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.
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
Subject: ANST - HOW TO MAKE WARHEADS
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 98 19:12:48 MST
From: Keith Hood <email@example.com>
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
CRANE BEAKS -- MARKLAND-TYPE ARROWHEADS THAT CAN BE REUSED
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')
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
3/8" Forstner wood bit or pilot-point metal drill bit
HARDWOOD dowel, 1 and 1/4" in diameter
Rough sandpaper or grinding wheel
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
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.
DO NOT USE SPRAY FOAM NEAR HEATERS OR FLAME SOURCES. It is also very nasty
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
IMPORTANT: THIS HOLE DOES NOT GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH. There must
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
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
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
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
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
MAKE SURE THE OUTER DIAMER OF THE PADDING DOES NOT GO BELOW 1 and 1/4".
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
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
Copyright © Mark S. Harris (Lord Stefan li Rous)
All Rights Reserved
Comments to author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Generated: Sat May 19 2001