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Most recent revision 3 March 2003

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Horn and Sinew

3 March 2003

messages1 posted to thread:

Stryker                              04-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            04-Apr-99   
Stryker                              04-Apr-99   
Frey                                 04-Apr-99   
Frank V. Rago                        04-Apr-99   
Adam                                 04-Apr-99   
Stryker                              05-Apr-99   
Adam                                 05-Apr-99   
Adam                                 05-Apr-99   
Stryker                              06-Apr-99   
Adam                                 06-Apr-99   
Stryker                              07-Apr-99   
Stryker                              07-Apr-99   
Adam                                 07-Apr-99   
Adam                                 07-Apr-99   
Stryker                              08-Apr-99   
Adam                                 08-Apr-99   
Stryker                              08-Apr-99   
Frank V. Rago                        08-Apr-99   
Adam                                 08-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            09-Apr-99   
Adam                                 09-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            09-Apr-99   
Stryker                              09-Apr-99   
Howie                                09-Apr-99   
bluelake                             09-Apr-99   
bluelake                             09-Apr-99   
Adam                                 09-Apr-99   
Horn and Sinew                       09-Apr-99   
Frank V. Rago                        09-Apr-99   
Adam                                 09-Apr-99   
Stryker                              09-Apr-99   
bluelake                             09-Apr-99   
Adam                                 09-Apr-99   
ttt                                  10-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            11-Apr-99   
Adam                                 11-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            11-Apr-99   
john                                 11-Apr-99   
Adam                                 11-Apr-99   
bluelake                             11-Apr-99   
Adam                                 12-Apr-99   
Stryker                              12-Apr-99   
John                                 12-Apr-99   
Adam                                 12-Apr-99   
Stryker                              12-Apr-99   
Frank V. Rago                        12-Apr-99   
Adam                                 12-Apr-99   
Tim Baker                            13-Apr-99   
Stryker                              13-Apr-99   
Adam                                 13-Apr-99   
Ti m Baker                           13-Apr-99   
bluelake                             13-Apr-99   
Adam                                 13-Apr-99   
bluelake                             13-Apr-99   
Adam                                 13-Apr-99   
bluelake                             13-Apr-99   
Adam                                 14-Apr-99   
bluelake                             14-Apr-99   
Adam                                 14-Apr-99   
bluelake                             14-Apr-99   
Sam S                                15-Apr-99   
Adam                                 15-Apr-99   
Frank V. Rago                        15-Apr-99   
bluelake                             15-Apr-99   
bluelake                             16-Apr-99   
Adam                                 16-Apr-99   
Sam S                                16-Apr-99   
Adam                                 16-Apr-99   
Sam S                                16-Apr-99   
bluelake                             16-Apr-99   
bluelake                             16-Apr-99   
Adam                                 16-Apr-99   
bluelake                             16-Apr-99   
bluelake                             17-Apr-99   
Adam                                 17-Apr-99   
bluelake                             17-Apr-99   
Adam                                 18-Apr-99   
bluelake                             18-Apr-99   


Subject: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 04-Apr-99

The Turkish horn bow I'm making requires 2 water buffalo horns, 1 dense maple 1 1/2" x 3/4" x 72", 1 dense maple 3 1/2" x 3/4" x 36", sinew, hide glue, Urac 185 and table saw, bandsaw, stationary belt sander, rasps, sandpaper, 16 C clamps, 2" clear pastic tape and know-how to put it all together. I've got all but the know-how.

The directions that I have say to use the bandsaw to cut the "front edge" of the horn. Having never seen a water buffalo, I do not know what this means. Is the front edge of the horn inside or outside of the curl?

I am to cut four 7" pieces from the 3 1/2" x 3/4" x 36" piece of maple for the recurved tips. They are to be glued up in pairs to form two 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 7" sections. My question is at what angle should the recurve be?

I'm having trouble understanding a form that I'm to build for gluing the maple wood to the horn. I think that 13" of handle (cut out of the 72" piece) will be straight, but the illustration that I have of the form (2 pieces of 36" x 18" plywood nailed together and curve w/ bandsaw) shows even curvature. Any advice?

Thanks to all that reply. Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 04-Apr-99

Stryker:

Use the wide, outside curve of the horn. When reducing it in thickness remember that the exterior surface is more weathered and degraded than the interior surface.

Sounds like you need to get hold of the plan maker. Is there a help number or address?

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 04-Apr-99

Tim,

I'm looking at an article in the Primitive Archer mag (Vol 1, Issue 2) by Curtis Byrd. It has the "classic" Turkish horn bow design w/ handle section, 2 limbs, and 2 tips V spliced together which I *think* I prefer. This is the best step by step instructions that I have seen. I don't have a VCR and therefore haven't looked into obtaining a video. If you advise to, I could go that route, though.

One horn looks fresh but the other is like you said, weathered and degraded.

Adam, I think has made bows of this design. Maybe you all can walk me though this. It not a rush project. I should make the MO meet.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frey
Date: 04-Apr-99

Mcpherson did a video with Jeff Schimidt on horn bows I would look at it before I started. I got Gemsbok horn to try first cheaper than water buffalo.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frank V. Rago
Date: 04-Apr-99

Stryker,

When you finish that bow and you want a matching quiver let me know, I just made a quiver from this super sized H20 buffalo I had laying around. It's a little heavier than leather but boy does it look good.

Frey,

Actually my water buffalo horns right now are the same price as the gemsbok unless you want them polished ones.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 04-Apr-99

Stryker:

I started my subscribtion to the Primitive Archer too late to have this issue to comment. It seems to me you have way too much wood to make the bow. You will end up using just 5 to 7 smallish pieces.

I am not sure if it would not be better if you email me at akarpowicz@mta.ca to walk you through (it will take time!).

As to horn. You will need two strips 19" x 1 1/4" x 3/16". Can be a little shorter, but absolutely no less than 16", a little narrower at 1", and min 1/8" (but this is pushing it). The handle and siyah ends can be narrower too than the middle, at min 1/2". Measure the convex sides of horn for length, this is the side you will be cutting off. The concave side can be used (I have one bow now drying with it), but it is hard to get wide enough strips that way, unless the horn is really big. You make the cuts with a bandsaw or by hand if you are patient or very brave and skilled. Horn outside has ridges and sometimes cracks, you must plan the cuts to avoid these defects. Poke with a wire inside the horn to feel where the solid tip begins. If the horn is shorter and you must use it all the way to the base, you will end up with strips concave in cross-section, this is ok.

