Author Topic: Medieval arrow shaft production method?  (Read 421 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline burtonridr

  • Member
  • Posts: 179
Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« on: November 29, 2018, 12:38:44 pm »
I'm trying to figure out how they made arrows, as far as splitting, drying, shaving, nock inserts, etc. They must of had a system and fairly good hand tools to mass produce all the war arrows. I cant imagine they cut out square stock from logs, they must have been split, but how? How would you do it efficiently? I've read about making shakes and they always tend to bevel from one side to the other, would this be true with splitting a 1/2" thick 30" long "shake" to start with? Does the type of splitting blade or metal thickness help create a more parallel and consistent split? Is it better to split the shafts or shakes when wet, or season the wood first?

Sorry, lots of questions I know... I cant seem to find anything searching online, maybe I'm not using the right search terms? Any help in the right direction or answers would be greatly appreciated.
Offgrid mtn living

Offline Pat B

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 31871
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 05:31:17 pm »
You may also want to post this on War Bows. Those guys know a lot about all things Medieval archery.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline willie

  • Member
  • Posts: 1761
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 05:32:05 pm »
BR

look up the proper use of a froe. a bending force on the workpiece controls the split. shakes are purposely tapered, but of course that is not what arrowmaking calls for.

what kind of wood are you using? I have been drying some cottonwood for that same medieval purpose, but would be interested in knowing whether the traditional methods preferred green or not
I know it is not what you are asking, but I am considering splitting the quarters logs I have drying again, but using the saw at some point so that I don't have too much to reduce by hand
« Last Edit: November 29, 2018, 05:39:47 pm by willie »

Offline ksnow

  • Member
  • Posts: 431
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2018, 02:34:08 am »
Also when splitting, if you split pieces exactly in half, they tend to run out much less. Froes are awesome tools, once you learn the tricks. I haven't done a ton of research into it, but I do recall that the arrows were made production style.

Also, not sure of the arrows were made from split wood, or shoots. Ash, and other species, love to sprout when they are cut. Give those sprouts a couple ears and they are perfect for arrow shafts. If proper;y tended, you could have acres upon acres of "arrow gardens".

Kyle

Offline burtonridr

  • Member
  • Posts: 179
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2018, 04:41:15 am »
Thanks for the replies

Pat, thanks for the tip  :OK

Willie, I'm not sure what I want to use yet. But I have a lot of douglas fir, mountain alder, and cotton wood. Douglas fir we all know is good stuff, mountain alder might be good if its properties are closer related to European alder than red alder(but I cant find data so I might test it out), cottonwood appears to have poor qualities for arrows (soft, tends to warp, doesnt split easily, easily crushed, durability looks similar to pine and I havent been impressed with pine).... if you make any let me know how they turn out, I would be interested. Cottonwood shoots might hold up better though.

splitting green vs dried I'm interested in as well, which would produce the straightest arrows the fastest?

Ksnow, the shoots theory is interesting... I might have to try that with alder and cottonwood to see how they turn out.

Sounds like I will have to look into a froe and figure out how to use it, deep down I always knew I needed one of those tools  ;D
Offgrid mtn living

Offline Hawkdancer

  • Member
  • Posts: 2078
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2018, 06:47:24 am »
Finding one might be a bit of a challenge!  Flea markets, farm estate sales, antique shops, etc, maybe.  You can make one out of a leaf spring piece that has the mounting eye, then grind the edge to about 45 degrees.  The handle slides into the eye so it is opposite the edge, you also need a mallet to drive the froe.  You may already know that.  I got mine cut out, but haven't sharpened it yet.  Will try to remember where I got all that good info and put up the source.  They likely come in different sizes.  I was also wondering if a steel hatchet like an Estwing, would work, especially for smaller cuts.
Hawkdancer
Life is far too serious to be taken that way!
Jerry

Offline burtonridr

  • Member
  • Posts: 179
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 06:55:55 am »
Leaf spring is a great idea!

What about a machete? You could take the typical plastic handle off, make a long wood froe handle with a slit cut in the side to accept the blade. The front of the blade is curved, I don't know if that matters, but you could sharpen the back of the blade(which is straight).

Our family has an old froe from way back when they used it to build their home(now our family cabin) in the early 1900's. I might ask if I can restore it and get some use out of it.
Offgrid mtn living

Offline willie

  • Member
  • Posts: 1761
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2018, 12:48:09 pm »
BR

the handle of the froe is used to lever a split from the side of a larger billet,  thus making the split run out or taper. to make the split drive back into the stiffer side, you have to bend the stiffer side rather than the thinner side. of course as you can see, you will not have too much luck bending the stiff side of the billet until the log is reduced quite a bit. As ksnow sez  "Also when splitting, if you split pieces exactly in half," is the way to reduce the billets until they are thin enough to flex.

I mentioned cottonwood because you said "medieval' and I presumed you were interested in english warbows or such, and poplar was one of the more common woods used there. If you are in doug fir country, that would be my first choice.

machete will work. maybe a bit on the thin side. a way to bend the billets needed. two trees growing close together maybe?

I have had better luck when I cut my stock closer to four foot long, trimming the finished arrow blanks to use the best 30"

Hawk- i find if my wedge is too thick, I cant work it down through the length of the billet far enough to control the split before the split runs out to the end.

Offline TSA

  • Member
  • Posts: 209
    • www.trueshaftarchery.com
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018, 05:17:23 am »
we use steel wedges that are about 14 to 16" long, and only 1" thick at the fat end.
they slip in with minimal compression and damage at the fat end. and if pounding in multiple wedges, one can just stop pounding on one chosen wedge, and pound the others, so that it becomes loose, remove it as soon as its loose, then double up the wedge with another, put it back in and carry on.
with Sitka, we sometimes have to triple or quadruple the wedges. but its super tough to split!
Tougher to split than fir or Cedar or Chundoo.

As Ksnow said- keep splitting in halves- you will have less runout.

Offline Hawkdancer

  • Member
  • Posts: 2078
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018, 08:01:51 am »
For sure, restore that old froe!  It will be a working family heirloom, and add authenticity to your arrows.  It will be handy for any splitting job that comes up!

Wayne, are those wedges special made, or commercial?  Thanks!
Hawkdancer
Life is far too serious to be taken that way!
Jerry

Offline TSA

  • Member
  • Posts: 209
    • www.trueshaftarchery.com
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2018, 09:41:23 am »
they are old steel fallers wedges, from when men were men, and they packed a half dozen of them on their belts, (and shot 80# bows) not the lightweight nylon falling wedges us sissies use today (lol)

Offline burtonridr

  • Member
  • Posts: 179
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2018, 01:51:35 pm »
Dang TSA, those are big rounds to split from!

 )W(
Offgrid mtn living

Online bjrogg

  • Member
  • Posts: 5895
  • Cedar Pond
Re: Medieval arrow shaft production method?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2018, 01:13:20 am »
Love to picture Wayne.
Bjrogg
A hot cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise