Home Forums Bows and Equipment Most Trouble Free Wood Shaft

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    • Patrick
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      Of the three, which would be most trouble free:
      Port Orford Cedar
      Douglas Fir
      Hickory

      I’m going to give wood arrows a try, but I’m having a REALLY tough time deciding which way to go. I chose those 3 because they seem to be the most readily available. Any advise is appreciated.

    • Jesse Minish
      Post count: 115

      They are all great. Cedar though IMO will stay straight better. Are you making them yourself? If so I would by a few shafts of all and determine for your self and your shooting style what is best. They all have there up sides and down sides.

    • Treetopflier
      Post count: 146

      PO cedar has been favored by N.A. archers for decades, which speaks for itself. Although lots of folks, myself included, report a seeming lowering in quality in recent years, so far as getting a matched dozen straight shafts.

      Hickory is hard to straighten, though it can be done, and too heavy for most applications. But otherwise almost bulletproof. Back when we knew that overall arrow weight was important for penetration, but didn’t know about FOC, hickory was the ticket. These days, the goal seems to be a lighter shaft wood and all the weight up front.

      I don’t know about Doug Fir personally. In any event, don’t expect the consistency you’re accustomed to with carbon or aluminum shafts. Oddly, that’s part of the fun. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • dino
      Post count: 1

      Yep, there are ups and down to all three and I have alot of experience with each too. IMO the most trouble free still has to be cedar.

    • Reg Darling
      Member
      Post count: 32

      PO Cedar hands down–but my second choice in that respect would be laminated birch.

    • Ed Zachary
      Post count: 58

      Can I squeak in some Sitka spruce?
      Strong, lightweight, tough.

    • William WarrenWilliam Warren
      Member
      Post count: 1384

      Mostly what Jesse and Snuffy said….

      I use 11/32 Port Orford Cedar, 11/32 Lodgepole Pine and 5/16 Hickory.

      The Hickory works great in my bows up to 50# with 125 gr broadheads or field tips. To straighten Hickory, I lay them on top of the wood stove with a nice fire going and when they are hot I straighten them while wearing a pair of gloves. When cool I seal them with polyurethane. I usually do this after they are cut, stained, and the tapers are cut. Over time you will need to repeat this process but that is part of shooting wood. BTW the other woods will pick up moisture in changing humidity and eventually require straightening. For me it is a ritual to check my shafts the night before the hunt, the same as preparing my clothing and other gear.

      Duncan

    • Chad Sivertsen
      Post count: 84

      I’ve tried most woods over the years. Of the three you picked I think POC is a good choice to start with. Doug fir can make a good shaft but is prone to grain runout.

      Comparing POC and hickory is like comparing bowling balls and tennis balls. I have 5/16 28″ hickory shafts that weigh over 700 grains.

      The following comments are assuming the shafts are well made.
      POC is relatively light, straight and reasonably durable.
      Doug fir is medium weight, somewhat tougher than POC.
      Hickory is heavy and can be difficult to straighten. I have some hickory shafts that came straight but the surface is not as smooth as most other arrow woods. Hickory is unbelievably tough and durable and I have never had one break.

      A couple others to consider are ash and spruce. Ash is heavy and very tough and can be made straight. Sitka Spruce is light, similar to POC or lighter, but is really tough and durable, much tougher than POC. I once shot a buck with a SS shaft and when he when down he fell on the shaft but it did not break, it bent slightly and straightened to be used again.

      Happy Trails,
      Chad

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      Ed Zachary wrote: Can I squeak in some Sitka spruce?
      Strong, lightweight, tough.

      Chad Sivertsen wrote: Sitka Spruce is light, similar to POC or lighter, but is really tough and durable, much tougher than POC. I once shot a buck with a SS shaft and when he when down he fell on the shaft but it did not break, it bent slightly and straightened to be used again.

      Happy Trails,
      Chad

      Hmmm…duly noted.
      BTW, it’s also a great choice for an acoustic guitar top. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Chad Sivertsen
      Post count: 84

      I’m sure you will find POC easier to find but the other woods are available. This is not a recommendation as I have not purchased shafts from these folks but have heard good reports on spruce from Hildebrand?, I think he is in W. Washington. For fir I think the name of the outfit is Surewood?

      If you are just starting with wood you will be fine with POC but there are a few other options. I recommend you buy the smallest diameter shaft that will accomadate your draw weight for the best arrow flight. With that said, the less strong woods will of course be less durable in smaller diameter. That is why I usually shoot hardwoods shafts of small dia., or footed shafts.

