Primitive Archer

Main Discussion Area => Arrows-Sponsored by Khans Arrows => Topic started by: WillS on June 11, 2016, 07:59:15 am

Title: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 11, 2016, 07:59:15 am
Thought I'd compile a build log on these, as they're nearly finished.

These are historically accurate replicas of the arrows found on the Mary Rose.

The shafts are hand-planed from European aspen into 1/2" diameter, 30.5" long.  The arrows are tapered from 1/2" to 3/8" at the nock, and the taper starts 150mm from the head.

Once the shafts are planed (using a small wooden block plane and "chuting board") they are sanded and the nocks cut to accept a horn insert 2" long.  The cut is made using a sharp pullsaw, which leaves a slot around 1/16" thick.

(https://c6.staticflickr.com/8/7669/26989649813_a1f49378f3_b.jpg)

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7500/27499306882_9146e7fc66_b.jpg)

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/2/1451/26030099823_9a6f84a58d_b.jpg)

Cow horn is heated and flattened into sheets, and cut into strips.  Each strip is then sanded down to 1/16" and glued in place using animal hide glue made from rawhide boiled in water and then sieved.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/2/1475/26360704480_776d6acaa8_b.jpg)

(https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1463/26030099633_d970a3761c_b.jpg)

(https://c6.staticflickr.com/2/1686/26633852485_158b472858_b.jpg)

The feathers are goose primaries, and are split and ground until the quill is paper thin.  They're glued to the shaft using the hide glue cooked down slightly to a thicker consistency so that it's more tacky and sets in about 5 seconds, making fletching very quick!  Once the feathers are glued, they are trimmed to shape (7.5" long and 5/8" high)

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7365/26471716223_a2d9fb0ef6_b.jpg)

(https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7488/27009226411_547d0c3539_z.jpg)

(https://c5.staticflickr.com/8/7409/27044460276_8ce1f0bba7_z.jpg)

The hide glue isn't waterproof, so it needs to be protected using a wax and tallow compound mixture.  The mixture is 50/50 and applied hot, as it sets the moment it cools.  Once it's been applied roughly, a quick steam over some boiling water allows the wax/tallow mixture to run into all the cracks and cover any exposed hide glue, waterproofing it nicely.

Pure silk thread is used to bind the feathers for longevity, and is wrapped at around 6 turns per inch.  It bites into the wax/tallow mixture which holds it in place as it's worked.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7353/27499399922_963989cccd_k.jpg)

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7630/27564693486_4679d3563c_k.jpg)

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7400/27564693906_35f702593c_k.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/8/7441/27321647400_4bfb140f7d_k.jpg)

The final stage of the fletching is to cover the bindings in a verdigris compound.  This is to secure the bindings firmly, provide a final waterproof coating for everything and the verdigris acts as an insecticide and fungicide to prevent things from eating the hide glue and feathers in storage.  The mixture of the verdigris is done by eye, but it consists of lots of clarified pine resin heated gently until runny, mixed with some natural pine gum turpentine to make it a brush-able consistency, a shaving of pure beeswax to add plasticity and a good amount of verdigris powder, scraped from copper sheets suspended over red vinegar.  The mixture is liquid over heat, and solidifies when cool.  It's brushed on while still hot and left for a day or two to fully cure.

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7304/27510222911_047a878770_z.jpg)

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7264/27484147302_f72f41df9e_z.jpg)

All that's left to do now is forge the heads, and I'll be making them based on a London Museum Tudor head find, which I'm currently in the process of getting more information about from the archaeology department.  I'll update this once they're done.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Aaron H on June 11, 2016, 10:28:47 am
Very cool, well done
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: penderbender on June 11, 2016, 11:27:41 am
Those are some nice arrows wills! Did you buy those shafts?
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 11, 2016, 11:54:11 am
Thanks guys!

Do you mean the square blanks or the finished shafts?  The square blanks were from a friend in Scandinavia who supplies me with all my aspen for customers and arrows etc, but I hand-turned each of the finished shafts from those.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: penderbender on June 11, 2016, 12:13:21 pm
Yes I was curious about the blanks. Didn't know aspen was good. I turn shafts the same way, but I cut mine myself. Cheers
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 11, 2016, 12:19:42 pm
Aspen was the most commonly used Tudor arrow material, as far as we know.  It's incredibly light, and yet easily strong enough to stand in a bow of 180lb or more.

Best thing about it is that you don't need to seal it with anything!  It's extremely resistant to rot and moisture, so you can just use the bare shafts with no oil or wax or anything on them.

The reason I had to get aspen sent to me instead of cutting it is because it's becoming surprisingly rare here in the UK now.  I've done it from scratch with woods like pine, ash, hazel etc but haven't had the chance to use aspen from a tree yet.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Ruddy Darter on June 11, 2016, 12:24:02 pm
Very nice work WillS, I see you sussed out a good verdigris coating  8) .