How long is your bow? I would aim for a 46" if Turkish.

You mention Urac (for horn/wood I understand), I use hide glue, used epoxy once for my first bow which broke anyway (not because of epoxy).

I would be cautious about plastic glues , the bows may require extensive heat treatments to tiller later, hide glue has been proven to survive such treatments, not sure about other glues.

I think it would be better if you e-mail me directly.

The video by Jeff Schimidt can be helpful, also the video of a Korean bowyer by Thomas Duvernay.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 05-Apr-99

Frank:

You reminded me that a couple of months ago I had obtained a swede leather piece from Tandys to make a Dakota Plains Indian type quiver. Still haven't made it, though.

You must have boiled that horn to shape it into a quiver.

Adam:

Helpful info by you above!

Work is the only place that I access to the internet and they frown on personal e-mails. I have been putting off getting a home pc. I need to do that. You can call me at home COLLECT at 901-465-7090 after 6:00 PM central time, if you want to.

Just thinking about cutting that horn makes me nervous. I would think that it would be safer to cut it oversize and then sand it down to size, maybe not?

Yes, 46" was the exact size that I was thinking of, give or take 2" or less, depending on the horn.

What do you think of the idea of gluing w/ Urac two 3 1/2" x 3/4" x 7" pieces of maple together and then cutting the tips out this (which would be the recurved section complete w/ siyahs)? How do you do yours?

Do you boil the stips of horn and use a form to shape them? I take it from reading that the horn is only used in the dustar (middle limb?) sections of this bow. Is this a correct preception?

I can see a problem w/ trying to make weight on this bow because one cannot reduce belly. So it stands to reason that the amount of material used is critical. Is that an accurate assumption?

BTW, what are the white band near the tips on a lot of the pictures that I see on these Turkish horn bows?

Sorry about all the questions. Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 05-Apr-99

Stryker:

Try to visualize the strips of horn of the dimensions I gave above. The strips should not have any sideways twist once made. Sometimes horns are slightly twisted, you need to allow for this when you cut the strips. I temporarily hot glue pieces of wood to horns to support them on the table of the bandsaw, making sure the angles of cut are corect. Horn has its grain (you can usually see whitish chevrons on cut strips), but the grain can be cut across any way you want, it does not matter in horn.

If you will end up with a rounded, concave strip at one (base) end, you must allow for greater thickness along the rest of the strip. In such case the entire cut strip will need to be rounded on the inside to match the base end. The wood will of course be convex in cross-section to fit.

The cut strips have their own curvature which is just about right, you do not need to pre-shape with heat. It is better to have the strips somewhat straighter than your curved wood limbs - it makes it easier to press the horn on the limbs later.

You are right, cut the strips oversize.

The horn covers the handle section and min 2" of siyahs (on old bows the horn goes all the way to the ears). You can use a short piece in the handle section where the bow does not bend, if your strips are too short, but this requires wrapping the joint with sinew. Butt joints are used.

I am not sure about the construction given in the article. I normaly make the recurved tips from a bent or forked branch or a larger piece with curving grain. The angle of 3" tips (ears) to the rest of the siyahs is about 120-130deg. such curved pieces can be made by steam bending a piece of wood about 1/2"x1/2"x8" too. Since on old bows this bend is quite sharp, I prefer to use naturally curved wood. From the ears down you have a V splice of min 3". The width of the ear-V-splice piece is only 1/2" and 1/2" thick. It is better to leave the width a bit more toward the nock ends of the ears to allow for later adjustment of the center line.

If you have enough wood, do not bother to make the handle splices, just use one length, 1/4" x 1 1/2" x 38" and recurve the ends at about 8" radius (about 1/2 of each limb is recurved, handle section is straight). You can glue the handle piece on later, after horn.

You can reduce belly to some degree later during tillering. The bow can be adjusted for weight by heating too. Normally, for a 60-70lb bow the total thickness of limbs at the centre is about 3/8" to 7/16" with approx equal thickness of the components. The limbs are about 1/2" at the handle and about 9/16" at the siyah/ear junction. To optimize efficiency the limbs can be thinner, but for a first bow I would make them thicker for stability.

The bands just below the nocks are wrappings of sinew to re-enforce the nocks. Turkish bows used to have a strip of horn inletted in the ears too.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 05-Apr-99

I just realized speking about the ears I said 3" long. This is to the nocks, you need the ears longer by an inch of course. It is even better to leave them even longer to accommodade an additional "nock" on the belly side for reverse stringing while drying the bow.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 06-Apr-99

Adam:

Good stuff! But I'm afaid that I haven't fully comprended it all. Maybe tonight I'll get some time to study it more.

I'm thinking that I could use some sections of mulberry quarters that I have rather than the maple board for the tips, siyahs and ears. The mulberry has grain at areas of branch growth that would provide natural recurve. Not sure about the angle, though. I've got plenty of mulberry. Those dimensions that you gave me seems on the little side for a static recuvre, but then again I don't have experience. Some of the pictures and illustrations that I've see seem larger. I figure that the middle limb width will be about the same as the horn which is 1 1/4". Would not the V section width be the same as the horn width at the tip?

Did I interpret your posts correctly in that you try to cut the strips out without any twist rather than boil and then use a form to straighten? What if inspite of your effort to do so, you still get twist? Do I need to cut the wood out so that I have curved limb wood to nearly match the curvature of the horn?

Are you filling out the hanlde w/ leather or wood? Which side do you fill out? If wood, do you have trouble with it popping off? Whoops, I've asked more questions that I intended.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 06-Apr-99

Stryker:

The mulberry is good. Pieces with curving grain would be perfect, the grain can be violated, quite a bit too in the siyah sections (not in the ears though), since the wood will be later covered thickly with sinew there.

If you make the base of the V splice wider than the width of the finished ear/knee bend, about 1/2", then you will end up with some of the sides of the V cut off minimizing the contact surfaces. Make a drawing and you will see.

The same would happen if you splice the handle section to the limbs, here the base of the V should equal the final width of limb at this point, about 3/4". In any case I'd suggest to make both limbs in one piece for the first bow. Although the final limb width will be 1 1/8" for a Turk bow, it is better to start with a wider piece, 1 1/2", in case the center line changes. You'll see what I mean later during construction.

