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Crossbows - Everything about Building, Modding, and Using your Crossbow Gear

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» 12th Century Chinese Crossbow Chronographed
by stuckinthemud1 Fri Nov 24, 2023 3:50 pm

» Crossbow Stock
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» [solved]Skane/Lillohus crossbow thread
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    finally started my first composite bow

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    stuckinthemud1
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:34 am

    Wish me luck guys, I've just finished roughing out all the horn pieces I need for my first composite bow, all of them a lot shorter than I would like. First discovery, you can't straighten horn with a sideways curve!! Now I have to shape, champfer, groove and glue about 30 horn strips; should keep me busy 'til Spring.
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    Post by kenh Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:41 am

    I could have told you that you can't straighten side curved horn.

    You absolutely do not need to grove the horn and the core.  That technique was used only by one segment of the hornbow industry, late Turkish/Ottoman Empire.  The vast majority of wood-horn composite bows throughout history were just glued flat-to-flat.  As long as you have adequate primer-coats of fish glue, then the 15/85 fish-horn glue blend will adhere properly.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Mon Sep 30, 2019 3:34 pm

    Hi Ken, thanks for chiming in on this. I did not know most hornbows were not grooved, this will make my Magyar build much more straightforward!! I'd love to read up on that, don't suppose you have a link I can follow?

    Re. crossbows, every cross-section of a historic piece I have found on-line (admittedly this is only 7 or 8 examples) has grooved horn pieces, some interlocking, others not. Also, the detailed analysis of a crossbow lath in the manuscript by Baron du Cosson found the pieces (of something identified as baleen) to be grooved. Since isinglas seems to be very expensive I am likely to use gelatin glue rather than fish glue so the extra feying surface I think will be necessary - would be great if I could avoid grooving though as its hours of extra work!

    Thanks for posting that picture of a horn bow core to this forum a while back, its been a really useful resource for me.

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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Tue Oct 01, 2019 3:59 pm

    OK, so I have a digital copy of Die Hornbogenarmbrust which I just transferred to my phone so I can zoom in close on the images therein. Looks like you're correct about the grooving being optional Ken, from what I could see the shorter highly stressed bows were grooved, though sometimes the grooves were little more than deep scratches, while the large wall mounted bows don't always seem to have been grooved. Many of the bows with grooved horn pieces had non-interlocking grooves. Really wish I could speak German.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:37 am

    I started cutting out the horn pieces a long time ago, now I have (hopefully) cut enough out, all oversized.  I am steadily filing it all straight, true and a mm or 2 oversize, boiling and straightening pieces as I go.  I have about 20 12 inch pieces, about the same number of 8 inch long pieces, and about 8 12 inch long curved pieces I might use as recurved tips.   I have a few design decisions to make, the main one being whether to use a wood core.  I am very reliably told by someone who knows that if I do not use one the bow will be between 120 and 150kg in draw weight, less complex to build and more reliable in use.  I am also told the wood core adds relatively little to the draw weight.  The lessons of history imply a wooden core is not necessary as they had largely disappeared  from use by the late Gothic.  Still, coming from an archery background, a wooden core is what I know best and not using on is very counter-intuitive, although there is a class of native American horn bows that do not use a wooden core.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Thu May 28, 2020 4:04 am

    Well, there are some advantages to lock-in,  found a metal soft enough that I can work with it, made a grooving tool, am now about 1/4 of the way into assembling the horn matrix.  Doesn't look like much huh?
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    Post by banuvatt Thu May 28, 2020 4:59 pm

    I have seen people use hacksaw blades to score bow backing and core laminates. I am sure you could apply the same concept to horn as well.
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    Post by stuckinthemud1 Fri May 29, 2020 12:40 am

    I found an old builder's trowel, mild steel over 1mm thick. Makes an excellent grooving tool. Every piece is grooved but only to about 1mm . They are sized about 15 times before gluing together. Seems to be working

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