Questions regarding Naturals

Discussion in 'General Slingshot Discussions' started by WildBill, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    I haven't made a slingshot in 30 years- but this place, and all of you, are just to inspiring for me not to get into the groove.

    I have never tried to make a natural. Where I live presently, there are several species of oak, maple and ash in abundance. Also, red bud, apple, dogwood and some various fir trees are very common. As a furniture builder, I assumed that the fir would be too soft, but I don't know if that is the case. Of the species I mentioned, are there some more suitable than others?

    Also, I've never used a microwave to dry green wood- just a shed in the backyard with wood stacked for a year or three (which I don't have available at the moment). What is the recipe for microwaving green wood?

    Also, are there any particular diameters or tree ages that I should be looking for? Are there any specific features in the fork that I should look for and/or avoid?

    Thank y'all in advance for your help to a blundering neophyte.

    -Wild Bill
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  2. Withak

    Withak aka Whitehawk!

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    Thanks to the folks here I can tell you that most of the hardwoods you mentioned work very well. I love the look of applewood once some linseed oil is applied. I was also warned to avoid fir (we have a lot of douglas fir around here) as it is too soft. Fruit woods, and some large flower woods like Rhodies are good as are oak, elm, nut woods, etc.

    I've only dried one fork in the microwave so far. I dried a fig fork using the 30% power setting (which isn't actually 30% power but power applied over 30% of the cooking time). I put it in 1-2 minutes max, while wrapped in a paper towel to help absorb some of the moisture. I would go about 5 drying cycles, then stop and let it cool down. If it started to get too hot, I stopped. I honestly don't remember how many cycles it took to dry it, I'm guessing 15-20. I measured the weight of the fork before I started and measured it every few minutes to see how much weight was lost. I understand based on some research that you're looking to see a decrease in weight of 30-40% to dry it. But I'm no expert, just sharing what I learned. My fork didn't split and went on to become a great slingshot fork. Your experiences may vary.

    Spalted forks are really nice, people seem to really appreciate the character of the wood. As for the size of the fork, that depends on what you want out of it - a big strong hunter style, or a smaller target shooter. I've got a couple of forks that are no more than 1" diameter and are plenty for a decent shooter. Larger forks allow some more room for creativity as you shape the slingshot.

    I say grab a fork and get started. I learn something with every fork I make. You have to start somewhere! Good luck, we'll look forward to the results.

    Now, I'll make room for the experts to give their responses...
     

  3. rock slinger

    rock slinger I rarely shoot rocks!

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    Get a big fork. You can cut wood off , but you can't put wood on. I mean the body not the palm swells.
     
  4. Tremoside

    Tremoside SINdustrial designer

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    Hi Bill,

    For some drying info check these here:

    https://www.theslingshotforum.com/f4/best-way-dry-out-natural-frames-27381/

    https://www.theslingshotforum.com/f4/my-method-speed-drying-natural-forks-30621/

    https://www.theslingshotforum.com/f4/another-question-drying-wood-quickly-30729/index3.html


    A bark is usually 1-3 mm thick. I used to go with 2,5-5cm diameter with forks. Grip sides are not problem if the fork itself is large enough. Most of the forks are slightly asymmetrical. There's a "leading" branch and a "secondary". Usually if you go with an asymmetrical, this secondary gives a nice rest for the thumb. If you're lucky you can find a natural with a slight bend or arch in the forks. If a natural fork fits better with your anatomy and it's thinner it means there's less carving.

    If you can find a pretty symmetrical stuff you may carve it with understanding the structure. I mean you can follow the grain, or some specialties of the fork. It's a nice touch. Let the fork live.

    The most important is the strength. Maybe there are some worm marks or other "ugly" details, but these are unique! Sometimes these weird forks can turn out as princesses.

    The best thing is to collect a few forks and checking some styles on carving. I am sure you can find here suitable designs for all kind of naturals.

    If you find a fork which one is not for you - but fine for an other builder - you can make an exchange.

    Oak and ash are popular. I liked Acacia, Alder, Ash, Hickory.

    Szia,
    Tremo
     
  5. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    Great links, Tremo! Thanks tons!

    I also appreciate your reassurance regarding flaws, such as irregular grains, worm marks and such. Again, I have a furniture building background and such things are death to what would otherwise be a useable board. I'll have to fight my instinct on that point.

    -Wild Bill
     
  6. Brazilviking

    Brazilviking Thread Hijacker

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    All of this wood seem alien to me.....................................
     
  7. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    ...And that Japanese grape thing wasn't?

    -Wild Bill
     
  8. Haze

    Haze New Member

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    Now THAT'S a touche.
     
  9. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    Great news! A major storm is passing through tonight! This means that tree branches are going to be littering the streets tomorrow, and I can gather armfuls of whatever species fits my fancy! Huzzah!

    -Wild Bill
     
  10. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    Hmmm... There is a Ginko Biloba tree not too far from where I live. Is that a soft wood or would it be suitable? I've never made anything out of that before.

    -Wild Bill
     
  11. Brazilviking

    Brazilviking Thread Hijacker

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    I eat this thing since I was a kid.....invasive species.:D
     
  12. dolomite

    dolomite Banned

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    My two cents is to expose the heartwood if possible, enjoy it, and let the fork guide you.
     
  13. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    I went fork hunting this morning and came back with these five, from left to right-

    Ash, Ash, Red Bud (I like that one the best), Ginko Biloba, Bartlet Pear.

    The two Ash forks are old and already dry. The others will need nuking. Let's see how this goes...

    -Wild Bill
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Withak

    Withak aka Whitehawk!

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    I think I'd go after that pear myself. I like the natural curve of the wood, it could make for an interesting and ergonomic shooter if you get the shaping right. Looking forward to some pics of the finished forks.
     
  15. Brazilviking

    Brazilviking Thread Hijacker

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    GINGKO BILOBA??? that is used for medicines!
    I like the redbud shape...
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  16. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    That is a fascinating tree... a 'living fossil' as it were. The leaves do not have the typical vascular patterns that are found on other broad leafed trees. There are no living species of trees related to it- it's freaky/alien weird.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo_biloba

    @ Withak- This is my first try and I don't want to 'mess this up'. The Red Bud has a very simple shape which might be best for me at my current lack of experience. But I do agree that the pear does have great potential in the right hands.

    -Wild Bill
     
  17. WildBill

    WildBill The Silly Song Guy

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    I won't be posting pics of the finished work- whoever gets them via the Global Slingshot Trade will have that opportunity. I will make at least one of them and send the rest of the forks to whomever I get paired with. I've already trimmed them down to size and have begun drying them. No problems thus far.

    -Wild Bill