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    Making crossbow bolts

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    Post by Todd the archer on Tue May 24, 2011 3:25 pm

    First topic message reminder :

    Does anybody have a tutorial on how they make crossbow bolts. In particular, what do you use for shafting and vanes? Does anyone have jig or setup for doing the traditional 2 fletched bolts. How about the specs; length, thickness, what tips are you using? Overall weight?

    Thanks in advance, Todd
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    Post by Todd the archer on Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:59 pm

    Yes, you use 11/32 points on 11/32 shafts. But they don't just slide over the end of the shaft. You need to taper the end of the shaft about 3/4" to 1". They make tapering tools or you can do it using bench top disc sander and run the shaft along a block of wood clamped down on the base set at the proper angle.



    If pictures would help explain what I am saying let me know and I will post some.



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    Post by Saxon Crusader on Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:54 pm

    Todd,

    Thanks for the reply. I figured it was so but I really wanted to hear from someone in the know before I hit send on that size order! Smile

    I got the V2 Taper Tool so hopefully that will suffice. The only thing I was still stuck on was whether I needed all left wing or all right wing fletches. Imagine this though: I looked at the ones I had which Master Iolo made for me and figured out that they were one each, left and right wing.

    So my first attempt at making 100 bolts is only weeks away. I'll let you all know how it goes! Smile
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    Post by ferdinand on Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:27 pm

    Dont know if this will help u but here goes.
    Bolts are 12 to 13 inches and about 3/8 thick is my best guess.
    But maybe mac or one of the other guys can help u out with the measurements, they could be in the book of the royal dutch army museum were this whas taken.
    Or do u want modern bolts? Have a three fletched one i could measure for u.Making crossbow bolts - Page 2 DSC_3085
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    Post by Todd the archer on Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:01 am

    WOW, your fletch needs to be either left or right BUT NOT one of each. Both should be the same so that the bolt spins in flight. If one of each will cause the bolt to dive or rise and be quite unstable.



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    Post by Geezer on Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:01 am

    Saxon: Geezer here (aka Master Iolo) You are mistaken about the feathers on the bolts I made for you. I never mix right and left wing-feathers. As noted elsewhere, that guarantees your bolts will fly badly. Choose either left or right feathers and stick with that. It's a lot less critical how much or which-way your bolts spin, than having them all the same.
    Bolt length: According to the sources I have seen, medieval bolts range anywhere from 12 to about 18 inches in length, but the average is usually around 15 inches over-all. They're usually thick: between half and 3/4 inch diameter, tapered at the tail to fit between the lugs of a roller-nut. For lighter, target and sporting bows, I recommend 11/32 inch shafts about 15-16 inches long, with head-weight commensurate with draw-weight. Geezer
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    Post by Saxon Crusader on Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:19 am

    Geezer,

    Thanks for the update and thanks again for the work of art that is my Vera. Smile

    It might have helped if I turned on the lights when trying to figure out the wing. As it was I was lazy and simply eyeballed it by the phospher glow of my computer screen. Laughing

    Thanks to all of you for the support as I take this step into a larger world. I am notoriously NOT a "Maker" of things. Most things I make work but are relatively shoddy. I've always been a "plug and play" sort so I'm really going over the top with this bolt-making and having you all to support really helps the confidence a lot, I am grateful.

    That and I learned just HOW fast one can go through 36 bolts!! Wink
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    Post by Saxon Crusader on Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:55 pm

    Just checking in. The bolts I made last year (see above) got all used up because silly me, I didn't see the post here (which was in bold so you'd think I'd have caught it) about BOILING THE POINTS. Lol! Laughing
    I ended up having something like 24 points get stuck in our target butts. So this month I'm making more with both a hotter glue gun (10W is seriously insufficient I think...up to 40W gun now) and boiled points. I'll let you all know how it goes!
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    Post by cnunley on Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:06 am

    Todd,

    I make my bolts out of hard maple, 21 1/2 inches long, bodkin point, that come in a 38 grams total. I use lead shot in the tip to get them all to within 1/4 gram variance.

    I use a Veritas doweling jig to make the shafts which produces a 3/8 in shaft after sanding. I finish them with 2 coats of linseed oil.

    Graylings makes an excellent fletching jig that comes with plates for 2,3,4 flights. It's super easy to use, and very accurate, with adjustments for spin as well as adaptors for nocked or blunt end shafts. The best $25 I have ever spent. I am using thinned down gorilla glue, which works, but is still really goopy.

    Right now I am using store-bought feather flights, but I am experimenting with parchment (very thin and expensive) inserted into slots. Thin wooden flights are next.

    Hope this helps,

    CEN
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    Post by ferdinand on Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:40 pm

    I am having trouble with balance. I made some new bodkin heads that are a bit longer and thinner to get more penetration. The total length is same as the other bolts but these new ones dont fly straight, they woblle. Any thougts?
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    Post by kenh on Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:19 pm

    Ferdi - where is the center of balance of the new quarrels? Too close to center might be causing the wobble ad you'll need to add weight to the points to get the c/g more forward.
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    Post by ferdinand on Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:36 pm

    kenh wrote:Ferdi - where is the center of balance of the new quarrels? Too close to center might be causing the wobble ad you'll need to add weight to the points to get the c/g more forward.
    U are right, shorter shaft and longer tip makes center more to the back. I'll weigh them and add weight.
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    Post by Stonedog on Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:15 am

    A few notes:

    1. Make sure they all are the same exact length and within +/- 20 grains of each other
    2. spine is pretty much irrelevant
    3. same weight heads.
    4. use a fletching device. I like the bitzenburger left wing. It can be set to 90 degrees to each other...put on a feather...two clicks and voila! Two fletchings set perfectly 180 degrees from each other. A Bitz isn't cheap and there are other decent alternatives...

