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Thread: Yew for me but not you or ewe!

  1. #1

    Yew for me but not you or ewe!

    Wasn't sure where to post this so here goes. After my nephew asked me to make him a bow and arrows whilst out in the woods with a piece of green hazel and some bamboo arrows I thought I'd like to have a proper go myself.
    I'd like to make something along the lines of a Long Bow so I'm after a piece of yew, preferably a fairly thick log about 150-175cm so I can get a straight staff out of it.

    So if anyone has a piece or has recently cut down a yew or is about to I'd be interested in a piece. I'm based near Heathfield in East Sussex so willing to drive a bit to collect and willing to pay/swap/exchange something for the right piece or if anyone can put me onto someone/somewhere I could get a piece.

    Cheers in advance

  2. #2
    May be worth getting more than one piece as it may not be unblemished, you will also need to have a good ratio of sap wood and heartwood 2/3 sap wood 1/3 heartwood as they have differing properties, heartwood being only good in compression and sapwood in tension, be prepared to take time drying before shaping.

  3. #3
    Also English Yew isn't actually very good for making bows. All the Long Bows of the past were made using Spanish Yew as it is much better.
    When i used to do a lot of archery i had some wood flown over from Oregon in the States as it is much better and produced some great bows with it.

    One more thing, I think that some people are actually very allergic to Yew so i would be careful and just make sure you don't have a bad reaction too it.

    Good luck with the bows.

  4. #4
    have a piece in the shed at the moment, if you want to come and collect it.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by filzee View Post
    Also English Yew isn't actually very good for making bows. All the Long Bows of the past were made using Spanish Yew as it is much better.
    that seems odd given we were at war with them

    surely the famous archers of old didn't have to use the enemies wood for their bows?

  6. #6
    I can't imagine the Welsh bowmen of Agincourt fame using Spanish yew but perhaps they did?
    It's the calibre of the shooter that counts not the calibre of the rifle.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by 8x57 View Post
    I can't imagine the Welsh bowmen of Agincourt fame using Spanish yew but perhaps they did?

  8. #8
    Filzee - I've made a few knife scales from small pieces of yew and not had a reaction yet so fingers crossed that won't be a problem.

    Taff - Thanks for the offer, where abouts in Hampshire are you? I've only got a Suzuki Jimny with a top speed of about 45mph so may take all day!!

  9. #9
    Initially the English or Welsh longbow was made from our own yew but after cutting down most of the mature Yew we did in fact import....

    The trade of yew wood to England for longbows was such that it depleted the stocks of yew over a huge area. The first documented import of yew bowstaves to England was in 1294. In 1350 there was a serious shortage, and Henry IV of England ordered his royal bowyer to enter private land and cut yew and other woods. In 1470 compulsory practice was renewed, and hazel, ash, and laburnum were specifically allowed for practice bows. Supplies still proved insufficient, until by the Statute of Westminster in 1472, every ship coming to an English port had to bring four bowstaves for every tun.[16]Richard III of England increased this to ten for every tun. This stimulated a vast network of extraction and supply, which formed part of royal monopolies in southern Germany and Austria. In 1483, the price of bowstaves rose from two to eight pounds per hundred, and in 1510 the Venetians obtained sixteen pounds per hundred. In 1507 the Holy Roman Emperor asked the Duke of Bavaria to stop cutting yew, but the trade was profitable, and in 1532 the royal monopoly was granted for the usual quantity "if there are that many". In 1562, the Bavarian government sent a long plea to the Holy Roman Emperor asking him to stop the cutting of yew, and outlining the damage done to the forests by its selective extraction, which broke the canopy and allowed wind to destroy neighbouring trees. In 1568, despite a request from Saxony, no royal monopoly was granted because there was no yew to cut, and the next year Bavaria and Austria similarly failed to produce enough yew to justify a royal monopoly. Forestry records in this area in the 17th century do not mention yew, and it seems that no mature trees were to be had. The English tried to obtain supplies from the Baltic, but at this period bows were being replaced by guns in any case

  10. #10
    I was just about to post the exact same thing.

    When i imported some wood i sent it to the best bow maker in England and he is also probably the best archer (long bowman) in England.

    He was the one that said not to bother with English Yew and get it imported.

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