Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

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Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:50 am

Well, a long time ago and on this very forum, before I learned what felching was, and long before I had enough common sense removed to be made a mod, I used to actually do things, and I thought it was high time I did something again.

I've actually been working on this for over a year now, so without any further faffing about:

Part 1: Ad'lans Guide to Fletching for the modern archer who can buy parts.

This is Part 2: Primitive Fletching. Everything I use you can find or make from the woods. It wouldn't be easy, and a lot of them, I bought with modern promissory notes so how authentic they are? That's up to you. I took a lot of inspiration from arrows from various "primitive cultures" I've seen in private and museum collections. I was also inspired by Shawn Wood's Otzi Arrows. I use modern tools, because cutting wood with stone tools is verging on ridiculously time consuming. If you've never tried, I suggest you knap your self an edge and try. A pointy stick is easy, anything more than that and you'll really grasp how wonderful modern manufacturing is.

Enough diversions.

Just like the first fletching guide, We'll have a kit list:

Shaft,
Points,
Knocks,
Flights,
Adhesive,
Binding,


Looks a bit bare? Within these components, bushcraft arrows can have a vast combination. Some collections I saw had the same fletcher turn out arrows of the same design from wildly different materials, but materials that were all local to them (even if in once case, it was American Brass from the Troops deployed in the 50's).

So, Shafts:
I won't list off woods you could use, there are too many. I will split them into true woods and pithed woods.

True woods, like ash, birch and hazel are what many modern "traditional" shafts are made from, turned out from the whole plank. Working with them in the round is different. For a start, we have to find them in the round.

Some tree's are often coppiced, this produces fantastic shafts off Hazel for example, dense straight growths. But without tree farming practices like coppicing or a practice I remember hearing about of stringing up young saplings to ensure they grow straight, you'll want to look for naturally straightish shafts.

This will be from plants that naturally grow quite straight, which are often pithed woods, or from densely packed areas, where little natural light penetrates.
Image

And then right in the middle of the copse.
Image
Nice Straight shafts.


Pithed woods, which is not a proper taxonomic term, as I'm including everything from bamboo to bullrush, tend to grow straighter. I saw a lot of footed reed arrows, which made sense as they tend to be less sturdy. I tried to look for local traditional materials, but I couldn't find any on any land I could harvest from. So I decided to try something a little different.

Buddleja, or the butterfly bush. It grows in large stands across wasteground in the UK, one of the hardiest of weeds and first to reclaim land.

Image
This is a stand of it cluttering my friends back garden.

Image
I cut a dozen shafts of varying thickness. I'll be able to spine them for my 45lb longbow and 60lb recurve bow, so the varying thickness will both be useful, and I haven't a clue before starting what the right thickness would be.

Image
I cut them in late summer, so they were still full of moisture. I steamed them over a wood fire.

Image
This

Image
Image
To this.

Image
Image
The set together. I set them away in a quiet corner of the out buildings, to let them dry. I could have started making an arrow with them straight away, and in a survival situation, that's what I'd do. I'd like to shoot this set for a while, so I set them away for a while.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
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My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by shrapnel » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:26 am

Ad'lan wrote: Well, a long time ago and on this very forum, before I learned what felching was, and long before I had enough common sense removed to be made a mod, I used to actually do things, and I thought it was high time I did something again
What you do in your spare time is no concern of mine, but, uhh... :shock:


:wink:

(Also, nice guide!)
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by ineffableone » Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:26 pm

Good start, I look forward to seeing how the guide progresses.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:14 pm

shrapnel wrote:
Ad'lan wrote: Well, a long time ago and on this very forum, before I learned what felching was, and long before I had enough common sense removed to be made a mod, I used to actually do things, and I thought it was high time I did something again
What you do in your spare time is no concern of mine, but, uhh... :shock:
A long time ago wrote:
Jamie wrote: When I first saw this thread, I was all ready to put on my bad-ass moderator hat and kick some oafing ass, and then felt chagrined when I saw this wonderful thread and re-read the title...stupid dyslexia... :oops:
Ad'lan wrote:Felching?! I only just found out what that is. Zombie Squad is corrupting my Innocence!