I said the handle piece is glued at the centre of the bow after horn. It is easier this way if you use a form to glue horns, the hande wil not be on the way. The piece is wood too of course, filed later to a bulbous shape you see on pictures. The handle and the limbs, together with the siyahs and bottom parts of ears are covered with sinew.

Horn:

Yes, cut the horn to get strips which when laid flat have no sideways bent, or cut generously enough for the bend to be eliminated by cutting off the excess, still retaining sufficient width of the strips. It is impossible to correct such bends with heat.

What I meant about forming wood to match horn curvature is that if your strips are not flat *in cross-section* but concave, then you will have to shape the limbs cross-section to match. This is can happen if your horn is not long enough and you need to use the base of the horns which is rounded and thin there. Such shaping is done with a rounded convex scraper for wood and concave for horn. Just try to cut the strips flat from the start if you can.

I hope this thread will ecourage other horn bow makers to join the discussion too. How do you do it guys?

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 07-Apr-99

Adam:

Its looks like I'll just go ahead and order that video by Jeff Schimidt. They tell me here at work that I can buy a decent VCR for $130 or so. It won't break the budget much worse than its already broken :).

In reading (Jay Massey's - The Bowyer Craft) last night, I find that ancient bowyers did not use a form for gluing their wood to the horn. How they managed to do that, I'm not sure. It would seem easier to me to use a form with clamps. Also read to use hide glue under light pressure. In rereading that article in PA, I see that the Urac was used only for gluing the pieces of maple for recurve section ( I will use mulberry instead). Using hide glue does makes me think about moisture problems, though. Does anybody have any experience with gluing horn to wood with Urac? Do you have any problems with the horn separating from the wood?

I am going to start cutting horn soon. Promise.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 07-Apr-99

Adam:

Also, what is normally used to cover the sinew with? In the article, leather was used, athough it didn't specify what kind. Went by a Tandy store yesterday. They had some black but shiny (purse?) leather. They close April 17.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 07-Apr-99

Stryker:

The Jeff Schmidt video is good, especially for beginners. The other one, the Korean, is more for people who already know how and want to learn more about the use of trad. tools. You can get the VCR in pawn shops cheaply.

The Asian bowyers clamped wood to horn using heavy rope, tightly wound along limbs. I used this method, it works. A special tool, giving greater leverage during the binding process must be used. In the Korean video, the bowyer uses a form, made of a curved piece of wood on the wood side of the assembly, and a short length of rope as a pressure pad on the horn side. The binding rope is then wrapped over the entire sandwich: form, limb, horn and the rope pressure pad. The same form is used for both limbs, that way both limbs have the same curvature. The rope-pressure pad is needed too to exert more pressure over the belly side of horn, where it is flat in this case.

I believe similar form could have been used on Turkish bows, they make a lot of sense. Binding with rope alone, even at enormous tension provided with the lever, can not give equal pressure - the flat wooden side and horn side get much less pressure if any at all, most goes to the sides. There are pictures of Chinese bowyers binding limbs on Manchu style bows. In this case however the horn side is convex on the belly and pressure would be more equalized.

I use clamps now, about every 1 to 1 1//4", a form, the same for each limb, and a pressure pad on the horn side made of short sections (one for each clamp) of wood, joined together with a strip of padding (canvas or felt). The pressure pad has to be concave if horn is covex.

Yes, if the mating surfaces are well made an the fit perfect, hide glue does not need a lot of pressure. This shows the advantage of hide glue in use: it gells and since the gel has sufficient cohesion, the parts would naturally stick and hold together. The key is to use a lot of it, making sure to pre-coat/dry surfaces several times with thinner glue, warm the surfaces well and work fast. Immediately after assembly, you can re-heat the parts to re-liquify glue too, if necessary. I never had any separations of wood from wood or horn.

I'd say, start making the wooden core, to get the feel of things, cut the horn later.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 07-Apr-99

Stryker:

Leather for Turkish bows should be very thin, 0.6mm or so. According to Kani via Hein, best leather comes from horses necks. It is the easiest to use ordinary contact cement to glue it, I would waterproof sinew before this with spar varnish. BTW, the sides were covered too since sinew overlaps the sides.

The leather was painted, usually crimmson red, and decorated with gold flowery or geometric decorations. Very nice. The whole was coated with some kind of waterpoofing resin, I'd use paste wax.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 08-Apr-99

Adam,

Sent off for info on the Schmidt video yesterday. In the TBB 3 there was a statement mentioning that Mcpherson/ Schmidt were working on a book on composite bows. Do you or anyone know what became of this?

Also, while I'm at it, I might as well look into obtaining the Korean video. Where is it available?

Reread the chapter by Schmidt last night in TBB 3. Do you build the Korean design too? If you do, my hat is off to you, they sound extremely complicated to build. Fasinating too.

Thanks, Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 08-Apr-99

Stryker:

I have no idea about the book. Do not loose hope, I am trying to get Jeff Schmidt to join this forum too!

The Korean video is available from Thomas Duvernay at chungho@soback.kornet21.net or tduve@northlink.net.

I made a "Korean style" bow with a little wider limbs and siyahs almost all wood (BTW, I used side pieces of horn, not the out- or inside curved ones). The bow in TBB is not exactly Korean, Korean bows have flexible siyahs, this bow had a wooden reenforcement there making the siyahs stiff. Korean bows are not any more complicated than any other composite.

I got a broken Korean bow from Thomas recently, almost fixed it, it is now drying before re-tiller.

Have you cut your limbs and siyahs yet? When you bend the limbs to shape, pay close attention to avoid even the slightest twist. It is a pain to correct later and these bows do not like twists at all. Once bent, lay them on edge flat on a (flat, check it!) table and see if ends and the handle section are all in contact with the table surface.

Ask away Stryker, let's keep the thread going!

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 08-Apr-99

Adam,

Have I cut the limbs and siyahs yet? Are you kidding? I know what the limbs are, but I'm still not sure what a siyah is? I find the terminology a little fuzzy, there seems to be a different meaning depending on what is read. Is the siyah and the ear the same thing? Something that I read suggested that it was. If the siyahs are the things at the bend of the recurve on the belly sides that the bow string goes between on these bows, they sure look different from bow to bow.

Maybe I'll get some time Saturday to begin in earnest. I'll make it a point to. Still haven't done my taxes, though.

