Author Topic: Help with shaft making  (Read 378 times)

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Offline Bootthrower

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Help with shaft making
« on: November 06, 2017, 12:48:18 pm »
Hello! I'm new to this forum and I have never made an arrow shaft before! I do not know if this is the right place to ask, but my question is as follows: How does one make the basic square 'Raw' or 'blank' used to make an arrow shaft in a shooting board by hand?
I know one can buy pre-made wooden squares but I would like to try to make my own as I have an abundance of ash here!
I've seen many others using a table saw to cut boards into squares but, as you might have guessed, I don't have one of those..
Just to summarize: Can one make square 'rods' with hand tools? For example using an axe to split a piece of lumber into rough squares and then smoothing them with a spokeshave?
The squares will to be used in a shooting board to shave down to a round shaft...

This might be more of a carpentry question but help/advice from anyone is appreciated! Also, sorry for my messy writing!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2017, 12:58:04 pm by Bootthrower »

Offline TimBo

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 01:10:42 pm »
Yes, you can do that.  I mostly cut mine with a bandsaw to minimize runoff, since when I have tried splitting, I screwed it up.  I would like to try hand splitting again though.  You might want to use a heavy knife blade and whack it with a wooden mallet.  Go slow and aim for a bigger chunk than you need.  Get a thumb plane if possible, get one side square, and go from there.  There is a good description in The Bowyer's Bible, Vol. 1, in the self arrows chapter.  Good luck!

Offline Bootthrower

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 01:28:33 pm »
Thank you, sooo much! This is exactly what I needed to know!
Hopefully with a bit of practice I'll be able to make at least a few good splits from each chunk of wood..
Maybe I should buy this 'Archers Bible', it seems like a helpful book!
Is a thumb plane like a smaller normal plane? I know very little of woodworking and tools so please excuse me if that was a dumb question!
Thanks again for the advice and I wish you good luck if you choose to go back to splitting yourself! and please tell me if you have any 'tricks' to help a beginner get better shaft quality!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2017, 01:36:26 pm by Bootthrower »

Offline Hawkdancer

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2017, 08:15:33 pm »
Boot thrower,
You can probably get "the Bowyer's bible" through your local library, may take a week or so if they don't have their own.  Check Amazon if you want to buy a keeper.  It is a valuable resource.  Beware, though, the bug bites are contagious! :BB :BB (SH).  Good luck with the arrow build and post pictures of the process!  Welcome aboard!  The other folks here have a lot of experience.
Hawkdancer

Offline Buck67

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 06:20:49 am »
You might consider making your arrow shafts from Shoots.  Those are either straight branches or shoots that come up around the base of a tree.  It takes a little practice to figure out how to straighten them with heat but after the first dozen or so you should be on track.  Another option is using bamboo.  There are build-alongs on this site that show you how to make arrows.   There are also a number of videos on YouTube. 

The Bowyers Bible is well worth the money, all four volumes.  It will really shorten your learning curve.

The nice thing about using shoots for arrows is that they are already the right shape and they are free.  They make a fairly heavy arrow which can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for.  On the other hand they are nearly unbreakable.  Red Osier/Red Dogwood makes a good arrow.  I have made them from Willow but the Spine is usually pretty low.  There are decorative bushes like Arrowwood that have lots of straight branches.  You can make arrows from Dowel Rods but the grain is bad on 90% of the Dowels so you have to be very very careful in sorting them. 

Just head out in the woods with a 5/8" open end wrench, a gardening clipper and some Zip ties.  Use the wrench to keep from cutting branches that are too thin or too thick.  Cut straight branches or shoots that are about 32" long with no kinks.  After you have 6 or so, bundle them with the Zip ties so they will dry straight.  After they dry for a couple of months then they are ready to go.

Offline Bootthrower

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 08:07:26 am »
Thank you all for the wonderful advice!
I will definitely buy the Bowyers Bible soon!
I have thought of making arrows from shoots, and I thank you for the advice in how to do so! but there is something I find mesmerizing about the shooting board for Arrows hafts..Though, now that you mention it, I have never thought about the spine.. I was going to use the arrows for a 100# English longbow that I plan on buying soon! and hopefully any future ELBs I make myself!

But I think all will be somewhat well if I, like you said, watch the grain and make sure it is straight..

This truly seems like a lovely community and I'm very impressed by the helpful nature of the people on here!



Offline TimBo

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 08:10:45 am »
I like shoot arrows too, although there is definitely something cool about working a square down into an arrow.  If multiflora rose grows in your area, the second year growth makes nice arrows.  I have found a few that are pretty stout and might even work for a warbow. 

Yes, a thumb plane is just a very small plane - they are something like $10-15 at a hardware store. 

