More homeschooling adventures: more on appropriate technology

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Almost two years ago Zeph and I went out with a bow-making friend, Peter Yencken, in search of suitable bow timber. Peter had previously taught me how to make a bow at one of his workshops.


Not far out of town we discovered a small copse of Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). This small North American tree is excellent for making bows, as practiced by indigenous peoples of that country.


The fruit is edible but not that desirable, although improved by frost, as so many hard fruits are. The timber is extremely durable and as hunting, locavorism and accountable killing are high on our list of activities we wanted to make something well and long lasting.


It took us well over an hour to carefully cut out a log, which was extremely heavy. Peter took the small log back to his workshop and with a bandsaw cut two staves out of it. One for Zeph and one for himself. We then air-dried Zeph's at room temperature until yesterday.


Then, twenty two months later, we spent the day with a rasp slowly filing down the timber until it began to flex. We knew that you could easily go too far too quickly and end up with a weak or broken bow, so we slowly filed and tested, filed and tested, stringing the bow at times to test again the flex.


And then, just before dark it was ready. An arrow was placed in the bow string, aimed and flew lethally into the straw bale target. 


As we intentionally don't hunt with industrially made weapons we require old technologies and skill to supplement our mainly vegetarian diet with animal proteins. Our next project will be a boomerang, that ingenious 'arrow' designed to return.

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