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arrows-msg - 10/2/10


Period arrows, making arrows.


NOTE: See also the files: quivers-msg, arch-supplies-msg, archery-books-msg, bowstrings-msg, arch-shoots-msg, arrow-making-FAQ, bow-making-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Date: 17 Nov 90 00:02:51 GMT

Organization: University of Chicago


"And by the way:  helical fletches are period!  Taxophilus (1500s)

refers to 'spiral' fletches.  So there!" (Awilda)


By helical fletches do you mean what are sometimes called "flu-flus"

(sp?)--arrows designed to go a short distance than drop? Does

Taxophilus, or anyone else in period, provide pictures or a

sufficiently detailed description to tell if that is what he means?


The reason I ask is that there was a famous incident in the late 18th

century, involving a demonstration of Turkish archery by the

Secretary of the Turkish Legation in London to the Royal Toxophilite

Society. One element of the account is that he was using flu-flus as

practice arrows, and the English archers were astonished, having

apparently never seen such a thing. I had therefor assumed that they

were an Islamic invention that had not spread to the more backwards

parts of the world, and would be interested in the evidence to the

contrary. (Of course, if you mean something else by "helical

fletches," ...)





From: sgj at slc1.brl.mil (S. Gwen Johnson)

Date: 20 Nov 90 21:49:22 GMT

Organization: Paladin.aberdeen.md.us


"Helical" is the modern term to describe fletches that curve slightly

around the shaft and impart spin to the arrow.  Arrows can be made

with either left spin or right spin.  The alternatives is fletches

that are parallel to the shaft.  Some SCAdian archers I have met doubt

that helical fletches are period (they were used on the Mary Rose

arrows.) And Taxophilus records 'spiral' fletches, which is pretty

clearly to me at least the same thing we call helical fletches.  


See the excellent article in Fletch and Point #3 "Arrows for the

Longbow" by Duke Sir Baudoin MacKenzie for more information on the

construction of different types of period arrows.  Fletch and Point

can be had from the Rialto's own Dafydd ap Gwystl.


Awilda Halfdane



From: haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock)

Date: 19 Nov 90 19:21:39 GMT

Organization: DECwest, Digital Equipment Corp., Bellevue WA


From article <1990Nov16.191942.2225 at slc1.brl.mil>, by sgj at slc1.brl.mil (S.

Gwen Johnson):

> In answer to Bart the Bewildered's question on cloth yard arrows, the

> Mary Rose arrows are 28 inches in length.  Nowadays however arrows are

> sized to the archer.


The Mary Rose, being a naval vessel, carried military supplies. Military

supplies need to be standardized and folk who expect to use military

arrows, i.e. every yeoman, need to practice with them. I suspect that

custom arrows only became popular when archers ceased to expect to expend

arrows for the military.


I thank you for confirming the size of the clothyard. Now, can someone else

confirm the standard width of flemish cloth.



       Autaterra, AnTir



TO: William Buehler

FROM: Dana Geraths

SUBJECT: Re: Arrows


   If you were trying to find out how to tie period arrows I think

I could help. I have been an Archer in the S.C.A. for about a decade

and have done a few years of research on that subject. I will tell

you my secret.

   First pick up the finest pine or cherrywood shafts that you

can. Pine is certainly easier to find but I am more pleased with the


   Then get some glue called "Fletch-tite", it is the best

fletching glue there is. Then pick up some feathers. White, black,

any natural color. I use trade mark white and my wife uses brown;

just make sure they are period colors, i.e. natural.

   If you plan to make a dozen arrows you will need 3 dozen

feathers, if you plan to make a sheaf (24) then you will need 6

dozen and so on...

   You do not need to pick up nocks, but can cut your own, after

all, plastic nocks are not exactly period. You will need tips. I use

feild tips as apossed to target tips only becuase they simulate a

killing tip and seem to fly much better. But I do not hunt with my

bow(by the way).


   Now you will need some good thread. I use button thread. It is

strong but not to thick. Make it a natural color as well.

   Now, carefully carve a notch at one end of the arrow with a

knife or dremel, make it just deep and wide enough to take your bow

string. Then glue the fletchings in a triangular pattern about one

inch below the end of the arrow. I am assuming you know the normal

pattern for the feathers, if not let me know and I will go deeper

into that.

   Now wrap a small amount of the string around the shaft right

below bottom of the notch, just so it makes a small bead of wrapped

string about 1/16th of an inch wide at most. Then do the same at the

base of the fletchings. You will be tying the ends of the feathers

to the shaft. Make the bead of wrapping about the same width. Do the

same for the front of the feathers. Now you have three seprate wraps

of string on the shaft. One at the base of the notch, one on the

butt of the fletchings, and one at the head of them. Now string a

needle with some of the string and wiggle the needle under the bead

at the head of the feathers, then sprirally wrap the string up the

length of the feathers spacing the wraps at about a 1/2 an inch.

then wiggle the needle under the butt wrapping and pull carfully

tight. Remeber, when you spirally wrap the thread you must not tie

down the feathers flares but instead wiggle the thread inbetween the

feathers flares.  Now wipe alittle fletch tight on all of the ties

to stragthen them. And there you go.... A perfect period arrow. They

take ALOT of time, but I think you love the results.


   From an archer to another,

   Conner MacFarlane, (Dana Geraths)



From: 00mjstum at bsu-ucs.uucp (Matthew J. Stum)

Date: 23 Jul 91 18:34:59 GMT


Lyle Gray writes in response to Michael Squires who writes in response to

Justin du Coeur MKA Mark Waks:


>>>One more point that bow weight doesn't make a great deal of difference for

>>>range: as I recall, a couple of years ago at Pennsic, Patri ibn Cariadoc was

>>>easily outshooting me on the clout field, using what appeared to be a

>>>25 pound bow. All a matter of knowing how to use the thing...


>>For the inexpert archer (me) the heavier the bow the more accurate I get, as

>>I don't have to compensate for the drop at long ranges.  The arrow is also

>>less affected by wind.


> This all reminds me of something I read in Paine-Gallway's book on the

> Crossbow (I can't remember the exact title).  He referred to a Turkish archer

> using a "flight arrow", an extremely light arrow [shot from a special bow?],

> intended for shooting at extreme range.  Use of this arrow was apparently

> solely for contests at shooting arrows the greatest distance.  He didn't

> mention anything about accuracy, however.


The Compleat Anachronist #? (the Longbow issue) has an article dealing with

"footed" arrows.  Archers needed the 200 yd range to hit their enemy so a

very light shaft was needed.  The only problem was that the lighter shaft

merely shattered upon impact with armor.  The solution:  "foot" the end (front)

of the arrow with hardwood... about 1/5 of the length.  This would keep the

arrow fairly light but the business end was sufficiently solid to get the

job done.  The process for footing an arrow is also discussed in the issue.

I'd _love_ to try it or have some made... I would image they are a sight

to see with two different grains (and would make nice "armor" piercing arrows

for deer hunting).




Matt Stum                         VAX Systems Programmer

00MJSTUM at BSUVAX1.BITNET           Ball State University, Muncie IN USA

00MJSTUM at bsu-ucs.bsu.edu



From: graydon at micor.ocunix.on.ca (Graydon Saunders)

Date: 26 Nov 91 20:31:34 GMT

Organization: M.B. Cormier INC.


