Splitting bow staves.

Here is a no frills way of splitting your Ash poles into useable bow staves. Perhaps the most crucial step in this process is selecting the right Ash tree to reduce into your bow staves – take all day if you need to!


Once the tree is down you can section out the straightest, cleanest length available – depending on the type of bow you are aiming for you will generally cut a length just a little taller than yourself.


The next step is to score a line across the face of the saw cut you created when sectioning the pole. By carefully tapping an axe across the grain through the pith you will create a straight and predictable weakness which should allow you to cleave the pole in half.

Make yourself a small wooden chisel BEFORE burying your axe into the log so you have a means of freeing your tool if you only have the one axe on you.


Pound the pole of your axe to drive the head fully into the end of your log – do this quickly and confidently and you will run a straight and even split into the pole. Make sure you lodge one end up against a suitable back stop before driving in the axe – if nothing else just because there are far easier ways to move a log across the woodland floor…


Tap the wooden chisel in behind the axe to take up the vice like force of the split Ash, this will then allow your axe to be freed in order to re position it further along the split.


Repeat this axe:chisel leap frogging until you reach the far end of the log and have successfully cleaved it in half.


If your pole has a sufficient diameter you can then quarter it to give you a potential 4 bow staves if all proceeds well. A nifty trick here is to work from the centre of a half round to each end as you no longer have a line of weakness to take advantage of as we did earlier by lining up the split with the pith.


It takes a bit of grunt but drive your axe through the centre of the half round and then proceed as before with the chisel to work the split out to one end followed by the other giving you two, quarter staves.


And there you have it, four perfectly straight and problem free Ash bow staves all ready for this years’ Autumn bow making weekend.

Adam Logan.





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