How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

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Birka Traders UK
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How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Birka Traders UK » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:58 am

Hello bowyers,

A friend has a yew tree that needs a bit of a trim, some long split off trunks and branches etc.

I understand the basic principle of making a bow, not that I've ever tried and I do not claim to know the nuances of crafting the weapon, but I thought I'd take a look at putting some of this wood away to have a go.

So I have a couple of questions if anyone could help.

How thick a branch do you need to end up with a respectable sized bow?

Any tips for putting the wood away to season etc?

Cheers,
Heath



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JC Milwr
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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby JC Milwr » Mon Sep 12, 2011 2:06 pm

I think anything a wrist thickness or more would be worth keeping. Also the limbs need to be long, at least 6 foot. Yew needs to be seasoned thoroughly, at least 2 years.


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Birka Traders UK
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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Birka Traders UK » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:43 am

Thanks for that.

Well they are all at least as thick as my thigh (I have very svelt thighs though).

Would I be better of cutting/splitting them them into billets for leaving as barkless logs, do you think?



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby lucy the tudor » Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:58 am

I have been told that wood is better dried slowly, with the bark on. Wax over the cut ends helps prevent splitting too. Then keep somewhere dry, where the temperature changes aren't too extreme, if possible, for a year for every inch in diameter.
Sometimes it still splits, but that is the joy of wood.


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Birka Traders UK
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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Birka Traders UK » Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:39 am

There was a stipulation, IIRC, that when wine(?) from Spain was imported, a certain number of staves of yew were to be brought in.

I think it was staves, anyway. Anyone recall what the stipulation was regarding size etc? Were they staves? Were they required to be seasoned staves?



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Merlon. » Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:45 am

Here is the original legislation:-
From:'Edward IV: October 1472: Third Roll, Parliament Rolls of Medieval England. wrote:[To encourage the import of bowstaves.]
Wherefore may it please your highness to consider the foregoing favourably and sympathetically, [and] for the protection and defence of this your said realm, and the prevention of vices and such idleness of your subjects of the same, to ordain, decree and enact by the advice of your lords spiritual and temporal assembled in this present parliament, and by authority of the same, that every foreign merchant and each or any of their factors, attorneys or servants who at any time after Michaelmas next shall bring, send or convey into this land any merchandise in a carrack, galley or ship from the city or country of Venice, or from any other city, town or country whence any such bowstaves have traditionally been brought, sent or conveyed into this land, shall bring, send or convey four bowstaves into this realm every time that they bring, send or convey such merchandise into the same realm with the said merchandise in the same carrack, galley or ship on which any such merchaundise shall be brought, sent or conveyed subsequently, for every ton of merchandise as shall hereafter be contained in every carrack, galley or ship, on pain of forfeiting to your highness 6s. 8d. for every bowstaff not brought, and also that the said bowstaves thus brought, sent or conveyed by the said merchants, their factors, attorneys or servants into this your realm shall be inspected and examined by the mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs or chief officials of the cities or towns within this your realm where any such carrack, galley or ship shall subsequently happen to make its first landing; and the said mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs or chief officials shall assign two highly experienced men to inspect the said staves, and the said two men shall be sworn by the said mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs or officials that they shall truly and impartially mark the said staves which are not good or adequate in the same way that such staves were customarily marked in the past, so that all your [col. b] liege people may recognise them and not be defrauded



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Birka Traders UK
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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Birka Traders UK » Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:33 pm

Legalese: confusing people since day dot.

No, specifics there; just implications.

Thank you though. I appreicate your assistance (and everyone else).

Cheers



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby drawknife » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:27 pm

I have been told to split logs into useable sized pieces down its length to avoid lengthways cracks forming. The logs try to shrink radially which causes tension on the outside. If split they can shrink without splitting. Coat the end grain in wax to stop (or slow down) end cracks. The water evaporates quicker from end grain than from side grain.



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Chris T » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:57 pm

If you are using branches etc see if you can find a booklet on Boughstave bows....called 'making the boughstave longbow' or somesuch: this tells you how to make a bow from green yew. It looks to me as if the guy knows what he is talking about, but having never actually got round to making a proper bow (the yews in the roof!) what do I know?



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby alfred the bowyer » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:04 pm

Take care with yew, it's really poisonous, don't be handling it with cuts on your hands,or breathing dust etc.



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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby Joolz » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:03 am

The jury is out as to whether the toxic taxine in yew is there in sufficient quantity in cut and seasoned wood to make it qualify as 'really poisonous'. Certainly the leaves etc. are poisonous if ingested. But yew has been worked and handled by many cultures for many centuries, including being used to make vessels for food/drink.

You can develop sensitivity to just about any fine wood dust, which is why extraction and masks are recommended for any woodworking that produces fine dust. This is just common sense. But unless you are sensitive (allergic) to yew in the first place, handling and working it, with the proper precautions as to breathing in the dust or allowing it to get in your eyes, should not cause any problems - I have worked with yew for many years with no ill effect (and also laburnum, another supposedly highly toxic wood), but I do react to the dust from other supposedly neutral/harmless woods because I have developed a sensitivity to them.

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alfred the bowyer
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Re: How much yew wood, would you, as a woodchuck...

Postby alfred the bowyer » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:38 am

Agreed Jolz,
but the original post was talking about trimming trees not cut and seasoned timber, I guess I err on the side of caution because my father had problems with it years ago.




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