Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: What Kind Of Wood To Use

  1. #1

    Default What Kind Of Wood To Use

    I am reading Bows and Arrows of the Native Americans. We have plenty of ash in our backyard. I plan to use that for my first bow. What wood have you all used for yours? What was your experience? What wood would you prefer to use?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Goliad, Texas
    Posts
    1,371

    Default

    Bois d'arc was the favorite of the Caddo and they used it for trade goods with other tribes of Texas.

    That's about all I know about it. I've got a couple of old "Lemonwood" long bows that I used as a kid and my grandfather and father made them.

    I've never made a real bow only what can best be described as toys for my sons years ago.

    I don't know about ash. There's several kinds of trees that lump into the "Ash" category and they probably have different properties.


    I'd guess there's only 7 or 8 million you tubes on the subject though....


    Alan

  3. #3
    Gadget Master oldsoldier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Evansville Indiana
    Posts
    1,861

    Default

    I have a friend that has been making bows for 30 years. His number one wood is Hedge apple aka, Osage orange
    If by what I have learned over the years, allow me to help one person to start to prepare. If all the mistakes I have made, let me give one person the wisdom that allows them to save their life or the life of a loved one in an emergency. Then I will truly know that all the work I have done will have been worth every minute.

  4. #4
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    KY bluegrass region-the center of the universe
    Posts
    10,111

    Default

    I've ignored this thread as long as I can stand it so here comes the history/anthropology lesson for the day.

    Hamm did a good deal of work in his day and he made a good bow. He also wrote good instructions that we used to follow before You-tube "experts" took over the education of the world.

    I think that Hamm did an article for the Buckskinning Books back in the 1980s that was as good as anything I ever read on making a primitive bow. He concentrated that article on making a bow of green wood rather than the well aged staves most bowyers insist on. He showed how one could turn out a very usable bow in a day using only primitive tools from a green sapling, which I thought was an excellent survival skill. Way better than beating your knife through a log to make firewood in the middle of a forest full of wood.

    As Alan said above the bois de arc was a favorite of the Indians in the region of the central Oklahoma. It is the French term, "wood for the bow", given to the tree that we know as the Bodock, or hedge apple. It was originally native only to that central OK region but was traded around the central south west by the natives first and the farm supply companies second.

    At the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century several farm supply firms began selling Bodock as a fence post material. It was hard, strong and resisted rot and was perfect for use with the newfangled "bobwire" that had just been invented in the 1870s.

    The firms did not tell the end users that the bodock will sprout from a cutting, and farmers planted their fences and were soon watching the fence lines bud and take root. That is one reason the country lanes and back roads of our nation are now lined with rows of hedge apple and the trees grow in lines along the river bottoms where the farmers tried to fence their stock. At least in the south they do.

    That lemonwood Alan spoke of was considered the best natural bow wood ever grown. It was so dense it did not require the builder to follow the grain. You could just cut the bow out, shape it and use it. It was the material preferred by Olympic archers for decades, until the Cuban Crisis.

    Lemonwood was exclusive to the island of Cuba, and when the communist government took over they destroyed much of the small production agriculture, like harvesting lemonwood for bows. If you find a lemonwood bow be assured that it is a relic from before 1963. No one knows if there are any lemonwood groves left in Cuba.

    I have made several bows, and my son is an excellent bowyer and fletcher. I have made several from white oak, a few from elm and ash and one that turned out very well from a stave I cut on the farm just because it looked like it was 6 feet long without a stem, knot or bud. The old man across the road said it was persimmon.

    The prettiest one I ever made was a maple stave backed with bamboo, which I did for my late wife.

    Which brings up another point. In the eastern U.S. there was no rule among the tribes that said you had to use this wood or that wood. As a museums guy I have seen native bows made from almost every wood imaginable from Hickory to red cedar heartwood backed with maple.

    The Indians of the arctic used whalebone, antler and driftwood. The Indians of the Great Basin area used bighorn sheep horn and seniew. The plains tribes used buffalo horn and seniew.

    In Europe they used ash, elm and yew. In Finland and Sweeden they used fir and spruce. Otizies bow, that frozen mummy from the Italian/Austrian border, was made from yew 5000 years ago during the copper age.

    The Turks used horn and seniew, so did the the Huns, Blgars and Mongols and other steppes tribes of central Asia.

    In other words, they used what they had access too.