Sorry to take so long about this, Matt... :]


I hate to tell you, but 'period' arrows aren't completely non-controversial,

because arrows didn't survive.  Lots of arrowheads, but what happened with

the nocks and the fletches is not well known.  (Unless the Mary Rose Report

has lots of good stuff in it - Uller's bracer, but I hope so.)


The general consensus is that arrow shafts were mostly hardwoods, ash by

preference but ash is probably too stiff for the bow you are shooting.  

Of Ascham's list, birch is probably your best bet.  (One of the woods is

'sugar cheste' - sugar had certainly been around for awhile at this point!

(Henry VIII))  Nocks were probably self nocks, cut right into the wood,

but the Robin Hood ballads mention 'silver nocks' for special arrows -

my guess is that this was a ring replacing the wrapping below the nock,

but who knows.  Fletches were tied on because animal protien glues, while

plenty strong, are not at all waterproof, and having a light rain or good

Scots mist de-fletch all your arrows was extremely undesireable.  My current

set of arrows are just tied on, no glue, and work fine.  I'm not sure if

glue would have been generally used or not.


Exactly how to make barrel tapered shafts with hand tools is also a good

question; I'm hoping to try this soon, and any info would be greatly






From: tip at lead.tmc.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Date: 27 Nov 91 18:42:47 GMT

Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona


My Dear Lord Graydon,


       Thou hast inquired about how one might proceed to make a barrelled

shaft for an arrow...   although my knowledge is not directly related to

arrowmaking, I would like to present an idea or two for thy examination.


       The way a barrel stave is tapered is as such;  First the stave is

split from a bulk by a froe,   and split such that the square of it is

as the greatest part of thy stave.   Then the workman rouch hews it with a

bradeax until it approaches the shape desired.  He then takes his stave unto

his plane,  which is a cunning device indeed.  It is often over 5' in length,

and rests with one end upon the ground,  and has two legs to support the

other end.   Thus,  the edge is uppermost, and the shavings can cascade

through the throat and downwards.   He places his feet astride this plane,

and holding the stave at the right angle taught unto him by experience,

he quickly runs it along the plan efrom wide to narrow, which is as he

must, for the other direction would catch the grain and tear it.


       But I fear me that this method is not correct for thy wishes.

The shaft of an arrow is too small and whippy,  and I have fears for thy

fingers as thou woulds't whip it by thy razor sharp plane blade.


       I know that in the main smaller work such as tines and prods for

spindles and chair rungs, are shaped upon the horse.   The horse has a bench,

of one foot and one span in width,  and equal in lenth to a mans hieght.

The plank has four goodly legs to support it.  Upon this plank,  thereis

another plank which arises from the end, and comes towards the center some

2 or 3 feet, and rises a foot or more.   This is called the table.   The

bench and the table are bother peirced by a mortase,  through which a

another timber doth pass.   This timber is pivoted unpon the bench,  and

has upon it's lower end a place to push with ones feet...   the upper end

has a tooth, or a pin through it,  or any number of arrangements to catch

the work.  This part is named the head or the dumbhead.


       The way the horse is used is this;   one sits upon the bench facing

the table.   Because of thy height,  thou canst peer the length of the

table, and it points at thy chest.   Thou laiest thy work upon the table,

next to the dumbhead,  and then by pressing the pedal away with thy feet,

the head pivots forward and captures the work to the table.   Thou art now able

to take a draw knife or a shave,  and to plane thy work towards thyself.

To turn thy work is but the work of a trice...   thou dost but barely

move thy feet, spin thy work, and press to again.


       The horse is quick and simple,  and can easily work such small things

as an arrow shaft.  However,  when 'er I teach a prentice how to use the horse,

I always insist that they wear a wooden bib...   and the reason is this:

I keep my drawknives as sharp as I can make them,  and when the prentice

sits upon the bench and pulls the knive towards him,  he is pulling a foot

wide peice of razor sharp steel towards his breasts,  with nothing but

grace to stop it.   My bib is precisely that...  a square of wood about

8 inches upon the side,  with two holes for a cord to go around ones neck,

and a small depression the center so that one may capture wok theirein in

work closely unto it.   The number of nicks and cuts impress the wisdom

of using it upon the prentices... and they are most faithful in using it.


       If My Lord hast never used a draw knife,  I woulds't be happy to

scribe a missive about that as well.   I have now used them for over 10 years,

and built many shafts and spokes and spindles,  and have learned some of the

tricks therein.   It may seem a clumsy tool, but ifaith,  it is a cunning tool

when used to all extent!   But it yeilds it secrets slowly...   I carved

more than 20 spokes of good white oak before I learned but the simplest

differences between the 5 major cuts,   and I would happily pass this onto



I am in your Lordship's service,  and remain,


Thy Obedient Servant

Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus



Macsen ap Rhys of Wyvernhall

Matheus Arcuarius MKA Matt Stum

Re: Period arrow building question.

1 Dec 91


> I have not found any period references as to the bonding of

> fletches/feathers to arrow shafts. In _The_Prince_of_Thieves_ they showed

> them being tied on

Although I have no refernces at hand, I am told by David McDougalls, Captain-Geneal of Archers for the East, (and noted for his period arrows) that, although tied on while the glue dried, the wrapping threads were not left on the arrows. The leading end of the fletch might have some thread wrapped around it for reinforcemnt, but the spiral wrap is just for construction.



From: doconnor at sedona.intel.com (Dennis O'Connor)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Golf tube arrows, an Aten version, possibly a repost ?

Date: 19 May 93 00:28:50

Organization: Intel i960(tm) Architecture


Sorry if this went out before : one preson who was actively

looking for it did not get it, and no one commented on it,

so I don't think it got out the first time.


Golf Tube arrows, an Atenveldt version


This is the design most Twin Moonies  used for Estrella IX. These golf-tube

arrows fly straight, have good range, resist being crushed under foot, and

the design was aproved by the Aten Knight Marshal.


Hopefully I won't be tried and executed for revealing the secrets

of these highly-effective weapons to the enemies of Atenveldt.

Oh, wait : there's no war today, so we don't have any right now. :-)


The basic design is mainly the work of Baron Blackarrow, Captain of Archers

of the Kingdom of Atenveldt. The construction techniques detailed as

"option B" my wife and I developed to speed-up the 6 dozen or so arrows

we made for the war.


Using the mechanized methods we've developed, my wife and I working

together can turn out a dozen arrows in about 3 hours.




Materials needed :


        Tennis Ball          (used, $0.25)

        Golf Tube            (new   $0.65)

        Thick Styrofoam (lots)    (we found some 3" thick stuff on the road.

                              I think it was rigid foam house insulation.)

        1/2" Closed Cell Foam      (SCA standard item)

        1" Strapping tape   (another SCA standard item)

        Black Electrical Tape      (ditto)

        Duct Tape as desired       (ditto)

        36" of 3/4" Sched. 40 PVC Pipe, or a broom handle.



        Below is described on a per-arrow basis.

