Living craftsmanship

Those who appreciate old-world craftsmanship are in for a treat.  Here’s how a longbow is made using traditional tools and materials. I suggest watching it in full-screen mode for best results.

That was a pleasure to watch.

John Neeman Tools is a Latvian outfit, making all sorts of interesting stuff.  They say of themselves:

We are a small crew of craftsmen from Latvia who use our heritage of craftsmanship handed down through many generations to design and create woodworking tools and knives. Our process, our method and mission keep these traditions and crafts alive and well. In this high-tech age, our own traditional craftsmanship is flourishing.

Our company was founded and all the tools designed by Jacob, a carpenter, with a love for traditional woodworking together with his close friend – a local village bladesmith, that has deep knowledge in historical blades and techniques.

We use our hands to produce tools that will live on, telling their story in the hands of the craftsmen after us. Each tool we make is born with energy and personality – a love and care that will be felt daily by each craftsman; a resonance from the heart of the tool.

Towering factories and belching chimneys are not our game. All of our tools are made in our small traditional workshops, using equally traditional methods and techniques. Our focus is on uniqueness and quality, not quantity. We want to help people to remember how to use their hands, to relate their own human energy to their tools – to achieve the true joy of creating something from humble beginnings, as we did.

Our traditions of blacksmithing and woodworking walk step by step together. We are uniting our history, traditions and craftsmanship in one ancient craft – tool making.

Their prices for longbows range from $1,045 to $1,620, according to their Web site.  Value for money, I’d say, considering the craftsmanship that goes into them.  I’ll be putting up a couple more videos from them over the next few days.



  1. Years ago I had the chance to see an archery competition shot by archers in traditional clothing, using longbows. They were in a field by the river, under Dunster Castle. A very evocative sight,could have been five hundred years ago.

  2. Care of an engglish yew longbow is timeconsuming….While they are great tools, modern fiberglass or composite bows are a lot easier to care for. (they essentially don't require any care). The older bows made of yew and oak are, however, works of art.

  3. "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" *deep breath* "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" And so on. Ahem…sorry, I was imitating a teakettle. *rueful grin* I *love* this kind of stuff! I haven't watched the video yet (no time…I know I'll be unable to stop at the first in the series) but I'm positively *giddy* as I anticipate when I'll have the time to watch it…yew longbows are *so* cool. 😀

  4. If anyone has a daughter/wife/female friend or if you have long hair, Do NOT imitate the scene from the film Brave where the gal shoots with her hair loose. Maybe with a fancy modern bow, but 25 years ago I did it with Ye Basic model, on a breezy day. Lost a quarter-sized patch of hair at the scalp. It did grow back, eventually, but that was a lesson I only needed to learn once.


  5. peter you might erase this aftwr you get it.
    want to email you but not going to fool wiyh the micresoft thing.
    read 'diary of a right wing pussycat' for the article about atttack warnings by the israeli counter terrorism expert.

  6. That isn't technically an English longbow, if I recall. That, if I remember is what is called a 'self bow' and is made from one type of wood. The English long bow was a composite of a springy wood on the inside and a stiffer woood on the outside – and the difference in performance was the difference between black powder and smokeless.

  7. Traditional English long bow was made of Yew.
    Best I could tell the video uses Oak.
    Starting with a full log it was split into 1/8 sections. Purpose being you wind up with a stave that is composed of both heartwood and new growth. Heartwood near the core is more dense while the new growth soft wood is springier.
    So you get effectively two types of wood out of one piece.
    Whenever an old time craft is performed in a certain way you always need to look past the "well isn't that quaint" to find that more often than not there is a perfectly sensible reason for why it was done precisely in that fashion.

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