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How to

Making Arrows

For 12 arrows you'll need:
  • 12 shafts of the correct spine
  • 1 dozen points of the correct diameter
  • 1 dozen nocks of the correct diameter
  • 1 dozen cock feathers
  • 2 dozen hen feathers
  • paint (for cresting)
  • stain (optional)
  • varnish (optional)
  • polish (optional)
I start by giving the shafts a wipe down with the finest grade of wire wool that I can get. It removes the grease and any rough spots.

Next I cut the tapers for the nock. This is possible using a penknife, that's how I used to do it. Then I got hold of a taper tool. It looks and works a bit like a pencil sharpener and it means that you are more likely to get the nocks on square.

I like to stain the shafts before I attach the nocks. You are likely to get the stain on the nocks otherwise and white or coloured nocks will discolour. I use Coloron or similar liquid stains.

When the stain has dried (an hour or so) I glue on the nocks. I use a hot glue so if a shaft is broken I can recover the nock. The groove in the nocks must be go across the grain. this is both a hangover from the days of self nocks that wouldn't split the arrows if they were across the grain. It is also said that the shaft is stiffer across the grain so the direction of the nocks will affect the spine. The nocks should also be on the correct end of the shaft. If you examine the grain along the length of the shaft, you'll see the v-shape showing where the growth rings have been cut.The v's should point toward the nock. The very good reaason that that is imortant is that if an arrow does splinter the sharp ends will pass your knuckle wrather than digging in to it.

I crest my arrows on a silver background with black bands at either end. The next step is to paint on the silver base. I made my own cresting lathefrom Mechano. When the silver has dried the black bands and the chosen cresting.

If the points are the fit-over type (like the blued steel shortnose points I sometimes use)they can be fitted without cutting the shaft. If they are the brass bullet type the shaft needs to be tapered. I use the same hot glue that I use for the nocks the points should be heated because the glue will harden before you have them in place.

I'm sure it is possible to fletch the shafts without a fletching jig but it would be tedious. Even the best feather glues have to be held in place for about 15 minutes. I have 2 jigs which is fine for the numbers of arrows that I build. Before gluing the feather in place I sand down the quill to make sure that it is grease free and will take the glue well.

I always tie in the leading edge of the feathers with serving thread. I saves injured knuckles, the quills are sharp and if one lifts it could do a fair bit of damage.

To finish the arrows I give them a coat of varnish. I used to use Yacht Varnish but it takes a long time to dry and reacts badly with some stains, lifting them and refusing to set properly. I have now moved to polyurethane. Varnishing at the end of the process helps hold the feathers in place and secures the thread tying in the quill. Finally the arrows get at least one coat of wax polish.