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Stefan's Florilegium


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Crane-Beaks-art - 5/9/01

"Crane Beaks -- Markland-Type Arrowheads That Can Be Reused" by Tomonaga.

NOTE: See also the files: C-A-handbook-art, CA-Hunt-Tips-art, CA-safe-nocks-art, c-archery-msg, arrows-msg, arch-supplies-msg, quivers-msg, fiber-blunts-art.



This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.

These files are available on the Internet at:


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.

While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.

Thank you,

Mark S. Harris

AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous



NOTE - This type of arrow may not be legal in your kingdom or under

future Society rules. Check your kingdom's and the current SCA requirements

for combat archery arrows before using these directions on any combat arrow meant for SCA use. - Stefan


Date: Wed, 04 Feb 98 19:12:48 MST

From: Keith Hood <jemuga@freewwweb.com>

To: ansteorra@Ansteorra.ORG

From Tomonaga:

Peace through superior firepower, and how you can get it ...


A long bow and a strong bow,

And let the sky grow dark.

The nock to the cord, the shaft to the ear,

And a foreign king for a mark!

-- Stolen from "The Song of the Bosonian Archers" --

by Robert Howard, who should be

the patron saint of Ansteorra



by Tomonaga

For years, everyone has "known" that Markland arrows could not be reused;

that once a shaft was broken, all the time and money and labor that went

into making the arrow were lost and the only way to replace it was to start

all over from scratch. There is a way to make Markland-type heads that can

be recovered and reused. The procedure is almost exactly the same as making

regular Marklands; it does require a little skill in using power tools.

There are pictures that accompany this article, but because of net file size

considerations I had to post them separately. They can be found on this net

under the subject "Crane Beak Diagrams."

Please read this article all the way through before trying this procedure.

[There is a series of figures at the end of the article referanced to each of the steps given here. - Stefan]

To make Crane Beaks, you need:


Fiber-reinforced strapping tape

Razor blades or some good cutting tools

Spray foam (the type I use is called 'Great Stuff')

Paper funnels

Elmer's glue (or some kind of woodworker's glue)

Closed-cell foam padding at least 1" thick

Band saw, radial arm saw, or some saw that allows you to make

straight cuts across a round object

A fine-tooth blade on the aforesaid saw

Drill press

3/8" Forstner wood bit or pilot-point metal drill bit

HARDWOOD dowel, 1 and 1/4" in diameter


Rough sandpaper or grinding wheel

Contact cement

Not exactly required, but very highly recommended:

A centering jig, for marking the centers of round objects

Lots of newspapers to spread on the floor

Disposable vinyl gloves

Rubbing alcohol

Some notes on tools and materials:

Arrows shafts are available in a variety of diameters; I recommend using

3/8" or 11/32" shafts because they're more durable.

Fiber tape is also available in different thicknesses and widths. Keep this

in mind when wrapping the shafts--it makes a difference in how the parts

fit. At the post office you can get 'mailing tape' that is thicker than

most fiber tape. Double-width strapping tape can be found at Home Depot.

The spray foam may be hazardous for smokers; it produces flammable fumes.


to work with; it oozes all over everything, is very sticky, and can harm the

eyes. And it is under pressure, so it can shoot out more than you first

think. When using it you have to use gloves and eye protection, and be very

careful to not let it get on things you care about.

Paper funnels can be found at any gas station, and often you can talk the

attendant into selling you a whole tube of the things for a buck or two.

The small-end opening sizes can vary; this is not important. You can also

buy the paper cones meant for snow cones, and cut off the small ends.

You really need the drill press; this procedure involves drilling that is

too tricky by hand.

The drill bit: you must use a bit that produces holes that are relatively

flat-bottomed. Do NOT use a regular wood bit.

Make sure the dowels are hardwood; DO NOT USE SOFTWOODS. Oak or ash are


Yes, I said Vaseline.

And so to work (refer to the accompanying 'CB' illustrations):

1. If your shafts are long enough, mark them at 29-and-1/2" inches from

the forward end of the fletches.

Yes I said 29-and-1/2". Yes, I remember the maximum draw length is

28". The difference is taken up inside the warhead, so the shaft behind it

is still 28".

2. Cut the shafts at that mark, or just behind the factory points,

whichever distance is greater. Make sure the cuts are smooth, and

perpendicular to the length of the shaft. Cut slowly and smoothly--DON'T

split the shaft.