Now, I'm the mod, and it's my turn to corrupt some people.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Sworbeyegib » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:37 pm

Tagged because of incredible interest.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:47 pm

….a while turned into a whole. Winter came.

Image

…And went. Then spring, and I moved house. With new resources around me, I located the waste ground with a copse of young ash that could do with some thinning out.

Image
They didn't look all that promising.

Image
Especially compared to the set cured for a year. Which had still warped some, as natural materials will do. For those of you used to reloading, or making arrows for your compounds, you'd be surprised at the consistent end result such diffuse materials can produce, given how often they make me swear at them. Standardised, these in't.

I've seen no bark on true wood arrows in any of the collections I know. I peeled my arrow shafts, in some cases a little too hastily, and I shaved a little close with my knife in some spots. smoothing down the knots was a real issue.

Steaming
With the peeled set though, I had a new challenge, I couldn't just light a fire to steam them anymore, I live in a nice respectable neighbourhood now, rather than in a trailer. I miss the trailer.

Image
This was what I came up with, though tin foil actually worked much better than clingfilm (Saran wrap I think is the american term?). It did the job very well, both on these ash shafts, and for a second steaming on my already mostly straight set.

Image
This set had to be able to survive life in the cupboard under the stairs. I bound them tightly to each other with some paracord, and set them to dry. I rebound them after 3 months, and again after resteaming them at 6 months. It seems to take about a month for them to deform as much as they will, which means my ash set will be ready to work.

As this is still a guide for primitive arrows, and not just for primitives with a kitchen, other ways of steaming your arrows I have come across include wrapping them in wet leaves, and baking them under or in a fire or using a hot stone to directly heat the soaked wood*. Presoaking your arrows prevents them snapping too easily, but you don't actually want them fully bendable. Your arrow needs to soften just enough to bend to where you want it too, and set there. The only real way to learn to steam wood is steaming wood. I've seen wood steamers at work since I was a boy, and arrows are my only real experience in it, but from my own trial and error, I do much less than the furniture making steamers. The spot application of steam is all that I needed.

I believe, but I can't cite, that there are Palaeolithic finds that have been explained as being arrow straighteners. Soft stone, with worked grooves in the appropriate thickness for an arrow. This would have been useful in straightening some sections of the arrow, but most of the time, bending a steamed central kink or curve from the ends would allow me to fix it, and then set it by letting it cool and dry off.

I broke a fair few shafts learning doing this, so don't think of this as expert advice. This is what I did and I think it worked fairly well.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by shrapnel » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:19 pm

Ad'lan wrote:
shrapnel wrote:
Ad'lan wrote: Well, a long time ago and on this very forum, before I learned what felching was, and long before I had enough common sense removed to be made a mod, I used to actually do things, and I thought it was high time I did something again
What you do in your spare time is no concern of mine, but, uhh... :shock:
A long time ago wrote:
Jamie wrote: When I first saw this thread, I was all ready to put on my bad-ass moderator hat and kick some oafing ass, and then felt chagrined when I saw this wonderful thread and re-read the title...stupid dyslexia... :oops:
Ad'lan wrote:Felching?! I only just found out what that is. Zombie Squad is corrupting my Innocence!

Now, I'm the mod, and it's my turn to corrupt some people.
My reading comprehension at 6 am is not the best. Carry on. :oops:
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by TODP » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:32 pm

This is extremely interesting. Please carry on. Your list reads "Points", does that mean you will also be making your own broadheads? You seem to be into flint knapping, right?

And because of you asses I just googled "felching". Gotta clear my browser history right fucking now.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:12 pm

TODP wrote:This is extremely interesting. Please carry on. Your list reads "Points", does that mean you will also be making your own broadheads? You seem to be into flint knapping, right?

And because of you asses I just googled "felching". Gotta clear my browser history right fucking now.
And the cycle is complete.

For some of the points I was making 6 (bloody hell!) years ago, you can follow the link in my sig. I will be posting up some pics of new points I've been making. I should point in those 6 years, I did finish high school and pass a chemistry degree, so my flintknapping hasn't improved much in the theory side. Or the practice side.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by wee drop o' bush » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:25 am

This is very interesting :awesome:
Edit: those are made of Buddleja? :shock: I have those around my farm, I never thought you could make arrows from them.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Anianna » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:34 am

Reported for awesomeness. This is one sexy thread. Thanks for the super infos. :awesome:
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by ausher » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:33 pm

I had to look up what felching was..... i thought my mind was rid of these innocence....