 Ruddy Darter.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: DC on June 11, 2016, 12:24:42 pm
When you heat the tallow and wax over steam does it wick into the vane of the feather? If so doesn't that affect the flexibility
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 11, 2016, 12:29:57 pm
Very nice work WillS, I see you sussed out a good verdigris coating  8) .

 Ruddy Darter.

Yeah, finally!  Took me ages though.  Every recipe online didn't work at all, as they all called for lots of beeswax or tallow (or both!) in the mixture which made the drying time ridiculously slow.  I kinda figured they wouldn't have messed about waiting for 2 weeks to let it cure - it just doesn't make sense - and pine resin cools instantly, and gives you that nice tough compound that you can see on the surviving MR arrows.

When you heat the tallow and wax over steam does it wick into the vane of the feather? If so doesn't that affect the flexibility

Not really, if you're quick!  It just runs along the line of the quill and coats the hide glue.  Once it's all done, and the hide glue and wax mixture and verdigris is applied, the feathers are stiff anyway, as they can't move at the base.  It doesn't affect the flight in the slightest however.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: neuse on June 12, 2016, 08:30:42 am
Good looking arrows and some great info, thank you.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: bjrogg on June 12, 2016, 10:30:46 am
Really nice looking arrows looking forward to the hand forged heads.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: freke on June 12, 2016, 03:04:01 pm
Very intresting build allong, nice arrows so far

Find this with aspen intresting, it grew perfectly stright and tall and very easy to work althrough never thought of it as arrow wood. Each year there fall some big durring the storms, I should definitly collect some.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Urufu_Shinjiro on June 13, 2016, 11:51:18 am
Oh man, I saw these posted on FB under the SCA Target Archery group, I pulled up this thread here today and was like "man those pics look real familiar....wait a minute..." lol
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 13, 2016, 01:34:58 pm
Oh man, I saw these posted on FB under the SCA Target Archery group, I pulled up this thread here today and was like "man those pics look real familiar....wait a minute..." lol

I should have used plastic nocks, right?

 ;)
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: DC on June 13, 2016, 02:30:33 pm
Speaking of nocks. If you use the horn insert, wrapping is not necessary?
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Urufu_Shinjiro on June 13, 2016, 02:53:18 pm
Oh man, I saw these posted on FB under the SCA Target Archery group, I pulled up this thread here today and was like "man those pics look real familiar....wait a minute..." lol

I should have used plastic nocks, right?

 ;)

HAHA! Now there's an inside joke, lol
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on June 13, 2016, 03:00:46 pm
Speaking of nocks. If you use the horn insert, wrapping is not necessary?

Many people do both - they do the horn insert and then wrap below the nock itself.  Personally, I've never found it necessary, and we know for certain that it wasn't done during the medieval/Tudor period. 

The argument is that they weren't re-using arrows and wrapping the nocks makes them more durable for numerous shots but I've never managed to accept the idea that they went to all this trouble and expense to make single use ammunition. 

Either way - I've never wrapped a nock that has a horn insert and I've yet to have them fail. 
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Matt L on August 09, 2016, 01:12:33 pm
Very nice Will- I was just looking at making some of these myself (have done one now actually) so it's really interesting to see how you did things. 

I'm curious about the fletching attachment method you used though- is it just one possibility or has the matter of how the MR arrows were assembled been clarified/ resolved? Another thread I found had some debate about the adhesive and attachment order- whether or not hide glue was used, that the shaft was coated in the glue/verdigris mixture first, and the feathers and binding thread applied after since the adhesive remains intact with only impressions from them (whereas if it were applied over top, everything would be gone or the bases of the feathers at least and the thread would still be present), etc. 

I don't doubt that there were multiple methods used, but I always like to know as many clear facts as possible before making recreations, and since your method is different than I'd expected, I'd really like to know specifically what you based it on.

Thanks much.

Matt
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on August 11, 2016, 05:58:38 am
It's still unknown, really.  It's just down to experimenting and seeing what makes the most practical sense.

There was definitely animal glue found during the scientific analysis of the arrows, which is most likely hide glue for gluing the fletchings down first, but it's impossible to say where in the many layers it occurred.

When you go and look at the MR arrows in person, you can see that on some the thread is still there, some have the impression marks and thick glassy compound, on others it's just an impression with no adhesive left at all, and on a few there's absolutely no sign whatsoever of anything at the fletching end - no glue, no compound, no binding marks and no feather impression.

