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    The correct medieval crossbow bolt

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    Luis Diethelm
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    The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by Luis Diethelm on Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:02 am

    First topic message reminder :

    Hello,
    I've tried several models, lenght, weight, feather numbers, field or bodkin heads, etc. But my 200 lb medieval inspired crossbow seems to need something bigger or heavier, cause 70% are destroyed at the 2° shot or so. I'm shooting from 20 mt to a plywood panel 1/2" thick. Obviously 90% of the time the bolt is half nailed in the plywood.
    Anyone can post experiences or refference the ideal bolt for this case?

    Thank you very much
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    BrianlaZouche
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by BrianlaZouche on Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:40 am

    thanks geezer.. id be the first to admit i know very little about crossbows and their equiptment, , which is why i thought i should join this site.. as yet i do not know if there is as many differant opinions on medieval crossbows ect, as there are concerning the longbow.. so much we do not know for certain,



    i'm at that happy stage, where as i know so little, its pure fun finding out, reading peoples experiances and differant points of view.. i do, as in all things keep an open mind.

    i find this a very interesting and informative site. especially for someone like myself just getting an interest in crossbows. i have a picture of the one i picked up at are-enactment fair.. (i believe in the states they are called ren-fayres) on my gallery but no idea how to post on the forums ( yet )

    bodkins, we have a few good smiths who make hand forged copies of originals, and due to their cost i fix mine with glue, some arrow heads have rivet holes ( mostly on hunting broad heads ) although their are quite a few opinons as to if war heads were glued at all, but due to their cost today, what i do is use a 2 part expoy resin glue.. araldite as such, with a small amount of finely ground charcoal, this holds like araldite yet looks like pine pitch, one small way to ''cheat'' yet look historically correct, i used this to secure my bolt head to the shaft, for no other reason than not wishing to lose the hand forged head, Very Happy
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    Taxus
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by Taxus on Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:43 pm

    Hello Brian and welcome to the Guild.

    I make my own bolts and try to make them as authentic as possible to varying degrees depending on price.


    You probably could use pine as crossbows do not bend the shaft like bows do when shooting.
    For my bolts I use 1/2 inch Ash shafts as you already mentioned. I have used 'hardwood' dowel you can get from DIY shops (they don't specify a species) which is servicable but it doesn't seem to last as well as those made of Ash.

    I have also experimented with splitting the shafts and nailing them closed, but found that the dowell occasionally split when knocking the nails/rivets in. As Geezer has pointed out, this method doesn't appear to be the favoured method for the Medieval Fletcher.
    Some Medieval bolts have the curved flights and some don't from what I have seen. I usually file a flat either side of the dowel and glue directly onto it, much easier!
    Fletchtite glue seems to work well for me.

    The epoxy resin is very good also and can be sanded or cut off with a Stanley knife when dry.

    Here is an example of one of my bolts, 12 inches long, 1/2 inch diameter, wooden flights and bodkin head.


    This bodkin head was milled to shape and hand finished, so are much cheaper than hand forged ones, but look the part. I also have some drop forged and hand forged bodkins in use too.
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    BrianlaZouche
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by BrianlaZouche on Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:07 am

    and hi to you Taxus,

    being involved in medieval re-enactment here in the UK ( 14th cent period ), as an archer i get chance to hel[p out on the ''have a go archery'' and the bows/ arrows we let the public use, are not 'war' bows or arrows, if the size of the battlefield allows, then we shoot rubber blunts from low poundage bows ( and smaller arrows ), for living history we like to display replica yew bows with linen strings etc, and a mixture of arrows/with a range of differant hand forged heads. the reason picked up the cross bow was 4 fold, 1 = it was £100 , which has to be a bargain Smile, 2 = for my alter persona of a Frenchie on the battlefield ( yes i know the French also had archers, but thought a crossbow would be more in keeping with the general publics understanding ) 3 = for use on our ''shoot a knight'' spot which durring have a go archery we shoot blunts from longbows at our knights, to which i thought a crossbow would also add a bit of interest, and lastly = again as with archery gear for living history, a crossbow/bolts/ etc would make a nice display, the crossbow ( in my gallery ) i have been told is late 14th to 15th cent, so we can just get away with it..

