How to Make a Batch of DIY Arrowheads




About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

it's been well over six months since I published my last project. I moved to a new house and had to set up my workshop. Now that I'm settled I really look forward to get back into making stuff!

My first project is a throwback to one of my first projects. Back then I made four arrowheads from an old circular saw blade. Since the video of this project had a lot of new views recently I decided to revisit the idea but this time with a twist. Instead of just making a handful of pieces I decided to try to make a small batch with the intention to learn something new and also to sell them to create a budget for future projects.

Another first was that I produced a video with a complete voice over for the entire process so I would I appreciate if you had a few minutes to watch it.

Please note that I have added associate links to amazon products in this Instructable. Even if you do not want to buy a product I recommend I would appreciate if you could use the link if you plan a purchase. This won't cause you any additional cost but will result in direct support to me and my projects.

Step 1: Design and Stencil

When I made my first arrowheads I went into without really knowing much about the process of making them. One and a half years later I have a bit more experience and tried to use that starting with the design.

The first design featured two barbs which, although looking cool, was difficult to make and on a bigger scale would be too time consuming. I went and redesigned the arrowheads and got my followers on Instagram to decide which ones to try. In the designs I tried to combine functionality with a little style and easier production.

To create stencils I simply used a semi transparent sheet of plastic, transferred the two outlines and cut them out with an Exacto knife.

Note: Since I was filming at the same time I probably did not take not as much care cutting as I should have. This resulted in an error in the smaller stencil.

Step 2: Material

As a material I chose an old and rusty two-man crosscut saw.

This saw was salvage from a scrap yard with the intention to use it as stock for projects.

I spark and file tested the material and found that it was both high in carbon and hardened throughout. The thickness was around 1,5mm so quite ideal for what I had in mind.

Some saws might be only hardened at the cutting edge or made of bi-metal were only the cutting edge can be used for blade projects.

An alternative would be thin circular saw blades or fresh stock from a metal supplier.

Step 3: Rust Removal

Due to the size of the saw I didn't want to go for a chemical rust removal but instead for a mechanical solution.

I clamped the blade down with two Wolfcraft Spring Clamps which held it in place securely enough.

A 5" Angle Grinder with a Wire Cup Brush was my tool of choice and it took me less then 10 minutes to get rid of all surface rust on both sides.

It should be noted that I went outside for this to avoid having that amount of dust inside the workshop. In addition I want to point out that you should wear eye protection and a respirator for your protection.

Step 4: Design Transfer

To transfer the shapes I used spray paint. This is something I had imagined to work way different than it actually did. In the end the transferred shapes weren't as precise wherever the spray paint went under the stencil resulting in blurred edges. I also think that I wasted a lot of material or could have made more pieces from what I had.

For more precise results I would approach this differently. Probably make a sample from aluminum and use that with dye cam to scribe the outlines on the material.

Step 5: Stock Preparation

In order to make the material easier to handle I mounted a 1mm cut-off disk on my Angle Grinder and cut the saw into four smaller pieces.

Step 6: More Prepwork

The previous process was repeated again and again until I had all shapes cut into single pieces.

Step 7: Fixing Up Paint

Some of the transferred outlines got damaged during the cutting action or peeled away due to heat (one more issue with spray paint). So I repeated my mistake but this time with a different color. Turns out yellow is even more susceptible to heat than blue spray paint.

Step 8: Rough Shaping

During the shaping I developed this process (and I would advise to watch the video for this).

I made a little jig with a Toggle Clamp to keep the pieces in place over a water filled spark bucket.

I set up my second angle grinder with a 1/4" Grinding Wheel (A flap disk would work too) and used both alternatingly to shape the arrow heads. I would start with a series of relief cuts with the thin zip disk which where then followed up by shaping with the grinding wheel.

It is important not to remove too much material too quickly and don't get too close to the outline to avoid loosing the temper of the steel.

Step 9: Shaping

The rough shaping was followed up by more shaping on my bench grinder with a coarse stone.

This removes material very fast so it is very important to go slow with little pressure to avoid removing too much or destroying the temper.

Do not wear gloves when doing this! They might get caught and result in severe injuries!

It might take a little practice but as you can see in the last picture you can achieve quite good results.

Step 10: Sanding

I mounted my belt sander to my work bench to sand the faces of the arrowhead blanks with a coarse 80 grit belt. This had the purpose of removing any remaining rust and get a flatter surface. There was some pitting from rust in some places but I decided to keep it as a reminder of the previous life the arrowheads had.

Step 11: Bevels

Once all arrowheads were shape I moved on to my 1" x 30" Belt Grinder to start the bevels with a 40 Grit belt.

Since this grit is pretty aggressive it is important to go slow to avoid overheating the blade and maybe end up loosing the tip of the arrowhead.

Keep a bucket with water nearby to cool the blades regularly. A good rule of thumb might be to cool them down as soon as they get too hot to hold :D

Step 12: Even More Shaping

I probably should have done this prior to creating the bevels but hey that's why we are learning every day.

I mounted my Dremel Rotary Tool in a vise and used a sanding drum to finalize the shape.

This worked surprisingly well and led me to think about making a permanently mounted rotary tool with a flat work rest as a stationary tool.