        (Options B is a faster, power-assisted version of Options A)


   1. Prepare Tennis Ball

        option A: Trace outline of reinforced end of golf tube onto the

               tennis ball. Cut just inside outline with a sharp razor

               knife (be careful! Tennis balls are tough and resilant!).


        option B: Find a hole-saw just a little smaller than the outside

               diameter of the reinforced end of the golf tube. Chuck

               it into a drill and use it to drill a hole in the

               tennis ball. BE CAREFUL: wear a leather glove on the

               hand holding the tennis ball. Work on a surface you

               don't care much about.


   2. Prepare Styrofoam Cores (many):

        Option A: get a thin metal tube about the same diameter as

               thin golf tube. I've used the "tailpipe" from a sink.

               File teeth into one end of it (like a hole saw).

               Use it to "core" the styrofoam, twisting it into the

               styrofoam until it's all the way thru, then pop

               the core out. You'll need about twice the length in

               cores as the length of the arrow. You'll also need

               arms like Popeye to do a dozen arrows worth this way.


        Option B: make a "corer" as above. Drill two 3/8" holes

               on opposite sides, about an inch away from the teeth.

               Duct-tape the tube onto the outside of the chuck of

               a low-speed 1/2" drill. Drill thru the foam : have

               a peice of metal beneath the foam to prevent damage

               to whatever is under it. Then take a flat-blade

               screwdriver, stick it in whichever of the two holes

               in the side you get to first, and lever the foam out

               of the pipe. Be careful not to hit the drill trigger

               while you are popping out cores.


   3. Prepare Closed Cell Foam:

               Cut a circle of foam about 1/2" larger in diameter

               than the golf tube. Cut a second circle of foam

               about the diameter of the tennis ball.




   1. Assemble the Tennis Ball Arrow Head

        Push the smaller foam circle into the tennis ball thru

        the hole. Tape it to the inside of the front of the ball

        with a little strapping tape. Stuff the larger circle of

        foam into the tennis ball, making sure it is evenly scrunched

        around the inside of the tennis ball.


   2. Prepare the Golf Tube Shaft

        Put two peices of strapping tape crossed across the reinforced

        end of the golf tube. Put another peice of strapping tape around

        the tube right behind the reinforcing ring, to hold the

        first two peices on. Put a styrofoam core in the other end

        of the tube, and stuff it down FIRMLY with your PVC pipe or

        broom stick, with the opposite (reinforced) end of the golf

        tube resting on a solid surface. Get another piece of foam,

        put it in the tube, stuff it down firmly. Repeat until the

        tube is within two inches of being full. Push as firmly

        as you can without buckling the golf tube : the firmer

        the foam is packed, the more rigid the golf tube will be.

        Stuffing each core indvidually seems to work best. Each core

        winds up about half its original length.


        NOCK STYLE 1:

           Now, cut two trianglular notches about 1.5" long and about

         1/2" wide at the base out of the open end of the golf tube.

           Carefully stuff more foam into the tube until the foam presses

           down beneath the notches but springs up above the bottom of

           the notch. Now take a 3" peice of strapping tape and place it

           centered in the notch. Push down on it, compressing the foam,

           and then smooth it down onto the outside of the tube so that

           it holds the foam down. Wrap the tube with a single peice of

           strapping tape to hold the last peice down. Now take the

           plastic between the notches on one side and squeeze it

           together so that it forms a distorted cone: use a peice

           of strapping tape wrapped around it to hold it together.    

          Repeat on the other side. Now cover the inside and outside

           of the nock with electrical tape.


        NOCK STYLE 2:

           Fill the tube completely with foam. Use two parrallel

           peices of strapping tape, at least 4" long, on each side

           of the end of the tube to hold the foam down. Now cut a

           narrow V-shaped notch in the foam and the tube, making the

           notch parrallel to the hold-down tape so the foam doesn't

           pop out. Tape the notch up with strapping tape, then with

           electrical tape.


        Nock style 1 tapers and is easier to grasp IMHO. Style 2 is less work.



   3. Final Assembly

        Push the reinforced end of the golf tube into the tennis ball.

        Take three 14" or longer strips of strapping tape and use then

        to secure the ball to the tube: for each strip, place the center

        on the tip of the tennis ball, then pull it down around the ball

        and onto the golf tube, compressing the ball slightly. Then

        run two peices on opposite sides over the tape where it is

        suspended between the tube and the ball, pulling the tape in.

        Then run a peice all the way around the "equator" of the tennis

        ball (consider the tip the north pole): this prevents the

        "smushing" of the ball from tearing the previous peices of tape.

        Spiral rap with strapping tape over the three securing peices

        where they are on the golf tube, working up to the tennis ball.

        Then cover the tennis ball and strapping tape on the front with

        duct tape for looks and durability.


There's no use in fletching these. Many period war arrows were not fletched.

You can take bends out of these by gently counter-bending them. These

arrows will weight about 5 ounces, and can strike with some authority.


Have fun, and PLEASE let the world know of your improvements.


       Dennis O'Connor, solely responsible for contents.

doconnor at sedona.intel.com               Intel i960(R) Microprocessor Division



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: kdz at sae.com (Douglas Zimmerman)

Subject: Arrowheads (was Re: Chain Mail and other Postal Postings)

Organization: Template Software

Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1993 19:54:19 GMT


In article <2b6ri2$6qa at usenet.pa.dec.com>, haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock) writes:


|> We hear a lot about the effictiveness and usefulness of bodkins against mail

|> and about the enduring usefulness of mail that one might think that the

|> majority of war arrows were bodkins.


|> However, the books I have looked at suggest that the most common point was

|> the two lobed broadhead (the ace of spades shape). The battles of Agincourt,

|> Poitiers and Crecy suggest that these heads were effective even against

|> armoured targets. Or am I making a mistake in assuming that a high percentage

|> of the french forces were wearing armour?


|> On another hand, I have seen the results of shooting a bodkin point with a 40#

|> bow at a late period helm. The wearer should have survived, provided the

|> depression in his skull did not kill him. I will grant that plate will deflect

|> glancing shots, but not all shots are glancing.


|>     Fiacha


I would be interested to know what books you are referring to, that suggest the

most common point was a broadhead.  My references ('The Longbow' and 'The

Medieval Archer'), plus the heads I have seen displayed in British museums,

indicate that most war points of the 14th century or later were either bodkins,

or very narrow and thick broadheads that are effectively the same.


Certainly, there were a wide variety of points, each with a different purpose.

Remember that most arrows were never used in war; they were either used

for hunting (by nobles), or in practice.  In such case, I fully believe that

most points would be broadheads, not bodkins.  And an archer at war would

have arrows with several different kinds of points - 'galling' points (very

light bodkins) used to shoot at maximum range to harrass the enemy;

heavy bodkins for most shooting, and heavy broadheads for close in work.


While I have never seen an actual bodkin point shot against armor,

'The Longbow' has some detailed studies of what happens when they are.

My guess is that a helm would be substantially thicker than most plate.

In any case, the studies indicate that the main advantage of plate is

that arrows not hitting square will glance, or at least only penetrate

a very short way.  I believe that using a broadhead against plate would

reduce penetration to the point of near uselessness.