    which then i needed bolts for all these reasons, for the have a go archery i intend to just glue feather flights on the shafts with simple/cheap heads. pretty much the same but with rubber blunts for shoot a knight/ battlefield,.. for these we are not too concerned about authenticity. but for the living history aspect i want to try and make them as authentic as possiable, i have seen riveted ones, but i am starting to find more and more referances to shallow groves cut in the shafts and wood leather flights simply glued in, i think this a way i shall try next, i have no experiance of 'fish glue' but will look into that Smile like wise i have heard cheese glue is quite good for joining wood but yet again have no personal experiance with that , i have played about with rabbit glue, (but found it not an awful lot better than flour and water) , pine pitch i find very usefull for quite a few things, and as i mentioned before i sometimes cheat and add a small amount of charcoal to a 2 part epoxy resin glue to give the apperance of pine pitch yet retain the modern glues sticking power Smile

    i'm happy with using 1/2'' ash shafts, i'm also happy with the traders/smiths i know, for the replica bodkins,

    its the actual fittings of the flights that i am unsure of, ie thickness, if leather was it soft or boiled, if wood what type ( i have seen willow mentioned for vanes, but i am uneasy just taking one persons opinon as gospel ) the web seach is frustrating, but time and this site like this will tell Smile
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    Taxus
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by Taxus on Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:59 am

    Brian, the crossbow sounds like a good deal for a £100, would like to see it if you have pictures.

    I've been to a couple of re-enactments and particularly liked the archery demonstrations, being an Englishman but also have an unusual interest in the crossbow for someone from our country.

    I've also bought a lot of my crossbow parts/ arrowheads from re-enactors markets and would be interested to know which ones you use, especially the smiths.

    For the flights: I have used
    Balsa wood about 2mm thick - It's cheap and flies well, but a bit too soft for much shooting ( also
    not authentic)
    The flights used in the picture in my last post are made of Limewood.
    The grain is close so it cuts well and it flies well.
    I use 1mm thick for lighter bolts and 1.5mm for heavier bolts. It would have been available to Medieval Fletchers,as it is native to the UK.
    Size of flights depends on the weight, mine are around 3.5 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
    I have tried soft leather, but not shot enough to make much of a comment.
    I have heard boxwood also being used, probably around the same thickness.

    I'd like to try some more natural glues too but its finding the time to try all these things!

    Here another photo,hopefully you can see the flights in this one.
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    BrianlaZouche
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by BrianlaZouche on Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:24 pm

    nice looking :-) i am unsure as to how to post a photo on this thread, as options are ''host'' and ''image'' when i click image a small window opens but, the only option is ''OK'' without giving me an option to select an image form my pc. the ''host'' option allows me select a picture, but to proceed i have to click to allow my clipboard to be shared,, not being too techy , i am a bit reluctant to agree with this,, most other forums i use simply have upload image ???

    99% of my heads are hector coles ones > http://www.evado.co.uk/Hector%20Cole/index.html although if i see a well made head at a market at a good price i dont tend to pass them by :-) i only have 2 ''bolt'' heads both of which are fairly long, and i do not have any provenace of them, but they allowed me to at least knock up a test shoot, ( photo of one next to my crossbow on my profile gallery ), the next market here is around feb next year where by then i should have shafts fletched, so will pick up a few shorter bodkins then.

    any step by step guide to posting pics would be helpful, although i have nothing untoward on my pc.. honest Smile i am not happy with file shareing etc...
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    Taxus
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by Taxus on Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:25 pm

    For posting pictures have a look at the video in this thread...
    http://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/t2-posting-pictures-video-tutorial
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    BrianlaZouche
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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

    Post by BrianlaZouche on Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:44 am

    thats as clear as mud thats be muddied up and more mud added. Sad... but ty for trying to help.

    anyway Back to the topic..does anyone have any links of actual flight/vane sizes and dimensions of museum held bolt flights ??

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    Re: The correct medieval crossbow bolt

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