. The tiller will also be fairly short, probably of walnut wood, and carved in that attractive, curvy German renaissance (AKA short&fat Cool ) style. I'm still debating how to make the trigger; most likely a simple tickler/roller nut setup, but I might attempt some kind of three-axle design if I feel ambitious.

    The other important detail I want to include is a canted/offset tiller, as sometimes seen in old crossbows. I'm having issues with the sight picture when I shoot my big bow; basically it's hard to get my eye exactly centered above the bolt, so I have to aim somewhat to the right of the target. I think shifting the rear of the tiller over to the right by an inch or so may solve the problem.

    The project isn't very far along, still mostly in the materials-gathering stage. I have the prod core roughed out of fresh-cut osage orange wood, which still needs to dry out a bit. I also have a moose antler base ready to go for the nut and socket reinforcements (which I will probably start on next), and a few other odds and ends including a bit of leftover sinew. Everything else still needs to be sourced. A pic of the goodies so far:

    Starting a New One - Page 2 DSCI0003_zpsizypki5i

    This is likely going to be an exceedingly slow build Rolling Eyes  but I'll post updates as I proceed...thanks for looking folks!
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    Post by OrienM Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:45 pm

    After more consideration I've decided to do the prod core over  Embarassed. 26" is just too short, I fear, to be very efficient, and might actually be unsafe at the high draw weights I'm after.

    The new core will be 32" long overall, 30" NTN, and 2" wide at center. I'm lucky enough to have access to a grove of osage orange trees, so I just went and cut another piece. As I usually do, I'm working the wood down close to finished size while still green; it's much easier to carve freshly-cut osage, and a smaller piece dries faster.

    After rough-carving with an axe, I use the little hand plane shown for much of the finer carving. This has long been one of my favorite bowmaking tools; due to a curved sole and blade it deals well with non-flat surfaces, and can be used one-handed so I don't need a vise or shaving horse. After that, the scraper (sitting on the stave) is used for smoothing out the plane marks.

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    Post by c sitas Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:04 pm

    Orein; That little block plane of yours is a story all it's own. It's a beauty. What is amazing is, how fast you can move wood with one of these. I don't have a wooden one, just an old cast model about 5.5 inches long.I like your second thoughts here.26" is really stout , not allowing for too much draw length while still keeping the power up.
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    Post by OrienM Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:41 pm

    Thanks! I'm a little bit of a plane collector myself, I probably own a dozen or so in different sizes and shapes. This little plane is one I made myself, it's difficult to find these inexpensively as they're mostly used by musical instrument makers. Planes are awesome; you really can take a lot of wood off quickly, but in a controlled way.

    I finished most of the rough-carving of my new prod yesterday, and added some deflex (steamed the prod under foil on the kitchen stove, then placed the tips on blocks of wood and stood in the middle of the prod to push it into a curve..crude but it works!).

    The piece of wood has quite a few knots, but seems like it's going to work out fine once backed. The larger dimensions seem quite a bit more reasonable, too Cool . I'll let the roughed-out prod dry a bit, then carve the nocks in and scrape and sand everything smooth.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prod6_zpsv0dzw9ev
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    Post by c sitas Sun Jan 22, 2017 2:00 pm

    Orien, I had a lucky break a number of years ago. Was at a rumage sale and found a bout a dozen of these but, all ,except two were cut in a profile. I cut some off and redone them. I like your bow, it's coming along great.
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    Post by OrienM Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:38 am

    While the prod dries, I'm getting started cutting up bone for table and inlays. These are locally found cow bones, which I simmered in soapy water for a few hours to remove leftover flesh and oil, and kill any germs, then sawed up into 'planks' for further cutting. Most of the rough sawing is done on the bandsaw; for final thinning and smoothing of the bone slabs, a very sharp handplane (once again) works very well.

    Most of the slabs are rather short, but after taking the pic I managed to cut one nice-sized strip about 8" long out of a rear shinbone, which I'll use for the table inlay.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Bone2_zpsc398lpxn
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    Post by OrienM Thu Jan 26, 2017 11:17 am

    Further work on bone inlays. Based on the prod dimensions, I'm figuring on a 4" brace height and 6" power stroke; the inlays have been sized to match.

