Introduction: How to Make Bamboo Arrows
This is a companion to my How to Make a Red Oak Pyramid Bow. After all, you don't want to be shooting carbon fiber or aluminum from a traditional style bow.
Step 1: Shafts
The first thing you'll need are some bamboo shafts. These are available at Lowe's (or other big box stores) as garden stakes. I prefer Lowe's simply because they sell them individually and I can pick through and get the best.
When selecting them, look for reasonabley straight 4 foot stakes about 3/8ths inches in diameter. They should still have a shiny yellow appearance, if they are faded and grey, pass them up.
Step 2: Straighten the Shafts
The shafts, naturally bend in two different ways. They tend to bend gently in an arc between the nodes and acutely at the nodes. These need to be dealt with in turn.
The bends can be removed by heating the bamboo until pliable and bending in the opposite direction. The shaft can then be locked by blowing on the bamboo to cool it.
The inter-nodes should be straightened first, followed by the nodes.
Step 3: Prep the Shafts
Cut an inch or so off the fat end of the shaft, then measure your draw length plus 2 inches and cut the shaft to length.
Afterwords, use a belt sander or disk sander to smooth down the nodes.
The open pith of the fat end of the shaft needs to be filled, a bamboo skewer dipped in wood glue can be inserted and left to dry.
Finally, lightly sand the entire shaft.
Now's a good time to straighten the shafts again. Practice makes perfect.
Step 4: Making Nocks
The nocks go in the skinny end of the shaft. When it comes to making nocks there are "There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, And ever single one of them is right!"
So this is the way I came up with.
Take a heavy sharp knife and starting about 3/4th inch from the end act like you're sharpening a pencil. Except we aren't sharpening to a point. We want to apply a twist to the knife so the majority of the cut is parallel to the shaft. We want to go in just far enough to meet the pith cavity.
Make the same cut on the opposite side of the shaft.
Once the cuts are made, clean up the nock with a needle file.
Finally I used the heat gun to harden the nock and burn off any stray fibers.
BE CAREFUL! The exposed core burns very easily.
Step 5: Feathers
Just go buy them!
Seriously, I currently buy mine from "bowhunterssupplystore"
Go to the craft store and buy some dyed turkey feathers.
Use you knife to split them down the rachis.
Pinch the split feather between two paint stirrers and grind flat with a dremel sander.
Trim feather to length.
Suffer terrible allergies from all the feather dust while enduring the smell of burning feathers while sanding.
Cost $0.28 each
Order premade fletching online
Just buy pre-cut fletching
Step 6: Fletching
Fletching comes either "right wing" or "left wing", one spins the arrow clockwise, one counterclockwise. If you made your own, you need to sort them, don't mix and match.
Fletching can be applied straight, offset or helical, with increasing flight stability. Because my homemade fletching is so large it will be applied straight.
The fletching is spaced 120 degrees apart and a simple template can be made with a compass and a piece of cardboard.
The fletching should be applied far enough forward to leave plenty of clearance at the nock. The fletching is tacked in place with superglue.
To secure the fletching a whipping of unwaxed dental floss is used to lash down the leading edge of the feathers, it is imperative that this be done, otherwise you can embed a feather in you hand.The whipping is continued up as a open spiral along the feather, and then another tight whipping is done at the nock. Finish off with a clovehitch and a spot of glue to keep it snug.
Step 7: The Business End
These arrows have broadheads attached. For blunts you can just find a 1/4 inch bolt tht weighs 8 grams, drill a hole and screw it in.
For the broadheads a slit needs to be cut. I made a jig using a scrap of 2x4 with a V cut into it and a scrap plywood to stabilize it. The bamboo shaft sits in the bottom of the V, which, coincidentally is aligned with the table saw blade, a quick pass and the slit is cut.
The bamboo should be backed with a piece of masking tape to prevent tear out.
The shaft is them pointed by twirling it against a belt sander.
The broadhead is superglued into the slit and secured with a whipping of dental floss.
The last picture is a test, I took an old arrow, which had already split, fastened in an unsharpened broadhead, secured it with twine and shot it into 3/4 inch ply.
The point just penetrated the plywood, the shaft split but everything is still soundly attached.
Step 8: Enjoy
Can fair chase be any fairer?
BTW, disclaimer time
Bow, arrows, broadheads, these are dangerous, they are intended to kill. This is for informational purposes only and should not be attempted by anyone.