The first being a self bow, of modest stock, it almost surely will be followed by another "single stick," perhaps fashioned out of a fine lemon-wood stave, which leaves a bow still to be made of royal yew, and of course having everything to be found in the best profes-sionally-made bow.
When he comes to working with yew, the amateur bow maker will find himself confronted with a harder task. Even the tools heretofore mentioned will need to be added to.
First, make sure to obtain, if possible, a pair of good staves of Oregon or Washington yew, preferably side by side from the same billet. And as the wood will almost surely be found to have many little twists that must be carefully followed without breaking the run of the grain, a drawknife, a rasp and a fine file for finishing will be needed in addition to the tools before mentioned.
The first thing to be remembered in working yew is to start from the back. I know this is the method I have given for whatever wood is chosen; but with yew it is an inflexible law. As previously mentioned, the sapwood of yew must always form the back. This lies next the bark of the tree, and is recognized as being a thin layer of tough white growth, the inner
wood being red, like red cedar or redwood. The sapwood is indispensable to the life of a yew bow, unless some other form of backing is to be substituted; for without it the bow will almost surely break. Nor is the beginner advised to adopt the modern method of planing the back down flat, crossing the grain and breaking the run of the reed in order to get a straighter looking bow, even when the intention is to use a substitute backing of rawhide. And as for the latter, as far as my observation goes —and I carefully watch every progressive development that comes along—its only value lies in the fact that where a little splinter occurs (for want of the natural backing of sapwood) the glued-on rawhide will prevent the splinter from growing. In every other respect, there is no merit in rawhide on any bow.
In starting to work on a yew stave, first dress down the sap, or back, to a flat surface, gauging it to an even 3/16 of an inch in thickness, from the red or inner part of the growth. Then the work that follows is but a repetition of that previously described. Except that the warped growth of the yew at times compels using different tools, as already mentioned. The sapwood will be found much tougher than the redwood. Be very careful in using draw-knife and spoke-shave, so as not to cut in too deep or start a splinter.