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:33 pm

Finishes
It may not seem very primitive to apply a finish to your arrows, but I saw that many different tribal arrows had different sorts of coating applied, some were indeed left raw, but given the amount of work put into an arrow, it's not hard to see why you'd want to give it a longer lifespan.

Options here include animal fat, fish oil, pine resin, Bees Wax and more than I can't think of, look to the historical methods used in your area, that'll tell you what's available.
I like a mix of bees wax and turpentine for finishing a lot of my wooden projects (often call Bri-wax, but I think that's actually a brand name), but I decided against it for these arrows, instead I opted for the historically very popular Linseed oil. Linseed oil can be extracted just from pounding the seeds. It can be used raw, but for preference, boiled gives a much quicker drying, better finish, though it has more colour to it.

Image

Linseed polymerises as it dries, so although not scratch resistant, it does give a modicum of resistance to water, and a great deal of resistance to moisture changes. I applied 5 coats over the course of a week, and gave them another week to completely dry. They were touch dry after an overnight stand, but it's my preference to be sure.

Image

When they were completely dry, I tested their spine again and cut them to an approximate length, for their spine, at least an inch longer than my draw length. Longer shafts mean lower spine, so by playing with the lengths, I can have equally spine arrows. Importantly, don't do this if you are still learning your draw length and proper form, as not having consistent length arrows can completely throw you off.
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My Guide to Primitive Fletching
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by TODP » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:57 am

This has to be the most interesting thread on this board.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Zoombee » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:02 pm

I had felching confused with shrimping. Honey, felch me a beer, the game's on.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Sun May 18, 2014 2:17 pm

Updates!

Shafting
Work on the Ash Arrows Continues, two will be suitable for my 60lb Bow, and will be fitted with Some heads I'm having made in exchange for a flint knife I'm working on. Three Others will suit my Victorian Style long bow, and the other's of the set have either a kink or too low a spine.

I need to sand them down, and then get them oiled, but that will take some time for me to get around to. In the Mean time, I will move on.


Points
Otzi had arrow heads made of flint, and I made a flint knapping guide many years ago now. I'm no expert, and the advice I give is more in the way of passed on knowledge than anything original. In that guide, I refer to the works of John Lord, and although I've improved as a knapper since I posted that guide, his advice is as good as it ever was.

Image

I had a good bash at getting as many blanks as possible from my nodule, but I'm sorry to say I barely got half a dozen useable ones of size, so riddled with inclusions, and I must admit, my own ill strokes.

Image
Some of the Blanks I have will make big, broadheads I might even use for hunting one day. Others will make experimental points, and have fun with as much of the stone as I can, even if it's not what I'd use to hunt or matching those areas that regulate stone points requirements.

Image
Image
The piece from the far left needed little work to make a balanced, if off centre looking arrow. I think it'll fly true, and the difference in surface resistance will only be significant once it hits, so I think in need, it'd do the job. Arrowheads made from less than perfectly struck flakes are not nearly as common as you might think, our ancestral flint knappers were highly skilled, so they didn't need to waste an arrow shaft on a bodge job.

Image
Wet Sinew and either Cherry/Pine resin or hot melt glue serve to seat it nicely. As the sinew dries, it tightens on and adheres to it's self, keeping the head tightly mounted. Carving out the grrove for the head to sit in can actually be done quite effectivly with a stone scraper, as much as with a steel knife, both need to be sharp, to avoid splitting the shaft.




In addition to flint, I'm going to try making a Mother of Pearl (Oyster shell) arrow head, Possibly a Bone one, and I'll do my best to knap one out of glass and porcelain.

I followed the guide, here: Caveman Chemistry

Image
First, drink 1 bottle of beer. Polish Bock Beer in this case, my review Here.

Then, place a coin in the bottle, in my case, a 5 pence piece was the only one that would fit. I wasn't sure it would work, but I placed it in a pair of plastic bags, and shook the bottle so as to force the coin against the sides. The first few tries, nothing happened, but then it stopped rattling and too my surprise, the bottle had a hole in it's side, a tap and the bottom came clean off.