I have seen arrows shot against mail, and even using light bows, they

penetrated with ridiculous ease.  Saxton Pope, the archer who popularized

bowhunting earlier this century, once shot a broadhead against

some authentic mail in a museum, and it went through the front, through

a hay bale, but didn't go through the back.  (The museum curator had offered

to wear the mail for the shoot.  He was suitably pale afterwards.)


My understanding of the battles of the Hundred Years War was that the French

chivalry was armored with the best armor of the time, mostly early plate.

But my impression is that a great many knights were not slain by arrows -

but they were badly hurt, and their wounded horses threw them. There are

numerous reports of the archers finishing off fallen knights with daggers

and mauls, and the English men-at-arms weren't exactly loafing.


My point is, that 14th century plate was pretty effective against any

non-bodkin arrow point, and moderately effective vs. bodkins.  Mail

was have been worthless against any sort of point.


Douglas Zimmerman  kdz at template.com  uunet!template!kdz   703-318-1218

Template Software  13100 Worldgate Dr, Ste 340  Herndon, VA 22070-4382



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: John, R., Edgerton <sirjon at waffle.sns.com>

Subject: Re: Combat Archery

Keywords: archery, ikcac, traditional, nocks

Organization: Systems'n'Software, Fremont, CA  94539-6669

Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 16:55:44 PST


infomgr at ptri.win.net (Rex Deaver) writes:


> Good Sir Knight, you said;


> >        Takedown bows are still allowed in the open div.

> >it is just in the traditional division that they would not

> >be allowed.  And if/when at some point in the furture

> >there are enough hand made bows in use in the SCA, then

> >modern material laminate bows would be phased out also.


> There will never be sufficient hand-made bows in the SCA to eliminate

> modern construction ones in the open competitions.  I assume your

> suggestions of restricting types and construction are aimed solely

> at the so-called "traditional" division shooting.  I see no problem

> as long as the two divisions are run concurrently, i.e., an entrant

> may enter one or the other, but not both.  


> >        Nock types.  If anything self nocks cost less


> Unless you are NOT making them yourself.  Then the costs begin to

> exceed any reasonable figure.  At least, in this area.


> >than plastic nocks.  All you need are two hacksaw blades

> >that have been taped together,a small round file, a small

> >flat file and some carpet thread or sinew to reinforce it.

> >Tfhe <Primitive Archer> magazine has a good series on

> >arrow making in it, which should be read by any SCA archer

> >interested in making their own arrows.  The articles cover

> >making arrows from shoots or spliting wood stock and not

> >from precrafted dowels.

> >

> >        Issue #2 has an interesting article on making

> >bows from RATTAN.


> That should be interesting!  How does one get hold of these

> publications?




> ------------------------------------------------------

> Mathurin Kerbusso...but my boss, whose opinions are NOT mine,

> calls me;

> Rex Deaver      Internet: infomgr at ptri.win.net

>                 CIS UserID: 70744,3171

>                 Olathe, Kansas  (913) 780-6566  

> "Observing life from an accelerated frame of reference."




       The equipment restrictions are only for the

<traditional> division.  And these are only proposed



       Primitive Archer magazine is an excellent source

of information and material for those achers interested in

making their own equiptment: Bows, arrows, strings, etc.

They are curently runing a multi part article<How to make

trees fly> on arrow making starting from scratch, not dowels

and precut feathers. Back issues are availible.

Contact--Primitive Archer, P.O. Box 209, Lufkin, TXm,

75902-0209. (409) 632-8746.  They have many suppliers for

bow woods, such as Osage Orange, yew, hickory, ash, etc.

both in staves and billets.  They also have suppliers of

horn for making your own horn bow. It is a quarterly and

costs $14 per year.


Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf           John R. Edgerton

Esfenn, Mists, West         Newark , California



From: SAUNDRSG at qucdn.queensu.CA (Graydon)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Arrow head enquiry

Date: 16 Jan 1994 01:39:07 -0500

Organization: The Internet


>>Article: 39453 of rec.org.sca

>>From: John, R., Edgerton <sirjon at waffle.sns.com>

>>Subject: Period arrow heads

>>Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 18:42:11 PST


>>        Can anyone tell me of a sorce of period style

>>arrow heads: broadheads, bodkins, target, etc.  I would

>>like to make fully period style arrows.  I will be

>>making the shafts from board stock and planeing them

>>round. Then  cutting the nocks into a hard wood insert.

>>Then they will be fletched with goose or peacock and

>>hand tied.  But I do not have any proper arrow heads to

>>use with them.

>>        Thank you for your help.


>>Sir Jon Fitz-Rauf             John R. Edgerton

>>Esfenn, Mists, West           Newark, California


The best (in the sense of recommendations) source of such

arrow heads I know of is:


         Hector Cole, Arrowsmith

         The Mead

         Great Somerford,



         SN15 5JB    tel.  SEAGRY  (0249) 720485.


The prices range from pounds 3.50 to pounds 7.50, which is why

I can only pass on the recomendations and not give you my own

opinion! :]


I will comment that socket size and depth is quite critical;

short socketed bodkins just don't work.


I will also comment that softwood arrow shafts are argueably

non-period. I have never found any reference to them, despite

toiling through a few scandenavian museam catelogs and such.

(The shafts that have survived seem to be predominately birch,

from Scandinavian countries.)


I would sugguest that there are two main reasons for this;

one is that softwoods have to low a specific gravity for

standard period use, and the other being that softwoods tend

to be either small and twisted or huge and straight, with

neither being entirely useful to an small scale fletcher.


And, while sawn-from-boardstock works, I have strong suspisions

that the period method of production involved splitting the blanks.

I haven't managed to get that to work yet; I need some less twisty

bits of tree than I have hitherto managed to obtain.


My own experience with this is limited, but sugguests that

hardwood (in this case, North American White Ash) arrow shafts

are almost ridiculously durable.  The shafts I'm using have

a maxium diameter of 15/32nds of an inch (yes, they are spined

properly), and have so far hit trees, rocks, spruce 2x4, half inch

plywood and a concrete floor with no ill effects.  (None of the

above on purpose!  Switching to pure off-the-hand, and not quite

doubling poundange, at the same time, is not recommended.  :)


I've hit the top 2x4 rail of my butt three times now; two of

the three times, extracting the arrow turned out to involve

extracting it from the fieldpoint, leaving me with a nice epoxy

cone on the end of the arrow.  (The heads sink about flush in

an SPF studding grade 2x4.)


The question of specific gravity of the wood arrises because

self bow efficency of energy transfer is a linear function of

arrow mass; Ascham lists 'too light arrows' in his list of

the causes of bows breaking, which is modernly explained as

a result of too much energy having to be disipatted in the

bow, rather than going to propel the arrow.  A friend of mine

stopped having handshock problems with his longbow after switching

from Port Orford Cedar to heavier ash shafts.


For considerable fascinating technical information in the

appendices, if not for the good historical information, may

I recomend the second edition of Robert Hardy's 'Longbow'?

(ISBN 1 85260 412 3, from Bois d'Arc press.)  It doesn't have

as much on arrows as I would like, but it does have a good

discussion of types of arrow heads and some information on

the horn-nocked poplar shafted Mary Rose arrows.  (And gobs

of information on the Mary Rose bows.)


