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Crossbows - Everything about Building, Modding, and Using your Crossbow Gear

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3 posters

    Medieval Crossbow Bolts DIY Question

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    Rumburak
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    Post by Rumburak Wed Sep 06, 2017 1:44 am

    Hello!

    Im new to this forums, working at the moment on my outfit of a 1350 German Crossbowman hired by archbishop of Cologne.

    My question is about bolt making as Im waiting for my crossbow to be delivered :-)

    As I want to use wood fletchings which were mostly used for military purposes.

    My question is how do I make the groove in the bolt for the fletching, as it is curved?

    Any ideas?

    Best Regards

    Chris
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    c sitas
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    Post by c sitas Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:10 pm

    Rumburak;I'm not an historian but, I don't think your cut a groove for your fletch .As with using a feather, make your fletch thin, like a feather and just wrap it kinda around the shaft. That is called helical. Might have to dampen your fletch to stand the wrap without cracking. I can't see this working ,espeacially in a crossbow. Feather ,maybe. Like I said earlier, I'm no into history.
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    Post by Rumburak Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:13 pm

    Hi!
    I had some 14th century bolts in my hand, tjey had helical grooves, all of them.
    Even Loeffelholz shows a tool to do it, but Im not shure if I can recreate it.
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    Post by Geezer Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:00 pm

    I concur on the grooved-bolt comment.  Loeffelholz has drawings for a cutting tool.  My former room-mate, Jim Atwood (used to be on this group as 'silly person') built a jig do groove 5/8 in. ash dowel with a helical slot and inlet 1/16 inch vanes, previously bent in a a separate jig (Jim loved making jigs) I can't swear all medieval bolts used fletching glued into grooves, but they're certainly workable that way.  I have also seen bolts fletched with parchment or leather and have seen references to thin metal fletching (sheet cooper or brass?) I've also seen some 17th or 18th century target bolts that were actually feather-fletched... stored in nice little boxes, presumably for target shooting.  Unfortunately, feather fletching usually goes to pieces after a few years, so we don't really know what percentage of bolts may have been feather fletched in the middle ages.  Geezer.
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    Post by c sitas Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:22 am

    Well , who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks. This is my history lesson for to day.Does anyone have anything as to how long some wooden fletching might last ?I just seems to me that wood does not give ,and if bumped hard, it would be broken.
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    Post by Geezer Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:54 am

    I have shot some wood-fletched bolts (we used 1/16 in. maple, because it was lying around the shop) and the vanes stood up substantially better than I expected. But I suspect the ruling question for Medieval armories wasn't how long the vanes lasted in action... after all, gleaned bolts could always be re-fletched if need be.  The important consideration was probably how long fletched bolts lasted in storage (some armories clearly had barrels of un-fletched or un-headed shafts ready for finishing, as well as ready to shoot bolts) so if wooden fletching could be counted on to last for years if kept dry and under cover, that would be a real plus for the armory.  In that case, wood or parchment or leather might do very well, but I suspect wood would be the most vermin-proof.  That's something we modern archers don't think about much.  DRW
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    Post by Rumburak Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:17 pm

    Hello! Seems my answer did not get posted.
    Bolts with wooden fletching were usually military used. Better for storage and resisted pests better.
    Seen bolts from.museums in Cologne and Regensburg all had helical grooves for fletching. Feather fletching was often found with verdigris as pest repellant, feathers also decay easy. Metal fletching I would put later for target shooting.

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