Building a Primitive Arrow





Introduction: Building a Primitive Arrow

So finally, the much needed sequel to the bow making tutorial is done. For the longest time, I didnt know exactly what to use for an arrow. I wanted it to be pretty cheap and easily done and I finally figured that some kind of cane or bamboo would be perfect.

Step 1: Trim Down Arrow

Now, the first step in making the arrow from this cane was to trim down the joints. All of the knobby joints on this cane would slow down the arrow as it made its way out of the bow.

Step 2:

Then, I cut a nock on the back end. Really the only thing thats important here is that you cut the nock to end right on a joint. If you dont the force of the bow string could eventually split the cane. The joint kinda gives it something to push against. I arranged the arrow so that the thickest part of the cane was in front. I think this would put the weight up front more and just let the arrow fly better.. I may be wrong on this one.

Step 3:

The fletching presented quite a few problems. First of all, I needed to find feathers. I knew of a small cave in a nearby cliff that used to house some vultures, so I climbed over to it and got inside, but the vultures had been long gone and there were only a few unusable feathers left. After that, I figured I could go to the lake and get some from where all the geese hang out. Before I got there though, I had to go to walmart and I just picked up a bag of feathers for under a buck.

I thought of splitting the rear end of the arrow and sliding feathers or leaves through it but that didn't seem to be a very strong situation. So, after cutting the feathers to shape and splitting the spine, I glued them to the arrow. Starting with the bottom, I just kept gluing them up and straightening out the feathers as I went. If you have thread, you could wrap the front end of the feathers down around the shaft. This would just make it a little more durable.

Step 4:

Cut a similar nock in the front to hold the arrow head. I made my arrow heads out of glass this time since its really similar to flint or obsidian, and Ill add a tutorial on that here in a bit.
Fit the arrow head in the front nock and wrap it with bark or string. I tried several things here; first, I used a sliver of the cane to wrap it like I did on my bamboo bow. That worked alright, but it just didnt seem to be strong enough to hold up to abuse. After that I just wrapped it really tightly with a piece of bark and glued the whole thing together. Thats what is shown in the pictures and it worked pretty well.



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    i just put a steel nail in the end of mine for the tip is there a problem with that

    I have found that steel banding used to bind lumber, heavy industrial equipment etc. for transport is excellent for broadhead construction. It is also easy to obtain at any lumber yard, or shipping yard. Concerning the river cane arrow shafts, a good way to smooth down the nodules or joints is to use a thick, flat piece of steel and a hot iron. Roll the shaft back and forth under the hot iron while pressing it firmly into the steel plate. This will compress the joint to match the shaft diameter. This method is much better than sanding or any other method used to remove material. Heat compression makes the nodules stronger, and avoids the loss of durability that occurs with sanding.

    You're not far off here from how arrows are actually fletched. Usually you leave a bit of the feather spine in the front, wrap it in thread, then continue to wrap the thread along the feather to the back. Obviously you don't want to wrap on top of the feather, but if you use a sewing needle you can pierce right at the bottom of the feather and not disturb its stickiness. Once you get to the end, just wrap a bunch of thread around the end of the feather as well, and tie it off. Ususally the wrapping is used with glue anyways.

    1 reply

    one more thing you should consider is that real feathers are different from the left wing to the right. mixing the two would be worse than simply not using them at all. you can tell which are different by how they curve while looking down the feather lengthwise.

    now this is an arrow head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!;D

     While I realize it's not especially traditional or primitive, you can make a truly excellent broadhead by pounding a teaspoon flat and cutting off most of the handle.

    I make my own flint arrowheads and honestly all you need is a large chunk of flint. if you hit it consistently with something hard like a hammer or blunt hatchet you can get some shards that would serve as okay arrowheads even if you don't shape them, which can be done with a screwdriver and needle-nose pliers. Also,  on ebay, i buy 18 pounds of flint for only about 20 or so dollars.

    This is a good start, but I do think it's important to stress using protective gear when making your arrowheads. Flint knapping is quite an art and you should learn from someone qualified, but in the spirit of you can probably get close enough through trial and error. BUT don't forget to wear safety goggles and thick leather over your hands. And put down newspaper or a tarp so you clean up everything. You'll find glass/obsidian etc. goes flying.

    2 replies

    I should add that, in a pinch you can knapp the bottom of a Coke Bottle. Also there is a great video on making a broad head from a tin can lid.

    i looked on ur site and i didnt see any tutorials about glass arrowsheads...... pls help

    1 reply

    ya even a piece of square rock or wood can be used instead of animal horn.

    I've recently used river cane to construct arrows. They are rather easy to straighten with a little heat - outdoor fires work well. When the cane begins to appear waxy, it's ready to bend. Be careful not to char the cane though. Dowels are not usually straight, and seem much harder to straighten. Natural canebreaks are few and far between now, so I recommend NOT harvesting more than a few shoots. As for a tip, alligator gar scales are shaped like sharp points and are actually made of bone. Try using a little beeswax to help seat the point before lashing with sinew. This makes a fairly simple arrow to construct, but the accuracy and strength are amazing.

    All info on making arrowheads from stone/glass can be found in the "Traditional Bowyer's Bible". Every traditional bowyer should have these books in my opinion. I still use them a lot when building bows and arrows. And I'm building bows for over 10 years now. Now I'm working on a yew 85 lbs longbow. Let's see how this one turns out :p

    TopDollar is right. when the fletching is slighly offset, it makes the arrow spin so if one side has more drag, it will move the arrow in a circle instead of veering one way.

    Hey i made my own bow out off a branch and a shoelace and i made arrows too and for flight feathers i just used plastic and i bent the tips of it so the arrow would fly straigter. It actually worked pretty well and flew atleast 360ft

    2 replies

    360 ft? I realy dont think so...

    i wouldnt doubt it. depending on the thickness of the bow and weight of the arrow, its perfectly possible.