    I have made quite a few arrows for my longbows....I do all the same as above as except for the spine...
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    Post by ferdinand on Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:00 am

    Stonedog wrote:A few notes:

    1. Make sure they all are the same exact length and within +/- 20 grains of each other
    2. spine is pretty much irrelevant
    3. same weight heads.
    4. use a fletching device. I like the bitzenburger left wing. It can be set to 90 degrees to each other...put on a feather...two clicks and voila! Two fletchings set perfectly 180 degrees from each other. A Bitz isn't cheap and there are other decent alternatives...

    I have made quite a few arrows for my longbows....I do all the same as above as except for the spine...
    20grains!!? Man. That is just about 1 gram. Thaf is seriously close! I am not planning to be that accurate!
    But length is same so i will have to make the heads shorter to get the balance forward. Thanks though for the advice! If i ever pick up hunting i will do so.
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    Post by ferdinand on Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:05 am



    How about this one! Pretty nice i think! Gettin thehang of it now!Making crossbow bolts - Page 2 DSC_4011-1_zps9635b153
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    Post by mac on Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:47 am

    Ferdi,

    That does look nice! Now, the only difference between you an a medieval arrow smith is about 10,000 points. In a craft like this, repetition is everything.

    Seriously. By the time you have made about 100 or so, they are going to look really sweet and be pretty uniform.

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    Post by ferdinand on Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:38 pm

    mac wrote:Ferdi,

    That does look nice! Now, the only difference between you an a medieval arrow smith is about 10,000 points. In a craft like this, repetition is everything.

    Seriously. By the time you have made about 100 or so, they are going to look really sweet and be pretty uniform.

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    Hey Mac,
    I hope so!
    Really enjoy hammering the steel!
    Maybe u can ad a little advice on the type of coal i shoold buy for the forge!??
    I have made a few 'viking' knifes also, nice!
    Next up is a axe with a 'fire'-welded piece of tool-steal as cutting surface. That shoold be a challenge!
    Hope my neighbours dont start bitching!
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    Post by ZigiMan on Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:58 am

    ferdinand wrote:
    How about this one! Pretty nice i think! Gettin thehang of it now!Making crossbow bolts - Page 2 DSC_4011-1_zps9635b153

    That's a really nice bodkin!
    I'll glade to see your other steel work, like the 'viking' knives you mentioned.
    Keep on the good work!

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    Post by mac on Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:21 am

    ferdinand wrote:


    Maybe u can ad a little advice on the type of coal i shoold buy for the forge!??


    Ferdi,

    I have very little experience with coal. All I can recommend is what they say in all the books. Get the coal with no sulfur. Sulfur not only smells bad, it makes your iron brittle at high temperatures, or "red short".

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    Post by jds6 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:15 am

    Ferdi,
    You want to find a high quality bituminous coal. One that is pretty much free from ash, sulfur and other impurities as possible. Try to get as close to these constituents
    Sulfur-Not over 1%
    Ash- Not over 7%
    Carbon- Not less than 70%
    Moisture- Not over 12 %
    It is hard to find these exact constituents, but you should find some that are close.

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    Post by Geezer on Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:18 am

    Ferdi: Concerning coal for forging
    If at all possible, get anthracite coal... it has the highest carbon content with the lowest percentage of other ingredients. Here in Texas, I can buy anthracite from Callahan's General Stores... (they specialize in farm/ranch products) As a second choice, a decent bituminous 'heating' coal will sorta-do, but anthracite produces more heat, less smoke and ash for very little more money. In Britain, they might call it Welsh steam-coal. In the US, most of the best anthracite comes from Pennsylvania. Geezer
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    Post by ferdinand on Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:43 pm

    Geezer wrote:Ferdi: Concerning coal for forging
    If at all possible, get anthracite coal... it has the highest carbon content with the lowest percentage of other ingredients. Here in Texas, I can buy anthracite from Callahan's General Stores... (they specialize in farm/ranch products) As a second choice, a decent bituminous 'heating' coal will sorta-do, but anthracite produces more heat, less smoke and ash for very little more money. In Britain, they might call it Welsh steam-coal. In the US, most of the best anthracite comes from Pennsylvania. Geezer
    Anthracite!
    Why didnt i think of that before?!!
    We have it here in our factory, i work in a steel mill!
    Now i have to try and get it legally, policy states that we cant buy from our own boss.
    But if i can it will be soooo cheap! We buy and use it by the ton! Thanks!!!!
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    Post by kenh on Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:20 pm

    Start wearing a jacket to work everyday with BIG pockets!
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    Post by ferdinand on Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:49 am

    kenh wrote:Start wearing a jacket to work everyday with BIG pockets!
    I might just do that! Haha. Its not worth smugling this stuf in my ass..... Razz
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    Post by chaz on Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:53 am

    Todd,

    Bohning Archery 7361 North Seven Mile Rd. Lake City Mishigan 231-229-4247 www.bohning.com has a fletching jig ............ might be worth checking into.

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