Part 1: Selecting materials
Like any wood working project, selecting and sourcing materials is very important.
We here at Richard Head Longbows have been making bows for many years and have built up various avenues to look down as far as finding wood goes, I use the word `find` for a reason. Though there does now exist a few dedicated suppliers, mainly outside of the UK, of bow making materials its not exactly the same as going to your local DIY shop to pick up some timber to make a shelf.
Most people think of Yew as THE wood to make a Longbow from, though it is favored and can make a very good bow its not your only option and isn't what we recommend you go for on your first attempt, not only is it very expensive to import (usually USA/Canada for the best stuff) its not the easiest to work with.
What about chopping some down from the back garden or local Church I hear you say, well, there are a few good reasons why this is not the best idea, for a start you need to know what you are looking for, this can take years of experience to perfect, also once you have got hold of a piece of Yew fresh from the tree it will need to season for a few years before you can use it. Oh, by the way, dont go round Churchyards in the dead of night cutting down trees, they dont like you doing that!
As a good alternative to Yew, particularly if you want to make a `self` bow (one piece of wood) much as you would from Yew, then Ash is a good alternative, its much more affordable, easily obtained from wood merchants or indeed fence post makers etc and is often available seasoned. If you want to try from a premade kit then there are many suppliers, do a google search, producing staves already glued up and cut out for you to start with.
Here are a few videos on the subject of selecting materials, what to look out for and how to store it...
This next video is a tour of our wood store, it gives yo a good idea of how much wood you may end up with if you are bitten by the bow making bug!!!