Step 13: Refining Bevels

Since the 40 Grit belt left a very rough finish I repeated the process with a 120 Grit belt followed by a 240 Grit belt. In this step I ensured that the cutting edge was properly going from end to end. This wasn't so easy as I did this free hand without a jig. With the higher grits heat builds up faster due to the greater surface area that is in touch with the material so again ensuring that the piece stays cool is vital.

Step 14: Polishing the Bevels

To finish the bevels I used a 400 Grit Belt and polished the bevels lengthwise.

To safe time I did this on the contact wheel and followed it up on the "platten" of the grinder.

Step 15: Surface Finish

One last time I went to my belt sander and finished the faces with a 180 Grit satin finish. Now if this would be a knife I would follow this up with some hand sanding to ensure all lines are parallel but since the arrowheads should keep a somewhat DIY look I left it at that.

Step 16: Blackening With Gun Blue

Another thing I wanted to experiment was to use gun blue as a finish. On the one hand the matte black finish looks appealing and on the other hand it adds protections against rust.

I used it once before to blacken a bushcraft knife I made for my nephew.

From that experience I knew that I had to use plenty of the liquid for an even finish. Before applying it is important to thoroughly clean the arrowheads. I applied the liquid with a brush as I didn't have enough to dip the blades in. For an even finished I used strokes in only one direction.

Once the chemical had a few minutes to react with the metal I used a shop towel to wipe it all off. This resulted in a very consistent finish.

In the end I polished the bevels with a 2000 Grit belt to remove the black color from the edge.

Step 17: All Done, Now What?

So I but quite some effort into showing and describing how to make arrowheads yourself. If you do not feel like making your own however but still want some you can visit my shop on Facebook and purchase them there.

Ah before I forget head to the next page to see how to attach those arrowheads to an arrow.

Step 18: Hafting an Arrowhead

So this is how I go about this, I haven't done a ton of research so make sure you check other sources as well.

To avoid splitting the wood I cut a notch into a 1cm wooden dowel (beech I believe). I used my bandsaw for convenience but this could also be done with a thin kerf saw.

I cleaned up the notch with my belt grinder but just regular sandpaper will do too.

Step 19: Hafting Cont.

A disk sander is very helpful with shaping the shaft creating a tapered shape.

Use masking tape to avoid having glue all over the blade after the glue up.

Step 20: And Finishing That Too

I selected a glue that I knew would remain flexible after the glue up as I didn't want too much rigidity. In hindsight I would probably use a 5 minute epoxy next time as it has a longer open time and better consistency to work with.

I created a loop with the string and held it in place with a spring clamp. Now I went back and began to twist the string around the shaft beginning approx. 12mm (1/2") below the notch (this should help keep it from splitting).

The string was then wrapped around the shaft towards the tip and in the end threaded to the loop and pulled back under the wraps locking it in place.

I used a small clamp to create some pressure during the glue up but the round surface makes this very difficult. I will have to think about a better way to do this next time.

Finally I used CA glue to lock the wraps and seal them. It is important to keep moving while spreading and massaging the glue into the wraps.

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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This is awesome. Voted for your instructable in both. I am now pursuing an angle grinder of Craigslist just to build some of these with my old saw blade. It was too thin for a knife but perfect for this.

    5 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Harbor Freight angle grinders are inexpensive and work well. Vise Grips are the answer to your finger protecting problem.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Vice grips. Okay. I am getting a Makita grinder used for 1/3 the price new.

    Alex 2Qsalmansheikh

    Reply 1 year ago

    Good idea to get something to hold your piece when doing this with an angle grinder. Vice grips seem like a good option but will require some practice to get a feel for. Good luck and that Makita grinder sounds like a bragain you shouldn't miss.

    Alex 2Qsalmansheikh

    Reply 1 year ago

    Yeah that would be super cool! It would be great if you would post a picture of yours once you are done!

    salmansheikhAlex 2Q

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm getting the grinder but I posted before watching the video and now when you mention getting your fingers or hand pulled in the grinder with the small size of the arrowhead, I'm getting a little nervous. I need something to hold the blade with other than my hands so that isn't a possibility.


    1 year ago

    That is a cool idea. I like flap disks to remove rust. It leaves a nice finish and can remove heavy rust. That looked like a lot of work to cut them all out. I thought my son was wasting my time when we built a 4'x9' CNC plasma table, but it saves a lot of work when you need a bunch of identical parts cut out of metal.

    1 reply
    Alex 2QCPUDOCTHE1.

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks a lot! I'd love a CNC and hopefully at some stage will but for now I'll have to use what I got. I've also used flap disks before but I wanted to preserve some of the texture (the rust pitting) and was afraid a flap disk might be too agressive for such thin stock.

    Alex 2QLorddrake

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks a lot Vince! How are things going?

    LorddrakeAlex 2Q

    Reply 1 year ago

    Things are going well. It looks like you are getting settled into your new place :) Voted for you in both contests (your arrowheads better not beat my dice trays in the pocket sized contest lol). Have you had a chance to test out your arrowheads yet?

    Alex 2QLorddrake

    Reply 1 year ago

    No didn't really had time yet to test them out since I headed right into the next project. But there is a project down the line that will allow me to test them out.