You could also try looking at archological exhibit catelogs;

there are quite a number of arrowheads from Saxon and Scandinavian



I think I shall stop burbling on now... :]





From: powers at cis.ohio-state.edu (william thomas powers)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: ARCHERY: period arrow finishes and decoration

Date: 20 May 1995 07:51:39 -0400

Organization: The Ohio State University, Department of Computer and Information Science


Michael Fenwick of Fotheringhay writes:

>Subject: Re: ARCHERY: period arrow finishes and decoration

>The subject line says it all. Any information will be greatly


>Michael Fenwick of Fotheringhay, O.L. (Mike Andrews)  Namron, Ansteorra


Good Master Michael; I would commend to your attention a painting

by Jacopo De' Barbari, "Still Life"; it dates from 1504 and as

part of the composition has a crossbow quarrel of great elegance

and style.  This painting currently resides in the Alte Pinakothek

in Munich; I make use of the large colour reproduction shown in:

_Pinakothek Munich_ in the "Great Museums of the World" series published

by Newsweek; Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 69-19062 (no isbn given)


Let all know that thomas the beggar has metamorphised from the

un-deserving poor into a worthy smith called wilelm/willium/etc


wilelm the smith, who still has his 4&20 blackbirds shirt



From: dragontdc at aol.com (DRAGON TDC)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Need advice on Arrowheads

Date: 11 Feb 1996 19:32:33 -0500

Organization: America Online, Inc. (1-800-827-6364)


Try looking up the subject in Stone's Glossary & Index of the Decoration &

Use of Arms & Armor in all Ages etc... ad nauseum. The dang title is huge,

but the information is fantastic. We all just call it "Stone's " . Also,

Palladium Games has a very good overview of medieval arms & armor. It's

losely for their game system  but can stand alone as a reference piece.

For your blacksmithing, try "Practical Blacksmithing" and Alex W. Baeler's

"The Art of Blacksmithing" both available through Barnes & Noble.


B. B.


Ian MacInneirghe of Inverary, called Donovan,

Iron Mtn.




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: "Dana J. Tweedy" <tweedyd at emh1.pa.net>

Subject: Re: Need advice on Arrowheads

Organization: Zippo

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 02:58:36 GMT


   Robert Hardy's book  "The Longbow, a Social and Military History"  

Has several photos of period arrowheads.  Also the book "From Viking to

Crusader" has some photos of arrowheads.


                         Karl Rasmussen of Tvede          



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,rec.crafts.metalworking

From: djenkins at lathyrus.win-uk.net (David William Jenkins)

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 19:36:51 GMT

Subject: Re: Bodkin Points

In article <56vb8j$5o6 at news.mhv.net>, Keith Dombrowski (kdombrowski at mhv.net) writes:

>       I was recently reading through a collection of related articles on arrow

>making from the rialto and I ran across a post concerning where to get bodkin

>points for making period arrows. The company recomended was somewhere in

>England (a bit out of my range). Does anyone know of anyplace to get bodkin

>points in the US or Canada?




Do you have much of a problem with knights on horseback where you

come from? ;-)


Incidently, many moons ago I saw a short slow-motion film where an

arrow with a bodkin point was shot at a WW2 steel helmet, using a

bow of about 100lbs draw weight.  Went straight through, by

chiselling its way in - it hit, the head bounced back, but the

spring and weight of the arrow forced it to hit again... and

again... NASTY! And they reckon that the intact bows they lifted

off the wreck of the Mary Rose had a draw weight of between 150 and

200 lbs.


David Jenkins              -- aka --             Lathyrus Computers Ltd



From: mjbr at tdk.dk (Michael Bradford)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca,rec.crafts.metalworking

Subject: Re: Bodkin Points

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 07:33:24 GMT

Organization: Tele Denmark


djenkins at lathyrus.win-uk.net (David William Jenkins) wrote:


>Do you have much of a problem with knights on horseback where you

>come from?


Unless the horses are armoured as well, I would use broadheads.

Falling off a large horse is bad enough without being in armour and

possibly travelling at speed. A horse without its rider (armoured or

not) would still do considerable damage to infantry.


>Incidently, many moons ago I saw a short slow-motion film where an

>arrow with a bodkin point was shot at a WW2 steel helmet, using a

>bow of about 100lbs draw weight.  Went straight through, by

>chiselling its way in - it hit, the head bounced back, but the

>spring and weight of the arrow forced it to hit again... and

>again... NASTY! And they reckon that the intact bows they lifted

>off the wreck of the Mary Rose had a draw weight of between 150 and

>200 lbs.


I think the film you refer to was the actor Robert Hardy's documentary

on the long bow. The target was I believe a Tudor breast plate (which

is thicker than longbow period armour) and the film was made at one of

the british defense establishments. Even so it was very impressive.


Bodkin points are also very useful against chainmail. I have put

bodkins through two layers of chainmail using a 45lb longbow. Ruins

the arrow, but...... (evil grin)


Michael Bradford



From: "Michael James Bradford" <mjbr at tdk.dk>

To: (Mark S. Harris)

Date: 27 Nov 1996 06:52:42 +0000

Subject: REF: Re: Bodkin Points


Hi Mark


You asked about what range we were shooting at when I put bodkins

through two layers of chainmail using a 45lb longbow and whether it was

butted or riveted chainmail links.


If I remember it was at a demonstration, so the range was rather short

about 80-100 feet (so the crowd could see). The target was a vest of

butted mail, although I can not remember the diameter of the links (they

were not oversize though). The vest was mounted on a cotton sack filled

with straw, which was not tight packed.


A group of us loosed about 50 arrows at it and, of those that hit, our

broad heads bounced and those of us with bodkins penetrated. My hit

through two layers was on the arm, which did not contain much padding.


Our arrows are made in general with 10mm dowel and hand forged arrow

heads. The bodkins tend to be smaller on the diagonal than the diameter

of the shaft. When I am making them, I demonstrate the bodkin by pushing

it through a piece of mail and it is a tight fit which doesn't spread

the rings. Compared with the viking period bodkins (the period we are

interested), the ones we use are the correct size.


Michael Bradford

Viking Group Wunjo





From: Mark Bennett <mbennett at ptd.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Help:  Making nocks

Date: 3 Dec 1996 21:56:00 GMT

Organization: Dragon Dojo and Schezuan Pizza Parlor


> How does one go about making nocks?  By self nocks, are they actually cut

> into the shaft?  What design is used to cut in a nock, just a simple v

> notch?


   A better way is to cut a vertical slit (try with two hacksaw blades

taped together), remember to cut ACROSS the grain. Reinforce with some

thread, and varnish on top of it.

You can also use a small rat-tailed file to open out the base of the

nock, thus making self-nocks that lock onto the string.


IF you have the time/money etc, try insetting two small strips of bone

or horn to further reinforce the nock.


Mark Bennett http://home.ptd.net/~mbennett



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rubyshoe at world.std.com (Bill Whitley)

Subject: Re: Help:  Self nock arrows

Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 14:54:52 GMT

Organization: Ruby Shoes Studio


In article <32A214C3.224E at jeffnet.org>, Pcrimlaw at jeffnet.org wrote:

> I'm making self nock arrows using silk thread to lash down the ends of

> the fletching and reinforce the nocks.  Is a single layer wrapping

> strong enough for nock reinforcement?


