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Forum Index > Makers and Manufacturers Talk > Tod chats about why crossbow bolts were fletched with wood Reply to topic
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Nov, 2015 4:00 am    Post subject: Tod chats about why crossbow bolts were fletched with wood         Reply with quote

Hi All,

Another short video, this time on why crossbow bolts were fletched with wood rather than feathers - well my theory on that anyway.

I hope you like it.

Tod

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDXdw22pPzA

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Nov, 2015 6:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not that this is counter to your belief, but an example of a fletching material besides wood. Copper might also be copper-alloy such as brass.


1322 Inventory of Roger de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, at Wigmore Castle
------------
vij balistis de ligno ad viz, cum c. et xxx. quarellis, quorum lxx. pennate de pennis eneis, et lx. de pennis ligneis
7 crossbows of wood to wit, with 130 quarrels, of which 70 fletched with copper vanes, and 60 with wood vanes.

Randall Storey gives this:
Quote:
A few purchases reveal their capacities. In October 1307, the sheriff of London was requested to send a large amount of material to aid the king in his war in Scotland: 12,000 pieces of iron, 100 garbs of steel, 500 lbs. of threaded rope (filo canabi) for crossbow cords, 500 lbs. of hemp, 100 crossbows of 1 foot with 30,000 quarrels and 100 spare nuts, 40 crossbows of 2 foot with 12,000 quarrels and 50 spare nuts, 20 crossbows with 2200 quarrels winged with copper and 20 spare nuts. Everything was to be sent to Berwick with all haste. (94)

(94) Feodera [sic], i, part 4, p. 94 (should likely be Fœdera - Mart)

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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Nov, 2015 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

and are there not surviving ones fletched with parchment (used parchment in particular, chopped up books)
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2015 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys - As I said 'prove me wrong' and thanks for doing so. The copper fletched reference I do seem to remember now from a very distant memory, but still I have not seen one, though clearly they existed.

The parchment one though Mark I have only seen in the 'Medieval Soldier' book. I have tried using parchment and they tend to curl; again though please prove me wrong.

Tod

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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2015 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

will try and dig out a pic Tod.

Certainly viretons for giant crossbows has a copper or copper alloy fletching in some instances.

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Dec, 2015 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What to make of this miniature? The threads binding the fletches make little sense for wood. There are always mutliple choices.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3971/10443/

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Robert Morgan




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2015 10:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a total WAG on my part. If we assume the fletches are copper vanes, then how to attach them to a wooden shaft? They're dissimilar materials, so glues may not work well, at least not over any length of time. So, why not drill or punch a series of small holes in the lower surfaces of the vanes and then literally sew them into little grooves in the shafts? Glue could be used to reinforce the join, but the threading would be the primary method of holding and tightening the vanes onto the shaft.

Alternately, if the glue actually was good enough to mate the two dissimilar surfaces, then the threads could be used like clamps to hold them tightly together while the glue sets, and then perhaps removed later. However, since the image shows a crossbowman loading his weapon, my first guess is probably the better choice of the two.

Like I said, a total WAG, so I'm probably wrong.

Bob
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Dec, 2015 12:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have wondered also how they mounted copper vanes into the shafts, but again without one to look at we can't know. In my early days of making bolts, I would slit the shaft down the middle for a few inches, slide the material in and rivet the shaft back together and that worked fine, so maybe this way. Some wraps of thread around the butt and the whole will be very secure.

Looking at the image Mart (thanks) posted up, I would say that it follows the look of arrows that are depicted, so I would assume that it is a feathered bolt shown here.

Tod

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PostPosted: Wed 09 Dec, 2015 6:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the use of wood over feathers are primarily from a storage point of view (longevity), why the apparent occasional choice to use copper/copper alloys vanes over wood ones?

Copper/copper alloys would likely be even more expensive than wood, so they must add some kind of advantage (or perhaps being pure "flash" effect)?
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Dec, 2015 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
If the use of wood over feathers are primarily from a storage point of view (longevity), why the apparent occasional choice to use copper/copper alloys vanes over wood ones?

Copper/copper alloys would likely be even more expensive than wood, so they must add some kind of advantage (or perhaps being pure "flash" effect)?


Possibly, copper being thinner, for the same strength, than wood, they'd have less drag and thus increase range??

Geoff
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Dec, 2015 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geoff Wood wrote:
Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
If the use of wood over feathers are primarily from a storage point of view (longevity), why the apparent occasional choice to use copper/copper alloys vanes over wood ones?

Copper/copper alloys would likely be even more expensive than wood, so they must add some kind of advantage (or perhaps being pure "flash" effect)?


Possibly, copper being thinner, for the same strength, than wood, they'd have less drag and thus increase range??

Geoff


Good idea, but wouldn't thin copper vanes give added storage problems with vanes easily bending?
So you had to go for thicker copper vanes anyways?
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