Offline TSA

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 08:23:00 am »
hi Bootthrower  :)
its awesome to build your own shafts, the sense of accomplishment is awesome.
as said above building from shoots is a neat way, very effective and well proven through the mists of time.
however primitive man did make split shafts as well. i have seen some pics of some old artifacts in this regard.

the great thing about making your own split shafts, is that you can take a wee bit off, spine them, take a bit more off etc etc. ensuring you get a perfectly spined shaft, you can taper them too if thats what you want.

now for splitting, and this is from experience, DO NOT take a chunk of wood and try and split off a flitch- no matter the wood the spit will run out towards the weaker side- ie: the side that is narrower- never landing up with

Offline Bootthrower

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 09:03:41 am »
Maybe I should look into making shafts from shoots as well then!
Also, does anyone here have any experience in using ash for an English Longbow?
I was thinking about making a Longbow with a draw weight of maybe between 65-85#. As said I wish to buy a 100# Warbow but I was thinking of making a "middle step" because 100# is a lot of weight and I'm not sure if I could/should jump up in draw weight so quickly without first training my back a bit on a slightly more manageable bow..

I've never made a real bow before (unless one counts the barely bending childhood attempts at such) so advice would be appreciated..
I've watched a lot of videos and I have read about it, but that is nothing compared to words from someone with experience!

I have an abundance of ash and I'm thinking of picking a long and straight branch for drying over the winter, but that's when my inexperience comes to play! what shape should an ash longbow have? I know a flatbow is recommended for ash but I would like to make something more in the style of an ELB! Can ash handle a D-shape if I make the belly a bit less deep?
I have read that the English used Ash as an alternative to Yew sometimes so I hope that it could work for me as well!

TSA, Do you know any other way of splitting wood by hand that I can use? as stated I haven't got a band/table saw so sawing squares seems a bit tricky! The wood in question is either maple or ash as that's what I have the most in my woods. I do not know if that affects the answer but now you know!


Offline TimBo

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 10:41:19 am »
TSA:  Can you elaborate on your last point?  (now for splitting, and this is from experience, DO NOT take a chunk of wood and try and split off a flitch- no matter the wood the spit will run out towards the weaker side- ie: the side that is narrower- never landing up with)  It sounds like you may have been interrupted in the middle of your thought, and I am interested to hear what you were going to say!  Do you mean it is better to split the bigger chunk in half, then quarters etc.?

Offline TSA

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2017, 10:46:31 am »
WTH!!!
it chopped off half my message >:(
i will retype it
 dont know why that happened.
my message looks very incomplete- sincere apologies!!
really no point in telling someone something cant be done- if one doesnt offer a better solution eh??

really sorry- i will retype it quick!! :-[ :-[ :-[

Offline TSA

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2017, 10:59:22 am »
 here we go ... again  :)
hi Bootthrower  :)
its awesome to build your own shafts, the sense of accomplishment is awesome.
as said above building from shoots is a neat way, very effective and well proven through the mists of time.
however primitive man did make split shafts as well. i have seen some pics of some old artifacts in this regard.

the great thing about making your own split shafts, is that you can take a wee bit off, spine them, take a bit more off etc etc. ensuring you get a perfectly spined shaft, you can taper them too if thats what you want.

now for splitting, and this is from experience, DO NOT take a chunk of wood and try and split off a flitch- no matter the wood the spit will run out towards the weaker side- ie: the side that is narrower- never landing up with a parallel board/flitch.
think about how shakes are split- they are always tapered- that is kinda planned, by splitting a thin shake( flitch) off of a big block- the flitch is weaker and will flex when the block is not flexing- and the split will run out towards the flexible piece.

so the key is... always split in halves- so that each piece either side of the splitting tool , flexes the same.
so split the big block in half, then each piece into half again, and half again and again etc etc
until you get right down to your final splits.

you can draw a pencil line down your final pieces- that will follow the grain perfectly- this is easy, as there will be undulations in the wood following the grain, and then you can split along this line.
now at this point you can do one of two things, and both will work.
1. you can drive in some mini wedges at different points down the line( stolen steak knives will work quite well- let us know how that works out fer ya ;D ), and then starting the split from one end, the wedges along the way will help keep it in line- if you see it starting to deviate from the line- you can drive a wedge in at that point, and redirect the split.
or 2. start your split in the middle of your stave, on this pencil line. That just halves your distance where something can go wrong.

if there is equal material either side of the split, you will have a lot greater success with splitting.
either way, you are going to have to make slightly oversize pieces, and shape them down- but it will work very well!!

once again- sincere apologies for the half message, was not intentional!!

good luck, and keep us posted!! ;)

Offline TimBo

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2017, 01:10:48 pm »
Thanks for redoing that - very good info! 

Offline Bootthrower

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2017, 01:15:13 pm »
Thank you very much for this information! It will probably come in very handy when I'm splitting the wood!
I think I'm going to try it this weekend, so I can work during daytime. It is dark in Sweden this time of year!


Offline TSA

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Re: Help with shaft making
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2017, 02:41:13 pm »
yer welcome fellas!  :)