The art of how to make your own arrows is a survival skill worthy of our attention. Why? Because it’s major form of self-reliance. And as survivalists we love self-reliance.
Imagine pairing the power of learning – How To Make Your Own Arrows – with the skill of – How To Make A Longbow – and you’ll never be an unarmed and helpless sap again. No matter how bad our world becomes.
You’ll have the powerful ability, to take natural resources and mold them into a highly useful survival tool. And not only a useful tool but a deadly one.
Regardless of whether your motivation to make your own arrows is focused on self-reliance, as a fun hobby, or to just impress your friends, the following instructions will show you step by step how to do it right.
But before we can make an arrow, we need to fully understand the basic parts that make up an arrow.
Basic Parts of An Arrow
Before you can make your own arrows, you must understand the basic parts of an arrow. The good news is arrows are fairly simple devices and only include a few component parts.
So let’s go through them from tip to end.
At the leading tip of an arrow is the “arrowhead”. This is the deadly sharp tip that does the real damage. It can be skinny, broad, and normally made out of stone or metal. But the good ones are razor sharp and can penetrate deep into your intended target.
The next part of an arrow is the “shaft”. As the name implies, it’s the long skinny part of the arrow that attaches the arrowhead and the fletchings. You can think of the arrow shaft similar to the chassis of a car. It’s not sexy but holds everything together. Which leads us to part 3.
The fletching is the thin blades of feather or plastic that are essential for controlling the arrows flight trajectory. Without fletchings on the back of the shaft, your arrow will fly erratically and out of control. Hitting a target without fletchings is much more difficult task.
Lastly is the nock. The nock is a small “notch” at the base of the arrow where the bow string and the arrow meet. A proper notch is essential for the bow string to fire the arrow. Without a notch at the back end of the arrow, the full force of the bowstring release would not completely transfer to the arrow.
The bottom line is notch is critical for bow and arrow performance.
How To Make Your Own Arrows
The process of making arrows can be broken down into making the component parts and then assembling those parts. So I’m going to start with arrowheads, end with the nock, and then wrap up with how to assemble the entire thing.
How To Make Your Own Arrowheads
Getting the arrowhead right is essential to building a good arrow.
You can make your own arrowheads out of a number of raw products. Stone, rebar, porcelain, or even glass can become an arrowhead. As long as the arrowhead has balance and is sharp as hell.
Here are the basic steps in making your own arrowheads:
- Using a hammer or stone, break pieces of Flint, Slate, Obsidian or Chert into roughly triangular pieces – no longer than 2 inches and no wider than 1 inch.
- Trimming and shaping the arrowheads is accomplished through a process called “Knapping”. To do this, strike lightly against the edges with a nail or screwdriver to produce jagged, sharper edges. This produces strong edges.
- The next part is aptly called “Grinding” because you use a stone or sandpaper to grind away the edge until it is razor sharp. This weakens the edges that will wear down with use, but the edges are not as important as the point. So I wouldn’t worry too much.
- Finally, chip away a couple of indents at the bottom of the arrowhead for fastening to the shaft. This can be achieved using the bolt or screw to sand away stone to create perfect little half-circle indents.
If an image is worth 1000 words, then a video is even better. So let’s walk through a few excellent how-to videos on arrow making.
How To Make A Primitive Arrowhead
How To Make Arrowhead Out Of Rebar
How To Make Arrowhead Out Of Razor Blade
How To Make Arrowhead Out Of Toliet Porcelain
So you may now be wondering, “these handmade arrowheads can’t possibly be as good as expensive store bought broadheads. Well, you should check out this test video.
Glass Arrowhead vs Modern Broadhead – Gell Penetration Test
Looks to me like the handmade glass arrowhead held its own in this test. But you must be patient and practice your arrowhead making skills to get similar results. If you not willing to invest this time and energy, then just buy some good broadheads online and attach them to your arrow shafts.
How To Make Your Own Arrow Shafts
Arrow shafts are typically made from wood or lightweight plastics. Because these are materials you can machine and mold but are still strong enough for our purposes.
The key to making good arrow shafts is balance and symmetry. When you’re done, you want it to be perfectly round. The good news is that regardless of the material chosen the DIY arrow shaft process is the same.
Selecting Your Arrow Shaft Material
With wood, you want to find a slab with very few imperfections. So a limited number of knots or warping.
Now take your raw slab of lumber and cut it up into as many square pieces as you can. Cut them to your desired overall length. Here’s a video on selecting arrow shaft wood and initial cuts.
Arrow Shaft Making Jigs
Once you have your square cut shafts, you need to round them into dowels (arrow shafts). You can do this via several different methods (see the following videos), however, the basic process is the same.
You feed the square shafts through a router, saw blade, chisel or sharpener while rotating the square shaft. You create the rotating motion with a drill.
It’s this rotating and feeding process that creates your perfectly round arrow shafts.
Here are 4 videos detailing several unique arrow shaft making jigs.
1- Simple Dowel Making Jig For The Table Saw
2 – Making Arrow Shafts With The Veritas Dowel Maker
3 – Old School Dowel Making Jig
4 – How To Make Your Own Arrow Shafts With A Shotting Board
Fine Tuning Your Arrow Shafts
Now use your drill to quickly rotate the shaft in a piece of sandpaper. This helps to smooth the arrow shaft and fine tune it’s symmetry.
Finally, use an arrow spinner to test your shaft. An arrow spinner will give you visual feedback on how straight and balanced your arrow shaft is.
Keep sanding and testing until it spins smoothly on your arrow spinner.
You can either purchase a good arrow spinner or make your own (see video below).
How To Make Your Own Arrow Spinner
How To Make Your Own Fletchings
It’s important to get your arrow’s fletchings right. They are essential to keep your arrow flying straight.
Before you can add fletchings, you must choose your fletching material. Traditionally, bird feathers have been used as fletchings. But feathers are not the only material available. You can also use duct tape.
Make Duct Tape Fletchings
Regardless of the material you choose. The best way to apply a fletching in the proper location and orientation is to use a fletching jig.
This is a device that will help you get the critical fletching application right. Here’s how to use a fletching jig.
How To Use A Fletching Jig (feathers)
What about those of us who are hardcore DIYer’s? Then make your own fletching jig.
How To Make A Homemade Fletching Jig
Adding The Nock
The nock is simply a slit in the end of the arrow shaft, right? Well, technically yes, but there’s more to it than that. For example, watch the next video to see how to properly add a nock in the end of your arrow shafts using only hand tools.
Self-Cut Nocks In Wood Shaft Arrows
You also might want to add some horn inserts for your self-nocked arrows. These help to strengthen your nock and prevents the ends from splitting after heavy use. Remember, this is where your bow string and arrow touch and so it’s the location on the arrow shaft that will take the most force during the energy transfer.
Horn Insets for Self Nocked Arrows
Finally, you may just want to purchase nocks online and then fit them over your wooden arrow shafts. It’s faster and easier, you’ll just need to taper the end of the shaft to allow the nocks to fit onto the shaft.
Putting It All Together
So now you have all the basic steps to making your own arrows but now you need to put it all together. Here’s a series of videos that show you one way to make your own arrows from start to finish.
How To Make Your Own Arrows – Part 1
How To Make Your Own Arrows – Part 2
How To Make Your Own Arrows – Part 3
You now have all the knowledge you need to get started making your own arrows. However, if this is all new to you, then you don’t yet have all the skills.
And the only way to acquire those is to take meaningful action. To find some raw wood, cut it into square sections, feed it through a shaft jig, make an arrowhead, add fletchings and nocks and give it a try. That’s how to make your own arrows today.