Thanks for the posts, going to put a fine tooth comb thru them.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frank V. Rago
Date: 08-Apr-99

Stryker,

Have you started cutting the horns yet? Let me know how it goes. All this talk is making me want to start building my own horn composite bow.

Adios

Frank


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 08-Apr-99

Stryker:

The siyahs are the entire recurved, stiff sections from the working limbs to the tips, including the ears. This is according to Taybugha in "Saracen Archery" by Latham and Paterson. According to Klopsteg, who translated from Hein (who in turn translated from Kani), siyahs (kassan in Turkish) are the sections betw. the working limbs and the ears. Perhaps someone has a definite answer to this?

Frank:

If I understand correctly, you sell kits for making horn bows. What style of a bow is it for?

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam:

Valuable thread. Hope more join in. Haven't heard back for Jeff yet.

Whale baleen is an interesting material. It seems about half way between bow wood and horn. Baleen is as straight as a board and alomost as flat, up to a hand-span wide, and as long a horse. I've only make one 'Turkish' bow using it, reflexed about half as much as a true Turk. It still draws long and shoots hard after seven years or so. Never got around to it but I've always thought a balleen/wood/sinew bow, 1.25" wide, mid-fifty-inches long, sinewed into maybe twenty-inches of reflex, would be a nice, stable, fast bow. And easy to make--one-piece core, one-piece belly. Lots of design options here. Baleen can be gotten legally now, I believe, as long as not resold.

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 09-Apr-99

Tim, I thought about baleen too as belly material and maybe even as backing. I have a short piece, seems very stiff for it's thickness, stiffer than horn, and tends to separate into narrow strands at one end. I would have no idea where to get it though.

I have not heard from Jeff either, his friend (McPherson?) who posted here as "Horn and Sinew" once could be listening.

Adam


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam:

Yes, seems about halfway between wood in stiffness and elasticity. If you have the whole plank one edge is actuall stiff hair--used to filter krill. But the rest is sound.

I believe John Strunk has used baleen for backing. And it has been used in some fashion I believe by some branch of Eskimo people. Jeff will likely know more about this.

Baleen is strange in that it seems like two thin layers of it were at one time folded over to make the present whole, the two surfaces never quite melding. In some places the two layers can be forced apart, ideal backing thickness. If the wrong portion was used as a belly, sheer forces might cause a problem. Strange stuff. I think I have a mid-length bow's worth laying around, if the moths haven't gotten it. Want some to play with?

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam, Frank, Tim and All:

No, I haven't cut the horns yet. In reading I find that I need to use a "skip tooth" or 4 teeth per inch bandsaw blade. Didn't state what size, though. I've got a 1'2" 4 teeth per inch blade that I going to switch out w/ the 3/8" blade that I have now on my bandsaw. Adam, what blade do you use? Do I start cutting from the base or the tip of the horn? I've got some steer horns that I'm going to practice with. But I'm going to follow Adam's advice and work with the limbs and siyahs first. Another post later on that.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Howie
Date: 09-Apr-99

Ok guys, since we're on the subject of horn and sinew....I am beginning a project for the museum I work for, and for the MT Dept. FW&P, to re-create a couple of bows from the Sheepeater indians that resided in Yellowstone. I have obtained permission to get a couple sets of full-curl bighorn sheep horns from FWP, (still trying to locate a suitable pair). Any way, these bows are made of sheep horn and sinew...nothing else. They were quite short in length, Average 38"- 40" .. The horn strips are butt-joined at the riser/handle , rough side of the horn (exterior) is the belly, and the sinew is glued directly to the horn. Of course, Hide glue must be used. I read that sinew to horn cn be tough to glue, and limbs may have to be wrapped to help with adhesion. Still gathering research on these bows, I have seen a couple photos of the very few that exist in museums. What do you guys know about N. American horn/sinew bows. Don't think that wood cores were used much by the western tribes as far as I have been able to tell. By the way I have read Laubins' book, and Dr. Charles Grayson's stuff...


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam,

Glad to hear the broken bow is coming along; I was meaning to ask you about it. I look forward to seeing it after you finish. Will you make it to Denton Hill?

Stryker,

I have a scan someplace of the Korean bowyer's scraper; I'll find it and post it on the Korean web site (in the next day or two). I have an article in the works on Korean bowyer tools, which will have more pics in it.

Thomas

http://www.ncmc.cc.mi.us/esl/korarch.html


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 09-Apr-99

I just checked and one of the pics was already up. They are not close-ups, but they may give you some idea. Try these two images:

http://www.ncmc.cc.mi.us/esl/MAKEBOW.JPG

http://www.ncmc.cc.mi.us/esl/bowtool1.jpg

The pics I put in the article will be in more detail.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 09-Apr-99

Tim:

Thanks for the offer, I will take you up on this, but not quite now, I must advance a few other projects which now include the famous new design bow. I will send it to you if it works.

Stryker:

I used a 1/4" wide, 6tpi blade. 1/2" wide may be better still, wider blade will not wander off the line. As I mentioned above, it is best to hot glue the horn to pieces of wood/plywood to prop it up on the bansaw table for the desired angle of cut and stability. With less tpi go slow to avoid breaking thinner sections of horn.

Yes, try it on cows horn, but do not waste it! Short pieces of cows horn can still be used on a bow, when butt joined along the limb and wrapped with sinew. There were reports the cows horn can separate into thin sheets, I doubt it.

Howie:

I have no eperience with sheep horn, but I made a very small bow from water buf. horn and sinew, no wood, once. I did the usual slight grooving with a saw blade along the surface of the horn, scrubbed it with a solution of drain cleaner, washed it well and covered with many very thin coats of glue, about 2% I think, before sinewing. It seems to hold, although I did not shoot the bow yet.

Bluelake:

I am not planning to go, I will have my travel budget exhausted at the end of this year for other trips. Thanks for the pictures of the tools. More close-ups would be useful.

Adam Karpowicz

You can start cutting from any end which is more convinient.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Horn and Sinew
Date: 09-Apr-99

Yes, I have been reading the thread. No, I am not John Mcpherson. I am a friend of Jeff Schmidt though.

Tim is correct about the baleen, it does have two definite layers associated with it in which the surfaces never quite become homogenous. And yes, if the wrong portion was used as the belly, sheer forces will cause the baleen to seperate. My friend and I have never used this for building composites because it is expensive and we have enough water buffalo horn, but we have worked with it. Also, the baleen isn't thick enough for our tastes.

