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

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» Anyone make their own bolts?
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by Dennis Greenaway Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:01 pm

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    lyonsmayne
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    Post by lyonsmayne on Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:18 pm

    Hello,
    Can anyone tell me how to change 3 vane bolts into two? I do not have a jig so it has to be done by hand.
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    Post by Gnome on Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:20 am

    I've fletched some bolts without a jig- maybe a couple dozen over a few years- with predictably inconsistent results. The best set that I've done, I did a lot of measuring and marking on the shafts with a drafting pencil to line them up. That was tedious but the results were good. I have a pretty extensive supply of shafts, heads, and fletching material on hand so I'm thinking about getting into it again. I've priced jigs and am thinking about making the investment, but I'm also thinking about making some kind of jig. Two opposing fletches shouldn't be that hard, right? Maybe as simple as a board with a carefully cut groove for the shaft and just use the surface of the board to line up the fletches?
    Let us know if you come up with anything.
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    Post by Geezer on Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:42 am

    Buy a fletching jig: anything you make is unlikely to be accurate enough to do the job.  With a decent jig you can reduce your fletching failures to a very small percentage.
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    Post by Gnome on Tue Nov 24, 2020 8:55 am

    Thanks Geezer! I will use your message as exhibit A in my monthly expenditure verification presentation required by my spouse.😀
    Actually, the main reason I haven’t pulled the trigger yet is I’m trying to figure out if any particular designs can handle larger diameter shafts without modification. I’d like to be able to do anything from 5/8” to 1/2”, as well as being able to switch back and forth easily from 3 to 2 vanes. So far I’m leaning toward the “1 vane at a time” designs.
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    Post by lyonsmayne on Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:49 pm

    Thank you Geezer and Gnome. 
    I did a couple of bolts by hand tracing around the feathers and the results were not good. When I had them fixed, I was told it was wrong. 
     My concern about buying a jig is that most are designed for three vanes. Should I buy one and just use one arm (limb)?
     How many inches from the butt of the flat knock should I put vanes or do I have to experiment do to the length of the bolt?
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    Post by lyonsmayne on Tue Nov 24, 2020 7:52 pm

    By the way, I have to submit my expense report to my wife too. Laughing
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    Post by Gnome on Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:38 pm

    I can put in my two cents, but that may be about all it is worth. Maybe if we keep bumbling around an expert will chime in and set us straight.

    My thinking is that the vanes should be back as far as possible while still leaving clearance for the lock mechanism- for me that's about an inch. The variance is in how long and how wide they are, which is probably affected by the length of the bolt and what kind of point you're using. If you're using field points or bodkins it's not that much of an issue, but if you're planning on using broadheads then you have to compensate their aerodynamic effect by increasing the size of your vanes.

    Honestly, I just copy what I have. For two-vane fletching I use the same shape as commercially manufactured three-vane bolts, just a bit bigger. I ended up making a template out of thick plastic that I use to cut leather or fibercloth vanes, I haven't tried it on feathers yet, though I have a bag of turkey feathers a friend sent me.

    Regarding the jigs, I've been scouring Amazon and other sites and there seem to be lots of options that can do either 3 or 4 vanes, and if it can do 4 it can of course do 2. These are, of course, the jigs that handle one vane at a time. I'm still trying to figure out if there is a limitation regarding shaft diameter. One thing to note is that most of these jigs are designed for nocked arrows, so they use the nock as the reference for aligning the vanes. I usually do a "half moon" nock on my bolts, so I think that would work OK.

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    Post by lyonsmayne on Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:24 pm

    Thanks Gnome! I'll keep everything you said in mind.
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    Post by lyonsmayne on Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:25 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!
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    Post by chaz on Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:45 am

    Just a thought here .............. should the fletchings as applied to the arrow shaft regardless as to how many have a very slight twist as to make the arrow spiral through the air ......... or is that even an issue
    redarding accuracy of the flight ?

