Crossbow bolts

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seesinsilhouette
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Crossbow bolts

Postby seesinsilhouette » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:56 pm

Hi

I'm wanting to make some 15th century crossbow bolts with wooden flights but am not quite sure where to start.

Any advice on materials needed and a good source for authentic heads would be most appreciated. Well any advice at all on the matter would be welcomed.

I'm a fairly handy person so once I have a correct method I should be able to do the "making" without too much trouble :)

I'm also after a pattern/ good reference for a bolt quiver of the same era, preferably with a lid

Thanky muchly



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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Velund » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:57 am

I have a book by Ralph Payne-Gallwey called "The book of Crossbows", here are some pictures from there taken from various medieval manuscripts.

Crossbow arrows, the first 7 are the battle ones. The rest is for hunting.
Image

Payne-Gallwey writes that arrows were of about 30 cm long, 1.3-1.6 cm in diameter, tapered (thicker at the head) . They were made of well dried hard wood - yew for example. Might have or not feathering on the back end. The "fethering" might have been of wooden chips, leather or parchment.
The heads might have been hollow inside to insert the wood shaft or had a sharp tail to be inserted into the shaft. In the latter case the shaft at the head was wrapped around with a thread to avoid splitting.

A storage of crossbow arrows and heads.
Image


Bolts
Image

On quivers:
Image

Image

Image


Also, possibly this link may be helpful: http://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/ ... bow-quiver

and a big museum picture of crossbow arrowheads (at the bottom)
http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/novgorod ... wBolts.jpg


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Captain Reech
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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Captain Reech » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:24 am

http://www.archery-centre.co.uk/

These guys do a cheapish Iron crossbow bolt head. They're pretty hefty and look really mean and 'orrible for scaring the kids! I usually use a 1/2" diameter oak dowel (I got mine off a chap on ebay) for the shaft and stiff parchment for the flights (This has proved a little fragile so I'm thinking about upgrading to leather of wood). The simplest method of attachment is to saw a slot in the end of the bolt, slot your flight in, hammer a couple of panel pins through and then file the heads down flush with the shaft. I've found glued and whipped on flights tend to tear off too easily.

I've used some of these heads with my Goats Foot spanned crossbow which is about a 150lb draw weight, they make a very nasty hole in the target back so check it's OK with the people you're shooting with or take your own. If your bow is powerful it might be worth putting a panel of cheap wood behind the target back (3 or 4 ply is good), mine can put a bolt through an old car door panel at the sort of short range usually used for demonstration shooting so you do need to think carefully about range safety.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby John Waller » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:41 pm

I made a couple of dozen using half inch hardwood dowel and cheapo cast steel bodkins from Richard Head, which look the part until you get very close. The fletchings were of parchment set into a slot cut in the shaft with the trusty dremel. Bit of tinkering with the fletching jig, a spot of glue et voila! Some I fletched with feather to compare performance. Somewhere I have a translation of this article (kindly provided by a forum user's Mum). If I can find where I stored it I'll post it up. http://www.fortuna-verlag.de/soarmbrust.htm . The article does say that a sample of the 25,000 bolts was being analysed but I can't find if this work was ever done or published. I did write to the museum but never had a reply. I think the fletchings were mostly, if not all, of thin wood.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby seesinsilhouette » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:57 pm

Thank you all for your help. I shall post pictures when I have completed the project. As far as the "quiver" is concerned I intend to build a waisted trapezoid wooden box which I will then cover in leather. Could anyone suggest which would be an appropriate native english wood to use? Also which would be a good wood to use for the wooden " flights" on the bolts?



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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby John Waller » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:18 pm

Here is the translation


Between 1978-82 a museum for the city’s history was set up in the only surviving city gate of an original 10, the 1523-26 built Osthofentor. The museum is housed on three levels. The first level, the Guard Room, displays 13 panels with large formatted texts, photos, reproductions and graphics. They provide an overview of the over 1,000 year history of the city of Soest. At the centre of the room stand two models of the city in the scale 1:1000. They show Soest at about 1000 and 1550: At the beginning of its medieval development and at its end.

A stone spiral staircase leads up to the armoury with its 19 text and picture displays. They inform about and show the defence history. At the centre of the armoury stand a large display cabinet and two chests containing the almost 37,000 quarrels and iron arrowheads. These originate from the 14th to 16th century and have survived the centuries in the Soester Council’s armoury in the tower of St. Patrokli opposite the town hall. The display cabinet also shows a town soldier in complete gear: Cross bow, helmet, mail, sword and war hammer.

The collection numbers around 8,600 complete bolts with original Zain (?) (Oak shafts), partially with fletching of two wooden bars (?) made of willow at the back, and bolt-metal tip, and around 11,000 less well preserved ones. With an addition of 5,000 without iron heads and ca. 12,000 bolt-metals it makes it the largest collection in the world.