> Simon von der Eisenhandlung

> Briaroak, An Tir


Yes, but the actual amount of strengthening will vary with the size of the

thread (or cord) and the accuracy of the wrapping (also called "serving").

You might want to brush some laquer or other kind of sealer over the

serving to protect it (I use a clear glue, which also glues the strands



I've found stranded silk cord is best, although nylon is a good modern

alternative, and it is more readily available, and in a variety of colors.


Interestingly, some Edo period Japanese arrows I've seen, used laquered

mulberry paper (commonly called rice paper), but I expect it was primarily

to help hold the feathers down. (Also remember: most arrows were intended

to be shot just once...)


Oohashi Katsutoshi



Date: 27 JAN 97 13:12:21 EST

From:JMail at Teleglobe.CA

To: Archery at mav.com

Cc: SCA-Archery at wyvernhall.com

Subject: Archery's version of the quest for the Holy Grail.


Greetings friend archers,


   This weekend I began the search for perfectly matched arrows. I spent 6 hours with a local traditional archer and purchased 1 dozen shafts. We checked draw length, bow weight, arrow spine, tapering techniques (for nocks and points - not shafts), bare arrow tuning, length and spine changes, and then went into forward of centre calculations and tapering shafts for better clearance and FOC balancing.


   You can imagine that my feet still haven't returned to Earth yet.

Anyways, I have written up everything I could remember and am

forwarding it on.


John Macandrew



Draw Length


1. Determine draw length for the archer. For recurve shooters error on the longer side and for non-centre shot longbows error on the short side.


2. Take the bow draw weight at 28 inches (as marked on the bow).  For every inch over or under 28 inches adjust the weight 5 pounds. Do not be overly concerned that the actual bow weight varies from the weight as marked on the bow as you will be bare shaft tuning to get the exact arrow spine anyways.

3. Very carefully place a nock and point on you chosen shaft leaving the shaft  at full length. Try to get the best shaft possible for straightness as any  errors here will affect the dozen arrows you end up with.


What you have now is the arrow spine to begin your bare arrow testing at.


4. From about ten yards fire this arrow three or four times into a butt. What you are looking for is the relationship between the location of the nock and

the point. If the nock is lined up left of the point then you require to go up to the next size spine of arrow. If the nock is lined up right of the point then you require to go down to the next size spine of arrow.

(Arrows will generally be supplies in groups of 5 pounds. eg.45-50 #, 50-55 #'s.)


5. Continue testing until you get the arrow to line up as near perfect as



If the arrow lines up perfect, skip the next area.


However, if you are still a little left of centre:


So now you have (for example only) a 50-55 # spine that still lines up just

Slightly left of centre. On your last couple of shots note how much arrow length is beyond the back of the bow.


Your next step is to shorten the length of the arrow by 1/4 inch of at a

time. This "extra fine" tuning will slowly bring the nock over into perfect line with the point, ending  up giving you the spine you require and the length of arrow you should be using.




A.     F.O.C. (Forward of centre)


1. Once your arrow is fletched, measure the length of the shaft from the point where the string touches the nock to the end of the point.


2. Divide the length of the arrow in half and mark this point on your shaft.


3. Balance the arrow on your finger and mark the balance point on the shaft.


4. Note the following measurements:

        - half the full length of the arrow.  eg. 15 inches

        - distance from centre to point of balance.  eg 1.5 inches

5. Divide 1.5 by 15 to get .10 or 10 percent.


This next part is a matter of opinion (not mine as I am new to this). The

books say FOC should be between 10-15 percent but the traditional archer who was passing on the information says FOC is better between 8 -10 percent, with 8 being the best.


You can adjust the centre of balance by changing the weight of point that

you use or by tapering/sanding the ends of your arrow.



B. Tapering.


There are three basic shapes of arrows:


        - Parallel - where the arrow diameter is identical the full length of

the shaft.

        - Barrel - where the centre of the arrow has a larger diameter that

the nock end and the point end.

        - Tapered - where the nock end has gradually shrinking diameter.


To achieve the tapered end:


        - draw a circle around the nock end of the arrow at 3", 6" and 9 ".

        - draw a line along the arrow from the nock end to the 9 inch line.


Place the arrow in a groove cut in the length of a 2X4. Align the shaft so

the line you drew  along the length is up. Now with a thumb plane set very,

very fine:


        - pass the plane  from your 3 inch mark to the nock end of the shaft.

        - turn the shaft slightly and pass the plane again from the 3 inch mark.

        - continue this until you get back to your starting line.

        - Move to the 6 inch mark and repeat.

        - Move to the 9 inch mark and repeat.


This process will give you a  gradually decreased diameter of the shaft from the 9 inch mark to the nock end of the shaft.

Nock location in relation to the grain of the shaft.


If you take a stain and place it on a shaft to bring out the grain lines you will note the following:


In a 360 degree view of the shaft you will find two sides with grain lines running parallel the length of the shaft and two sides with "V" shaped "feathers" on it. This is where the grain lines intersect with the outer edge of the shaft.  


The placement of the nock should be such that when you have the arrow nocked and

ready to shoot, the "V" shaped "feathers" will be pointing straight up.  

There are two reasons for this.


First, that the arrow spine is stronger in this configuration.  


Second, should the arrow break in the first instant of shooting and you have the

"feathers" on the side, you run the possibility of having the split shaft going into your hand or arm.


Note: When deciding which end of the arrow to place the nock on and the point on, consider the number of "feathers" on the ends of the shaft. If one side has

more "V shaped feathers" than the other - place the point at that end. This way

if the shaft snaps while coming out of the bow, you have a better chance of the split shaft missing your hand or arm.




Should you be fortunate enough to have access to a spine tester you might

want to consider checking the spine of your arrows under the following conditions:


1. Place the arrow on the spine tester with the parallel grain lines facing up.

Measure the  spine.

2. Rotate the arrow 90 degrees and repeat until you get back to the start.

3. Note the four measurements. (You will have two with the parallel lines up and two with the  "feathers" up.)

4. The two measurements that you are interested in are the ones with the parallel lines facing up.


Depending on the quality and straightness of your shafts  you might notice quite

a difference in the spine of  a single arrow measured at different points.


Should you not take this into consideration when making your arrows you will  have arrows which will scatter left and right on the target as the varying spines react different coming out of the bow.


John Macandrew



Date: Mon, 03 Feb 1997 17:37:52 +0800

From: Nathan Bullivant <nathan at ednet.com.au>

To: John Edgerton <sirjon at netcom.com>

Subject: Re: Archery's version of the quest for the Holy Grail. (fwd)


Sir John, Greetings.


Having read the quest for the Archery Grail, could I suggest a small

change to the method.  For step 3, the arrow if left at full length will

give you some over spined results.  When you cut the arrow down to your

correct size it's spine will increase. For people with long draw

lenghts, a little, for short draw lenghts, a lot.  Use the same method,

but with the arrow cut to the correct lenght, then choose an arrow which

is still slightly soft.  Adding the fletches to the arrow will have the

same effect as having a stiffer shaft.


Sorry if this is below the level of this list, but hopefully it may help



Nathan of the Black Tower

nathan at ednet.com.au



From: Witehrs at aol.com

Date: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 01:39:15 -0500 (EST)

To: markh at risc.sps.mot.com

Subject: arrows, self and period.


