Author Topic: Mary Rose replica arrows  (Read 7457 times)

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Offline WillS

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Mary Rose replica arrows
« 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.







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.







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)







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.









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.





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.

Offline Aaron H

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2016, 10:28:47 am »
Very cool, well done

Offline penderbender

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 11:27:41 am »
Those are some nice arrows wills! Did you buy those shafts?

Offline WillS

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #3 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.

Offline penderbender

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #4 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

Offline WillS

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #5 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.

Offline Ruddy Darter

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 12:24:02 pm »
Very nice work WillS, I see you sussed out a good verdigris coating  8) .

 Ruddy Darter.
Mon arc, mon cur. Gardez la foi.

Offline DC

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #7 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
Vancouver Island
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Offline WillS

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #8 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.

Offline neuse

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2016, 08:30:42 am »
Good looking arrows and some great info, thank you.

Offline bjrogg

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2016, 10:30:46 am »
Really nice looking arrows looking forward to the hand forged heads.
A hot cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise

Offline freke

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #11 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.

Offline Urufu_Shinjiro

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #12 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

Offline WillS

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #13 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?

 ;)

Offline DC

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Re: Mary Rose replica arrows
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2016, 02:30:33 pm »
Speaking of nocks. If you use the horn insert, wrapping is not necessary?
Vancouver Island
If you don't have any questions you must not be paying attention.