You can make your crossbow bolts with materials that are durable and compatible with your crossbow. Remember to follow the specifications required by the manufacturer to ensure the bolt’s quality and performance with the crossbow model you’re using.
Crossbow bolts are typically made of carbon fiber, aluminum alloy, or wood.
Carbon is one of the most popular materials used for crossbow bolts. They are great for target shooting and hunting purposes because they are durable and can withstand the impact after being fired at a hard surface or shot through an animal. Carbon bolts can also be reused or straightened out when bent.
Moreover, a carbon bolt has a higher velocity and is less likely to bend, which helps overcome mistakes if it is fired at great distances and stops upon impact without much stress on the shaft. They also provide improved penetration due to their small diameter shaft.
Even though carbon bolts are expensive, they’re still an excellent option if you want bolts that are strong and long-lasting.
Aluminum is the second most popular type of material used for crossbow bolts. Aside from being cost-effective, aluminum bolts have precise weight and spine specs, making them a good bolt material for target shooting.
Aluminum bolts also have a wide range of spine options. The spine of the bolts refers to the degree of stiffness. The more spine a bolt has, the more resistant it is to bend.
However, aluminum bolts with a spine are still more likely to bend than carbon bolts when shot into a hard surface or shot through an animal. They are also more prone to drifting in the wind and difficult to straighten out once they are bent.
Carbon or aluminum shafts are preferred to use because they can better withstand the power of heavier or modern crossbows available. Using them also helps prevent accidents such as malfunction and injuries while firing.
By using stronger materials, the bolts’ effectiveness and accuracy will also increase. But making your crossbow bolts from carbon or aluminum at home will be difficult and dangerous, especially if you have no prior experience.
It’s definitely not a beginner’s task, and if not done correctly, errors during the process of building them could cause damages to your crossbow. It can also cause accidents such as injuries and misfiring.
If you still want to make your crossbow bolts, you can use wood instead. You can read the following information below on the essential things you have to learn on how to make your crossbow bolts from wood.
Can you make crossbow bolts out of wood?
You can make crossbow bolts out of wood. The most common types of strong woods used for shafts are oak, hickory, ramin, maple, walnut, birch, and ash. For lighter bolts, you can use cedar, pine, spruce, and fir dowels. You can also opt to use already made shafts, such as wooden dowels.
Making crossbow bolts can be broken down into five comprehensive steps.
- Prepare the Shaft
- Straighten the Shaft
- Cure and Taper the Shaft
- Install the Points and Nocks
- Fletch the bolts
A small fine-tooth crosscut saw with a miter box can be used to cut shafts into size precisely and cleanly. After cutting, you can use a dowel maker machine to make the shafts round and use a handy socket adapter to hold the wood securely.
Once the shafts are rounded, wipe them with acetone to remove any sap and use sandpaper to sand and make them smooth and splinter-free. Make sure to also examine the wood for damages or nicks.
You can buy the crosscut saw with a miter box here.
Straightening the wooden shafts is important for the effectiveness and accuracy of crossbow bolts.
You can check for the straightness by sighting down the shaft and slowly spinning them or rolling the shafts in an arrow spinner. You can also lay the shaft on a flat surface and roll the shaft to look for any bend.
If there are any curves or bents, it should be faired by holding the shafts on a flat surface and rolling it with your palms. You can also use an arrow-straightening tool or gently bend the shaft in the other direction. This method should be repeated until the shafts appear straight.
You can buy the arrow spinner here.
Once straightened, the next step is to cut the shafts into the desired length. For crossbow bolts, it’s best to cut them at least 16-22 inches long, depending on the recommended specification of the crossbow model you’re using. Make sure to include the distance from the point to the nock as well.
Tapering the bolt shafts is also necessary to produce balance and allow the bolt to retain its velocity. It also helps stop its oscillations faster and flatter trajectory at impact.
Use a tapering tool (looks like an oversized pencil-sharpener) that matches the shaft’s diameter at one end to mount the points and nocks. Make sure the tip is longer than the end at the nock.
After tapering, you can seal the shafts by brushing varnish, sealers, or acrylic floor finish to prevent them from absorbing moisture and hang them to dry for 3-4 hours. Also, it’s best to coat the shafts at least two to four coats.
The first step is to heat the hot-melt glue using a blow torch and smear the melted glue onto the point taper. Next is to grip a point, hold it briefly over the flame, and insert the point taper into the point while spinning the shaft to distribute the glue. Make sure to wipe off the excess evenly.
You can use super glue to install the nocks and press them for 30 seconds. It’s best to cure the points and nocks for a day to ensure they are sticking properly.
For fletching, you can use a plastic vane or feathers, depending on your preference.
The first step is to place a bolt shaft in the fletching jig. Next is to clamp the fletching and apply glue along the length in the groove of the fletching. Make sure to press it to seat the fletching against the shaft, and the glue bonds properly.
