How to Make Your Own Wooden Arrow Shafts


Wooden shafts for arrows are available commercially from archery stores and suppliers, but if you like to do things yourself, or want to be self-sufficient and make your own wood arrows from start to finish, you might enjoy this project. Making your own shafts for your wood arrows takes time and effort, but can be very gratifying.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Carving tools
  • Non-flammable grease
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Weighing scale
  • Spine tester
  • Find the right wood. Some good choices are Port Orford cedar, Douglas fir, Norway pine, or birch. Choose saplings that are as straight as possible or thick enough so that you can work with them and shape them. Alternatively, you can work with big blocks of woods and cut shafts out of them.

  • "Season" the wood. This means to dry and prep the wood. Depending on the type of wood and its humidity, it can take from one to six months.

    Bundle your saplings tightly together with a damp rope and let them dry in a humid environment so that they will dry slowly and not split. A few weeks later, un-bundle them, peel off as much bark as possible, straighten them as described in Step 4, and re-bundle them to let them dry longer, until all humidity is gone.

    If you have cut your shafts from a large block of dry wood, skip this step. If the block of wood was freshly cut , apply the method described above.

  • Cut and shape your seasoned shafts. Cut your shafts to the desired size, leaving a few inches to have room for error. Shape them to make them as straight as possible. Most arrows are between 28 and 32 inches in length, and 5/16 in diameter.

  • Straighten your shafts. Wood arrows have a natural tendency to bend and will have to be straightened from time to time. It is important to start them as straight as possible. Place the bend against the palm of your hand and apply gentle pressure the opposite way. This is a good method to apply to the shaft as it is drying, when the wood is still "green." Don't bend so hard that the wood will break.

    It is also good to straighten your shafts after they have been dried and cut. You can heat them up slightly over the flame of a candle or stove top to make the wood more flexible. Don't overheat or your wood will become brittle and weak. Apply the non-flammable grease to prevent burning and scorching. For longer bends, use your hands as described above. For smaller bends, use a hook to pull the opposite direction.

    There are also straightening tools available from archery stores such as Shaft Tamer or Roll-R-Straight.

  • Match your shafts. It is important to have arrows of a consistent weight and spine or elasticity, to make sure your draws are even. Sort them out by these features. Weigh them with a scale to sort them by weight, or use a spine tester, available from archery stores.

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  • Photo Credit tip on an arrow image by Mat Hayward from
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