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    Post by Gnome Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:27 pm

    Nice Progress! I need to try working with bone soon. I've always preferred metal and plastic because of the uniformity, but last spring I did my first project with an animal sourced component- a large fighting knife with buffalo horn scales. That came out pretty nice, so my prejudice against working with animal parts is fading. Funny thing is I lived in Moscow Idaho for a couple years about 20 years ago, long before I was into the crossbow business, oblivious to the number one commercial source of critter bits in the US.
    The offset tiller idea is worth trying, I've had good experience with it.
    Keep the updates coming!
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    Post by c sitas Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:13 am

    Orien, I've made several powder horns. Three of which I flattened  for a different style. Can the larger bones your using be flattened also?
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    Post by OrienM Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:30 am

    Thanks for the comments! Gnome, I would sure love to visit Moscow Hide and Fur Very Happy...their website is amazing! I've always been attracted to animal-based materials for crafts...I like the idea of sourcing stuff directly from nature, so I tend to avoid plastics and composites whenever possible. I started carving bone back when I was making guitars in the 1990's, often using commercial blanks, but I also cut my own blanks from whole bones at times.

    As far as I know, you can't flatten or heat-bend bone like you can horn...you are kind of stuck with the shapes and sizes the bones will produce. To me, the process most resembles stone carving, but bone is soft enough to be worked with hand tools, planed flat and so on. It's not the easiest material ever to work, but certainly very pretty stuff when cleaned and polished.

    I've been realizing lately just how many different animal-based materials will be going into this bow: moose antler for the nut and blocks, sinew and hide glue for prod backing, rattlesnake skin to cover the sinew, bone for inlays, horn for the bolt clip and/or sideplates, plus the beeswax and shellac that will be used for weatherproofing. Quite a menagerie!
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    Post by OrienM Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:52 am

    I took me a while to collect sufficient sinew for the job, but I finally sinew-backed my prod. A few pics of the process...

    After shaping and rough-sanding, the back was roughened up using a hacksaw blade as a toothed scraper, then sized several times with thinned hide glue (knox gelatine). The texturing and sizing both help the first sinew layer to bond firmly.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prodsized_zps0ak75kfz

    After the sizing coats dried, I began laying up the sinew. Shredded sinew is soaked in glue until soft, then placed on the back and gently smoothed out by hand. I've come to prefer laying on each sinew thread individually, rather than in bundles, as I think it makes for a denser, more homogeneous backing.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prodsinew1_zpsaxe2mq9g

    Continuing the process...

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prodsinew2_zpsalcp9vbz

    After applying a good thick layer, I let it dry, then carved and sanded some material from the nocks to improve their shape.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prodsinew3_zpstse4coea

    Afterwards, I laid up one more layer of sinew to smooth everything out. After drying, the sinew layer is about 3/8" thick at the prod center, tapering to perhaps 3/16" at the nocks.

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Prodsinew4_zpsq7s9ugr7

    Now the waiting begins tongue ...the sinew needs to dry and cure for at least a month or so before the prod can be tillered. This will give me time to make a tillering rig...basically a scrap 2x4 notched so I can bind the prod in at the correct angle, with a rope stirrup and and cocking-rope lugs added to allow me to draw the bow.
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    Post by c sitas Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:06 am

    Orien, YOU, are a true craftsman. You know watching what you are doing would remind me of overlaying fiberglass. The sinew strikes me as such.  Really cool for an herk like myself to learn something more on this site.You have a great collection of pics. too. Thank you.
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    Post by OrienM Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:36 am

    Thanks for the kind words c sitas! Glad you are enjoying the thread...I'm very happy to contribute, as I've learned an awful lot from this forum.

    I can definitely see the resemblance to fiberglass work (which I've tried exactly one time, I once helped an artist friend build a giant plucked chicken from fiberglass and styrofoam, lol cyclops). A nice thing about sinew-working is the lack of fumes, everything is nontoxic and water-based.
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    Post by c sitas Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:21 pm

    Orien ,  I am familiar with the Konx product you mention but, I never would've dreamed about using it as you describe.I used to do buck skinning years back. It was really fun and enlighting to live 1840 and before ,"on the weekends". I learned a lot. Could sneak by as a look alike blacksmith. Was fun , can brain my own leather. Never made a bow from scratch though. Arrows and most anything in black powder. I still stand here in awe of your doings here.I almost have garnered enough nerve to try your style bow . It looks simple enough but, that's the trouble. About how many hours are you talking to get to where you are waiting for things to dry , as you were saying. here.?
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    Post by OrienM Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:56 am

    I'd guess I put about 8 hours into the sinewing process, spread out over a week or so...this is including time spent shredding up sinews into threads. I use about the slowest possible method, gluing down one thread at a time...a lot of folks apply sinew in bundles, which is quite a bit faster, if somewhat less precise. Sinew backing is actually pretty forgiving, I encourage you to give it a try!