      POC, fir, or spruce. Pick one, all have shot game and will do it again.

      Chad

      HI Reg, How ya doin?

    • Bloodless
      Post count: 103

      Great info! Anyone know anything about pine hex shafts? I’ve heard some swear by them, and others say they’re impossible to keep straight as all the lams swell and shrink at different rates. Anyone with personal experience carrying them in hunting conditions?

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      I had not heard of “hex shafts” (not that that is big news). In my head, I was picturing a hexagon shaped, rather than round shaft :shock:. For others who also haven’t heard of them and are interested, here’s a link:
      http://www.hexshaftarrows.com/about_hexshafts.html

      Interesting.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Thanks for the lead, Patrick. Yes, interesting. Given they are lodgepole pine, I’m surprised they’re not heavier. But maybe that’s a false assumption that lodgepole, being so much hard, would be denser and heavier the POC. At $30 that’s a great price. Of course if you want tapered, which we do, that’s another $21 a dozen, and their “matched” service probly runs it up even more. Still, interesting.

    • SlowBowInMO
      Post count: 13

      Patrick wrote: Of the three, which would be most trouble free:
      Port Orford Cedar
      Douglas Fir
      Hickory

      I think most would agree POC is tops for being user friendly, but that would depend on what you consider “trouble free”. If you are willing pay a little extra for top quality shafting (not common in POC anymore) and you don’t consider being a bit fragile “trouble” POC is your wood.

      For readily available true premium quality shafting that is tougher and heavier than cedar, but still easy to work with the Surewood Shafts in Douglas Fir are “da bomb” and my personal choice.

      Hickory has it’s merits and detractions but based upon your post I really don’t think it’s what you are looking for.

    • Bloodless
      Post count: 103

      This is getting to be an interesting forum. According to the Braveheart website. Surewood shafts are $36.95 dozen. I can’t find anything on taper or the extra cost. Come on Patrick, since you started this, be a sport and build a dozen each of everything recommended here and give us a report! 8):wink:

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      Bloodless wrote: Come on Patrick, since you started this, be a sport and build a dozen each of everything recommended here and give us a report! 8):wink:

      Sure thing! I’m taking donations*.

      *I accept wood arrows, cash, or any combination thereof.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      By golly Patrick, you’re quick! ๐Ÿ˜€ Dangerously so! ๐Ÿ˜† Go careful now. Humor is my addiction … and generally, my downfall. But you seem to have it wired. Keep it coming! dave 8):wink:

    • SteveMcD
      Member
      Post count: 870

      If I had to choose only from the three… Doug Fir – hands down.

      The Cedar today is not the same cedar as 40 – 50 years ago. All new growth, and not of the same quality.

      Hickory is good ( know Dave loves Ol’ Hick) but it does not take to stain well, and tough to straighten.

      Doug Fir once straight tends to stay straight, and easy to straighten even by hand. Plus moderately heavy, tough and takes stain well.

      Laminated Birch… tough as nails takes well to stain and almost indestructible, but you need a bow heavier than 50 pounds, other wise keep your shots in under 20 yards.

      Sitka Spruce is a step up from Cedar, but not as good as Doug Fir – at least IMO.

      Hexshafts are pieces of Lodgepole pine laminated together. They are a bit stiff when dealing with paradox. I have heard good and bad about them but never tried, all the other woods above I have used. And I’m still sold on Doug Fir.

      Doug Fir was the choce of Art Young. When Howard Hill said “Port Orford Cedar” – everyone jumped over to that bandwagon.

    • Hiram
      Post count: 484

      One could use heavy spined PO, and drill for the sleeve and screw in a heavy head. I think if I were seriuosly considering wood, that I would set-up to make my own Hickory shafts. I live where it is plentifull. Hard to straighten? well what the heck, the toughness would outweigh it’s faults. JMHO!

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      ๐Ÿ˜† Dave, it gets me in trouble too. Especially since my 10 year old seems to want to emulate me, but at the most inopportune times. Specifically, when his mother says something to him. She just doesn’t see the humor in it.

      SteveMcD wrote: Doug Fir was the choce of Art Young. When Howard Hill said “Port Orford Cedar” – everyone jumped over to that bandwagon.

      THAT is very interesting.

