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Chistof C.

Joined: 12 Mar 2008

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 6:08 am    Post subject: Arrow Wood         Reply with quote

Ok, so I'm going to make my own arrows with a pole lathe, and was wondering what wood would be good to use. I can't find and good prices on cedar wood and was wondering if there were some other more common woods that would make good arrow shafts. As many different kinds as possible would be great.
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Jerry Knox

Location: Palm Bay, Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Jun 2007

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

virtually any hardwood works, as well as spruce, which is a conifer. the most important thing is to have the grain run straight down the shaft, so that it cannot "peel" in the middle during the stress of a shot, leading to a wooden dagger-point getting pushed through your wrist by the bow.

for a very comprehensive look at this topic, try "the traditional bowyer's bible" which comes in three volumes and contains many chapters on wood selection and construction methods.

As a note from my experience, you might want to consider not using the lathe. It makes it too easy to miss the grain of the wood. I prefer shaving with a knife, as it naturally follows the grain. If you have to start from lumber, then first cut square sticks with a saw, and then shave them down. Better yet, use saplings or branches and remove the bark. As the easiest option, use small-diameter bamboo or cane, gently smoothed at the nodes with sandpaper, preserving the outside surface as it has a higher strength than the inner wood. Make the nock of the arrow so that the bowstring pushes agains a node wall, and insert a short piece of harwood into the other end to hold the arrowhead.

good luck!
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Ben Potter
Industry Professional

Location: Western Idaho
Joined: 29 Sep 2008

Posts: 347

PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the best arrows, you can split out the blanks, shape them using an arrow plate, straighten them using heat, and burnish them with the arrow plate. This method gives you arrows of consistent diameter, which have the grain running the entire length.

Arrow plates can be made using 3/16 or 1/4 in. steel plate by drilling a series of holes of progressively smaller diameter with sharp 90 deg. edges and counter bored on the back ending slightly over the desired arrow size. On the final hole, counter sink the edges and polish rather than counter boring.

Hope that helps.


P.S. This is also the way to make quality ram rods, so they don't split and stab the user.

Ben Potter Bladesmith

It's not that I would trade my lot
For any other man's,
Nor that I will be ashamed
Of my work torn hands-

For I have chosen the path I tread
Knowing it would be steep,
And I will take the joys thereof
And the consequences reap.
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Leo Todeschini
Industry Professional

Location: Oxford, UK
Joined: 12 Nov 2006
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Posts: 1,721

PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

traditionally in England the two standard woods were (although all sorts were used) ash and poplar.

Basically the ash is heavier than poplar and was used more for war shafts where the weight helped with penetration and the poplar was for distance arrows where the lighter weight was an advantage. Use American white ash which is basically the same and tulip wood or aspen? (I think it is called over your side) for poplar which is also basically the same. Both were used because they were tough as old boots.

Be careful of most hardwoods however as if you used oak or beech as an example they would have a good chance of shattering and doing what was described above.

I do differ on the grain running out of the shaft however. I will back you all the way that the arrow is better if the grain remains within the shaft and does not run out - this is the ideal. However years back I made myself a set of super nice arrows, barrelled ash shafts, hand forged heads cut in coloured fletches etc. Attrition has taken a toll on these and I have shot out chunks of the shafts from time to time and when that happens I just carefully sand into the shaft and epoxy in a new sliver, sand down and keep going and have never had one break on me yet. Might live to regret it though..........anyway the point is if you can shoot and arrow in this condition the grain running out won't be too much of a problem.

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