Yew?

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Yew?

Postby gavin » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:18 pm

I have never used yew - and now I have a bit.
Image
    1. How is it to make rungs and legs for chairs and stools?
    2. Any tips or tricks for yew?
(I have used mainly ash & beech so far.)
What is the purple stain on the larger piece?
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Re: Yew?

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:06 pm

i have only ever milled yew, not turned, cleaved or shaved it and i do not know what the purple is, it's just the colour of the wood, what it's like as far as i am concerned, no idea why it is purple.

i have yused it for stool tops etc - it's a bit "loud" and sickly for my taste tho'.
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Re: Yew?

Postby gavin » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:41 pm

Paul Thornton 2sheds wrote:i have only ever milled yew, not turned, cleaved or shaved it and i do not know what the purple is, it's just the colour of the wood, what it's like as far as i am concerned, no idea why it is purple.

i have yused it for stool tops etc - it's a bit "loud" and sickly for my taste tho'.

How thick did you make the planks for stool tops?
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Re: Yew?

Postby Bob_Fleet » Fri Jan 13, 2012 5:54 pm

Brilliant stuff for power turning. Hardly needs polished afterwards.
I think the purple is natural.
Especially near the centre, it tends to split along the annual rings.
Also - back to all the toxicity postings - dust extraction or mask if making yew dust.

I've never used it structurally so can't really comment for rungs and legs.
It will look great though, a natural glow.

No reason why it would be different from other timber for thickness of stool tops.

Look forward to the pics.
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Re: Yew?

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:02 pm

gavin wrote:How thick did you make the planks for stool tops?


as with most "random" timbers i get, i mill to 2" waney slabs and see what to do with it.

an aside: i skidded 4 x 12foot lengths of elm full of burr just before Xmas but cannot get the pull out of the winch or traction on the ground to get them over the crest of the steep bank, can't get the forwarder to them as access is too tight, waiting to get a JCB in to lift them out and onto the trailer and by heck they re heavy, not big 12" round log at most upto 20" if you measure round the burr as well tho, even at 4 foot we wouldn't be able to man handle (1 man, 1 boy, 1 girl) them & 4 foot is shorter than i would like.
some burrs i will cut out, the rest will go to 2" slabs coz thats what i do! :D
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Re: Yew?

Postby monkeeboy » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:04 pm

Yew is lovely to turn and work when green.
I think it has an almost plastic quality to it, but only when very fresh.

I was told that it was often used for chair legs in the past, but turned in the round, not cleft.

It does cleave fairly well, and makes great firewood!
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Re: Yew?

Postby simon » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:09 pm

My limited experience of yew is that it is good to work green but much more difficult when dry. If it is dry use conventional carpentry skills rather than green woodworking.
Image
This was made with pieces from one tree. The top was sawn out of a crook and the legs were branch wood. Yew is one species that is worth turning branches. They may bend a bit as they dry, since the grain will not be straight along the leg, but they rarely split in my experiance.
Use it green. Don't worry about getting rid of the sapwood, it seems to dry the same. The yew I have had did not cleave well, not like straight grained ash or beech, so I got more waste, but the results were worth it.
Your tree may be different. Suck it and see :)
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Re: Yew?

Postby gavin » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:30 pm

monkeeboy wrote:Yew is lovely to turn and work when green.
I think it has an almost plastic quality to it, but only when very fresh.

I was told that it was often used for chair legs in the past, but turned in the round, not cleft.

It does cleave fairly well, and makes great firewood!

Mine cleaved so badly I think it would make great seat planks - like elm!
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Re: Yew?

Postby bulldawg_65 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:27 am

Didn't they use Yew for bows long ago?
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Re: Yew?

Postby robin wood » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:17 am

Gorgeous wood for tool handles where constant handling gives wonderful patina. Also great for chair parts good for turning but if shaving has nasty habit of just when you are about finished a piece will tear out quite deep so you have to shave down deeper again.
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Re: Yew?

Postby Ian S » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:03 am

bulldawg_65 wrote:Didn't they use Yew for bows long ago?


They did indeed, and still do. The replica Mary Rose longbows were made using Pacific Yew rather than European Yew. If you get a chance, read 'Longbow' by Robert Hardy for further information.

The heartwood of Yew resists compression, and the sapwood resists tension, so it makes a natural spring.

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Re: Yew?

Postby ToneWood » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:08 pm

Yes, they have an exhibit at the Mary Rose that lets you try to draw a long bow from the Mary Rose (or a replica?). They are reputedly hard to draw (being surprisingly thick) - I'm pleased/relieved to say I managed it without problem (benefiting from modern nutrition, medicine, and size).

Yew bows are quite special. We often made rather weak "nut stick" bows as children, that got even weaker & more brittle as they dried out. Then my brother got hold a yew stick - his yew stick bow was far more powerful, possibly dangerously so. And these were just sticks, not split, shaped and seasoned proper bows. I keep an eye out for yew but usually only see it in church and grave yards (where they are very common - an old pagan tradition I believe, but perhaps just a way to ensure a stock of bow wood).
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Re: Yew?

Postby Ian S » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:44 pm

I have drawn a 65lb longbow once - hugely, hugely difficult, and this was when I was into archery and shot a 38lb recurve without problem.

Robert Hardy suggests the following in 'Longbow':

The Mary Rose bows were an average draw weight of 100lb+, and they reckon that one was 172lb (at 28 inch draw) or 187lb (at 30 inch draw, at which point they reckon it would have snapped - just too thick and inflexible).

Most/all of the yew used in the heyday of English archery was imported from Spain, Scandinavia or Venice. English grown yew grows too fast and isn't as strong. The quality of yew found in typical churchyards is probably far too irregular and poor to be any use for bow making. It probably grew in churchyards either because of superstition or because farmers didn't let their livestock graze in churchyards, so there was no need to remove yew from said churchyards.

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Re: Yew?

Postby Shankar » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:01 am

You've got some nice pieces there. I've only made one bow so not expert but good yew is rare so might be worth your while finding someone who makes bows as bow staves are not cheap and a good yew longbow can cost £600+. Even if less than 6 ft can be spliced in handle. Check out http://www.english-longbow.co.uk/cat20.htm#Longbows

I've seen beautiful antique furniture made with heartwood-very dense and beautifully smooth.

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