      I thought we were arriving at a consensus for a while there, which would’ve been shocking. The jury is still out for me. It would be easier if I didn’t have such a long draw length. I could use a lighter spine arrow and would very likely go with hickory, but at my draw length it is probably more weight than I want in the shaft (as opposed to the tip) in order to get some FOC out if it.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      If you haven’t already, check out Steve McD’s post on comparative shaft-wood qualities.

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      Yep, and here’s the link for SteveMcD’s above mentioned, very informative post:
      https://www.tradbow.com/members/cfmbb/messages.cfm?threadid=A9153E2D-1422-1DE9-ED2CCBCCCDDFB8D4

    • aeronut
      Member
      Post count: 191

      If you haven’t had much experience at straightening shafts go with the PO Cedar first. They are the easiest.

      I shoot Poplar and Hickory. Poplar is tougher than PO Cedar IMO and just as easy to straighten. Plus, I don’t break as many of them as I do with cedar.

      I have no trouble straightening Hickory by hand and I used to curl a Hickory shaft into a coil at my booth when I set up at the 3D shoots. Most people were amazed I could do that with no heat source. They were more amazed when I would straighten it back out.:shock:

      I have yet to break a Hickory shaft.

      Dennis

    • Todd Smith
      Post count: 167

      Too bad we can’t get the Sweetland forgewoods anymore… What a shaft.

      It’s hard to get really good raw shafting any more, but man a full length tapered, heavy wood shaft would be awesome.

      John Dodge always said that the full length tapered shafts he had tried were excellent in every way.

      todd

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      todd smith wrote: Too bad we can’t get the Sweetland forgewoods anymore… What a shaft.

      todd

      Here’s your chance to buy the company and revive them:
      http://www.alaskafrontierarchery.com/ 8)

    • bushmaster
      Post count: 18

      I’m a big fan of Douglas Fir, it easy to straighten, stains nice, and is very durable. I also like Chundo.

    • Reg Darling
      Member
      Post count: 32

      I would agree that POC is trouble free and easy to work with, but I would highly recommend you add laminated birch to your list.

    • Fletcher
      Post count: 177

      I’ve made, shot and hunted arrows made with all three, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents. POC is clearly a fine arrow wood and easy to work with. It is kinda lightweight and the most fragile of the arrow woods. I agree that today’s POC is pretty lacking in quality.

      Douglas Fir is, IMO, the best shooting arrow wood I have used; very “snappy” and recovers quickly, pretty durable and carries good mass for a hunting arrow. Mass weight varies a lot, over 100 grains in a batch of 100. It straightens well and will stay straight when sealed. It takes stains nicely and looks great.

      Sitka Spruce is currently my other choice for an arrow wood. It has the highest strength to weight raito of any wood and is the wood that wood airplanes are made of. It is quite durable, straight grained, straightens well and shoots very well. Its light weight lends it to using heavy heads for high FOC arrows.

      Hickory/ash I don’t have much experience with. They are heavy and tough, but can have straightness issues.

      Laminated Birch: good stuff but heavy.

    • SteveMcD
      Member
      Post count: 870

      Hmmm… I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Considering all the discussion regarding types of wood shafts and which is best. Since I have a two or three dozen arrows that I need to build this year.

      If I were shooting bows in the 60# or higher range. I would use Laminated Birch – hands down, stays straight, takes stain well, hard hitting and darn near indestructable.

      However, all my bows are between 50 and 55 pounds. Given that I think (in my opinion only) is that Sitka Spruce is likely a candidate for best wood shaft. It is the straightest grain throughout, per weight very tough wood, takes stain well, and given slightly less weight than Cedar likely a better shaft for greater FOC.

      I like Doug Fir but the last few dozen shafts I’ve had 2 or 3 arrows in each dozen that were subject to warpage, weak grain fade out – meaning brittle shaft that after several shots the shafts cracked, I’ve also had a couple just bust up and break apart on impact when stumping.

      I think I’m going to be a Sitka Spruce convert.

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      “Fletcher” — Rick — great to see you here! We need your expertise as a top-flight arrowsmith. In my ongoing search and research for a reliable EFoC woody, my next dozen will be Sitka spruce to go with those newfangled El Grandes I got from you at UBI. Man, those things look like spear points! Or at least atl-atl points. Should open a huge hole in an elk, with the right shaft (horsepower) behind it. 8) dave

    • Fletcher
      Post count: 177

      Thanks, Dave. It’s great to be here and I hope I can help. I’m sure I’ll learn plenty, too. I have a post over in the Ashby forum describing my HFoC Spruce arrow. I’m over 20% right now and will be working on getting a bit more. Total arrow weight and spine limitations are going to be the limiting factors with wood arrow FOC, but we can clearly improve a bunch on where we’ve been.

