Arrow-Building

Cameron C

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
76
I haven't found any threads related to building arrows under the Trad forum, If any of these questions are already answered on here then just point me in the right direction. I'm looking at building arrows pretty soon here. I'd like to go all trad and save some money while I'm at it. Right now I shoot 30" goldtip 7595 with straight feathers. I want to switch that to cedar shafts with some helical.

If anyone has any insight/experience with making wood arrows, please share! What diameter, feather length/helical(spin direction?), any helpful tips for cutting, what type of seal/stain you use on the shafts, and maybe good/bad experiences you've had with different fletchers. Also, It seems like the taper tools are just big pencil sharpeners...

Any scrap of info helps!

XXX--------------->
 

Broken Arrow

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2012
Messages
230
Location
Grain valley, Mo
I prefer 11/32 shafts. I just made a set of Douglas fir I bought from surwood shafts. Some of the best you can buy IMO. The hardest part to me is picking the best spine for your bow/broadhead. What is your draw weight and arrow head weight? This will help.
As for finish I use minmax stain and water based polycrylic also minwax. Feathers I prefer 5" or 5 1/2" for big traditional broadheads.
I cut my arrows with a coping saw or a sharp utility knife and taper my shafts with a cheap taper tool from 3 rivers archery.
 

Broken Arrow

Senior Member
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Mar 5, 2012
Messages
230
Location
Grain valley, Mo
I'll add.... Yes the taper tool is just that a pig pencil sharpener but they work. For a crown I use rustolem but I'm sure u can use just about anything even a rattle can.
For fletching up arrows I use duco cement I have never had any problems using it. You can even use spray poly but I prefer to dip mine.
 

slvrslngr

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
705
11/32" are the most common diameter, nothing wrong with 5/16 or 23/64 if you can find them in the spine you need. Skip the cedar, finding quality PO cedar is pretty difficult these days, douglas fir, sitka spruce or larch are all good alternatives. Hard to beat the Surewood doug fir, but Hildebrant (sp?) makes good Sitka spruce and Kootenay Archery makes larch shafting.

As for helical, right or left wing doesn't really matter, just personal preference. Fletch length really is personal preference as well, most guys use 4", 5" or 5 1/2" fletch, parabolic or shield are the most common shape.

Nothing wrong with the pencil sharpener type taper tools, just don't try and force it to cut. Doug fir is notorious for not cutting clean, but I think it's because guys try to cut it too fast. I use a fine tooth Japanese style pull saw for cutting to length, but as previously mentioned, a coping saw or sharp box knife works too. If you know what length shaft you want, it's best to cut to length and taper both ends before you seal the shaft.

The most user friendly finish is a waterbased one, like Minwax waterbased polyurethane, less smell and easy clean-up. Before dipping, rub the shaft down with some 0000 steel wool and wipe off the dust and do the same between each coat of finish. I usually dip 3 times. I'd skip crown dipping and cresting until you get the basics figured out.

Use either Duco Cement or Fletch-tite for fletching glue.

When you glue on the nock, orient the string groove so it is perpendicular to the grain of the shaft. Use the same glue as you're fletching with.

I use a Bitzenburger fletching jig, but there are others that work as well. Play with the set up until you get the quill laying flat on the shaft, BEFORE you try gluing on the fletch. After fletching the arrow, put a drop of glue on the front and back tip of each fletch.

Making wood arrows is addictive and fun, just do it!
 
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Cameron C

Cameron C

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Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
76
Nice, Jags! That's exactly what I need.

@Broken Arrow/slvrslngr: Thanks for the quick, helpful response. I shoot a 150 gr 2 blade with bleeders right now, so I was going to keep that, but maybe lose the bleeders for better penetration. I shoot a longbow; it's 60# @ 28", I pull a little past 28", about 29". I've got some more questions for you:

How do you measure the twist on your helical? It seems like you would want them to all be the same, how would you go about making that happen?

Also, what's this talk of the "crown". I'm assuming it's at wherever you taper your arrows so you get a better seal on the end-grain.

I think I may just buy the stuff and go for it. Trial by fire seems to be my most effective way of learning.

Thanks again
 

jags

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
71
Location
Montana
I shoot aluminum here so had nothing else to offer in terms of wood arrows.

You will want to use a fletching jig and you can adjust the helical with that, they will all be the same than. Mine is the Jojan I think it's called.
 

slvrslngr

Senior Member
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Apr 27, 2012
Messages
705
The amount of helical is adjustable if you're using a Bitzenburger fletching jig, I don't know about the Jo Jan or Arizona E-Z fletch jigs. I don't really stress about the actual amount, I adjust the jig so I get the best contact of the quill on the shaft and go with it. As long as there is some twist, you'll be fine. A crown is the contrasting base color at the fletch end of the arrow. A wrap is the equivalent of the crown, with the crest being the fancy (or not so fancy) pin striping. There's plenty of arrow building videos on YouTube, I'd suggest you look some up and get an idea of what to do before diving in just so you can see the process. As previously mentioned, take a look at TradGang or the Leatherwall as well, plenty of arrow build alongs on each site. Nothing wrong with just getting into it either!

One more thing. When you buy your fletch's, make sure they are the same wing as your fletching jig clamp. If you have a right wing clamp, you need right wing fletch's, if you have a left wing clamp, you need left wing fletch's.

I buy all my arrow making gear from Raptor Archery in Hood River Oregon. You can call the shop and Ted (the owner) will help you out to make sure you get what you need, which includes answering any questions you might have.
 
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Broken Arrow

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Mar 5, 2012
Messages
230
Location
Grain valley, Mo
Feathers have a nature helical hence left or right wing. I don't really measure the twist I just make sure before I glue anything that the quill is making solid contact with the shaft although I do believe the jig jags has is adjustable for more or less twist.
Crown is the same as wraps but you dip the nock end in paint or stain of your choosing. I dip the nock end of my shafts based on brace height of the particular bow (measured from the back of the bow) I will use for my arrow. Reason is that it is easy to check brace height in the field.
For your set-up I would go with a 70-75 spine. Hopefully others will chime in.
My set-up is 59# @28" I draw 27 so I'm shooting around 57# using a 29" arrow spine 55-60 120gr head.
Spine is based off a full length shaft this is why I shoot a lighter spine. (Shorter arrow and draw + a lighter head)
 

Lost Arra

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Joined
Mar 16, 2012
Messages
56
Location
Oklahoma
Excuse me for breaking in late but "saving money" and "cedar arrows" do not go in the same sentence.
Although they sure smell good when I break "em!

I love making cedar arrows but it's not a love to save money.
 

slvrslngr

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
705
Lost Arra is pretty much spot on. Few guys build their own arrows to save money, but you don't have to spend a lot either. If you keep it simple and don't go overboard, in the long run you can save a few bucks. It IS more satisfying and fun though!
 
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