How to Make a Dutch Arrow (centrifugally Stabilized Javalin)

Introduction: How to Make a Dutch Arrow (centrifugally Stabilized Javalin)

The Dutch Arrow is a weapon I learned to make at scout camp last year. It was a war weapon, but it became a hunting tool and at scouts it is regarded as “ruddy good fun”. As the title suggests it is stabilised by centrifugal force, by its spinning. This is similar to the gyro spinning top toys. Usually you would be able to throw a stick around 5-8 meters, a javelin 10-18 meters but on my first throw I threw it around 30 meters and got it to hit and stick into the ground.

This is a weapon and so is capable of lethality and that is for all people within range. This includes the launcher. Don’t throw when there is wind, rain, or so on that can affect trajectory. If you screw up the throw people may be at risk and it may swing back and stab you. You make this at your own risk. This may be illegal in your area, so check. Don’t blame me.

Now that is out of the way, let’s get started!

By the way you can mix the steps up into what you want to do ( within reason ) this is just the order i did it in. 

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Step 1: Collect Materials

There are fairly few materials needed for this but the most important is hardest to obtain. most of these are inter-changeable so I’ll say what i used and it’s purpose:

• A 4 foot broom handle, but for some reason it was spiked. It had a end cap that I could use to keep the tail fins together. (you can use anything, really, as long as it has a 1’’ radius and is strait and is around 3-4 foot long – that depends on your height oh and wood is usually best).

• A reel of string.(length can vary but it is usually best to go for some heavier duty stuff – so it’ll last)

• An ice cream tub and it’s lid (this is for the flights, so there are loads of possibilities as to what you can use but I chose this because it’ll last, it’s thin and most of all it was to hand)

• Red Spray paint (just to make it look a bit cooler than a stick with an ice cream tub tied on the back, but the paint peals so any cooler ideas are welcome, just post below.)

The tools are fairly simple:

• A work bench (with a vice to hold the project when sawing)

• A hack saw (or other type of saw, depending on the width of your flights)

• A knife (to sharpen and cut the notch)

• A craft knife - there is a difference craft knifes are sharper and when blunted you snap the section off. (this is for cutting the ice cream tub and tidying things up)

• A bit of sand paper (to smooth down the wood and to tidy up working marks.)

Step 2: Construct the Flights

Cut out your flights using the craft knife it is suggested to use a safety ruler and a cutting mat, but not necessary. They can be any shape or size that fits your material as long as you have an identical one as well so 2 flights shaped within reason.
They should be a mirror image of them selves, so of the four flights there are two pieces of material.

Spray paint them. Leave them out to dry.

You then measure half way along it’s length and cut from the centre outwards on one cut towards the bottom and on the other towards the top. Slide the slots together to from an x shape. Make sure they fit and are level at the ends.

Step 3: Attach the Flights

Leave an inch or two at the end and measure out the flights below that. The bottom of the flights is where you mark out.

Then you need to fix it into a vice and saw down it’s length in the centre up to your marking. Then turn 90 degrees and repeat.

Insert the flights and replace end cap (if you have one, if not just tie the same knot as instructed to in the next step above the flights to hold them in.

Step 4: Secure the Flights

Tie a knot below the flights to stop them from splitting down it’s length.

This knot is tied by making a U bent in the string and laying it parallel to the stick. Leave some of the standing end and wrap the working end around the sick working up to the U bend. Keep it tight. When you are near the end of the string or the U bend you put the working end into the U bend and pull tight on both ends then only on the standing end to allow the U bend to be pulled beneath the coils.

Alternatively you can tie a bunch of half hitches around the stick.

Cut of the exess string from both sides

Step 5: Angle the Flights

Fold the flights from inside top corner to bottom outside corner.the air rushing past will induce and maintain a spinning motion for righties you want it to spin clock-wise and lefties want it to spin anti-clockwise. This is important to remember and it will affect in what direction you fold them along the line from corner to corner.

In the picture I have done it in the wrong way because I am right handed.

Step 6: Create the Notch

Find the centre of gravity by balancing it on your first knuckle and shifting it left to right until a perfect balance is achieved. Then you mark it out c around it’s circumference.

You want string to hold in here when you through then you cut out a groove so the tail end side is slanted but the pointy end side is flat and goes straight in.

Sand the notch down so it is smooth.

This is important as without the notch it would merely allow the string to slip

Step 7: Sharpen It

This is fairly self explanatory but a common mistake is that people OVER SHARPEN it, DON’T. if it is too sharp then it will be easily broken it doesn’t need to be sharp, just to have a general point.

It would be a good idea to sand it down afterwards, to avoid splinters.

Step 8: Throw!

Wrap a length of string around the stick and wrap it over it self. On the first turn do 2-3 turns to start with and add more when comfortable. Wrap the last turn into the notch this must be the fore most wrap.

You can tie the end of the string around your wrist or finger and wrap the rest around your hand.

Give it a throw and watch it go. Don’t forget to follow through to pull off all of the string.

As a key : you want the string to make the stick spin in the same direction as the flights make it spin.

I have heard that you can thorw it up to around 200 yards, with practice and on my first go I got to 30 meters or more! So get makeing and try to beat the target!!

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    6 Discussions

    Phnom Penh
    Phnom Penh

    8 years ago on Step 8

    I remember making these as a kid.
    We didn't used to make them spin, though - and we used to get around 100m throws with them.

    Please excuse an old fart jumping on your instructable - it's a good one and you've brought back many happy memories - thanks.

    Try these ideas....

    1. Use a lighter stick than a broom handle, and make it about as long as your arm - perhaps a little longer, but not much. 1/2 inch wooden dowel works well.
    2. Add a small weight to the front end to bring the centre of balance forward, a few bolt washers or a nut normally does it.
    3. When you make the notch for the string, don't put it at the centre of balance, as the longer the string, the more leverage is applied to the throw. Experiment with distances for throws, and put the notch over 3/4 of the way back from the point of the arrow.
    4. Don't angle the flights to induce spin, keep them straight with the shaft and trim the leading corners at an angle leading to the shaft (like a swept airplane wing). Playing cards work well as flights with 1/2 inch dowel.
    5. Don't coil the throwing string many times around the shaft. Tie a knot right at the end of the string and wrap the string around the notch in the shaft 1 time, then KEEPING THE STRING VERY TIGHT, pass it over the knot and stretch it to the throwing hand, twist the string around your first 2 fingers and throw the arrow from your first 2 fingers - following through to pull the string with the throw. Experiment with throwing technique.

    PLEASE be very careful, these things are lethal.

    Colonel Hogan
    Colonel Hogan

    Reply 5 years ago

    Dont call yourself a old fart instructables is for all people 13+ (sorry 12 and below youre supposed to be 13 to be on instructables)


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    thanks for the pointers mate! i learnt how to make this on camp but as other scouts weren't so good at descriptions and we couldn't make them on camp (due to how a previos scout managed to thow one into another campsite and through some poor souls tent!) so i tried to fill in the gaps. come a few years later and thats the result. Those tips shall be a real help as i now can't get further than 40 meters

    Phnom Penh
    Phnom Penh

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    Forgot to mention, throw the arrow from just behind the weight at the front end - keeps a longer string and goes farther.
    Enjoy, and don't kill anyone, please.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    can you get a picture of how it is supposed to be wrapped? thanks!


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    all its got to do is not slip forward down the shaft and for the wrap to lock the one beneath.