I am not an expert on making wood arrows but here are some of the things I have learned in the short time I have been doing it.It does matter what you pay when buying shafts if you want premium straight and spine/weight matched shafts.However if you want shooters there are sone great buys out there for the taking.I have purchased premium weighted shafts and found that for the money I paid and the time I spent they broke just as easily as the cheap ones I bought on E-bay.

The next part I will talk about is straightening the shafts.There are a lot of references I found after a lot of looking, that tell how to do this.I found two methods that worked well for me.The first is done by taking a rounded hook, like a cup hook and after finding the high side of the crooked shaft you place the high side up and draw the hook along the shaft in the affected area.By doing this you compress the fibers and you are able to remove the bend.This takes several attempts and if you push too hard you will break the shaft.The method that works best for me is to support the end of the shaft on my knee with the bend up and rub it with the palm of my hand.When you are doing this correctly you will feel the heat from the friction.Don't overdo it or you will break the shaft or over correct the bend.I found that during each step in arrow making I could work out the bends and get better results than by trying to do it all at once.

The next two steps go quickly.First take a piece of #220 grit sandpaper in your hand and wrap the shaft lightly in it.Now you can sand the shaft smooth and even, by turning it as you stroke it thru pour palm.By alternating the ends that you are holding , you can evenly do the whole shaft.Now with #0000steel wool you can give it a final sanding that will produce a silky smooth surface.

Now is a good time to taper the noc end and glue on the noc.Make sure the noc grove is at 90 degrese to the grain of the shaft.With the noc's installed I taper the point end slightly so that it is easier to put in the holding block.If you want a custom look now is the time for doing it.The method I use is to Dye the shafts instead of staining or cresting.Wilton Cake icing dye is great for this, and I am sure that there are others that work well too.To mix the Wilton dye,[its a paste] just use about 1/4 tspoon to 2 ounces of water and mix untill dissolved.

To dye the wood only on the "noc" end produces a crested look that will not be ruined when the fletchings need to be replaced.A problem that a partial dye job creates is when the dye is put on too heavy and it soaks past where you want it.You can prevent this by taping the shaft with electrical tape, but the dye likes to creep under it, so what I do is varathane the lower portion up to the tape with one very light coat.When it dries you have a barrier that is soaked into the wood and sealed from the dye.I prefer natural colored lower wood , but if you want to dye the lower another color like "osage" and have a red top section dye the bottom first, and then seal it with varathane.The red will cover any of the lighter yellow or orange colors.Now back to the top.

Take a small sponge paint brush or rag and hold the shaft so the noc end is down , with very light strokes apply a light coat of dye.More is not better.Barely dampen the brush or a rag and just put enough dye on to wet the wood.Let it dry thourly and lightly sand the dyed shaft with #0000 steel wool to remove the fibers that stand up. from being wet.The dyed portion should now be shiny and smooth, but very pale.Add another very light coat and repeat the drying sanding process until the color is one shade darker than what you want.If you rush it and use heavy coats it will run and soak under the varathane sealer.By keeping the noc end down it is harder for the dye to creep under the varathane.

When the shaft is completely dry give it a final light sanding with #0000 steel wool, now with a new sponge brush aply the first coat of varathane.Use just enough to wet the surface.stand the shaft in the holder and let dry overnight.If you put too much on it will run as a round surface tends to do that.When the coat of varathane is dry check the shaft for straightness and rework it as needed, followed by another light sanding with the steel wool and another coat of varathane.make each coat only heavy enough to wet the arrow shaft and brush it out lightly the full length to pick up any runs. It will take about 4 coats to bring out the grain and add depth to the finish but it will be worth it.

Now the time is here to cut the shafts to lenght and taper them for your points or broadheads.Clean the inside of the point /broadhead with a good thinner and a "Q" tip.I like acetone or laquer thinner that will dry completely and remove any oils.By heating the points and aplying Ferrel tite they can be pushed well onto the shaft and when they cool they also shrink making a superior bond.

I found that commercialy available Noc's are too tight for most bow strings.This adds to eratic arow flight and slows the arrow terribly.I sand each noc with #220 emery cloth so that it will fall free from the string when the string is tapped and the arrow is hanging down.On one setup I chronographed over 10 FPS diference with the same arrow.On traditional archery equipment 10 FPS is a tremendous gain in performance, just by sanding the noc to fit the string. The shafts are now ready for fletching and finaly becoming an arrow.I recommend the greatest amount of helical you can get with feather fletches.Five inch fletches seem to be the standard for traditional archery and the work well.I also make up full length FluFlu's and they fly great.Infact I find they are more acurate than regular 5" feathers.

I hope this has been useful and informative.Arrowmaking is a part of archery that gives you a personal touch that others do not get.It is also rewarding to see the results of your work flying away from you and striking the intended target.

Pete Ward
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Copyright 2002 PETER WARD
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