I have two crossbow projects on the go at the moment, a yew/sinew lath crossbow and a horn/sinew composite lath. This is a little progress update of the latter. You may recall that I had a delivery of buffalo horn off-cuts awaiting cutting-up in the last update. After being let-down by a local joinery company I finally managed to get some band-saw time at the green-wood workshop (cheers Rhys) where I sawed down 6 of the horns. Bit disappointed by what the shorter horns yielded but still, as you can see, there is a tidy pile of useful bits and pieces.
Next job is to re-saw this lot into 40, 1/2″ wide (13mm) rectangular strips.
Way back in the Spring of 2014 I began the preliminary work on my five -year project, a faithful replica of the crossbow of Ulrich V, Count of Wurttemburg. Well, four years in and work still hasn’t started and l must confess to becoming somewhat distracted by building longbows. However, my research and skills acquisition has been going along quietly, and you might remember the posts on summer 2014 on working with antler that formed the early part of my research along with the notes on working with water buffalo horn last summer. The last piece of the puzzle finally fell into place when one of the members on The Arbalist Guild forum recommended I get hold of the paper on the Ulrich bow by Baron de Cossin and which contains a detailed analysis of the construction of a horn and sinew crossbow. So, research and practice all completed. I’ve got 10kg of buffalo horn arriving tomorrow; hopefully it won’t take another four years…
The above photos show what I started off with, but, this week I managed to get down and borrow my mates big band saw for an hour and turned 6 water buffalo horn back strips like the one in the photos into 6 horn strips. Three hours of rasping the first pair got me to the point (6mm thick) where I could steam the plates and straighten out most of their curvature. Another few hours will get them to the 4.5mm I need but for now they look like this:
It’s been a busy few days, as well as the school carving project and the trailboard, I have made a small start on the hornbow project, not much of a start mind, but, a start all the same. I spent a pleasant afternoon rasping off all the ridges on the six strips of horn I ordered back in January in preparation for band-sawing into plates. I am proceeding very cautiously; ultimately the strips will be about 4mm thick but I have marked out 10mm cuts, now I just need to get some time on a nice big band-saw; its probably a good time to wander over to see my mate the ship-wright.