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    Post by Geezer on Sat Nov 28, 2020 1:15 pm

    Feather fletching will almost always cause your arrows/bolts to spin, due to the natural shape of the feather.  Even if you put the feathers on the shaft perfectly parallel, the curve of the feather will make the shaft spin.  That's why you want to use feathers from the same wing. Fletching suppliers will specify either right wing or left wing. It doesn't matter much which side you choose, but you want all the feathers on a shaft to be from the same side.  If you mount the feathers at a slight angle to the shaft, your bolt/arrow may spin faster, and if you use very large feathers with lots of spin, that will retard velocity.  If you use wood or parchment for vanes, it should be possible to make bolts with no spin at all, but the wood-vaned medieval bolts I have seen were built with the vanes placed to make the bolt spin.  Geezer.
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    Post by Geezer on Sat Nov 28, 2020 1:17 pm

    One source I read years ago... I forget where, said bolts with spin were called 'viretons'.  Don't know if that's true.  Geezer.
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    Post by chaz on Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:27 pm

    interesting .......... Thanks

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    Post by Gnome on Mon Dec 14, 2020 5:31 am

    So I quit hemming and hawing and got one of these from Amazon for about $29. I figured I'd go cheap until I figured out what I was doing.
     fix bolts 5CsPzT28TzCGeu6RgeGVLQ?viewBox=660%2C880&ownerId=A2LK0SVSX1ZIZL
    The disks underneath are the alignment bits for 3-vane, I swapped them out for the 4-vane disks so I could do 2 vanes. Then I had to overcome the inherent bias of the rig, it's designed to hold and align arrows by their nocks and not bolts by their butts. I grew weary searching my shop for a suitable bit of Delrin or aluminum to engineer into an adaptor, so I whittled one out of a fat wooden dowel.
     fix bolts G9E4qpl_QGO4ADVPRkV_5w?viewBox=660%2C880&ownerId=A2LK0SVSX1ZIZL
    I'm making bolts from 3/8" oak dowel, so the hole is 3/8" and the nock bit is just small enough to fit snugly in the nock holder.
     fix bolts StD99mj-Q9-wW02byTuqzg?viewBox=660%2C880&ownerId=A2LK0SVSX1ZIZL
    So there is some play in this inexpensive unit, I had to file one of 3 magnets that hold the vane clamp down to keep it from wobbling, and it takes some finagling to get a certain angle of offset or even to get it perfectly straight. I've only had time to do one bolt so far but it looks good, much easier and more accurate than doing it by hand. I'm pretty sure once I screw everything tight (and maybe add some rubber bands to keep the fletch firm against the shaft while the glue sets, the magnets aren't super strong) I should be able to knock out a batch of consistently flying bolts.
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    Post by Geezer on Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:15 am

    My first fletching jig was a Bitzenberger, which used nocks to hold the projectile securely.  That was a problem for un-nocked crossbow bolts.  I eventually hit on a solution: just taper the bolt's butt for a nock, jam-fit a nock on the back (no glue) fletch the bolt, then cut off the tapered bit square afterward. It worked quite well.  Geezer.
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    Post by lyonsmayne on Sat Dec 19, 2020 1:02 pm

    Any suggestions on a jig for two  vanes with a flat knock? I'm looking at Bohning Blazer since the vanes can be attached one at a time.
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    Post by Gnome on Mon Dec 21, 2020 6:00 am

    Many jigs on the market do one vane at a time. Looks like the Bohning Blazer is designed specifically for Bohning Blazer fletches, so if you only plan on using those, go for it. I wanted more versatility, though- long or short fletches, straight or helical, adjustable angle, etc.

    To do flat nock bolts you could try Geezer's method of carving a simple nock on the shaft and cutting it off later, or some type of adapter like I'm trying out.

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    Post by lyonsmayne on Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:24 pm

    Thanks Gnome.

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