Tony


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frank V. Rago
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam,

I make available three gemsbok horn bow kits. Not quite as complicated as the composite horn bows ya'll are making. Although, the split horn bow kits make you work up a sweat cutting the horn if you do it like me by hand. I also make available a variety of horns like water buff. gemsbok, kudu, etc.

Stryker,

Don't sweat cutting that horn if you make a mistake I have a lone horn that I will swap you out if you make a bad cut.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 09-Apr-99

Tony:

Do you have any comments on the horn cutting, siyah/limb splicing, etc. methods I described for Stryker? It helps to have different opinions on things.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 09-Apr-99

Frank:

Thanks for the offer. Its said that cutting the horn is critical. I hope this video I'm getting shows a horn being cut. At any rate, I'm going to try to be sort of perfectly clear before start.

Adam:

In your post on 05-Apr you stated that I needed one length which I take to be 1/4" thick, 1 1/2" wide and 38" in length. My concern is to recurving. Tell me if I am intrepreting this correctly. I am to recurve (thru the use of steam?) 1/2 of each maple limb into reflex at about 8" radius. And then match the horn to it? Seems to me that it would be easier to steam it into recurve to match the curvature of the horn rather than any specific radius. This is not clear to me.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 09-Apr-99

Adam,

Sorry you won't be able to make it to DH; we'll have to get together another time. I'll make more close up pics soon (have it on my list).

Also, for anyone who is interested, I put a couple more pics on the Korean site that might be useful (just use the URL in the above post of mine and substitute the file name). One is a single, of a horn that has been correctly cut (by the Korean bowyer); horn1.jpg

The other one is a multiple of materials used by the bowyer (sinew, horn, fish bladders, bamboo...); MAKEBOW2.JPG (letter case is important).

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 09-Apr-99

Stryker:

The approx. 8" radius for the ends of the limb strip is what you see on old bows, more or less. The handle section at centre is straight. Horn strips will be flexible enough when heated for glue-up (we can talk about this later) to conform to the shape of the core. When I said the strips of horn are to be 1/4" thick: it is the thickness you aim for when cutting, the strips will be later sanded or filed to a little less, especially at siyah ends. When you press the horns to wood the horn bends to follow the curvature of the limbs which are pressed against the forms (if you decide to use such form which I recommend to do). This way you will have exactly the same shape of both limbs, the tillering process will be easier later and limbs will be balanced well.

The bending of the core is best done on a form, could be the same as the glue-up form above. I attach a small loop of rope to the siyah end of the form, steam the wood for 30 min, slip the siyah end through the loop and bend the rest around the form, tie it and leave for a day. Then do the same for the other limb. Because of springback, the curvature of the wood will be at a greater radius than the 8" radius of the form, this ok, after the horns are glued-on, it be very close to 8".

It is important to make sure there is no sideways twisting in the bent limbs, the form helps to avoid it.

On the video the horn is cut by hand, if I remember correctly. After cutting my first horn by hand, I decided to use a bandsaw, I found I could be more accurate that way.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: ttt
Date: 10-Apr-99

ttt


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 11-Apr-99

All:

The design of the horn/wood/sinew bow has evolved very slowly. A new design feature will come on the scene and remain essentially unchanged for a thousand years. Even today when making such bows we tend to use several hundred year old designs.

Horn and sinew is very heavy so to get good distance the bow must be short, and a short bow must bend only near the grip to be effecient. But that short span of material is terribly overworked, generally surrendering much of its fat force/draw-making reflex. The solution seems obvious. Make this short, near-grip area wider and thinner.

For the first ten inches make the limb, say, 2.5" wide, tapering in width for ten inches or so as if a pyramid bow, allowing perfectly uniform limb thickness. Beyond that the outer limb could narrow considerably for mass savings. And the core could swell to an ever larger percentage of limb thickness, becoming 100% wood the last 1/3 of the limb. The outer limb, the part where mass matters most, could be near 1/2 the mass of a conventional limb. This lower mass would translate to either a longer or faster bow, or some combination.

The large, flat horn belly area could be made of two or three or more strips.

Any thoughts, pro or con?

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 11-Apr-99

Tim:

This is good. One correction: the bending section of limbs can be actually shorter. Shorter Turkish and Indian bows have bending section actually less than 10", more like 9" or even less, with the width of Turkish 1 1/8".

Speaking of Indian bows, so called "crab bows" (the siyahs come off the limbs at close to 90deg, siyahs + ears almost the same length as the limb). I must make one, it seems to me such bow could be a perfect style to try using horn only in the bending limbs, the rest very light, mostly wood, just what you suggest. The extreme angle of the siyah gives a lot of early draw weight for the bow. The limbs are also wider than Turkish.

Perhaps the Indian design is the most advanced stage in the horn bow evolution?

Joining horn in strips is not a problem, the wide limbed Persian bows were made this way, although the limbs were wrapped in sinew for safety.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 11-Apr-99

Adam:

Understood. I didn't mean the whole ten inches to bend. A few inches would be needed for stress transitions before tapering sinew and horn to zero, to full-thickness wood. The above design could hold good reflex with a 4 or 5" bending area, I believe.

I had an Indian crab bow for awhile, sent it to Dr. Gayson, but studdied it well first. Those extreme siyahs came at a cost. To retain lateral rigidity, they had to be wide and massive. This had to drain cast. A beautiful, evil-looking little bow.

Maybe we'll find out why, but I just can't imagine why some horn bow designer of the past didn't use wood outer limbs. The crab bow, and some of the longer Chinese bows, would especially benefit.

If anyone out there knows any hornbow makers please let them know about this thread.

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: john
Date: 11-Apr-99

where did you guys get you waterbuff horn? We've been looking forever and haven't found a source.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 11-Apr-99

Tim:

About max bend for horn bows. I made a bow with a bending length of limbs no more than about 4-5", it was a mistake, the limbs were supposed to bend near grip, but did not turn out that way. The bending section was close to 1 7/8" wide and quite thin for about 60lb weight (the bow was 47" long). The radius of bending was only 3" at 28" draw, with considerable reduction in reflex in this area (I did not try heating to ""re-generate" the limbs though). Slight ripple showed on the horn surface, I think the stresses were close to the max a horn bow can take. I would make the limbs even wider for such bends or lengthen the bending sections.