3. Wrap the shafts with fiber tape all the way from the fletches to the

end. Make sure the fibers run the length of the shaft.

4. Using the saw, cut the dowels into cylinders that are 3/4" long.

5. For each 3/4" cylinder: Use the sandpaper/grinder to clean up the

edges of the cuts. Make sure there are no splinters or projecting fibers.

On ONE end (and ONLY one end), sand or grind the edge into a slight bevel.

(A SLIGHT bevel; 1/16" is plenty.) The beveled edge is the BOTTOM of the


6. For each 3/4" cylinder: Use the drill press to drill a hole partway

down the center of the cylinder. Start the hole from the TOP of the



be at least 1/4" left between the outer face of the cylinder and the very

bottom of the hole. This serves as the 'stop plate' that is required at the

end of combat arrows shafts, in place of the combined plywood/leather

arrangement of regular Markland heads.

In this step, remember that the drill bit probably has a little

pilot point in advance of the main cutting edge. The 1/4" margin must come

between the outer face of the cylinder and the bottom of that pilot point

hole. Drill as slowly as you can make yourself do it; do not force the

drilling as that may cause the cylinder to split.

Because you cannot be certain that the cylinders will be all exactly

the same height, measuring the depth of the hole is no good for telling if

the margin at the bottom is 1/4". To measure, insert a shaft into the hole,

mark it at the top of the cylinder, and hold the shaft against the outside

of the cylinder to see if the end of the shaft is 1/4" from the bottom end

of the cylinder. You can have more than 1/4" but NOT less.

When drilling, you may need to stop and measure a hole more than

once. When you put the cylinder back in the drill press, make darn sure the

hole and the bit line up well before turning on the power.

7. Cut the closed-cell foam padding into pieces 1 and 1/4" across. If

you can cut it into cylinders, great. I usually cut squares out of an old

mouse pad and glue them together to make padding thick enough (that's the

padding I had available; you can use anything that's legal for making

thrusting tips).

8. Wrap the bottom inch or two of the shaft with extra layers of fiber

tape until it fits snugly in the hole in a cylinder. You do NOT want a

really tight fit; make it just tight enough that the cylinder stays in place

if you hang the arrow point-down. The cylinder should be easy to remove

with a gentle pull. In this step, the fibers can go around the shaft

instead of lengthwise.

The inner diameters of the holes will vary slightly since the

cylinder may have been pulled out for measuring more than once while being

drilled. The more times you have to restart the bit in the same hole, the

more wallowed out the hole will be. The differences in diameter will not be

visible to the naked eye, but you will see it in how the shafts fit. When

wrapping the shafts to make them fit, putting on a full layer that goes all

the way around may make the outer diameter of the shaft too large to fit in

the hole. In this case, use bits of tape on only one side--kind of like

using shims.

Since the cylinder can be pulled off the end of the shaft, this is

one of the factors that make these heads salvagable; the shaft and stop

plate are not permanently glued together, the way they are in regular

Markland heads.

9. Remove the cylinder from the shaft, slide a paper funnel onto the

shaft with the SMALL end toward the fletches, and put the cylinder back on

the end of the shaft.

If you miss this step, it's no big deal. The funnel can be forced

over the fletches, though I don't recommend it because they can be screwed


10. From the top surface of the cylinder, extending about 2" up the

shaft, smear the shaft with a light coating of Vaseline. It doesn't have to

be thick but it must be all around the shaft. Make sure the Vaseline fills

in any creases in the tape around the shaft.

11. Run a thick glue bead around the outer edge of the top of the

cylinder. This will hold the funnel in place and close its bottom end.

12. Slide the funnel down till it contacts the top edge of the cylinder.

Work the funnel into shape, if needed, to make sure you have good contact

between the funnel and the glue bead all around. If you hold the arrow up

to a strong light, you can see the glue bead through the paper funnel and

can tell if you have good contact. As closely as possible, make sure the

small opening of the funnel is centered around the shaft.

The glue keeps the foam from spraying out the front of the warhead.

13. Hang the arrow point-down and let the glue dry. Make sure the

funnel is not knocked off-center.

14. When the glue is dry, trim the funnel back to the top edge of the

cylinder. You don't need a perfect fit between them, but remember that the

cleaner the arrow's outer surface, the better it will fly. If there are

small openings at the upper cylinder edge where the glue didn't quite meet

the funnel, don't worry. Openings larger than 1/16" of an inch can be

covered with tape before the next step.

