Thursday, December 20, 2012

Part deux- Straighten up and fly right

 After the fletching fiasco was over I realized just how valuable it would be to have someone around that could crank these things out if hunting was to be a habitual activity.  I tried three different fletching types.  I tried glue with modern pre-cut feathers to have a fall back plan if all other stuff failed.  I tried splitting turkey feathers and using glue and also did a no glue, all sinew method.

The sinew method is pretty tough to get the hang of, Youtube makes it look all too easy.  The three feathers at once does have benefits though.  All feathers go on at once and no glue is needed so it's an important thing to know about.  No knots either, the sinew takes care of that mess.


They all worked out fine and should fly well.  Notching the shaft wasn't a hard thing to do, however, a few things to keep in mind:

1. The thickness of the point bases have to be relatively standardized.  If you're trying to haft a big ol' clunker of a point it's just not going to work out well.  So, arrow points need to stay thin on a functional level.  If it's not thin enough to fit into the hafting socket you are out of luck, try again.

2. Pay careful attention to the groove you're cutting into the shaft.  If you go crooked with  your cut you will have a crooked point that will snap on impact.  As with all this stuff, it's best to stay attentive to the functionality of the thing you're creating.

3. Pine pitch glue will help seat the point, take the time to use this method if you have the resources.  Combined with a sinew wrap this technique will offer an extremely durable point.

4. Do a spin test before applying sinew by turning the point on your finger to make sure the point is well balanced in the seat. If it's spinning off center reheat your pitch glue and re-seat the point. 

 I found that the thin flake I was going to use for creating the haft seat was not aggressive enough.  The edge make thin slices in the wood and broke.  I needed to make a more durable working edge that would remove more wood.  An obsidian blade with a little pressure flaked saw edge worked like magic.  I also found that working an angle about 45 degrees to the flat end of the wood gave me a thin wedge of wood in the middle that could be cut out with the sharper flake.

after seating the arrow with pine glue I gave the points a wrap with the sinew.  Start from the base, wrap up, do a couple crosses over the notches then wrap back down so the crosses are covered by the back-wrapped sinew, super simple.  As the sinew dries it cinches everything down snug.  With this way there is no wiggle at all in the haft and will transfer all of the energy into the target.  

I repeated the steps to make a total of five arrows

Here's a glue stick I made the other day when we were hafting atlatl darts.  You make it from charcoal, pine resin and grass fibers.  Heat, mix and store for the next use, brilliant.  

Here the point is seated and the glue has begun to set.  Spin test passed, haft is ground and scored.  We're ready to wrap with sinew!

This point is serrated with two retouch passes.  The first pass  isolated the larger spaces.  A second pass put small notched into the first set.  Made hills out of mesas in a way.

Alright, you can see the crossed wrap that will cinch the point into the haft seat.  I start at the base of the haft, wrap up, cross over twice then wrap back down.

Again, haft notch has been cut. I like to grind the ends so there is a smooth transition from stone to wood.  The point sits well, time to put the parts together!
 Here are some larger images of the finished product

Here are the five finished arrows.  we'll see what becomes of them.  Each arrow has it's own personality and I can't wait to destroy them against a rock.

Coming up next!!!

Winter bow hunt in the piney woods of East TX.

Good luck and happy hunting


  1. They are more like artworks than tools.

    1. Thanks! I enjoy the aesthetic side of stone tool technology. Making arrows offered an even bigger way to play with color, symmetry and function.