As to why the horn bowyers never tried to maximize the performance of the bows in such a way? Perhaps the bows were already efficient enough for the intended purpose? Too much trouble to blend horn with wood in the siyahs?

I do not quite understand why Manchu style bows were so huge, with all the weigth at siyahs. Suppposedly for better efficiency with heavy arrows?

John:

You can buy water buf. or gemsbok horns from Frank at ikon@mindspring.com

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 11-Apr-99

Adam,

After reading your last post, questioning why horn bowyers did or didn't do something, I began thinking...

What would be a very interesting thing to do is to have a group of interested people visit here to Korea. I could arrange it with the horn bowyer (and fletcher) to have the group tour around and have conference time with them. I know the biggest obstacles for most people are time and money (as the old saying goes, if you have more of one, you need less of the other).

Airline prices have become competitive in recent years and group rates could make it even more so. As for food and lodging, it can be very reasonable (even cheap).

One possibility is, my club will be having a special meet this fall and they have asked me to bring in interested people from outside Korea. Maybe a tour could coincide with such an event. It would certainly be, for many, a once in a lifetime experience (especially since there are only ten traditional bowyers left in Korea).

In any case, people could ask questions of them to their hearts' content (the bowyer and fletcher love talking about their craft), watch them at work and maybe even try some things for themselves. Also, an archery tour could be arranged, visiting spots around Korea related to traditional archery.

Just a thought.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 12-Apr-99

Bluelake, thanks for the offer. I am thinking of a trip to places in Middle East and Asia perhaps, but not now, probably in two - three years.

I wonder how many horn bowyers exist in the western world right now? There must be at least six in North America, one for sure in UK, one in Italy, one or more in Germany and one in Slovenia.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 12-Apr-99

Adam, Tim and all:

See that you all keep the thead up over the weekend! Good info!

Well, I've bandsawn the 1/4" x 1 1/2" x 38" piece of maple (in fact, I've got 3 of them). But it is not very bendable, about like a heavy duty yard stick.

Also, I've got the two mulberry siyahs (wouldn't have a clue as to the pronouciation of that word) about 1/2" x 1/2" or a little better almost completed, they just lack cutting the male v splice. Right now the ears are about 6" for tieing when sinewing. The splice is layed out, but I'm still indecisive about cutting it, as it looks flimsy to me. Thinking about having it about 3 1/2" in length. Should the taper for the splice start right at the bend of the siyah? I left extra wood there. If this is to be static, then it shouldn't blow, otherwise the slightest strain there could cause problem with the splice? It would seem to me that this is where these horn bows are most suseptible to breakage. Also, left some wood there for the string bridge. Will the horn go all the way to string bridge and will sinew go to nocks? All advice appreciated.

What will be the next step after siyahs?

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: John
Date: 12-Apr-99

Frank, are you out there. I can't seem to find your site for horn. I looked at the mindspring site but didn't find anything.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 12-Apr-99

Stryker:

Now, sand or file the maple limb strip to even thickness, It can be a little less by 1/32 or so than 1/4". The wood will later be filed down more, but not now. It is important to have the cross-section rectangular, with parallel sides.

You will be bending the ednds of the strip to form siyahs. As I mentioned before, the radius is about 8" (see above how).

You can have 3.5" splice if you feel better about it, although 3" is ok. The base of the V is at the bend of the siyah and ear (knee). Make it reach all the way to the belly side of the siyah. When cutting, make sure you do it square to the back and belly, the same goes for the female part of the limb. Both must be fitted very well, using files or sand paper over a blade, and there must be no sideways lean or twist. I use a small saw blade to reach inside the female V to scape off excess of wood. If you can not get the perfect match, it is possible to steam the parts and clamp/untwist etc. to fit, than let dry and glue normally. The point of the male V is positioned flush with the back side of the siyah sections of limbs. These sections would have a roughly similar curvature as the male Vs.

The horn goes all the way to the bend, if you have enough of it. In any case, the bend itself is covered on the belly with sinew for a distance of 1-1.5". The back side of the ear is covered too, not quite up to the nocks, about 1" below the nocks.

There is no way the V splice would pop on a bow, it is completely encased in sinew and horn.

The string bridge (if used at all, on some bows the string loop's knots rest on the flare outs of the limbs at the bend) is glued right on top of everything, do not worry about it now.

After siyahs comes the dreaded horn!

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 12-Apr-99

Adam:

Horn next? I'm terrified!

When do we get to the sinewing part? I've got great experience with that. A grand total of 1 bow! :)

However, I did stick a wire up these horns. One was about 18", the other about 21". Does that sound about right? Pratice cutting cow horn went ok.

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frank V. Rago
Date: 12-Apr-99

John,

You can email me at Ikon@mindspring.com or visit my in progress info page at www.angelfire.com/ga/alionatemysister.

FVR


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 12-Apr-99

Stryker:

One thing I did not say. To see if the V-splices fit well, press the matching pairs together and look up against light, there should be no light coming through betw. surfaces.

For a perfect fit, wet one part, say the female V, and quickly press with the other. Wet spots on the male V need to be shaved a little. Repeat as many times as necessary until the male V surface is all wet too. Go slow with this, all the hile checking if you maintain squareness and good alignment of parts.

The horn seems ok, 18 to 21" of hollow, plus probably about 12" of solid tip gives you 30". When your strips start about 2" from the tip (unless the horn is twisted, this would require a different layout) you get a nice strip of 19" with no trouble, make sure it is 1/4" thick all the way from end to end. Your cut would end about 6-8" from the base end. You may even cut a second strip from the same horn if you are careful (or lucky), this time one end of the strip may end closer to the base for a concave (in cross-section), but useable strip.

The worst is if you find internal splits in horn, it happened to me once and ruined my day.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Tim Baker
Date: 13-Apr-99

Just thinking out loud...

Assuming finest-filtered hide glue, how small a diameter tube would hide glue pass through? Would longer-cooked glue do best?

Could hide glue be made to travel through wood pores for the lenght of a bow stave. If so this could be a 'primitive' way of makeing strong wood from weak wood, or very strong wood from strong wood.

Would mass rise in a straight line with strength/elasticity?

Hide glue should easily pass through the large early-growth channels of redoak for example, but what about the small pores in summer wood?

If this would work at all it seems it would have to be done with green wood, to prevent water leaving the glue and plugging poors. And of course the wood and glue would have to be hot. Suction would likely be the best method. This might make belly wood stronger and more elastic, but would likely not help back wood as much.

