The old saying, "Straight as an arrow," suggests an arrow's most important quality: it must be straight. Saw a strip 20" × 1/2" from the edge of a straight-grained spruce board and plane it according to directions below.

To plane such a small stick straight, it should be laid on the top of the bench. While planing it, test it frequently by looking at it endwise. When it is the right size, grasp one end with the left hand, lay it on the bench with the forefinger touching the bench, and, with a small plane, plane away the corners so as to make a true octagonal (eight sided) stick. Next make it sixteen sided, taking very fine shavings, then sandpaper it well. Saw off the extra length.

To make the notch for the bowstring, first file a notch in the smaller end, then saw it 1/4" deep, and smooth it with the folded edge of a piece of sandpaper. Bind the larger end tightly with rather small, soft wire.

To Bind: Bind one end with fine (screen) wire. To bind it well, make a square corner 1" from one end of the wire and lay this 1" lengthwise the stick. Hold it firmly with the left thumb while winding the long part of the wire smoothly around the stick and wire. Twist the two ends together, and cut off what is not needed. Gently pound down smooth the end of the wire that is left.

Pigeon feathers are easiest to use because the quills are soft and straight. Turkey and goose feathers are good, and hen feathers will do if they are nearly straight. The quill should be split with the point of a small, sharp knife, the feather being held on a cutting board. About 3" of quill are needed. With scissors, trim the feather about 5/16" wide; then glue and pin it in place 1-1/4" from the smaller end of the arrow. Indians use three feathers, but two will do for a boy. When the feathers are in place, the ends of the quills must be bound very smoothly and tightly with thread. Notice the position of the feathers in diagram; the bottom feather on the arrow having three feathers is called the cock-feather and should be of a different color from the other two. It is always placed on the bowstring away from the bow.


ARROW — Plate 8

Click on the image to view a full size diagram.