Lightly tap or wipe away with a paper towel to remove any excess glue. Let the glue dry and repeat the process for the next fletching. Last is to carefully remove the clamp and rotate the bolt shaft to check the alignment of the nock.
It’s best to leave the fletched bolt for a couple of hours to make sure the glue is properly set before shooting. Once you’re done with these steps, your bolts are now ready for shooting.
What are the different parts of a crossbow bolt?
Learning about the anatomy of a crossbow bolt and how each part works will help you make suitable bolts for your crossbow. Having the right knowledge will also guide you on the proper maintenance of the bolts.
Parts of a crossbow bolt include the following:
The shaft is where all of the other parts of a crossbow bolt are attached. It’s also referred to as the body or the middle part of a crossbow bolt. There are two metrics associated with the shaft: the spine and grain.
The term spine refers to the degree of stiffness of a bolt, whereas grain refers to the weight of the bolt shaft.
Crossbow bolts with a higher spine are more resistant to bending, making them an ideal projectile for crossbows with higher draw weights.
The point, also known as the head, is the tip of the crossbow bolt. How well a bolt will pierce an animal or target depends on how sharp the point is.
There are two main types of crossbow bolt heads: Field Points and Broadheads.
Field Points, which are also called target points, are designed specifically for target practice. Their edges are dull or blunt, but their tips are sharp. Because they cannot cause a fatal kill on an animal instantly, their specifications are unsuitable for hunting. The majority of the target points are detachable or unscrewable from the bolt shaft.
Blunt points, like field points, are used for small games like squirrels, rabbits, or upland birds. They are typically constructed of rubber, steel or plastic.
Broadheads are bolt heads used for hunting due to their sharp edges, which can penetrate, cause internal damage, and instantly kill an animal.
Broadheads are classified into three types: fixed-blade, removable-blade, and expandable-blade.
Fixed-blade broadheads have razor-sharp blades that are either fixed or non-removable, while broadheads with blades that can be replaced or removed when necessary are called Removable-Blade broadheads.
Moreover, expandable-blade broadheads feature blades that can conceal and then open up once the animal is hit.
The nock is an important part of the crossbow bolt because it holds the bolt in place for firing. There are two categories for crossbow nocks: the flat and the moon nock.
The flat nock, also known as the oldest and most simple nock design, has a flat back that allows small vertical movements of the string when firing.
The moon nock is also called the half-moon nock, which allows the crossbow string to curve to ensure the string doesn’t slip above.
Using the type of nocks may vary, depending on what is recommended by the manufacturer.
Fletchings are wings or feathers situated near the nock at the rear of the bolt. They keep the bolt’s trajectory stable and prevent it from wobbling to the left or right. Fletchings rotate and keep the bolt pointed in the right direction, enhancing stability. The length of the fletchings is determined by the length of the crossbow bolt.
Does crossbow bolt weight matter?
The weight of a crossbow bolt matters because it greatly affects the speed, accuracy, and how much energy the projectile carries when fired. The total mass of the crossbow bolt plays a big role in how much force will be delivered upon impact.
The total bolt weight, which is measured in grains, includes the nock, insert, broadhead, or field point and the weight of the bolt.
Crossbow bolts come in three weight categories. The first one is the Lightweight bolt, which has a measurement of 350-400 grains. The second type is the Standard bolt, which measures at least 400-435 grains. Lastly is the Heavy bolt. This type of crossbow bolt has a measurement of 435+ grains.
Lighter bolts are ideal for competition or target shooting since the speed of bolts will be much faster, and they create a flatter range trajectory.
Heavier bolts are an excellent choice for hunting purposes because they produce a great amount of kinetic energy or penetration power when fired.
Thus, a lighter bolt shoots faster, while a heavier bolt shoots slower but with more power. Moreover, take into account the weight recommended by the manufacturer when choosing the bolt to prevent accidents.
What are the different types of crossbow bolts?
The two types of crossbow bolts are Military Crossbow Bolts and Slurbow Bolts.
- Military crossbow bolts have pyramidical heads, which are designed to increase both the range and accuracy.
- Slurbow Bolts have wooden or metal barrels. Their bolt design was influenced by the arrival of the pistol. Slur bolts are suitable for game hunting due to their size and speed performance.
Making your crossbow bolts may sound daunting at first due to the things you have to consider, but nothing beats the feeling of knowing you made it yourself and used them for hunting or target shooting. It’s also an enjoyable and rewarding experience, not to mention cost-effective at best.
It may only require minimal investment—the basic tools needed and the comprehensive information offered here, but learning about the fundamental aspects of crossbow bolts before building them is essential.
Making your crossbow bolts will help you know the proper ways to care for and maintain them while using. More importantly, it will allow you to experiment with all the components until you find the suitable bolt for your crossbow.
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