Any thoughts?

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Stryker
Date: 13-Apr-99

Tim:

Your post made me wonder about what they use to pressure treat lumber. I don't know. And I don't know how suction would work to get hide glue into wood, either. If you fill a plastic straw with hide glue, let it dry, then remove the plastic, will the string of hide glue be elastic or just brittle??? :)

Stryker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 13-Apr-99

Tim:

There is a mention in the Klopsteg book (translated from Mustafa Kani) the limbs of Turk bows could be cooked in glue to acquire great elasticity. Klopsteg commented the penetration of glue into wood could not be sufficient for this. He was right. I once dipped wood in glue for many hours, there was no noticeable effect.

Liquids with low surface tension, the ones which "wet" surfaces well can penetrate deeper. Water, and water based solutions like glue are not as effective as solvents, like paint thinner for example. The glue helps to lower the surface tension, but not enough, also solutions of glue are too viscous (thick) for good penetration into wood, if thinner, the effect would not be noticeable once the glue dries.

Even solutions in solvents which "wet" well, such as paints or varnishes, do not soak deep, the depth can be measured in microns. Even in the end grain it would take many hours for visible soak.

Pressure or vacuum could help. It would be an intersting experiment. Actually I read a paper once, where violin woods were saturated with phenolic resins for better response.

Adam Karpowicz

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Ti m Baker
Date: 13-Apr-99

Stryker:

In high humidity it's more limber, the opposite in low humidity. Depending on the guality, hide glue alone will bend and break like medium brittle plastic. It works with sinew the way resin works with fibeglass, each helping overcome the other's flaws. Hide glue might make the same kind of marrage with wood if it could be gotten into its pores.

Tim Baker


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 13-Apr-99

Tim,

I don't know if this is what you are looking for or not, but the Korean bowyers will start sizing the wood (or bamboo in this case) and horn with glue the consistency of water; over the course of a week, they will have applied about seventy coats. During that time, the glue is kept over heat and slowly thickens; that way, glue gets into the pores and also the coats become heavier as time goes on.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 13-Apr-99

Thomas:

The method of sizing horns and wood by Koreans would not change properties of the materials by filling in the voids right thorough the wood. The Korean method provides maximum saturation of surfaces with solid layer of glue. This way after the parts are joined, and the glue dries, almost no surface pores remain unfilled for perfect contact and adhesion.

After I learned about this method from your video, I liked it so much I now use many coats (min 30) of very thin glue on horn and wood. I found it very important to make sure the glue is so thin that it *does not gel* upon cooling. Otherwise the surface pores are not filled properly and the thick layer of glue can separate. The surface of horn sized in this manner looks deep black, as if varnished. There are more sofisticated explanations for this, I would need to run a few tests to know better what I am talking about.

In any case, this is the method of sizing I planned to recomment to Stryker.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 13-Apr-99

Adam,

I probably should have been a little clearer about the thickness (or lack thereof) of the glue. The bowyer will add water as he goes along, keeping the glue to whatever consistency he needs, but slowly will let it thicken.

I have to watch how I say things; my typing fingers tend to get ahead of my brain sometimes.


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 13-Apr-99

Thomas:

Yes, I found for the first many coats only very thin glue provides good saturation. Later a little thicker glue can be used, but it still must not gel or gel minimally before drying. I bet the slightly thicker glue used by the bowyer was cooked so long that it no longer gels, regardless of concentration.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 13-Apr-99

Adam,

I have to see the bowyer soon about some other matters. I'll make a point to ask him about his 'rules' concerning gluing.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 14-Apr-99

Thomas:

Please ask him if he chooses a hot day to coat horn with glue. Or, if the hotter season coincides with this operation? Still another possibility: does he avoid colder days for this?

Another question: how many coats are used to size wood in prep. for sinewing?

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 14-Apr-99

Adam,

Even before seeing him, I can answer some for you. Hot (and humid) days are avoided, as the glue will not set and dry during this time. Gluing and sinewing are generally done in the cooler spring, as far as I know.

As mentioned above, seventy coats are used to size both bamboo and horn before sinew is applied (about ten coats per day for a week).

I will ask him for more detailed input when I see him.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 14-Apr-99

Thomas:

I understand the need for cool days for laying sinew, but on the video the bowyer is clearly working on his hot roof in full sun covering the horn with glue.

My question about how many layers on wood before sinewing: I mean glue on the back of the core, not on the belly of the core to bond with horn. I remember he is covering the back of the bamboo core only at the handle section when he brushes glue on the horn and the belly side of bamboo.

The back side would be brushed with glue after the core with the siyahs and ears are shaped, in an operation which comes later. The gluing of sinew certainly needs colder days for the glue to set.

Lets say, glue on the horn side is not the same glue as the one on the sinew side!

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 14-Apr-99

Adam,

Even though it was a few years ago, I remember when I taped the gluing process; it was a sunny, but cool day in spring. We have lots of sunshine here in Korea, from February on, but the temps are still somewhat cool.

As for how much glue on either side, I'll have to refresh my memory after I talk with the bowyer. More on this later.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Sam S
Date: 15-Apr-99

Thomas:

Does Three Rivers carry that Korean video?

Adam:

Haven't had any time since the weekend to work on that horn bow. Had to prepare my taxes. Also, I lost Stryker, my 8 year old German Shepard dog to cancer Tuesday night.

Intend to get back to working on horn bow on Saturday. Going to start cutting horn.

Sam Stevens / Somerville, Tenn


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 15-Apr-99

Sam:

I am sorry to hear about your dog. It is truly like loosing a member of the family.

Take you time with the bow, it wouldn't be a good idea to rush. That reminds me of my tax return too.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Frank V. Rago
Date: 15-Apr-99

Sam,

I am so sorry about Stryker, my girls are like children to me and the thought just tears me up.

Take Care

Frank


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 15-Apr-99

Sam,

Sorry about your dog; they truly become members of the family.

About the videos: yes, Three Rivers Archery carries them.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 16-Apr-99

Adam,

I have some answers for you. Today, I met with the horn bowyer at the club (he spent quite a bit of time giving my son Korean archery lessons beforehand).

As for his scheduling, I can give you a month by month breakdown:

January, February: Cut and prepare wood for siyahs and bamboo for core and prepare horn (sanding, grooving; February, March).

