Medieval arrow replica

Dark Factor
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Dark Factor
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November 25th, 2016, 7:19 pm #1

Hello,
I'm trying to make some medieval arrow replicas (to show at medieval fairs). I'd like to make it the best I can (even if I rarely make arrows), but also the most historical possible.
(thanks Will S for feather part http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/ ... DiKT62vCFw)

for the shaft, I know there are cylindrical but also conical and biconical (not sure if it's the same as barrel in english)...
I wonder how you can make this from a tree with medieval tools and when were used each of them (for target, war ... )
a french medieval text speak about ash for war arrow, and Poplar, cherry, birch for other ones  (if you know other ones!)

I wonder if you have more details to share with me!
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Rod
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November 26th, 2016, 8:12 am #2

Last edited by Rod on November 26th, 2016, 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.
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Dark Factor
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December 2nd, 2016, 6:31 pm #3

I have big problems to use open the forum, but thank you Rod for the links.
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WillS
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December 3rd, 2016, 6:14 pm #4

The Mary Rose arrows from late medieval period (1545) were a variety of shapes, from the most common being "bobtail" or torpedo taper, starting at 1/2" tapered to 3/8" with the taper beginning somewhere around the middle of the shaft depending on weight right through to all sorts of odd shapes, presumably tweaked to get a rough spine.  If you start with bobtail you can't go wrong, really.  Most of them were either 28" long or 30.5" long.

The Westminster Abbey arrow from a few hundred years earlier was much smaller, just 11mm or so at it's widest point, tapering to smaller diameter nock and slightly smaller diameter arrowhead. 

Pretty much any wood can be used for arrows, provided it was available to European fletchers at the time - ash, birch, hazel, oak, holly, aspen, willow etc etc.

Ash and birch are very heavy, so good for very heavy bows and for punching through armour.  Willow was found on the Mary Rose and needs to be made thicker than 1/2" to work well.  Aspen is my personal favourite, and was the most common arrow shaft wood found on the Mary Rose.  Be careful however, as it's extremely difficult to get true aspen.  Most (if not ALL) archery shops sell "poplar" which usually the shop itself believes is traditional wood because of the name, but is actually tulipwood found in North America.  It's known as Yellow poplar, or just poplar which gets everybody confused.  True aspen is stark white and very light, and only a few people I know of sell it (myself included )

To make a piece of timber into a tapered arrowshaft, you simply split it into square sections, plane the edges off using a small block plane and continue until the shaft is virtually round, and finish with sandpaper.  For the taper itself, you just plane the end in sections, around 4" at a time, getting progressively further along the shaft.  For example, if you have a perfect cylindrical shaft, you plane the bottom 4" evenly, then you move up 4" and plane from there downwards, and then move up 4" and so on.  Each new starting point overlaps the last, so you end up with a taper.

The shaft should be fitted with a very thin (1.5mm) slip of cow horn (not buffalo) which is 2" long.  The area underneath the fletchings is then coated in a compound consisting of beeswax, pine resin, turpentine and if desired copper acetate scraped from sheets of copper hung over vinegar to give a bright green colour.  You can read my article on the making and use of this compound here http://www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com/ ... s2016.html

The fletchings (goose or swan) are then bound down into the compound once it's cooled and hardened using fine silk, the compound is then gently heated over a flame to become liquid again and flow over the bindings sealing them in place, and the feathers then cut to shape using long scissors or a sharp knife.

Hope that's of some help, I'm happy to provide photographs if needed of each stage, or help with any specific questions.
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gekitsu
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December 4th, 2016, 1:03 am #5

thanks a lot for the detailed description, will.

between your post and your verdigris compound article, i’m not entirely sure what your final recipe for the base was – or more specifically, whether you used pure wax or tried cutting the wax with tallow, as indicated by the mary rose trust findings.
do you have any setup to recommend for re-heating the compound after fletching and binding? i’d imagine an actual open flame could easily scorch the feathers and/or the twine.

also, i’m glad you mentioned the thinness of the horn inset. a german traditional archery magazine featured a buildalong for medieval arrows in its last issue, and the author used whopping 3mm thick horn insets. imagine how elegant that looked.

raphael
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears … in rain.”
—Roy Batty, Blade Runner
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WillS
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December 4th, 2016, 7:24 pm #6

The tallow is to make the production cheaper, not really an issue today. You can use it if you want, it makes no difference to the compound once cured. As for the heat - I just use an open flame. It's wax, so it takes virtually no heat at all to soften and melt. If the feathers are scorching it's far too close!
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dgriswold93
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December 5th, 2016, 4:52 pm #7

Will, I was hoping you could clarify. Don't most of the MR arrows have a draw length of 30"? Where does the 30.5 inches come from? Thanks.  
Out with the new, in with the old. 
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WillS
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December 5th, 2016, 11:39 pm #8

Yeah, good point! 28.03" and 30.0" were the two peaks, with 4:1 ratio of the longer to shorter arrows.
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Dark Factor
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December 8th, 2016, 7:28 pm #9

Thanks Will for all details. that's always interesting (and sure I'm not the only one who is impatient to see more of your works).

I'm not sure what you call Aspen, I suppose in french it's "peuplier blanc" (white Poplar)... It's the one with maple-like light leaves? Populus alba ... not so common here, but I can find near highways (not the best place to cut a tree!)
In a frencmadieval text, they spoke about Cherry tree ... have you already tried?
you see a real difference between wood species? I mean except density. Does the flight better with aspen or there are other reason to use it first.
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WillS
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December 8th, 2016, 7:56 pm #10

I've not used cherry myself and I'm not sure I know anybody who has! If you do use it, I'd be interested to see how it does. The aspen of Medieval times was Populus tremula or Populus nigra but really any Populus species is fine. I know in America they have Populus tremuloids (quaking aspen) which is virtually identical. It's a lovely arrow timber as its very light, and very strong. You can easily make a 50g arrow including head with a 1/2" aspen shaft, which is hard with almost any other wood. Apparently linden (or basswood) is even better for flight.
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Rod
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December 11th, 2016, 8:00 pm #11

I recall Chris Boyton telling me that the mediaeval aspen was Black Poplar populus nigra as mentioned by Will, which used to be more common than it is these days. Perhaps Hornbeam might make a useful heavy shaft?

Rod.
Last edited by Rod on December 11th, 2016, 8:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
It's meant to be simple, not easy.
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Stalker
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December 12th, 2016, 9:27 am #12

Will once told me that Populus canadensis (hybrid) could be good substitute
Filip
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