Making a bow

Here is a post from several years ago tracking the process of making a bow.  In this case, from Osage orange.

Splitting the seasoned Osage orange (Bois d’Arc) stave.

This is a tough process. As can be seen in the photo above, I use an axe, froe, and hammer.

Not visible here are short hickory wedges that are jammed into the growing crack to keep the stave from snapping shut.

Some species of white woods debark quite easily and the bow can be made from the outer growth rings.

Not so with Osage Orange. The white new wood is visible in the stave above as the outer rings are worked down to a single thick growth ring.

This process is easiest with a sharp draw knife working downward. Your weight can be used to pull through the bark.

Working down to a single growth ring. With Osage, there is a vesicular layer between hard wood rings. This is just visible here as the white wood.

Sighting down the clean stave. Not perfectly straight, but then it wouldn’t be Osage otherwise.

The growth rings are visible in the low raking light. The smooth area nearest the viewer is down to the desired ring.  This will be the “back” of the bow meaning the side facing away from the shooter.  Crossing the rings could cause the limb to “lift” and crack as the rings are stressed.

Working the bow to its final shape. This is a different stave from the one shown above.  I and others have documented this part of the process elsewhere.

More to come.





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Shaving Horse

Reposted from 2008; what a different life it seems now.

Here is one of my favorite old shave horses. It is made from a plank chainsawed from an enormous pin-oak limb that came down during a storm years ago.

It weighs quite a bit but the weight means more stability when using it as a work bench. All my other horses have had an adjustable table but this one is set to a good angle strictly for working bows.

There are plenty of depictions in old art and many made specifically for every occupation in Diderot’s Encyclopedia from the 18th century.  I made my plans for this one based on several I measured over the years and made lots of adjustments to my first one to get the right “fit”.  My second and third attempts got better and better.  Total cost estimate: about $5.00 for bolt and a few screws.


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Safety, above all…?

Just how important is safety in a happy and complete life?

indiana-jones-bridge Don’t get me wrong.  I have known people with little regard for their own well-being, be it physical or otherwise.  Some of these are confirmed idiots.  Whether they are just non-thinking zombies or the overly entitled who expect someone else to look out for them, they lay outside this commentary and deserve no further thought.  However, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of the unknown; these all hinder us at some stage of our life.  We are taught to seek safety.  Everything is a balancing act; a never-ending series of choices  sometimes with many possibilities and I feel strongly we often reap what we sow.  Mostly, we drift along with the current of our culture, our circle of friends, down the river of expectations or wherever else circumstance leads.  These thoughts are just an introduction to a thought I want to share.

I found this quote in a book I read when I was very young.  This influenced my thought deeply throughout my formative years.  Not in immediate risk taking, but as a real thought on what safety is to us all.

But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Don’t take short hikes alone, either — or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersection against a red light, even when you can see all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to be a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time.

Collin Fletcher The Complete Walker.

cfIf you are not familiar with Colin Fletcher’s writings it is worth knowing that he helped create the backpacking movement in the form we know today by his seminal book “The Complete Walker” in all it’s revisions.  Starting life as a Royal Marine Commando in the Second World War, Fletcher eventually ended up in the United States and began his writing career with his book The Thousand-Mile Summer about his hike describing his walk along the length of California.  Check out his other titles HERE.

The Wilderness isn’t a place to escape to as so many refer to it.  It is a place to be, just as valid, if not more so, as the comforts and safety of civilization.



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Re-tooling the PaleoTool


I have been ignoring the blog for quite some time now but I have not been idle

Far from it. 

dsc_0129The vardo update project took on a life of it’s own and it feels like a complete renewal of the living space.  In the coming month I hope to make a video tour of the new and improved house on wheels to show off the advantages and some disadvantages to the new setup. In the mean time, the exterior is getting new paint.

Other facets of life have taken precedent and time has become a scarce commodity for me.  I have drafted many posts but none to a satisfactory level for publication.  Some will be discarded I am sure.  Plans and dreams keep changing and circumstance has an enormous influence on events lately; mostly for the good

Finally, I’m not sure this is the best idea but a new blog may on the way.  Cleaner, more focused, and a fresh start.  Once it is fully operational I will share it openly.

This image sums up how I feel some days lugging a burden and trying to escape.  Death waits for no one and comes to us all. However, we can choose to move on to better places and surround ourselves with the right people before it catches up with us.  Right living, good community, best choices.




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Ode to Oregon – Garrison Keillor

1w-us-orwa-1880Ode to Oregon

Our people aimed for Oregon
When they left Newburyport–
Great-grandma Ruth, her husband John,
But they pulled up in Wobegon,
Two thousand miles short.

It wasn’t only the dangers ahead
That stopped the pioneer.
My great-grandmother simply said,
“It’s been three weeks without a bed.
I’m tired. Let’s stay here.”

He put the horses out to graze
While she set up the tent,
and they sat down beside their blaze
And held each other’s hand and gazed
Up at the firmament.

“John,” she said, “what’s on your mind
Besides your restlessness?
You know I’m not the traveling kind,
So tell me what you hope to find
Out there that’s not like this?”

The fire leaped up bright and high,
The sparks as bright stars shone.
“Mountains,” he said. “Another sky.
A Green new land where you and I
Can settle down to home.

“You are the dearest wife to me.
Though I’m restless, it is true,
And Oregon is where I’d be
And live in mountains by the sea,
But never without you.”

They stayed a week to rest the team,
Were welcomed and befriended.
The land was good, the grass was green,
And slowly he gave up the dream,
And there the journey ended.

They bought a farm just north of town,
A pleasant piece of rolling ground,
A quarter-section, mostly cleared;
He built a house before the fall;
They lived there forty years in all,
And by God persevered.

And right up to his dying day
When he was laid to rest,
No one knew–he did not say–
His dream had never gone away,
He still looked to the west.

She found it in his cabinet drawer:
A box of pictures, every one
Of mountains by the ocean shore,
The mountains he had headed for
In the state of Oregon.

There beside them lay his will.
“I love you, Ruth,” the will began,
And count myself a well-loved man.
Please send my ashes when I die
To Oregon, some high green hill,
And bury me and leave me lie
At peace beneath the mountain sky,
Off in that green and lovely land
We dreamed of, you and I.”

At last she saw her husband clear
Who stayed and labored all those years,
His mountains all uncrossed.
Of dreams postponed and finally lost,
Which one of us can count the cost
And not be filled with tears?

And yet how bright the visions are
Of mountains that we sense afar,
The land we never see:
The golden west and golden gate
Are visions that illuminate
And give wings to the human heart
Wherever we may be.
That old man by dreams possessed,
By Oregon was truly blessed
Who saw it through the eye of faith,
The land of his sweet destiny:
In his eye, more than a state
And something like a star.

I wrote this poem in Oregon,
Wanting the leaden words to soar
In memory of my ancestor
And all who live along the way.
God rest their souls on a golden shore,
God bless us who struggle on:
We are the life that they longed for,
We bear their visions every day.

~ Garrison Keillor

oregonorbustI firsrt heard this 25 or more years ago.  It moved me deeply then and even more so now.  Enjoy, GTC.

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