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.