      Enjoying the journey!

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      In hindsight, I wish I wouldn’t have narrowed the list to 3 specific types of wood.

    • rayborbon
      Post count: 298

      I think my next experiment will be tonkin cane.

    • Fletcher
      Post count: 177

      That’s alright, Patrick, We’ll add some others in for you. Like most things, arrow wood choice is a compromise. We just have to make our choice based on what works for us.

      Ray, you’re going outside my box. Cane has been making good arrows for a LONG time. Keep in touch as you’re walking that path.

      Steve, I recognize what you are saying about the fir. I cull out quite a bit of it, probably 25-30%. What makes the cut, tho, is pretty good stuff. I’ve been messing with the sitka spruce lately. So far I’ve made over 20% FOC with a 28″ BOP arrow. It took a 70 lb shaft for a 54 lb Pronghorn longbow and the total arrow weight was about 620 gr. The spruce maxes out at about 80 lb spine, so there is a real limit there.

      Rick

    • bruc
      Member
      Post count: 476

      I just received a dozen wood arrow from Whispering Winds Arrows. They are awesome. I ordered the Gyrafalcons which are the signature series. they are a pine hexshaft footed with a dense hardwood. the amazing thing about these arrows was the straightness! I’m kind of the fussy type and anything I made for myself,I was never happy with. I laid out two aluminum arrows and let my new Whisp.Wind Arrows roll down and they were perfect. Lots of little pluses with the hexshaft besides being built in Canada EH!!!
      Bruce. Finish was the BEST. Nice crest!

    • Patrick
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 1148

      BRUC wrote: Lots of little pluses with the hexshaft besides being built in Canada EH!!!

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • rayborbon
      Post count: 298

      Fletcher,

      You said to report back on tonkin cane.

      I picked up some from Rudderbows.com. They seems to shoot good out of this new recurve. I drew a spring bear tag and will be hunting April 15th – June 1st. If I can sneak on a bear I will attempt to make a kill with the tonkin cane. I am confident it is a strong shaft upon opening the package. I treated them like any other wood shaft as far as putting the arrows together. I glue on plastic nocks and fletching. I thought about using some bone nocks but they are more expensive.

      Anyway I would say they fly good and straight for me and I feel that they are more sturdy than the standard cedar shaft(as mentioned earlier).

      -Ray Borbon
      Communist, Marxist (is there a difference?) and Peta Hater

    • MOUNTAINSLICKER
      Post count: 45

      Patrick, Trouble free seems to be the question. I would place ability to get spine and weight match at the top of the list for best arrows. That usually leaves me with POC. Even then if only spine matched I find 100 to 150 grains difference in weight in most dealers stock. Getting well matched arrows in the woods is even harder. For me trouble free means I buy spine and weight matched POC as the CHEAPEST reliably available. Cheap is my favorite word. As well as the Indian saying “any bow good bow. Arrow heap much work”.

      Patrick wrote: Of the three, which would be most trouble free:
      Port Orford Cedar
      Douglas Fir
      Hickory

      I’m going to give wood arrows a try, but I’m having a REALLY tough time deciding which way to go. I chose those 3 because they seem to be the most readily available. Any advise is appreciated.

    • Buckhorn73
      Post count: 77

      Of the three you mention, Patrick, Port Orford Cedar likely the easiest and most consistent to turn into great working arrows. Straightens well, takes stain very well, has adequate toughness. I would prefer a heavier material in some instances, namely moose arrows, but overall, cedar pretty hard to beat. If it’s wood, has at least three feathers attached and straight, next thing to Heaven.

    • SteveMcD
      Member
      Post count: 870

      Well… I received a dozen premium matched shafts from Hildebrand Sitka Spruce Shafts last week. All except two were perfectly straight, one needed just some minor straightening, the other I worked at a bit, but got it straightened too. I hand straighten. A couple coats of stain done, working on one coat of poly, will add another coat of poly, then crest, and a final coat of poly before I’m done. Will post pics when done.

    • SteveMcD
      Member
      Post count: 870

      Understanding the concept… “Less is More”…….

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