Buckthorn flat “Gnarly Carl” 44#26″ (No. 141)

Years ago Greg (aka badly bent), an American comrade, made a bow out of buckthorn. It was a very gnarly stick and he named it “Gnarly Carla”. I really admire Greg’s great work and especially “Gnarly Carla” http://www.primitivearcher.com/smf/index.php/topic,37022.0.html.

In my homeland buckthorn is rare and it is hard to find a good one, almost all are infected by fungus., but I always wanted to make a bow from this wood in the manner of Greg’s.

At least I found a suitable stave, not as gnarly as Greg’s but with some nice character. I will dedicate this bow to Greg, so I named it “Gnarly Carl”. Thanks Greg, I’ve learned a lot of you!

Like Greg’s she got buckskin (brain tanned) handle wrap and antler tips. Flipped tips were made with dry heat.

On the back is some remaining cambium; one hole in the upper limb at the dogleg; nearly almost sap wood; long fades.

bh: 5”

reflex: 2½”

w max: 1¾”

mass: 445 gram


bendy handle

10”: 10,7

12”: 15,7 (+ 5,0)

14”: 20,1 (+ 4,4)

16”: 24,0 (+ 3,9)

18”: 27,8 (+ 3,8)

20”: 31,6 (+ 3,8)

22”: 35,5 (+ 3,9)

24”: 39,4 (+ 3,9)

26”: 43,6 (+ 4,2)


Hi Simon. Stunning bow this one. Love all that character and those overlays are so fine! Buck thorn is a species on my list of woods to do! Loads of it growing here around the south west coast but I’ve yet to find a stave of the stuff with serious potential. The search will continue though! I’ve a couple of funky (still green) hawthorn staves roughed out here drying in the rafters. One has enough snake to be confused with a python. lol. Have you ever had much success with hawthorn? The stuff I have around here seems to need slow and careful drying as it seems to want to split and crack, even when worked back behind the pith line. I wonder how hawthorn would fair in the fuming pipe given all the tanning content. I’ve currently got my eye on a very nice Black Thorn stem. I’ll hopefully get it on the ground and in the van before the sap starts rising. Have you ever used Blackthorn with much luck? Regards Mark.

Hi Mark,
Thanks for your kind words! And sorry for my late response, I had some wonderful days in Italy.
Buck thorn: Be sure to find a not twisted stave, most of these are badly spiral grown (aat least here).
Hawthorn: Yes I’ve made some bows out of that wood and it seems to be good bow wood. I will look and post one or two in the upcoming time. I haven’t fumed hawthorn yet, so can’t say how it will turn out. Let me know if you do! Oh, and yes it has some serious tendency to split if the drying process is too speedy.
Black thorn: If you mean prunus spinosa, yes I’ve made lots out of that wood. And it is very fine bow wood and looking good too. If you can get a good one, take it. And it is the same as with all sorts of prunus: go slow with the drying if you want to avoid badly splits.
Good luck with your projects!

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