     I'm new here online and have just read your files on arrow building. I

hope this gets to the right place in a timely manner. I have been building my

own shafts for a while and hope I am not being redundent or offering info

that is old hat to you at the SCA. For truely self arrows one can start by

splitting bolts of your choice of wood, I cheat and use store bought boards.

Split out shafts about 1/2" square or close and force these through

progressivly smaller steel dies untill you get them down to about 3/8" dia. I

use oak and this gives me a spine suitably for my 75 lb. longbow. To taper or

barrel taper these I make a mark at 3", 6", and 9" . Starting at the 3" I

plane once around the shaft then go to the 6" and do the same then on to the

9" and once more or untill I get to about 5/16" at the nock and point ends.

These oak shafts come out heavy in weight (to pierce armor) but still have

great flight charicteristics. To reduce spine weights one may sand the shafts

down the entire lenght to reduce the dia. thus reducing the spine, just a

little sanding will reduce them quite a bit so check them often to ensure

correct spine. I also have more mechanical methods of turning shafts if

anyone is interested. Contact me, kevin at witehrs.com   Thank you for your




From: Witehrs at aol.com

Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 00:21:48 -0500 (EST)

To: mark_harris at quickmail

Subject: arrows, building


About 20 yrs ago I visited the Mary Hill Museum in south central WA. state. where there were quite a few Native Am. artifacts. Among these were soft stones which were drilled in different sizes, these were used to reduce and round out

arrows how many years ago. Just an example that dies have been around a long

time. To my letter, the dies I used I drilled in 1/2" plate steel in 1/64"

inc. from 1/2" down to 5/16". I turned the shafts with a drill. You should

plane off the corners of the shaft before you start to ease the operation. I

started with a 3/8" square peice of stock as opposed to 1/2" like I mistyped

last time. You can either split the boards or bolts with an axe or run them

through a table or band saw which makes a cleaner start point. The more mech.

method uses a router mounted to a jig again powered by a drill. Either

methods can be built for very little if any cost if you have access to power

tools. I got the plans for both methods out of TRADITIONAL BOWHUNTER  Feb/Mar

'95 by Roy Marlow and Apr/May '94 byJohn Hutter. I've used both methods and

have been pleased with them both. I hope this helps those who are inclined to



          Kevin Miller at witehrs at aol.com



To: Mark Harris

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:13:34 -0800 (PST)

From: John Edgerton <sirjon at netcom.com>

Subject: Crossbow Bolt Design (fwd)


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 07:54:58 -0800

From: Chris Nogy <cnogy at comp.uark.edu>

To: John Edgerton <sirjon at netcom.com>

Cc: locm at Juno.com

Subject: Crossbow Bolt Design


Good gentles.


Much of the work done on crossbow bolt design in the middle ages had to do with

how much of the bolt actually made contact with the rail (top) of the crossbow.

Barrelled shafts, tapered shafts, strange protrusions forged into the bolt

tips, all these were made to try to reduce friction on the bolt.


A good military crossbow bolt (quarrel) from a high poundage crossbow is

significantly larger in diameter than the typical handbow arrow.  This presents

a problem at the rear end of the bolt.  In order to shoot well, the bolt must

be in contact with the string at the moment of release.  This led to the

necessity of tapering the aft section of the shaft in one direction (width) to

fit between the fingers of the nut.  So in cross section, starting about 35-40

percent back from the front of the bolt, the shape changes from a circle with a

diameter 'x' to an ellipse with a major diameter 'x' and a minor diameter of

the distance between the fingers of the nut.


The front of the bolt was tapered smoothly to fit the socket of the tip.


This shape provides aerodynamic benefit, in that the elliptical profile of the

end of the shaft acts somewhat as a vertical stabilizer, and makes a two

fletched bolt shoot better than a two fletched straight shaft.  The bulge at

the 35% point of the shaft brings the center of aerodynamic forces (drag and

stabilization) forward of the center of forces of a straight shaft, and the

smaller tip diameter reduces drag and smooths boundary layer forces over the

center of forces.


For those without aerodynamic experience, it works like this.  The largest

point of the shaft is the point which creates the largest frontal profile, so

it has the most drag against the air.  Aft of this point, the airflow is

disturbed, creating a relative 'vacuum' of atmospheric forces (like a bicycle

drafting behind a truck).  This area extends to about the middle of the

fletches before the airflow re-attaches itself to the shaft and the vanes.  In

essence, we have created a lever, with the pivot at the bulge in the shaft, and

the stabilizing forces acting on the aft of the shaft, without any interfering

forces in between.  


The crossbow bolt tip was heavy, and on a straight shaft, where the center of

drag was back somewhere in the fletches, it took a lot of force to counteract

the effects of drag, airflow, and gravity on the tip.  By moving the center of

forces forward, it is easier for the stabilizers to counteract any forces that

might be imparted by the tip.


This type of bolt design has it's drawbacks.  It is heavier than the smaller,

more traditional straight arrow shaft style bolts we use, so its range is less.

It does more damage to traditional SCA style targets, and if you are using thin

Ethafoam or expanded polyethylene targets and you penetrate through the bulge

of the shaft, you will go through.  But they fly well.


This design does not usually apply to the hunting and sporting bolts used in

the Middle Ages, there were other tricks to help a lighter, smaller bolt fly



Kazimierz Samostrelov

crossbow at saxon.uark.edu



Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 15:23:19 -0400

From: rmhowe <MMagnusM at bellsouth.net>

Subject: [SCA-AS] Forging Arrowheads and Knifes / Making a Forge

To: - Authenticity List <authenticity at yahoogroups.com>,       - BARONY of

        WINDMASTERS' HILL <keep at windmastershill.org>, - Dunstan

        <Dunstan at yahoogroups.com>,    - Manx <TheManx at yahoogroups.com>, "-

        Metalcasting at yahoogroups.com"        <Metalcasting at yahoogroups.com>, - Regia

        Anglorum - North America  <list-regia-na at lig.net>, - SCA Arts and

        Sciences 7/03       <Artssciences at lists.gallowglass.org>


Happened on this today:

Arrowhead making tutorial, and an interesting way to make a

cheap forge. I have rather extensive books on historical

archery and have never seen the top type of arrowhead

but the bodkin and the tutorial are quite good.

Also a knife making tutorial:

Has a Chinese/Japanese style forge

also seen on these pages:


Charcoal making:



Some quiver pictures:






Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 09:38:42 +1200 (NZST)

From: "Zane R. V. Bruce" <zane at paradise.gen.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Estel Talroval wrote:

<<< After watching Mythbusters on splitting an arrow, my brother wants to know

whether arrows in period were turned on a lathe, and whether it would be

reasonable to expect some arrows to have the grain running the full length

of the shaft. Anyone know? >>>


Depends when, but if you've ever made your own arrow shafts, you learn

fairly quick that having the grain running full shaft length, or as close

to that as possible, produces a  very much stronger arrow, and is thus

something to aim for every time, not to produce accidentally.  If the

grain crosses the shaft, it will break at that point fairly quickly.