My personal view having tried many methods and from studying the originals is that it was done the way I made these, but I know others will swear by a different method!
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Matt L on August 12, 2016, 10:34:24 am
Ah, okay, thanks much.  Indeed there's no doubt there'll be other opinions about what works best- there always are  ;)  I myself was surprised at your method because I'd been thinking that the over-glue method was the most straight-forward, quick and easy.  Now I'm quite interested in trying yours.

So this leads me to another question if you don't mind: how did you deal with the lateral curve of your feathers?  I've literally just made my very first arrow and that's one of issues I was pleased to find solved very easily by binding them on over the glue and then re-melting it: one can straighten even very curved feathers because the binding holds them steady- no need for any extra trimming or anything.

Initially I'd thought about a method more like yours- starting by gluing feathers to the shaft with hide glue- but I had trouble coming up with a way to deal with the lateral curvature of my goose feathers; I tried using a sharp utility knife and scissors both to pare away the sides of the proximal end of the quill where it was widest, but it was sadly easy to wreck feathers that way.  Using abrasives didn't work either- so how did you manage it?





 
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on August 13, 2016, 06:34:16 pm
I prepare my feathers by first splitting the quill, then placing the feather between two bits of wood with the quill sticking out and using a sanding block with 60 grit sandpaper to take the quill down to paper thin.  Then I use scissors to trim the sides until there's virtually nothing left.

Originally, they would have simply peeled their feathers away from the quill.  That gives a perfect base to attach them to the shaft, but it's so thin it's almost transparent.  I find it a slightly unreliable method when using feathers that have been stored for a while.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Pat B on August 13, 2016, 07:25:31 pm
Will, you can rehydrate feathers by placing them in a zip lock baggie with a damp paper towel in it. It only takes a day or two. Dry feathers don't strip well, hydrated ones do.
 I too split the quill and sand the base. I like a slightly stiffer base...but I don't wrap my fletching either.   ;)
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on August 14, 2016, 07:15:48 am
Hey, that's a neat trick!  I need to try that.  I never liked that incredibly thin base I have to admit.  Having some strength there makes a big difference in the fiddly-factor!
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Buck67 on August 15, 2016, 07:46:56 pm
Did you make your own Verdigris or is there a place to get it?  I have made a dozen or so of these arrows and did not use the the tallow/glue mix or the Verdigris.  Looks like a Winter project.

Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on August 16, 2016, 05:50:25 am
You probably can buy the copper verdigris powder, but it's so easy to make it seems a waste of money otherwise.  Some random bits of copper suspended over vinegar in a jar for a few months and you've got enough for about 12 arrows.  Set up 5 jars and you'll be sorted for life, as once you've scraped off the verdigris you can put the copper back in the jar with some new vinegar and keep recycling.
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Buck67 on August 18, 2016, 06:49:05 am
Thanks, I have the copper, vinegar and time.  Reckon it's time to make Verdigris.

Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: Matt L on August 18, 2016, 10:10:43 am
Thanks Will- that's how I was working on mine too and had trouble, but perhaps the issue was not clamping them tightly enough.  I saw a video on YouTube where the fellow used a regular door hinge with a couple of strips of mild steel riveted to it as a feather clamp and it seemed to work very nicely.

And thank you too Pat for suggesting hydration- I'd tried the stripping method too and had very minimal results; more often than not the feather tore half way down and was useless for the long 17cm or so fletches I wanted.

On the subject of the verdigris additive, I wonder how much is necessary- I worked in a biology lab for a while after university and we used copper sulfate in water baths to prevent spores from growing, and it's so potent, only a tiny amount is necessary; but verdigris made from fuming with vinegar is copper acetate so could be different- and it's to stop bugs from eating the glue as much as moulds, so could a tiny concentration still put them off?  I wouldn't be surprised.  I think I might try a simple experiment- leaving a blob of dried glue and one of glue with a little verdigris in outside in my yard where the ants live and see if they take both or just one.  If that works I can try different concentrations of verdigris to see if there's a lower limit...
Title: Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
Post by: WillS on August 18, 2016, 12:04:54 pm
Well luckily we don't need to guess ;)  It's all documented in Weapons of Warre, where scientific analysis was done on the arrows and there's a clear graph showing exactly how much copper (and zinc) was present in the compound.  Well worth getting the books, if you don't have them already.  There's everything you could ever want to know in them, from timber species used on various arrows right down to the chemical makeup of the glues.

We also know just how intense the green colouring was on many medieval arrows by simply looking at artwork.  Plenty of the arrows depicted have such dark, rich green colouring on the shaftment that it's almost black.  This would go hand in hand with my own personal theory that much of it was as to do with the appearance as the chemical benefits of verdigris.  Take Henry VIII's personal colours for instance - green, red and white.  You've got bright green verdigris compound, white goose feathers and red silk all combined into one item of ammunition.