    Knox gelatin is just very highly refined hide glue (or bone glue, effectively the same thing...pure collagen). It works great, and is cheaper and more readily available than the granulated hide glue sold for woodworking. (Knowing this gives a new dimension to eating jell-o, lol... Shocked )

    Buckskinning and blackpowder shooting sure look like fun! I need to make it to a rendezvous some day, and check it out. One of my long-term craft goals is to eventually build myself a muzzleloading rifle, likely from a kit but I hope to do as much of the metal and woodwork myself as possible.
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    Post by c sitas Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:40 am

    Orien, before all the push against gun shows came on , you could pick up the needed parts piece meal ,very cheap. Some how most all the gun dealers have forgotten who made them . If you take your time and really look , you can still piece meal a good black powered weapon. The barrel will most likely be your most expensive. Also you mentioned about the rendevous, that's the best place to look, cause most skinners are great people and ready to help. Mostly not of the highway robber types. Also, what was your choice of wood for your prod, I'm thinking of giving it a go.
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    Post by MePilot1 Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:36 pm

    Hi!
    Wasn't on this forum for a while. Orien, your new project is very interesting and exciting. Also from the first pictures I understood that it will be a quality work.
    After all, the composite bow of natural materials is a rare thing nowadays. If the bow will perform well in shooting, plz leave a detailed description on the technology.
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    Post by OrienM Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:07 pm

    Thanks for commenting MePilot1! Yes, natural composites, even simple wood/sinew ones, do seem to be rather unusual these days...I'm actually hoping I can improve their popularity a bit by posting about them here. The technology is quite effective, historically relevant/interesting,and well within the reach of the home craftsman. I definitely intend to get full measurements of this build, as to draw weight, bolt speed, etc.

    c sitas, this prod is osage orange wood - my usual choice for bows and prods, as it's incredibly tough and grows locally. Hickory or Yew wood would be good choices too. A nice thing about crossbow prods is the short lengths; it's easier to find short pieces that are fairly knot-free, and generally less expensive if purchasing wood, too.
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    Post by OrienM Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:56 am

    Starting a New One - Page 2 Tillerjig1_zpslncnjdxd

    I had some time off work this week, so I was able to get my tillering jig built. It's just a 2x4 roughly shaped like a crossbow tiller, with a paracord stirrup/bridle and lugs for a cocking rope so I'll be able to draw the prod. The jig has marks at 4" (brace height) and at 10" (maximum draw length); I may add another mark at 9" in case I feel the need to shorten the powerstroke a bit.

    The sinew back is "dry" at this point but probably still curing. I did go ahead and flex the prod a bit, but only just enough to see that the limbs are bending an even amount. I intend to give it a few more weeks of drying time before tillering in earnest...in the meantime, I'll twist up a string for it.
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    Post by c sitas Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:01 am

    Orien, Fantastic. The genius in you is amazing.Your results just look so cool. As a fairly old fart, I'm totally elated.I see you were looking ahead also  the way you made your nocks. Having patience  at this point is really hard but, much needed. Keep up the good work and thank you for the pics.
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    Post by Crossbowmen Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:29 pm

    Really love the work you put in to the build. As c sitas said patience is a must now. I usually rush my build because I have a million ideas. Really like the way you use materials nature granted you. Maybe one day when I'm as good of a builders as you ill make a wooden crossbow.
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    Post by OrienM Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:01 am

    Thank you both for the nice words! Very Happy

    Yes, I need to be patient... nooo. I hate waiting as much as anybody! To avoid temptation, I already removed the rope cocker and bastard string, and put them back on my older crossbow. The jig and prod are stored on a high shelf, where I won't be tempted to mess with them for a few more weeks.

    Onwards to making a string...
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    Post by c sitas Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:24 pm

    Orien, I've been looking on the net since you started. I never thought that there were that many guys into the sinue  stuff. It's fantastic and cool. I got caught up watching an older guy make a horn  bow. He claims it's nothing  without the backing.And with it, he says it one of the fastest bows he's ever shot.

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