Very early period (Neolithic through to iron age), you find a lot of

grown-shaft arrows, usually of wands of coppiced hazel, and similar woods,

etc. However, mass production techniques turned up at various times in

various cultures, where arrows were produced directly from cut and sawn

timber (Various variations on: fell tree of appropriate type, reeve into

thin planks, saw, following grain direction, planks into thin square

section rods slightly larger than arrow diameter, plane square rod to

octagonal rod, scrape or sand (with metal or flint arcuate scraper or

sandstone block with appropriate aperture, depending on culture/location)

to round section, fletch, nock, head and shoot.


I've produced arrows with approximations of tools from neolithic, iron age

and high medieval methods, and I never needed to use a lathe - As far as I

can tell, the main use of the lathe in producing arrows was for flared

head wooden blunts for bird shooting, when one wanted an integral wooden

bludgeon on the end of the shaft - some of those appear to have been






Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 10:01:24 +1200 (NZST)

From: "Zane R. V. Bruce" <zane at paradise.gen.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Estel Talroval wrote:

<<< After watching Mythbusters on splitting an arrow, my brother wants to know

whether arrows in period were turned on a lathe, and whether it would be

reasonable to expect some arrows to have the grain running the full length

of the shaft. Anyone know? >>>


Further to this - the old method of straightening grown shaft arrows, and

indeed, almost any wooden arrow at all, is by heating  the bent area,

often by steaming, but just by the fire or by frictional heating will do,

then bending the arrow straight at the bend with a perforated device

(neolithic ones are often a thin stone with a hole bored through) and

holding it straight while the wood cools and sets.


In the few experiments I've done turning shafts to shape them, I found a

scraping/sanding tool works better to produce a smooth shaft than a

cutting lathe tool (any error with the cutting tool on a spinning thin

shaft can cut too deep or even catch and break the shaft).


But, unless your velocity of rotation is very low, what you end up doing

is warming the shaft by friction as you rotationally sand and shape it,

and it tends to set into a slight helix spiral that is a function of the

length of the shaft and the harmonics as you run your sanding device along

it. Very difficult to produce a perfectly straight shaft when rotating it

at high speed if any warming of the wood takes place while sanding it.





Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 10:44:53 +1200

From: Alasdair Muckart <silver at where.else.net.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


On 19/08/2010, at 10:01 , Zane R. V. Bruce wrote:

<<< In the few experiments I've done turning shafts to shape them, I found a

scraping/sanding tool works better to produce a smooth shaft than a

cutting lathe tool (any error with the cutting tool on a spinning thin

shaft can cut too deep or even catch and break the shaft). >>>


Further to that, spindle turning any sort of very long thin object like an arrow shaft on a pole or bow lathe is extremely difficult because of the degree of flex in the thing you're trying to turn.


Alasdair Muckart | William de Wyke | http://wherearetheelves.blogspot.com


Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 09:43:26 +1000

From: Des & Jan Howard <djhoward at hwy.com.au>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list <lochac at lochac.sca.org>



Turning arrows on the pole lathes of the time would be

extremely difficult to damn near impossible.

Arrows can be made from grown-shaft materials, as

Iarnulfr has mentioned.


Arrows with the grain running full length can be made

by splitting suitable logs into billets with wedges,

then splitting the billets into thin square sticks with

a shingle makers froe, then using a spokeshave to

reduce the square stick to an octagonal shape, then

hexadecagonal?, then roundish. If the shaft is held in

a shallow trough there will not be any bending during



Shafts can be machine sanded without any significant

warming. I chuck the shafts in a fast cordless drill &

hold the grades of abrasive paper in my cupped hand.


Ranif Pallesser



Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 12:16:19 +1200 (NZST)

From: "Zane R. V. Bruce" <zane at paradise.gen.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


Des & Jan Howard wrote:

<<< Arrows with the grain running full length can be made

by splitting suitable logs into billets with wedges,

then splitting the billets into thin square sticks with

a shingle makers froe, then using a spokeshave to

reduce the square stick to an octagonal shape, then

hexadecagonal?, then roundish. >>>


I find splitting the billets is insufficiently accurate to produce a

uniform square rod for planing, as unless you have exceptional quality

grain, the riven shafts will follow the grain sufficiently to produce

shafts with sizeable wobbles that cannot be planed out, unless you are

reeving to about one and a half to twice the arrow diameter and wasting a

lot of wood.  I find if one can reeve to planks, plane them uniform, then

cut the rods either with saw or extremely sharp knife, you get a better

rod for planing.


Similarly, a spokeshave tends to be a very annoying tool to use on a long

thin shaft - planes work better for this job, and planes of sufficient

fine-ness of cut are found in Roman, migration era, viking age and high

medieval contexts, so instead of using a spokeshave, I use a plane, with

the square shaft held in a long plank with a v-grove and planing stop at

the end.  One can plane the square to octagonal, and then, with a finer

cut, almost to round, by successively removing the corners.  At this point

the rounded shaft is about .8 to .5 mm off the final diameter.  I finish

by sanding in a wooden block with sandpaper, but have also used

round-section metal scrapers or flint.  To my mind, planing rather than

spokeshaving explains the complex barrelled, breasted and chested arrow

shapes known from late medieval arrows.



(Somewhere I had references to arrow making workshops in English occupied

France during the hundred years war, producing arrows by the hundreds of

thousands to millions, by what were interpreted to be saw, plane and

scraper methods.  Can't find them right now :-(



Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 05:35:42 +0000

From: Eleanor ferch Rhys <forest_rogue_ at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


I found turning an arrow on a (modern) lathe to be a pain in the backside, and while possible, not something I'd want to do to make the hundreds of arrows I use on the war field. Bunning's [a common hardware chain in Lochac] dowel all the way for combat arrows. As to period style arrows, I haven't tried making them but if the grain runs against the arrow length it breaks, rather than flexing on impact.  



House Drakkar



Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 19:56:38 +1200

From: Alasdair Muckart <silver at where.else.net.nz>

Subject: Re: [Lochac] Arrows-making

To: "The Shambles: the SCA Lochac mailing list"

        <lochac at lochac.sca.org>


On 19/08/2010, at 12:16 , Zane R. V. Bruce wrote:

<<< I find splitting the billets is insufficiently accurate to produce a

uniform square rod for planing, as unless you have exceptional quality

grain, the riven shafts will follow the grain sufficiently to produce

shafts with sizeable wobbles that cannot be planed out, unless you are

reeving to about one and a half to twice the arrow diameter and wasting a

lot of wood. >>>


In fairness, they'd be selecting wood for precisely the qualities they needed, from much larger and better managed woodlands than are available almost anywhere today. You're always going to need to plane to a flat board and split or saw out from that though since the riven sections will be wedge shaped.


Not saying they didn't saw to size, but watching videos of people like Robin Wood and Peter Follansbee working with the wood they select, and seeing what they can do with it and the care and effort they take to find just the right tree (something that's getting harder and harder) I wouldn't be terribly surprised to find you could rive a board pretty close to arrow thickness and get dead straight grain lines running down it if you had the right wood and froe technique.


Have a look at this:



I know you're not going to be making shafts out of oak, but if a good straight-grained riven board were planed to just over shaft thickness it would probably split out into shaft squares pretty easily.


Alasdair Muckart | William de Wyke | http://wherearetheelves.blogspot.com


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