Making Medieval Arrowheads

Martin Austwick

Martin Austwick, or otherwise known as Oz, has kindly donated this short piece on how to make an authentic arrow head. Although archery is not a practise that we persue within The Exiles there are members who are extremely interested in this skill.

Martin is a member of Albion Academy of Arms, a fellow member of the BFHS.
Thanks for this Martin - we look forward to seeing more.

The following steps are the process I follow when making "bodkin" arrowheads. The metal is always worked between orange and red, as soon as it begins to cool to black it should be put back in the forge. The only hammer I use for this is a 2lb cross-pein

Step 1

Heat 8mm (larger or smaller works just as well, this is just a rough guide) round Steel or Iron and flatten end to form a triangle approximately 4-5cm long.

Step 2

Holding flattened end in forming tongs bend round to form cone. (The tongs I used were made by a smith for this purpose but I am told they are a common pattern for bending sheet metal – one side is a cone the other a flat section that fits over the cone.) It does not matter if the edges do not meet exactly, though try not to overlap them.

Step 3

Cut off approximately 1cm from the end of the cone for a short bodkin, 2-3cm for a long bodkin.

Step 4

Using the anvil horn narrow the bar at the tip of the cone to form the neck of the arrowhead.

Step 5

Flatten the end of the bar to a square section point. It may be necessary to straighten the head at this point.

Step 6

If required grind point to necessary sharpness (also makes it shiny…mmmmm.)

For a long bodkin the process is exactly the same only the point is longer (obviously). They should be fixed onto an arrow with beeswax for true authenticity but I tend to use a glue gun just so I don’t lose all my arrowheads in a target but I can still remove them when I snap arrows.