I'm new here on Paleoplanet, but I think I've got something that might interest you. My hobby and work is stoneage technology, you can take a look at my website on www.het-stenen-tijdperk.nl
But to get to the point:
After a couple of experiments I’ve been able to make decent bows from wood that I dried in less than 6 hours. I noticed no damage to or weakening of the wood. All experiments were with elm, but to make this trick as widely usable as possible it would be worthwhile to find out how the most-used bowwoods respond to this treatment. It would be great if you would experiment with a certain type of wood and let me know the results. Please remember to let me know which wood you’ll be using to avoid unnescessary work. I’ve been in touch with Tim Baker who gave me some very useful tips and who told me that the results of this endeavour would surely be worth publication. If we get this far I’ll be sure to mention your name in the article and of course I’ll give you all info that this little project will yield anyway.
To be able to gather as reliable information as possible and to make a good article about it in the end, I’ve written out some guidelines to do the experiments. Please stick to this, as otherwise I fear that the article will be a mess as it’d be nescessary to explain everyone’s methods first.
So how does it work?
1 Cut down your tree and split out the stave. Do not let it dry!
2. Make a bow, a little bit thicker than the intended finished product. Shape the bow completely and floor-tiller it. Do not go beyond floor-tillering or your bow will get massive stringfollow.
3. Dry the bow with some heat-source (I use the coals from a wood fire). Take care that you heat all parts of the bow evenly, both belly and back. If a part gets too warm/dry, then it will warp. Do not let the bow get too hot or the wood will weaken. Tim Baker guessed that 212 F/100C would weaken the wood by 25% in a few hours. 150F/65C would be good he expected. I use the palm of my hand to tell the temperature: the height from the glowing coals where I can keep my hand for 5 seconds before it hurts seems to be just right. Later in the process you can increase the heat. My bows (elm, flatbow and 14 mm at midlimb) are quite dry after 5 -6 hrs.
4. Tiller the bow
What do we want to know?
To make this trick a useful one when bowmaking, we should know with respect to as many different types of wood as possible:
1. How long the wood takes to dry (of course a longbow takes longer to dry than a much thinner flatbow, so please record the measurements of your bow), preferably at which temperature.
2. What’s the result of different temperatures.
3. What happens to the wood, does it check, warp, weaken etc.
4. Do you notice anything different when shooting the bow.
5. Do you come up with any tips and tricks?
Experiments without a moisture meter
If you do not have a moisture meter, but you do have a one- or two pound scale, you can use this trick from Tim Baker when making the first experimental bow: weigh the bow every hour while it’s drying. Note the time when the wood stops loosing weight and continue drying for a third of the time you’ve already spent drying the wood. At that moment the wood should contain nearly 0% moisture. Note this time well, as this is the baseline from which you continue work. Make another bow of the same dimensions and dry this at the same temperature, only not as long. Stop when you’ve dried it for 20% less time as you dried the first one. If all is well your wood should contain about 8-12% moisture, ideal for bows.
Experiments with a moisture meter
Piece of cake: dry the wood
untill you get in the 8-12% range and note the time…
I'd be grateful to hear about your endeavours!