Bamboo Arrows

This is a condensed version, from the video I made of a Korean fletcher crafting arrows; some procedures were shortened or, in the case of points that will vary from archer to archer, omitted.  In order to fully appreciate what is going on, you really need to see it being done.  Still, this should give you an idea.

Note: You can use different length bamboo or cane and the number of nodes isn't written in stone; experience is the best teacher.

1. Choose bamboo. Find shafts that are about 36-40" long, with even diameters and three evenly-spaced nodes. 2. Using a circular table saw, even off the shafts; match nodes as best you can. 3. Weigh shafts, to sort them as much as possible. 4. Make an initial heating and straightening of the shafts. The Korean fletcher uses a compressed charcoal stove, with an opening on the top for this. He places two bricks (a little more than a shaft's width apart) over the heat. Using a simultaneous smooth twisting and gliding motion, the fletcher heats the shafts. Occasionally, he will use an arrow straightener (formed out of a large dowel, with grooves cut in it) to work the shafts into straightness; he will sight down the shaft, checking for straightness. Be careful not to overheat the shafts, or the chambers may burst and/or the shaft may burn. 5. Sand nodes. On an electric abrasive wheel, make an initial sanding of all the nodes. Next, attach two paper sanding discs, facing each other, separated with a spacer, on the motor. Using the same twisting, gliding motion mentioned above, further sand down the nodes. 6. Sand paper the entire length of the shafts. 7. Perform a secondary heating/straightening of the shafts. This is done in another stove that has a cylinder horizontally through the heating chamber; there is no direct flame this time. As in the step above, glide, twist and straighten; this time, however, use a very fine awl (or pin) to poke each chamber at the node (this lets steam pressure escape) as the shafts heat up. When the shafts have been heated/straightened enough, the shaft color will be a medium brown in color. 8. Next, take all the shafts and lay them out flat with nodes matching. Evenly mark all the shafts where they should be cut off (using the shortest as the guide). The shafts are cut using a knife rolled over the cutting point (bearing down on the shaft). 9. Mark the nock end for sinewing (what length will be sinewed; about 1-7/8"). 10. Heated fish or hide glue should be put in a small ball in the palm of your hand; twirl the nock end in the glue. Add more glue as necessary. 11. Twirl wet sinew strands onto glued area (evenly). 12. After drying, roughen the sinew. 13. Repeat step 10. 14. After drying, use a tapered bit (looks kind of like a spear point) to hollow out the inside of the nock end; the end result being, only the skin surface of the bamboo attached to the sinew is left. 15. Take wood for nock inserts and taper one end; leave enough untapered wood for the outside of the nock. 16. Trim newly-made inserts to fit each shaft. 17. Apply fish/hide glue to taper of inserts and insert into shaft. 18. After drying, use an abrasive wheel to shape nocks. 19. Use a saw (circular, with a guide, is best) and cut in nock grooves. 20. Flatten ends of nocks on abrasive wheel; also, smooth nock insert sides. 21. File and sand further. 22. Twirl glue over sinew again. 23. Apply cellophane paper; allow to dry. 24. Remove excess paper (off nock insert and above mark where fletching will begin). 25. Brush on water, colored with weak coffee. 26. Attach points (may require footing). 27. Brush lacquer on nocks. 28. Sandpaper nock grooves. 29. Check for shaft straightness and adjust as needed. 30. Cut fletching. It should be noted that, for the most part, one arrow equals one bird. The Koreans use wild pheasant; turkey, etc. will work well, too. For right handed archers, use the left wing. The outer and inner feathers should be discarded. Use pruning shears to cut off ends of quills. 31. Make initial trim using scissors. 32. Separate the bulk of the quill from the feathers. 33. Smooth remaining quill with a sharp knife. 34. Match arrow weights, grinding point as necessary. 35. Mark shafts for fletching (lengths of fletch). 36. Apply white glue to fletching and allow to dry slightly. 37. Apply first fletch to each arrow. 38. Apply remaining fletches. 39. Trim the leading edge of the fletching even with each other. 40. Use a feather burner for final shaping. 41. Paint a band at the leading edge of the fletching. 42. Apply lacquer on shafts between each fletch. 43. Spin test each arrow by balancing the shaft on your thumb/middle finger (as they are pinched together) and flick either the point or (in the case where you have a sharp broadhead) nock. It should spin evenly. Adjust straightness as necessary. 44. Rub each shaft with car wax.

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