Image

Image
Straight away, I noticed two things, flakes were larger, easier to make and the flakes flew further. I needed to put on my knapping glove, as well as use a leather pad.

Image
Trying to work it into a triangle, as the guide says. So far, no abrading needed.

Image
The Clarity of the glass lets you see both sides of the working face, It really is easy to drive off long bits of the concave side, but I'm trying to work the inside of the bottle more, to compensate for it's curvature as much as I can.

Image
Another experimental point, a large Broad head suitable for ethically taking down big game, and the glass WIP.

Image
A more even flint head, of good North Norfolk Grey.

Image
The Head Mounted on a finished arrow, and bound on with sinew. As you can see, this introduces the next update, which comes as soon as I get a round tuit.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:16 am

I'm kinda glad I haven't finished this guide. I've been apprenticing as a primitive bowyer and fletcher here on a first nations reserve in Canada, and I've improved a lot over the above arrow.

I will endever to provide a full update with pictures soon. For now.

http://www.haidagwaiiobserver.com/Article.aspx?Id=34453

A report on a little project that occupied me for a month (literally).
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by ineffableone » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:20 am

Look forward to hearing more in the full update. Exciting to hear you have been gaining more knowledge with 1st Nations.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:40 am

Oddly enough we've been hosting workshops and teaching european prehistoric techniques, and a whole cultural exchange has been going on. People are very interested which is a refreshing change from europe.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Asymetryczna » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:42 pm

Just found this, and hope you post more.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:11 am

I am beset by a lack of round tuits.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:03 pm

Knocks

Pending Round Tuits
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
Please Check out my PAW Story, Fagin

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Re: Ad'lan's Step by Step Primitive Fletching

Post by Ad'lan » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:21 pm

Flights

But, until then, I mentioned I had a post on splitting feathers, and I can see I do not, let me rectify that.

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You will need a selection of feathers, here are the ones I scavenged. Some Primary's from pheasant and gull, some secondary's from Gull, crow and Wood Pigeon. You will also need a cutting board and a really sharp knife.

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Here is a diagram of a generic wing, to help you find your feathers. More on this when I have some goose/turkey wings and harvest a bunch of feathers. For now, suffice to say, Primary's are the primo of the feather world. If you buy flights, they will all be from the wing edge primary feathers, or you are getting ripped off (I have been ripped off, they might sell you them as primary's when they are at best No. 1-4 secondaries and primaries mixed). Primary's are typically asymmetrical, and get more symmetrical as they become secondaries.

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Split the feathers with your sharp knife, (or flint flake). You can see now you have essentially the flight that you'd buy from a store, however, the stem at the bottom of the flight is uneven, this can be scraped with a knife or rubbed smooth on an abrasive.
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Here you can see the top one needs to be smoothed before it can be tied on, the crows feather is being trimmed by a knife and the bottom flight is ready to tie on.

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Here I have tacked on flights with my good old cherry resin. Since then, I discovered how much better spruce pitch and birch bark tar are. Sod the cherry resin.

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Also, sod using raw sinew as a tie, it's not water proof, won't last, and although it can be made water resistant, I didn't in this case. As I used secondary feathers and they didn't last anyway, it wasn't an issue. I reused the shaft. This is what I mean when I see how amateur I was/am.

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In my travels around Canada I found I had to retie my flights, here you can see some of my shafts with commercial turkey flights (and one Eagle Feather I was gifted) and thread from my sewing kit. And the floor of my very kind Helitsuk hosts at Quatuwas festival, which was really when I first groked that my eccentric hobby in the UK was a traditional skill people respected in Canada.

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Here is my current level of fletching, hand tied flights, with tarred hemp thread. Also pictured are my current, horn insert knocks, but that's something I need to do more of, so I can get step by step pictures for ZS.
My Guide to making your own Bowstring
My Guide to making your own Flint Arrowheads
My Guide to Fletching
My Guide to Primitive Fletching
Cymro wrote:Seriously, I'm not sure I'd fuck with Ad'lan if he had his bow with him. I just don't see that ending well.
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