The city archive oversaw the setting up the Osthofentor Museum as well as the restoration and housing of the quarrels. However, out of the total stock they selected together with the Estonian historian, archaeologist and specialist Ain Mäesalu 800 pieces for scientific investigations.

This stock brought together variations and single examples, and serves as foundation for the development of a catalogue for quarrels. All variations shall be described, marked and, as far as possible, be shown in photos. The descriptions shall highlight the differences of the bolts, and offer dating. The quarrels, in particular the bolt metals, were over the centuries adapted in length, cross section and compound/configuration (?), each time in accordance with technological circumstances of the military.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby seesinsilhouette » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:29 am

Thanks for all the help so far. I have 2 more questions

1. How do I go about " bellying" the dowel I'm using and what was the purpose if this ( i noticed in the illustrations above only a few we bellied so wasn't sure if it was a necessity for period accuracy)

2. Does anyone have a good resource for suitable stiff parchment that I can make flights with? I'm still torn between wood or parchment. Parchment will become damaged more easily but is easier to repair/ replace. Any thoughts on this are most welcome.

Cheers!



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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:22 pm

You never have any mention of bolts being re-used, my impression is that they were expected to be destroyed in the act of hitting what ever they hit, and having seen bolts pass through a pig carcuss and be stripped of the leather flights I'm not surprised.
You may have an expectation of the life span of a bolt that would not match that of the people who made and used them for real.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby John Waller » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:58 pm

seesinsilhouette wrote:Thanks for all the help so far. I have 2 more questions

1. How do I go about " bellying" the dowel I'm using and what was the purpose if this ( i noticed in the illustrations above only a few we bellied so wasn't sure if it was a necessity for period accuracy)

2. Does anyone have a good resource for suitable stiff parchment that I can make flights with? I'm still torn between wood or parchment. Parchment will become damaged more easily but is easier to repair/ replace. Any thoughts on this are most welcome.

Cheers!


1. Not done it, but use of a small plane and a shuttering board has been suggested for making barelled shafts.

2. I got my parchment from http://www.williamcowley.co.uk/default.htm. Give them a ring and tell them what it's for. They are very helpful and sold me some offcuts. I made a couple of different shaped templates from tinplate and used a scalpel for cutting the fletches out. Or you could mark them out and use a very sharp pair of scissors. I've not shot them a lot but they have been quite robust so far.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Velund » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:28 pm

1. How do I go about " bellying" the dowel I'm using and what was the purpose if this (i noticed in the illustrations above only a few we bellied so wasn't sure if it was a necessity for period accuracy)


It seems to improve aerodynamics as it balances the arrow and makes it more streamline. Besides, the bolt becomes more solid and may survive and be gathered (if possible) after a stroke against a hard surface. I read (I don't remember where) that eastern (Turkic) bow arrows had been made like this as well.
As for the method of making - I have no idea what was historical way of making the bellied dowels, possibly they just made them by hands?
To make them now - can't suggest nothing but turning the dowels on a lathe as they are short and thick enough.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby The Methley Archer » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:06 pm

My mate has done this for his target arrows. Have a slightly angled grove so that your shaft when placed has one end exposed above the face for planing and keep rotating each time you plane to keep the sides even. Not explained this very well but hope the diagram helps.
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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Mark Griffin » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:03 am

what do you want them for?

'Authentic' heads are available from many dealers, originals. Can't get any more authentic than that! Best heads will be from Hector Cole, after that any decent historical smith will be able to do them.

Ignore all the line drawings and go look at originals, there are plenty in museums although what are listed as medieval war ones are often later target versions.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Malvoisin » Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:54 pm

seesinsilhouette wrote:Thanks for all the help so far. I have 2 more questions

1. How do I go about " bellying" the dowel I'm using and what was the purpose if this ( i noticed in the illustrations above only a few we bellied so wasn't sure if it was a necessity for period accuracy)

2. Does anyone have a good resource for suitable stiff parchment that I can make flights with? I'm still torn between wood or parchment. Parchment will become damaged more easily but is easier to repair/ replace. Any thoughts on this are most welcome.

Cheers!


1. I understand that it reduces the friction between shaft and stock (tiller), though with 150 lb + behind them the friction effect would be, I think, negligible.

2. I used parchment last year for the first time. Left in the sun on the display table they went all curly and were next to useless. ;( Going to try leather next time or having read the above article might give willow a go.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby gregory23b » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:55 pm

"2. I used parchment last year for the first time. Left in the sun on the display table they went all curly and were next to useless"

Had you tried oil or varnish? That would sort out uptake of atmospheric moisture, it would make them a tad translucent as well.


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Re: Crossbow bolts

Postby Malvoisin » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:09 pm

gregory23b wrote:Had you tried oil or varnish? That would sort out uptake of atmospheric moisture, it would make them a tad translucent as well.


Now that's a plan. :)


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