15. Cut the foam filler tube in half, with a slight slant on the ent.

Shake up the spray foam, insert the tube in the back end of the funnel, and

GENTLY squirt foam into the funnel until it is completely filled. You may

need to make a small slit in the funnel to admit the filling tube. Remember

the foam will continue to expand for some time after you ease off the

trigger, so do this slowly, a little at a time. Excess foam will ooze out

the back of the funnel, and any openings at the top of the cylinder. DO NOT

try to wipe excess foam off the arrow while it is wet--let it dry and then

chip it off.

BE CAREFUL--this stuff is nasty. Make sure you do this step in some

place where nothing important will be damaged if spray foam drips on it.

Dropped foam can be cleaned away, while it is wet, with alcohol; excess foam

on the arrows should be left till later.

Once a can is used the contents may set inside the filler tube, so

if you do just a few heads and then set the can aside, it may not want to

work again and most of the contents would be wasted. Cutting the tube in

half leaves you with an unblocked tube you can use later. It's a good idea

to wait until you have a big batch of arrows ready and foam them all at

once--it's less wasteful that way.

16. Set the arrow aside to dry for at least 6 hours. It can be simply

laid down for this.

The Vaseline will prevent the foam from adhering tightly to the

shaft. This is the other factor that makes the heads recoverable; the

shafts are not bonded to the foam. When the foam dries, if everything goes

right, there will be a tunnel down through the foam where the shaft fits.

There may be some adhesion, but nowhere near as much as there would have

been without the Vaseline. And I have proven to myself in my experiments

that a light coating of Vaseline works better than a thin coat.

17. When the foam is FULLY DRY, trim away any excess foam. If foam

oozed out the slit where the filler tube was, trim the outside of the funnel

smooth. Rotate the shaft to break any adhesions that did form, and then it

can be pulled out of the head. Foam that did stick to the shaft should be

cleaned off.

A thought of note when considering that arrow shafts come in

different diameters: It is better to use a larger shaft when making these

heads because this gives a larger tunnel through the foam. A small-diameter

shaft can then be used with the resulting arrow head, with the outside built

up with layers of fiber tape to fit the opening. If you make the heads with

small-diameter shafts and then try to put larger shafts in them, they won't


18. Glue the padding to the bottom end of the cylinder and trim it as

needed. I use 1-and-1/4" squares, which I trim into octagons. The octagons

fit the edge of the cylinder better than squares, it's easier to tape an

object with sharp corners than to tape a cylinder, and an octagonal head

flies perfectly well if everything else is done right.

It is acceptable to glue a piece of light leather to the business

end of the foam. It makes a little more noise when it hits, and that makes

a hit more likely to be noticed by the victim.

19. Wrap the outer surface of the cylinder and the padding with a double

layer of fiber tape. Make sure the tape sticks well to the cylinder, but


This taping protects the edge of the cylinder. If the arrow hits at

an angle, the foam may compress enough that the edge of the cylinder takes

the shock without enough foam between the wood and the target. If this

happens, the fiber tape--along with the bevel that was ground into the

edge--strengthens the edge and helps redirect the shock so the cylinder does

not splinter.

20. Wipe the Vaseline off the shaft and then clean it with alcohol.

MAKE SURE THE VASELINE IS ALL REMOVED. Cover the head with duct tape, put

it on a shaft, and tape it in place. Use a LOT of tape when securing the

head and shaft; make darn sure it won't get knocked off if you draw the

arrow too far when shooting. It's a good idea to use straps of tape that

have ends firmly on the shaft and that run all the way over the end.

Old-style Marklands were almost one-shot weapons. Because the parts were

permanently fixed, a broken shaft meant a replacement had to made all the

way from the ground up, so you had to count it as good as lost the second it

was fired. Crane Beaks can be reused as long as the wooden cylinder is in

good shape. If the shaft is broken, cut the tape, slide off the head, and

tape it to another shaft. If the ends of the head are damaged, either

funnel or padding, they can be replaced with relative ease. Any recoverable

part reduces the work necessary to make replacement heads.

I have made dozens of arrows with these heads, and tested them against both

inanimate targets and men, including myself. They fly at least as well as

regular Marklands and have about the same range. They hit (I think) a

little harder because of the mass of the cylinders. I recommend you make a

lot of these and then go help me introduce them to the heathen barbarian

Trimaris hordes.





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