Fletching in an authentic setting- a query

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Laffin Jon Terris
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Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:51 pm

Now that would be good to see, someone making decent arrow shafts, footed or barreled or both!

I'm assuming they would be shaved down on a shave-horse most likely- a lathe would take too long to set up each time wouldn't it?

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Langley
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Postby Langley » Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:09 pm

Tony Harcourt (Hod) of Mediaeval Free Company spends his days at events sitting on a shave horse with a draw knife making shafts and occasionally putting feathers on them (no jig - he it was who taught me how to put 3 on at once then slide them round. If you want to see some of his handiwork take a look at the archer in Warwick Livery in the glass case in Leeds Armoury. He is a mate of Hector Cole's so put's all HC pointy bits on the end. Lovely demo. Lost the end of one of his fingers in a gunning accident some time ago so when he talks about the French mutilating archers and holds up his hand one or two MOPs generally turn green. (Needless to say, he is an ex-gunner now).



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Medicus Matt
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Postby Medicus Matt » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:48 am

There are a number of late Roman/very early medieval woodworking planes on display in the national museum in Copenhagen that have been recovered from Danish bog deposits.

Some of these have grooved concave soles and, depending on size (and the fact that they were deposited as part of war booty), were clearly used for finishing spear or arrow shafts.

Does nothing similar exist for later medieval periods then? How very...quaint. :wink:

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chrisanson
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Postby chrisanson » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:32 am

(Dark Ages my big hairy botty)


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Simon Dakin
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Postby Simon Dakin » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:06 pm

I understood a block of, say ash, was split to squarish shaft sizes and placed in an arrow-trough in a larger plank of wood and the corners planed off till the shaft was round. Bolck planes and spoke-shaves do not seem to have changed in shape for millennia.



Langley
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Postby Langley » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:40 am

Simon Dakin wrote:I understood a block of, say ash, was split to squarish shaft sizes and placed in an arrow-trough in a larger plank of wood and the corners planed off till the shaft was round. Bolck planes and spoke-shaves do not seem to have changed in shape for millennia.

Yes - that is pretty much what Tony does. The plank with the arrow trough is held tight in a shave horse. Keep taking off the corners until there are no more corners and you end up with a round shaft and of course, you can easily barrel by not cutting as deeply at one point as you draw the knife. Also, I hope that was a typo for block. The alternative concept of a bol*ck plane is too terrible to contemplate.



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Laffin Jon Terris
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Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:24 am

Langley wrote:The alternative concept of a bol*ck plane is too terrible to contemplate.


Thats if you sit too close on the shave horse :shock:


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Archeress
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Re: Fletching in an authentic setting- a query

Postby Archeress » Sat Jul 26, 2014 1:11 pm

G'day all. My name is kelly and i want to revive this thread. I am in the process of putting together all i need to make my medieval arrows. I make my arrows with modern equipment at present. I make the EWBS standards and draw a 120 pound IAY from Ben Perkins. The group i belong to here in Australia is delving into a bit of archery and i am in the process of being the fletcher. I have watched the longbow series dvd on fletching with michael mann. i have various tools that were made for me from tools shown from mary rose. I have rabbit glue that i make. verdegris, linen thread, goose feathers, Quite a few HC tudor bodkins etc etc. I also am a carpenter,. I am looking at making a shooting board. I would like to know what type of groove is necessary?. Also Want some pictures of a shave horse and a decent draw knife. i am guessing a draw knife is the same as a spoke shaver ??????. hope someone can help me here. I sent an email to Hod the fletcher but he passed me onto Richard Head. cheers kelly.



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Re: Fletching in an authentic setting- a query

Postby Phoenix Rising » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:15 pm

Re: Fletching of arrows - One of the things I've found over the time I've been doing this is how some things acquire an almost mystical reputation for difficulty, and this was one of them. I hand-fletch all of my arrows, and use no jig, as to be honest if you place your first fletching at 90 degrees to the nock (ie, this will be your cock feather), then to place the other 2 fletchings is a fairly easy matter. And mine fly perfectly well!

Likewise, binding - again, a certain amount of mystique, but when I tried it out I found it easy enough to do.

So fletching arrows without a jig isn't difficult, and I do think that most archers would have been quite capable of fletching arrows, as, if you think of most soldiers in the field, they have to be practical and if something needs to be done, then it gets done - you might not be able to call on the help of someone else so you learn to do it yourself. However, this would be a case of need, rather than of normal practice, which of course would have seen the Guilds supplying arrows as they could supply in large quantities. So what you have is the guilds supplying arrows, and soldiers using them who, if urgently needed, could make arrows from scratch. As they say - 'practicality in all things'



Will.S
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Re: Fletching in an authentic setting- a query

Postby Will.S » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:20 am

Personally I think it's a bit of a "'re-enactorism" that soldiers would make their own arrows (or bows for that matter)

Fletching free hand is easy, yes. Re-attaching heads is also easy. But to make an arrow from scratch for warfare requires a good understanding of tree types, grain and seasoning staves for shafts as you can't use any old bit of wood if you want it to stand in a warbow, a supply of thin, heated and pressed cow horn for inserts (note - not the great thick 3mm slabs of black buffalo horn you can buy at various archery shops...) a fine saw to cut the slot for the insert, a hand plane, a shooting board, a supply of fish skin or sandstone to smooth the shaft, glue ready for fletchings, a supply of suitable primary feathers, a supply of silk for binding and a supply of heads.

That's just the basic tools and equipment to make one arrow that will actually survive being shot from a warbow. I can't somehow see archers/soldiers carrying all of that along with everything else they'd carry anyway just so they can make some arrows in a pinch, let alone have a supply of seasoned staves stored somewhere on their person in camp to pick shafts from. It's a nice idea, as it gives reenactors something else to show to the public, and a large amount of archers today do make their own arrows (well, they assemble them from bits they buy at shops) but I can't see it happening at the time.

The issue with the staves is the biggest hurdle for me. Either soldiers are selecting suitable trees of ash or birch etc, cutting the trunks (branches won't work), splitting into staves, storing them for months, splitting further, discarding one's with bad grain or knots, reducing to half inch blanks and then planing and sanding (ludicrous for a soldier to be doing) or there's a supply of blank staves/shafts being delivered/carried with the train in which case, while somebody in a guild back home is supplying seasoned arrow shaft staves, why wouldn't they be finished by experienced fletchers before being sent to the front line?

"Here ya go lads, 10,000 unfinished arrow shafts (plus 10,000 hand forged heads, 30,000 primary feathers and 1 million miles of silk) for ya in case any of you are short a few. I know you're busy an' that, but our specialist guilds can't be bothered any more, so you can rely on unskilled soldiers to fletch the ammunition for the weapons that will save your life. Enjoy!"



simonw
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Re: Fletching in an authentic setting- a query

Postby simonw » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:24 pm

I think war bows and war arrows were made on an industrial basis all over the country to supply the army.
An archers personal hunting / practice arrows would probaby be made by himself if in the country, but bought off guild members in villages / towns big enough to have one.

I believe most arrows found show fletching marks consistent with the natural curve of the feather, so its unlikely a jig or even the leather disk is a viable option here.

I do some arrow making at shows but i'm careful when talking to the public to explain that its not clear how the shafts were made / how the fletchings were fitted. I talk about the various ways they could have been made and the actual materials they could have used. Half the interest the public have in it all is actually discussing the pros and cons of various theories.




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