March, April: Apply glue to horn and bamboo, then attach.

April, May: Apply sinew to bows.

June: Finish bows.

June, July, August: Cut horn.

September, October: Apply glue to horn and bamboo

October, November: Apply sinew.

November, December: [Same as January, February].

And the cycle continues...

The gluing should be done in temperature ranges of 18-20 degrees Centigrade (not higher); that's why he does it in both the spring and fall.

As for the number of coats: The horn has glue (70 coats) on one side only (attaching to bamboo core); the other side is not glued. The bamboo core has 70 coats on the side attached to the horn and 10-15 coats on the back (attaching to sinew).

That's about it, in a nutshell; I hope I was able to answer all your questions. Please, let me know if I can help further.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 16-Apr-99

Thomas:

Thanks it is very useful. What is an avg. temperature in April/May and October/November, when he applies sinew?

Could you give me a rough idea what is the relative humidity during all these months?

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Sam S
Date: 16-Apr-99

Thanks for the condolence.

Been thinking about the history of Turkish horn bows. If I'm not mistaken, I've read that in the 1400's, the Turks in the Ottoman Empire used this bow to shoot from horseback. Also, I know from reading that horn bows have a tendancy to be unstable (becoming unbraced with drawn, flip-flop, etc). To me it seems that the Turks during that period would have had a design that was relatively stable to use from horseback since its easy to conclude that one wouldn't want to have an unstable bow on horseback. What was that design? Any thoughts? Anyone.

Adam:

I'm going to take another look at those siyahs these weekend, maybe make another pair. Also, going to sand that 38" piece 1/32" past 1/4". Will this length be tapered toward the ends? Will the ends of maple be the female splice? Also I'll read up on cutting horn.

Have a good weekend. Sam


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 16-Apr-99

Sam:

No, the 38" piece has parallel sides and same thickness end to end. The ends will have the female V splice, the siyahs male. Cut the splices after bending the ends.

All styles of horn bows were used on horseback. The bows are not unstable, once tillered and corrected with heat if necessary. Depending on the style, the limbs would have a tendency to change tiller slightly (the distance betw. the string and limb in the braced position), which is the sign of one limb being stronger, or when braced improperly with more pressure applied to one of the limbs. Archers would have to have enough bowmaking skills to correct such minor problems themselves. I recently read of a tool carried by Indian archers for this purpose, no doubt others used similar tools.

Limb twist could be a problem, there was a story of a Persian prince who died with a siyah lodged in his skull!

Didn't I mention to watch for twist of the limbs and siyahs at every step during construction? 8^).

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Sam S
Date: 16-Apr-99

Adam:

Interesting. What exactly determines the degree of stability in these bows? Width? Length? Thickness?

Also, I think you mentioned heat for tillering. How is heat applied? We could use a modern day heat gun, I suppose, but what did the ancients use? What do you use?

Sam


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 16-Apr-99

Adam,

The temps in April and October will generally be in the range of mid-teens to around twenty (Centigrade). May will get a bit warmer in the first part (low to mid-twenties); November will go down from low to mid-teens (sometimes cooler).

Exactly what the RH is, I can't say, off-hand, but I can tell you it is fairly dry (static shock when I get out of my car, for example). I'll look it up and let you know later.

Sam,

While I can't speak for Turkish archery (I only know what my Klopsteg tells me, really), I'm sure, historically, many of the cultures using horn bows did things similarly. In Korea, for example, the horn bow was the domain of the upper class, as it was expensive and complicated to prepare and use. The average archer in the military used selfbows made from wood or bamboo; frequently with sinew backing. Also, it has been said that archers routinely made their own bows (if it had problems, there's no one else to blame). Although the horn bow undoubtedly saw military use, it was probably limited to officers. So, while some mounted archers may have used horn bows, many probably did not.

As for heating, until recent years (last ten to twenty), bows in Korea were heated over compressed coal fires. Before that, glowing embers from an open fire probably were used. Again, I imagine it was the same or similar in other horn bow cultures.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 16-Apr-99

I should have mentioned that electric hot plates are generally used to heat bows nowadays.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 16-Apr-99

Sam:

Stability. Wider bows are more stable. Bows with shorter static siyahs and ears are more stable - less leverage to twist. Bows with less recurved ears and siyahs are more stable, less leverage again. Thicker bows are more stable, since they are harder to twist. Bows with longer bending limbs are more likely to change tiller (distance betw. string and limbs) if one limb is overstressed while bracing.

I do not use a heat gun, since the flow accelerates drying. I use electric heater or an electric heating pad (I think this is the name for it, I got it in a pharmacy). The idea is to make the materials softer, but not beyond certain temperature, about 50deg C. (120deg F) is max in normal situations.

Just like Thomas says, the ancients used charcoal or wood fire.

Thomas, low to mid twenties sounds like summer around here!

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 16-Apr-99

Adam,

In my hometown in northern lower Michigan, there are times when low to mid-twenties in _Fahrenheit_ seems like summer! :)

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 17-Apr-99

Adam,

You can see climate stats about Korea at:

http://korea.emb.washington.dc.us/new/korea/statistics/land.htm

Just keep in mind that the temps/RH, etc. are about Seoul in 1996 and don't necessarily reflect other areas today; still, it should give you an idea.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 17-Apr-99

Thanks Thomas, I checked the site. RH seems most of the year in high 50's and above. I was interested in humidity levels during sinew laying and drying. I found when humidity is really low, below 40%, horn belly may develop cracks.

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 17-Apr-99

You're welcome, Adam.

Just remember, the climatic conditions were for Seoul three years ago. Although they may have been similar in other parts of the country (I live almost three hundred miles SE of Seoul), there will be differences; also, there were a few years that were extraordinarily dry and others were XO wet.

Thomas


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: Adam
Date: 18-Apr-99

Thomas:

While working on the Korean bow this weekend, I was really impressed by the birch bark covering on the limbs. The bark is very flexible, did you say it was soaked in sea water for a year and then boiled? Was it boiled in the same sea water? For how long? Dried normally after or kept wet?

Adam Karpowicz


Subject: RE: Of Horn and Sinew
From: bluelake
Date: 18-Apr-99

Adam,

Yes, it is soaked for a year in sea water, then boiled (you are correct: in the same water). I believe the water is just brought to a boil (if I remember right); let me ask again, just to be sure. The bark should be kept damp until it is used.

Thomas

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