Author Topic: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?  (Read 181 times)

Online slowbowjoe

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First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« on: June 13, 2018, 08:00:33 PM »
There's lots of straight trees of both here, and this would be a good time to cut, so the bark peels clean and easy.
This would be my fist attempt (other than a couple of very simple kid's bows). I'm leaning toward the hornbeam (locally called "hard'ack" around here). I know the ash is easier to work, but a lot of it here seems kind of light, with wide outer growth rings. From what I've read here for awhile the hornbeam sounds like the more reliable bow wood.
Ill be using the basic hand tools to work the stave.
Any advice?

Online mwosborn

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Re: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 09:15:38 PM »
I agree with you - HHB.  I have made selfbows using "green ash" and HHB.  The HHB bows are snappier and didn't take as much set as the ash.  But why do you have to choose?  Cut some of both!!   :jumper:
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Offline scrub-buster

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Re: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 09:42:07 PM »
I would start with Hop Hornbeam.  It's very good bow wood.  Look at the bark closely before you cut any trees.  It likes to have spiral growth around the trunk.  You want to find a tree that has straight vertical lines in the bark for about 6' at least.  Seal the ends and if you strip the bark make sure to seal the backs of the staves really good.  It likes to develop drying cracks. 

And please post some pictures of what you cut. 
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Online Pat B

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Re: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 10:30:31 PM »
I agree, HHB for sure. In my experience ash likes to fret. HHB does well with heat treating the belly. It a good bow wood.
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Online Bowjunkie

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Re: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2018, 09:41:48 AM »
My preference is Hophornbeam by a considerable margin.

Just a point of note... don't confuse the names Hophornbeam and Hornbeam. They're very different trees.

Online slowbowjoe

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Re: First bow wood choice: Hop Hornbeam or Northern White Ash?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2018, 11:56:39 AM »
It does get confusing with all the seemingly related names of the various species. I just did a little searching to double-check myself, and I do believe what we've got here is American Hophornbeam.

I've been eyeing them for a couple of years now, and I do see that most have a varying degree of twist apparent in the bark. Now I'm narrowing in on a 6" or so length, probably 4-5" diameter, with as straight a bark pattern as I can find.

Will probably be a Meare Heath- ish style; hopefully 40# or so @ 27". Thinking to start tillering with about 1 and 3/4" width at the base of the limbs.

Expecting it to be a heck of a lot harder to actually do it, then dream about it!

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