Making the Arrow
To get the feather into finished shape quickly, follow the steps in Figures 26 to 31 inclusive. A very sharp knife is necessary for cutting these feathers, and it will need frequent honing to keep it sharp as there are a number of feathers to be cut. Use a device known as a "trimming board" for cutting the rib away from the feather. (See Fig. 33.) In Fig. 28, simply tear off the weak vane of the feather. In Fig. 29, the heavy rib is sliced away. In Fig. 30, the last cut, slice away the rest of the unnecessary rib. One should use only the heaviest part of the feather, discarding the light-weight ends. Trim these pieces to inch in height with a sharp pair of shears. The part of the rib remaining is just enough to take the glue well and is about 1/32 inch thick. To make the feathers pliable and easy to handle, steam them in a heavy bath towel, soaked in hot water, and wrung out, before attempting to place them on the shaft. While the feathers are steaming, mark the location of the feather on the shaft.
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In Fig. 26, note the end view of the arrow, each feather equidistant apart on the shaft. The marking and painting device (Fig. 32) is an aid in laying out straight lines on the shaft. Always start with the location of the cock feather.
The glue used in feathering the arrow should be waterproof, of a cement type. Most glues set very rapidly, and one must work fast in putting and tying the feathers in place. A casein glue is waterproof and strong, but sets very slowly, and so is desirable in feathering the first few arrows. Once the feathers are well steamed, take them from the towel, as you need them, and place glue on the remaining rib. All feathers on a shaft must be from the same side of the bird. (Note this carefully.) Next, set the feather on the lined shaft, starting with the cock feather; then run a sharp pin through each end of the feather to hold it in place. Round-head, steel pins can be bought at any five- and-ten-cent store for this purpose. Last, starting at the nock end of the shaft, bind all three feathers tightly to the shaft with a piece of silk or fine cotton thread. (See Fig. 31.)
Before setting the shaft away to dry, one needs to check over each feather carefully to be sure it is absolutely on the lines laid out for it. Most glues, like cement, will dry in an hour or so, while casein must dry overnight.
When the glue or cement is set, the pins and thread may be removed. Next, with the point of a sharp knife, clean away all superfluous glue and trim off the excess rib at each end of the feather.
Now consider the final shape of the feather. The most common design used on target arrows is the "balloon type." (See Fig. 27.) Regardless of design (and archers differ widely in this matter), it is necessary to have a pattern cut from a very thin piece of wood, or sheet metal. Lay this pattern on the inside of the feather and cut around the pattern toward the back. A safety-razor blade is best for trimming feathers to final shape.