Friday, 17 April 2020

Flaxen Sequestered on the Homestead

New Zealand has undergone almost total lockdown for three and a half weeks however certain restrictions will be lifted on the 22nd of April. For most folk, the lockdown will continue but certain sectors of industry will be allowed to operate as long as there is no face to face contact with the public. As the family Patriarch, I'm the designated family member allowed to leave the compound for essential services such as visits to the pharmacy and supermarket.

We are fortunate in that we have a large property and individual family members can seek solace and solitude in parts commensurate with their mental fortitude. I find that I'm spending quite a lot of time in my barn/workshop engaging in a multitude of projects. The recent acquisition of a 'beer fridge' has helped with sequestration. In the last three weeks, I've managed to build a shoe tidy; a shave horse for bow making; an extension to my woodwork table; several stools and I've transformed an old manual rotary tool into a fixed rotary sanding tool. However, the most exciting project underway is a joint collaboration with my son in law. We have been inspired by a YouTube video from the stable of Tod Cutler where he constructs a relatively simple crossbow (see link below).

Initially, we constructed a small and even simpler version to test out the concept. This worked well so we embarked on an upscaled version. Our crossbow is based on Tod's original design with a few modifications. For the prod, we utilised schedule 40 plumber's pipe. Fibreglass rods were inserted to increase the draw weight and the pipe was flattened using a heat gun and a flattening jig. Tod's medieval-style firing mechanism was replaced with a more complex trigger. Throughout the build, we used pallet wood only. The local mega-hardware store (Mitre 10) supplied the pallets free of charge and therefore the various woodworking projects have cost us virtually nowt. The downside, of course, is that the pallets need to be dismantled and the nails removed. Also, the wood is of poor quality especially pallets sourced in New Zealand as they are exclusively manufactured from pine. Australian pallets are generally made from hardwood (?red oak) and therefore the wood is a lot better for most construction projects. In our instance, the crossbow build used Australian pallets exclusively. That said, the crossbow stock is full of nail holes. This has not compromised the structural integrity of the bow but it adds nothing to the aesthetics and therefore it was decided to fill the holes with putty and then coat the stock with several coats of linseed oil. Anyway, I've attached a few photos of the final construct. I've not had time to shoot the bow and that pleasure will have to wait the morrow however, from prior testing, I estimate that the draw weight at the end of the power stroke (12 inches) is about 100 pounds. This is not particularly powerful as modern commercial crossbows tend to be 175 pounds and up. Here is the link to Tod's video if you are interested.


  1. Looks damn good!! I can't wait to hear how it shoots. Don't forget to post the video of you doing your finest William Tell impersonation Flaxen old chap. I'm sure your son in law will bravely volunteer to stand proud with an apple on his noggin.

    I must admit to being jealous of you folkk who can make stuff. I'm mostly banned from such persuits due to the ammount of time I have to spend in the Emergency Department. Luckily I still have all my digits, although some are mishapen with chunks missing. Keep on keeping on!!

    1. I'll post an update today or tomorrow. Actually, I'm not particularly skilled but I'm willing to learn from my highly skilled son in law.

    2. And no doubt if you post a video with added Rossini on the soundtrack, there will be those (probably in Tipton) who watch carefully, looking out for Silver and Tonto...

  2. You will have to tell William.