    I have seen times when all I had access too was Home Depot furniture hardwood, adhesive laminate flooring and epoxy glue, and you can make a pretty good bow with that, just as you can PVC pipe with fiberglass electric fence poles inside.

    It is one of those deals where what you use is secondary to how you use it.

    And a guy named Don Edds, who was the founding editor of Primitive Archer Magazine, used to always remind me, "Its just a stick with a string on it!"
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Goliad, Texas
    Posts
    1,371

    Default

    Those Indians could do some crazy stuff. Bison horn bows strapped together with animal tissue and hoof glue that the average man cannot draw. Arrows with reusable tips made of wood and rocks. Then take it out and sneak up on a deer or a 1500# Bison and stick it in him. Anything you can't eat gets saved to make more stuff.

    "Modern" man, even those with moderate survival skills would starve to death in three months trying to live like that.

    Those were some tough folks.

    Alan

  6. #6
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    KY bluegrass region-the center of the universe
    Posts
    10,111

    Default

    No tougher than any other group of people alive at the time. In 1492 most of the world lived in situations we would call "camping out" even though they had mud walls around them and a thatch roof over them. At that time in England most of the population was living in wattle and daub huts with thatch roofs that had no chimney. They were sleeping on sacks filled with straw and cooking on an open fire in the middle of the floor using wood they had to steal from the local "big man".

    In North America thy were in the neolithic, farming but using stone tools rather than metal, but it was a different kind of farming.

    The NA Indians had better food crops to work with, so their farming was a huge selection of vegetables with maize as their staple grain.

    They had no domestic animals other than the dog, and in the southwest the turkey. A man's job was to hunt, to fetch in the meat protein, in a situation where hunting was reasonably easy.

    Where in Europe farming grew up around domestic animal production with limited grains and vegetables the society evolved around the "big man" being the one with the largest number of cattle, goats, sheep or pigs. And horses, don't forget the horses.

    A man's importance was based on how much he had in livestock and horses and how hard he could work to make his land produce as it tired from use. Most of his property was reserved for growing food for the livestock. The people that grew that food for him had little value.

    In NA the women did the farming and the men brought home the meat from the forest. It was a target rich environment with low human population density and high animal population density. Both activities were done on a communal basis with both meat and produce shared by the extended family units present in any village.

    The combined efforts resulted in what is projected as the need to work about 4 hours a day to keep the village fed.

    The man had a dual role in bringing home meat and protecting his village and his worth was measure in how well he did both his primary jobs.

    In Europe it was from dawn till dark because the one that produced the most won, and if you could make someone else produce for you all the better.

    If you read the diaries and journals of some of the early market hunters and explorers in our land you can get some idea. Flocks of pigeons that blocked the sun and all you had to do was throw a stick into the tree to kill an half dozen at a time. Streams so thick with fish that you stepped on them in the water. Herds of buffalo that stretched into the horizon.

    Kasper Mansker, one of the early settlers in Nashville, TN walked 1/4 mile along a stream and killed 14 deer on the walk. Issac Bledsoe, another middle TN founder visited a salt spring on his farm and reported that he could have walked across the one mile of cleared land on the backs of buffalo.

    While we work to stay alive, and hunt for sport, they hunted for a living, and the living was good.

    Oh yes, there is another thing to consider. The bow and arrow did not come to NA until they were well into the neolithic.

    The Paleolithic people used heavy thrusting spears. They walked up to the game and stuck it with a sharp stick. Well not really. Mostly they ran the big critters off cliffs and if necessary finished them off when they hit the bottom.

    The Mesolithic hunters used the atal-atal and throwing dart technology. They sat in ambush and killed the critters when they came down the trail, much like we hunt from tree stands today. Where the Mesolithic era ended about 4000BC in Europe it hung on until about the start of the common era in NA. Probably because food was so easy to access in NA. Plenty of wild crops, which they cultivated intensely, as well as plenty of wild game.

    Oddly, the bow and arrow also arrived in Europe with the neolithic technology of stone age farming, probably brought by headsmen off the steppes of central Europe, along with the horse and the herd animals that made people "rich" and mixed with the food crops of Europe.

    Or was it the bow and arrow that allowed the development of stone age farming in any area where it appeared?

    Makes a good chicken or the egg discussion.

    At any rate, the bow is a fairly resent bit of kit.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 08-30-2020 at 05:50 PM.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •