Home Forums Bows and Equipment Hornbeam/Ironwood/Musclewood

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    • Adam Redden
      Post count: 5

      In my research I’ve found that ironwood may be a great choice for a selfbow.  I have several on my property…I’m out east.  Smooth bark, much like a beech but wavy/rippled in texture.  Seems “ironwood” is used to describe several trees.  Do I have the right kind?



    • Stephen Graf
      Post count: 2323

      The taxonomy of that wood is somewhat confused I think.  The tree you show is correctly called Hop Hornbeam and grows in the understory of mature forests.  It is a very hard wood that is used for making things like bowls and mallet heads.

      The tree that has a reputation for making good bow wood is the American Hornbeam.  The wood of the American Hornbeam is used to make ax handles and such because of its strength and elasticity…

      If you look up either hornbeams, the information will be jumbled together.  As I understand it, there are over 100 species of trees identified as “ironwood”.  Another name for what you have pictured is musclewood.  The American Hornbeam has a rounder shape and a more shaggy bark.

      Paul Comstock would say that there is no doubt that you can make a bow from that wood.  So if you want to do it, have fun!  And post some pictures of your progress…

    • Raymond CoffmanRaymond Coffman
      Post count: 887

      Thanks Steve

      I  had no personal knowledge of this wood so was reluctant to comment.

      Glad to have you with us Adam- if you decide to build a bow from this wood, let us know how it goes-

      Scout aka Ray

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