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

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    Length, Diameter and Weight of Bolts?

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    dz63
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    Length, Diameter and Weight of Bolts? Empty Length, Diameter and Weight of Bolts?

    Post by dz63 Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:40 pm

    Hi Guys - Lot's of knowledgeable, friendly and helpful members on this forum. Kudos to all of you. I have been lurking for about a week, absorbing a ton of information on crossbow design. Read Iolo's 1st book "cover to cover" and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also really liked Lightly's photo tutorial on tying in a prod. There is a wealth of good information and experience on this forum.

    My son is taking a Medieval history course in high school and he wants me to help him build a crossbow for his class project. I have a decent woodworking shop, but no metal working tools. We have ordered a #3732 150lb. steel prod, string, trigger mechanism and ABS roller nut blank from Alchem. I just have a few outstanding questions that I am hoping maybe some of you might be able to help me with:

    1) What diameter, length and weight of bolt should we be targetting for the above prod? I think I read somewhere that Geezer recommended a cedar bolt with a 125 grain head for a 150lb. prod. Making our own bolts is a little intimidating - especially the fletching part - seems like a bit of an art. Is it possible to purchase a 1/2 dozen bolts without breaking the bank? On the other hand, making a wooden jig for fletching would be fun! I would just need a good tutorial on how to do fletching. If we decide to make the bolts any recommendations where to buy parts?

    2) On his website, Jim Koch recommends beech, oak, ash, hickory, maple or birch for the tiller. Hard maple, birch and oak are pretty common up here. Any words of wisdom or recommendations? I have seen lot's of photos on this forum of oak tillers. Any idea why people prefer oak?

    3) Any idea what diameter of string we will receive from Alchem?

    4) Is there a notch in the back of the cross-bow bolts or just flat?

    I hope these questions have not already been answered on another post. If they are, please feel free to point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge. Much appreciated!


    Last edited by dz63 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Geezer
    Geezer
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    Post by Geezer Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:06 pm

    Well, the darned thing has eaten my post again... why does it do this? I dunno.
    So you asked about medieval bolts. At the risk of repeating myself:
    Medieval crossbow bolts range from 12 to 18 inches in length, averaging about 15 inches overall. They're typically very thick: 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter. You don't want to make bolts for an Alchem 150 that thick. If you want 'em to look medieval, get 3/8 inch dia. hardwood dowel... make sure it's nice and straight. Taper the tail a bit so you can get the butt of the bolt between the lugs of your roller-nut. The butt should be flat, without any sort of nock.
    Medieval bolts usually have two vanes, angled for a bit of spin. You can use ordinary feather fletching... go for 4 or 5 inch feathers, or you can fletch with thin pieces of wood... 1/16 in maple, set in a groove, works very nicely. For your first bolts, I recommend using black or white feathers, set on with an ordinary fletching-jig.
    Bowstrings on medieval bows are usually rather thick, thanks to big power and relatively weak string-material (hemp or flax). Your Alchem prod will come with a Dacron strong @ 3/16 inch diameter. That's plenty strong for a 150 lb. prod, but it will look a bit thin for a medieval bow. If you make your own string for show, make it thicker.. at least 1/4 inch.
    Wood for crossbow stocks? Medieval bowyers used whatever hardwood was readily available.. usually fruit or nut-woods. I have used birch, oak, cherry, walnut, maple and ash with good success. I cannot recommend really hard woods like rosewood, Hickory or Pecan... they're just too much trouble to work, though they will make a nice product.
    Have fun stormin' da castle. Iolo/Geezer
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    8fingers
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    Post by 8fingers Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:55 am

    Git-r-done archery (Calgary) offers fletching jigs starting at $30Can. Also has feathers. Vintage Plans has some archery articles and I think there is a fletching jig in the 'American Flat Bow' article.
    I have a friend in Saskatoon who makes bolts and will pass on his contact info privately if you wish to order some.
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    dz63
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    Post by dz63 Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:06 pm

    Geezer - Thank you for investing your time to write a comprehensive response and in doing so help me out. It is very much appreciated!
    Geezer wrote:Well, the darned thing has eaten my post again... why does it do this? I dunno.
    Some forums have a nasty habit of eating my posts too. Especially if I take too long to type them out. I have gotten into the habit of copying my responses into a temporary Word document before hitting the "send" button. This way, there is no loss if the post gets eaten. But I am digressing! Back to the topic at hand...
    Geezer wrote:Medieval crossbow bolts range from 12 to 18 inches in length, averaging about 15 inches overall.
    I figure my roller nut will sit about 12" back from the prod, so a 15" bolt will protrude 3" out from the front of the prod. Sounds reasonable.
    Geezer wrote: They're typically very thick: 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter. You don't want to make bolts for an Alchem 150 that thick. If you want 'em to look medieval, get 3/8 inch dia. hardwood dowel... make sure it's nice and straight. Taper the tail a bit so you can get the butt of the bolt between the lugs of your roller-nut. The butt should be flat, without any sort of nock.
    Are hardwood dowels from the lumber store good candidates or are we talking about something special here?

    The 3/8" bolt shaft is approx. 2x the diameter of my 3/16" Dacron string. In Iolo's first book, it states that strings less than 1/2 the diameter of the shaft run the risk of under-running the quarrel. I wish I understood what "under running the quarrel" means and if I risk this problem. Maybe I should wrap the center of my string with some fine hemp to increase the diameter in order to minize this risk? Your thoughts?


    Finally, will a crossbow with a 150lb prod. be too hard to span by hand? Should we be thinking about making a Wippe?
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    dz63
    Fresh Blood

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    I'm new to crossbows


    Fresh Blood Doesn't meanI'm new to crossbows

    Posts : 5
    Join date : 2011-11-09
    Location : Ontario, Canada

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    Post by dz63 Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:30 pm

    8fingers wrote:Vintage Plans has some archery articles and I think there is a fletching jig in the 'American Flat Bow' article.
    8fingers - Thank you for the link. The fletching jig looks pretty simple. I enjoy making jigs and fixtures.
    http://www.vintageplans.org/Longbow.PDF

    The one disadvantage I see is if I make a jig like this is that the feathers will be straight. The commerically made jigs have a slight spiral in the feathers. Is the spiral a major improvement and a "must have" for crossbow bolts? Also it appears that the commercial fletching jigs require the arrow to have a nock to index the arrow properly - yes?

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