Anybody can cut and split Osage, but only a Bowyer who builds Osage bows can have the best feel for it.
These guys are in the learning stages and, therefore, very slow; so these Osage Staves will be some time in the process. The young man working the stave is our AFS student in 1988 from Mexico (Aaron), and the supervisor on the job is a friend of Aaron's (Omar). They came here this fall just to learn the finer details of bow making. Hehe. Not!
This is long way from the dirt floor, 60-watt light bulb, and no heat James had at age 14 when he made his first Osage Bow.
Examples of hard-to-find Osage Orange Stave material: straight, no knots, limb growth, or twisted trunks. Osage Orange likes to grow twisted with many limbs up the trunk. You can prune your crop of Osage Orange to get this result 25 years later.
These Osage Staves are examples of hard work and patience.
I came across some very good information on the growth ring pattern of the Osage Orange and description. I know there are misconceptions on this and hope I can shed some light on the subject. The area in No. 1 is called the Heartwood, No. 2 is the bark, No. 3 is the Sapwood, and this wood is removed along with the bark in all our staves. No. 4 is the Earlywood, and this is a narrow ring of porous, light-colored wood between the Latewood rings. No. 5 is the Latewood and the ring that the Bowyer is interested in keeping intact through the length of his bow. When the Bowyer talks of Growth Rings, it is about the Latewood rings that hold the key element of his Bow’s strength on the Bow’s back. You should stay on the same Latewood Ring the whole length of your bow.
Good Osage Orange should have tight Earlywood Rings and should be 8 to 10 inches or larger in diameter and as straight as you can procure. Latewood Rings should be thick and dark and have as few knots as you can find. All of this sounds good, but Osage Orange is noted for its nice, twisted growth with many limbs protruding from the trunk, so finding the log, as shown above, is the exception, not the rule. The perfect Stave probably does not exist.