While in Oklahoma for the 2018 Oklahoma Selfbow Jamboree we took a day to harvest a big load of osage orange trees for bow staves. Over the next two days we split over a hundred staves from the load. This video shows the process for splitting bow staves from large logs, starting with a discription of the different types of wedges you’ll need.
I usually start the split at the small end of the log, looking for any splits that are already starting. The most important thing is splitting the logs in half while keeping both sides roughly equal in size. Once they’re split in half, split them into quarters. With osage and most bow wood I keep splitting like this until I’ve got a bunch of staves of manageable size. I say split them in half, as opposed to thirds, because if you try to split a small piece off of a larger one the split will often run off toward the smaller side before it reaches the end of the log. This would leave you with a stave big at one ind and very small at the other.
A slender wedge or axe head works well to start the splits. Larger, steeper wedges work well for opening a split once it’s started. A good sledge hammer and an axe or hatched will also come in very handy. Some osage will have a lot of stringy grain connecting the staves after it’s split. This can indicate snaky grain and you’ll need an axe or hatchet to cut this and separate the staves.
Once the staves are split out, they’ll dry much faster than whole logs. But, you’re still going to be looking at over a year of drying time before they’re ready to make bows from. With that said, you can speed the drying process with a hot box and we’ll be doing that this summer. So, if you’re not subscribed to the mailing list and youtube channel, go ahead and do that. I’ll upload some of those videos when I get them done.
Also, here’s the link to the Patron site where you can access the video covering stave selection and characteristics that I mention at the end of the video. I hope to see you there.