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Hazel Primitive Bows

 This is my latest Hazel bow, it was roughed out into a working bow at the clubs Beltane festival (2013)to about 50 pounds draw weight at 26" draw. It was from a twisted bit of hazel, so I used it to expeiment, adding the tightly recurved tips and the wacky paint job.
The full build is documented in my blog starting here. http://bowyersdiary.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/twisted-beltane-hazel.html

The next 3 bows were made from a Hazel staves picked up from the woodland floor (cut down by kids?).

The bows I made as a lad were unseasoned Hazel sticks, which never lasted very long, but over the years I've grown to appreciate this underrated wood.
The stave was split using an axe and wedges and the worse half worked after very little seasoning.
It was quite steeply crowned and although I wanted to leave the bark on, I ended up  running a spokeshave down it to de-crown it. This was necessary to reduce the draw weight whilst retaining the desired width.

Woods like Hazel will make a very good bow, but only if made wide and flat, the wood isn't strong enough for a longbow D shaped profile.
The picture below shows it on the tiller at full draw (40lb at 28") The tiller incorporates a spring balance to measure the draw weight and is graduated in inches to measure the draw length. A small winch allows heavy bows to be drawn with ease.
People who try this bow are always surpised at it's cast (speed) considering it's relatively light draw weight.
The arrow speed is 136.4 feet per second, that's about 93miles per hour.

There's a link to a video of my Son shooting th
e bow in mt photobucket account.
http://s411.beta.photobucket.com/user/Del_the_Cat/library/websitevideos . 

This next bow was made from the 
better half of the stave, tillered in a different style with stiffer tips reminiscent of the Holmegaard bow, (these are Mesolithic bows discovered in the bogs of the Holmegaard area of Denmark, a Google search will produce a wealth of information on these).
The picture of me at full draw was taken before it was completely finished with a leather grip and Water-buffalo nock overlays & arrow plate. 
Horn nocks are a matter of taste, I'm not a great fan of them and don't believe they are needed except on heavy warbows (Longbows in excess of 90lb draw weight). sometimes I add them if requested or for decorative effect. I like the minimalist nock reinforcements on this bow.
The leather grip is a nice contrast to the white wood.

Hazel is a common wood and where woodlands havn't been managed it can be found as reasonably sized timber, sometimes having fallen because it has grown too big.
Hazel used to be coppiced extensively (cut down regularly every 10 years or so) and the wood used for a variety of things e.g. Hurdles (rustic fence panels once used a good deal in farming)
It doesn't have a striking grain, but it works nicely .
It makes decent 'primitive' arrows too, the darker arrow is one of my 'standard' arrows with a cedar shaft, the white one is a Hazel shaft.
The first bundle of Hazel wands I gathered were a bit too fat, so I cut some better ones.
Left, the Hazel arrow with it's self nock next to the 'standard' arrow with it's modern plastic nock.
There has been some discussion about using 'dead' wood, I would suggest it's always worth picking up timber, you can split it and see if it's any good, it can always end up as firewood or a habitat pile in the garden.
I picked up a bit of Hazel in early January 2010 which was discoloured a greyish colour throughout most of the wood, I was going to discard it, but wondered if I could make a bow in 1 hour, using just an axe (ok I cheated and used a saw & knife for the nocks). So here's the '1 hour bow', just to show that you can have a try out and gain experience with out spending a lot of time or money.
The timber wasn't seasoned, so the bow was a bit spongy 40 pounds at 26".
I subsequently dried it, on a radiator which doesn't get too hot while it was tied to a form (a bit of 2"x2" with a block under the handle and one under each tip) to give it some deflex near the grip and recurve at the tips.
I then tidied it up with a rasp and backed it with rawhide, and shot the hell out of it, overdrawing it to see what it would do (shooting my 28" arrows).

Here's a pic with some tillering notes, this was when it was first made, after an hours work starting from a split stave. 
I made it to fit a string which I had lying around as I don't enjoy making strings. 
It was very good and punchy, but the belly started to chrysal after a while, see the pic below, the silvery diagonal hair like lines are the chrysals, which are raised compression fractures where the surface of the wood has buckled up. There is virtually nothing you can do to 'cure' them, smoothing them off just creates gaps and makes room for more wood to buckle up.  Chrysals actually go surprisingly deep into the wood, 3-4mm.
Latest Hazel Bow:-
I finished the bow below in early November 2010. I heat treated the belly from start to finish. I used a digitally controlled hot air gun (only £30 from Screwfix) I found that 400 deg C seemed to be about best, you can certainly feel the difference in the wood. The back and edges still have a waxy feel while the heat treated belly is much drier and harder. The bow has take less set than the untreated bows. 
I didn't de-crown this bow, the back had some streaks of cambium which I carefully picked out revealing some attractive grooves on the otherwise rather plain Hazel.
The heat treatment did have a slight downside (you don't get ow't for now't) and 3 small chrysals formed on the belly, I protected the area with a binding of linen thread soaked with epoxy.
The draw weight, set and cast didn't seem effected by the chrysals.

I've made a couple of 'bark on' Hazel primitives this year (2012)
the one below has a small hole in the right limb which adds to the character. This link is to the start of the building of this bow on my Bowyers Diary . The subsequent posts show the stages of the building and a video of it being shot.

The top pic is the belly and the lower pic, the back with the bark on.