View Full Version : How to Make Arrows!

Tyler Danann
12-22-2012, 06:18 PM
The first thing I do is ordered up some pre-cut and rounded arrow shafts that suit the bow you've got.
Ebay is where I get my supply's.


If you can't source rounded arrow-shafts then you'll have to get hold of wood, cut into blocks then use a band-saw to make square 'blanks.'
To round them into arrow shafts you'll need to use sandpaper or a device called a rounding plane. These cost about $65 though.


For this guide I've assumed you've got a pre-cut and shaped arrow shaft.

Having the correct 'spine' or stiffness counts here. If you don't get the right 'match' your arrow will veer off to the left or right.
The more powerful your bow, the more 'spine' or rigidity it needs.

Once you've got a bundle of arrow shafts (buying in bulk is cheaper) check each one for straightness, if it's badly bent try and straighten it (sometimes steaming can help with this).



Next step is making the nock, where you notch an arrow.
You can do this the fancy, easy way, or the old-fashioned way.
The former is where you stick on an external plastic nock. To do that you should taper the last half-inch of the shaft to accommodate a plastic-nock.

The old-fashioned way is to make your own nock out of the wood itself. This my way of doing it as you don't require purchase a nock. It also means there's no nock piece to 'fall-out' during the course of the arrows life being shot etc.

The grain of the arrow is important, you must go at a right-angle to the grain. That is to say cutting across it.
A vice for this part is real boon. One guy online doesn't use one (no access) so he just uses his knee's and his free hand to steady it!

Now, using a hacksaw or equiv. Make a notch that's about a of an inch deep or so.
Basically deep enough to get an arrow string into.
A hacksaw is good (what I use and one I made as a teenager at school!). Also a padsaw is fine, possibly a bit more easier to work with for notch-making.

Now widen the thin notch with a file set. I use two tools for widening it.
A small, slender file and a strange coping saw with a circular file-blade in it. It's a strange little thing
but it is well-versed for this kind of work.
You can make your own shape for the nock edges. Or just leave it rough-cut.

I try and make a 'bell' pattern so that the string goes into the notch with a mere smigen of resistence. That way an arrow will stay nocked even on 'stand-by'
But not so tight that it could throw the arrow awry once it's released from an arrow.
You'll want to reinforce the nock with binding, so use Somax thread or similar to wrap around underneath the nock. About inch should be ok.

For warbow rated longbows (normally 80lb+ draw-weight) you may want to reinforce the nock with a horn insert...

Arrow Lore: The Fletching / Arrowsmith guru's use horn inserts for the nock....

Once your nock is complete you can weather-proof it.
I use Danish Oil for this. But any wood-stain should do the trick.
After it dries (3 -- 6 hours) you ought to reinforce the nock with strong thread.
Not only will it strengthen the area, but it make's the arrow have an area you can take a purchase on a bit better.


Next stage is adding on your arrowhead.
The arrowhead is a class all on it's own. You can add an array of heads to arrows. Bone, flint, obsidian, metal etc.
Securing it to the shaft can be done in a variety of ways.
One item you will need is a fairly decent glue.
Super glue works, araldite does to.
I haven't tried locktite and others though.
As long as one surface is porous a bonding glue should work fine.
IF you don't have a strong glue then making a binding around the arrowhead can reinforce a weak 'join'.
Normally this is essential if you are 'hafting' an arrowhead (with bone, flint etc). Pinning is another way.

Archers Lore: In times of war some archers arrows would have a weakish glue on their arrowheads.
That way an enemy could not remove an arrowhead by pulling out the shaft...

For my arrowheads I've got some semi-armour-piercing ones known as Modkin's.
These are some of the most affordable one's available outside of forging your own.

These one's are at 3/8's diameter (which is about 12mm or so).
The shafts I ordered already came tapered one end which allows easier insertion.
If your shaft's aren't taperd then either a careful eye and a file is needed OR a bench grinder (much easier).

Add glue onto the arrow, I have it tight in the vice for this bit.
Then insert the arrowhead and screw it on tight.

Curing time vary's but after a couple of hours you can start thinking about getting the fletchings done...

Good resources on arrow and bow making:

http://youtu.be/778_kC65oYQ (In Italian but little dialogue, mostly crafting and story).

Hope this was interesting and you liked it.
I might make another one in the future about bow-making :)

12-23-2012, 01:16 PM
I've never done this, and undoubtedly won't, ever, but I watched an ESPN show the other night that did an excellent reprise of the sadly truncated athletic career of Bo Jackson, possibly the best natural athlete of the last half-century. Jackson, whose football career was ended, and baseball career curtailed by a freak hip injury, is a major archer, and makes his own arrows as a hobby. They showed him down in his basement workspace doing this, and it was fascinating. He's the only person ever to play in both the NFL and Major League Baseball All-Star games, and was Most Valuable Player of the MLB one. He had to have a hip replacement, and came back from that to play again in MLB baseball for the Chicago White Sox. In his first at-bat, he hit a home run. No other pro athlete is known to have resumed a career after a hip replacement.

He remains today a quietly humble man appreciative of his career achievements, and with no regrets. Now he's a very private man who makes arrows and enjoys bow-hunting and archery in general.

Was a neat show.

Apologies for the thread digression.

After which I can say that, despite my ignorance of the subject, your post was a very good explication of the process. You might consider writing an article on the subject.


Tyler Danann
12-23-2012, 06:58 PM
Thanks a lot for that, maybe someday...

12-23-2012, 08:30 PM
I've made arrows, but, to me, buying all this stuff defeats the purpose. Any woods has everything you need to make a bow, string, arrows, arrowheads, and nocks, no modern tools required, though I do use a knife.

Native Americans made absolutely wonderful bows and arrows for a long, long time before they had anything resembling modern tools. Learning how they did it is not only fun, it's a great survival skill.

12-24-2012, 04:19 AM
I have made arrows, and I would rather use advanced tools and materials. Unless you get dry, straight shafts, your accuracy will suffer. I would rather make an atlatl and short spear out of wild sourced materials, because they're easier to make and launch.
Bear in mind, I haven't done anything so adventurous since moving to a big city.