In the last post I showed a bit about the process of last weekend, building a British longbow. I’ve been moving in the direction of making all my own things. Arrows are something that can easily be done in a smaller space with fewer tools. I really enjoy the precise nature of the process.
Looking towards the arrows that were traditionally used with the British longbow, I have been making a lighter version for the bows that I have. I have also been taking inspiration from the arrows I use for Kyudo. They are very carefully detailed- a bit more than most western arrows. Notice the thread wrapping for instance in the later photos.
Here are four arrows I completed to take over with me to Vancouver Island. A bit backwards in that most of the time you have the bow and match the arrows to that bow. I had a mental picture of what I was hoping to make though and these arrows would match that rather nicely. They are 30″ long and spined for a bow about 55-60lbs. They are heavier than the arrows I had made in England but with the heavier bow I hope to be able to shoot them well.
At this point I’ve just affixed the fletchings to the shafts. These were hand cut with an x-acto blade. I am going the route of taping the feathers down with some broad masking tape. I have a guide that I’ve printed out that I lay on top and cut through. This allows me to keep things nice and consistent. It’s slow going but I have plans to make a special cutter to allow me to make them more quickly. All in good time.
The next steps are to wrap the ends of the fletchings, front and back. Traditionally silk thread is used. Took a bit of searching to source this. Luckily down on Granville Island I found a shop that carries some beautiful stuff. This thread is raw and undyed. Will have to learn how to dye the fibers next. Anyone have a good resource for this? The wrapping with the thread serves more than one purpose. First of course it firmly secures the ends of the fletchings onto the arrow. It also serves to smooth the transition from the shaft to the feather. Without this the forward tip of the feather might catch on the archers hand as it passes. It’s easy enough to cut the top of your hand as the fletchings race past. I often wear a special glove for this. Without the thread you would stand a very good chance of doing this in a much worse way. Ouch!
After the wrapping I lay down a nice little accent of the gold stripe. Next it’s all sealed with white glue thinned with a bit of water. Two coats of this are allowed to dry thoroughly. Finally two coats of urethane seal everything for good and offer a nice shiny smooth finish. I have tons more to lean about all of this. I hope I can continue making more refined and higher quality arrows. A bit of reading, a bit of building, and a bit of shooting. Experience is always the best teacher.