Home Forums Bows and Equipment Osage Orange sources

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • tombow
      Post count: 103

      I have been dabbling in bow building, proving my ignorance of the building process by producing 4 broken attempts. All have been boardbows from the big store. I have since learned that I made the cardinal sin of pushing the wood when it was not prepared properly for bending, ie: I drew the bows too much before doing proper tapering. Since, I have read and learned many things about the errors of my previous ways. Question: I have seen a few sources on line but need some customer based information on good sources that you have used for Osage or other bow woods. I plan on making a backed bow, shooting for 55# or so at 28″. I may try one more hickory board but have been looking into Osage. Lemme know if you have had success with Osage and where you got it from. I am not ready to delve into started from a stave, chasing growth rings etc., just plan on using boards for now. Thanks in advance.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Tom — I have built some three dozen backed board bows, most from Osage backed with pignut hickory or bamboo. While a few of the lighter-draw bows remain in use, most broke and didn’t take long to do it. For shorter hunting-weight bows (50-55# for me), I’m done wasting time and money on boards. Among that lot I built a couple of selfbows, and both came in too low poundage for hunting … but refused to break. That’s one guy’s experience–board bows OK for lighter draw weights and longer lengths, but inferior with shorter stronger hunting bows. The longer the bow, of course, the less likely it will break at a given poundage. But I find long bows awkward, at best, for ground hunting in forest and brush. If you do it, I’d back with bamboo rather than hickory. The building is fun no matter the outcome.

    • Stephen Graf
      Moderator
      Post count: 2361

      To learn about making self bows, working with board bows is a good way to go if you don’t have a ready source for osage. Osage is expensive when purchased as a stave.

      Another backing option is just plain cloth. You can make a board bow that works pretty well with a simple cloth backing. This will allow you to learn the art of tillering without investing too much money.

      There is usually a good hardwood store within driving distance of most places. These are the type of outlets that your local cabinet maker uses to get good wood.

      There you will be able to find some nice hickory boards at a reasonable price.

      finally, I would encourage you to read Dean Torges Book “Hunting the Osage Bow”, if you haven’t already. It’s a great read and gives you the practical knowledge to make a self bow.

    • tombow
      Post count: 103

      I just got a line on a “serious” wood store that I thought had closed. No Osage available, but hickory. I’m going to visit there today and see if I can get some better-grained hickory. They also have a few exotics that I will look at but I need to keep an eye on how much I’m spending on another attempt. I’ve already put just a few dollars on the bows that would not be. so I am being cautious. I just picked up TBB 1, The Bent Stick and Dean Torges’ “Hunting the Bamboo bow” DVD and have learned what I have been doing wrong….I think. Anyway, it is time to be more careful and give ‘er another go. I’ve seen what I thought was good tiller in my attempts but have pre-stressed the wood too much resulting in breakage. ‘t ain’t easy, is it.

    • Stephen Graf
      Moderator
      Post count: 2361

      I thought Hunting the Bamboo Bow is a really good video. I watched it many times and learned something from it every time.

      His book goes into detail about self bows. There are some subtleties there and more info than was presented in the video. If you liked his video, you’ll like the book too.

      I’d like to read Glen St. Charles’ Billet to Bows, but it’s no longer available it seems. Might get a used copy on Amazon though…

      Good luck with your bow making! It’s a great Buddha exercise.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      Tom,

      If you can make it, I’d suggest going to the 16th annual Ozarks selfbow jamboree (MO-Jam).

      Osage orange is hard to come by in MN but you’ll find enough at MO-Jam to choke a goat. There are vendors who sell staves that’ll easily make two bows starting at $40. If cash isn’t your thing there are plenty of folks willing to make a generous trade. The whole jamboree is based around learning to make osage self bows and the advice, assistance, and comradery is completely free. A person can walk in with absolutely no experience and walk out with a fantastic artisan selfbow and a mess of new friends without spending a dime. The “official” jamboree is a long weekend starting on Friday but I know folks who set up camp on Tuesday. It’s really worth it, man.

      -Ben

    • tombow
      Post count: 103

      Ben,

      I have no doubt that what you say about MO-Jam is true and I wish I could get down there for it but it just isn’t in the cards right now. Vacation time is tight as we are headed for Alaska in August.

      Question for you and anyone else: Has anyone purchased Osage from Missouri Trading Company? They seem to have reasonably priced, ready to be worked Osage kits and I was wondering if anyone has first-hand knowledge of these kits?

      Thanks again,

      Tom B.

    • Clay Hayes
      Member
      Post count: 418

      In case you haven’t seen this series yet, there are 3 videos. This one just covers taking an osage stave to one ring which isn’t really very applicable for anything aside from osage. The next two though cover topics that can be applied to any wood.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      Sorry, Tom. I don’t have any experience with that company and don’t know anyone who does. I’ve never paid for Osage because it grows wild all over the place where I live.

      Clay, as always, that series of videos is excellent. I’ve watched them all.

    • Stephen Graf
      Moderator
      Post count: 2361

      Ben M. wrote: …I’ve never paid for Osage because it grows wild all over the place where I live…

      And that makes me envious 😡 My uncle lives in Kansas and sent me some of his horse apples. I have 12 trees about 4 feet tall now. I figure by the time the grandkids arrive and grow up enough to hold a bow, I might be able to get some wood off ’em.

      We have a few trees around here, but they are few and far between. I’d hate to cut one of those down.

    • Ben M.
      Post count: 460

      Folks around here use it for fenceposts because it is so rot resistant. There are miles and miles (and miles…) of fence put up with osage. Sometimes I cringe when I see all the potential bow wood sticking out of the ground.

    • tombow
      Post count: 103

      Mr. Clay Hayes,

      I have seen your videos, as well as hundreds of others on YTube. They are great and chock full of valuable information. I haven’t been even considering the “bow from a stave” route until I get a successful build or two under my belt. My latest project has been a wood-drying box which is almost finished. I have a hickory board which I have tapered the limb thicknesses down but have left at full 2″ width so far. Once I get the box ready to go I will dry the wood a bit and get some bamboo backing and dry that a bit also before going further with the bow build. Thank you all for your responses and Best of Luck to you.

Viewing 11 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.