Friday, November 6, 2015

Make Flu-Flu Arrow Fletchings from Craft Store Feathers

Flu-flu arrows are arrows that are designed to travel at regular speed for about thirty to forty yards and then to abruptly slow down and drop to the ground.  Flu-flus are used in specific situations where you don’t want an arrow to go too far.  A good example would be shooting at a squirrel in a tree.  If you shot a regular arrow in this situation and missed the arrow might fly off a hundred-and-fifty yards into the woods, and would probably be lost.  With a flu-flu arrow, the arrow would probably drop to the ground within thirty yards of you, making recovery much more likely.  Flu-flu arrows have very different fletchings from regular arrows and require a different approach to fletching.  This is how I use whole feathers bought at a big-chain craft store to make my flu-flu fletchings.

The first step is to reduce the size of the quill.  I start this process by scraping the quill with a sharp knife held perpendicular to the quill.

 Once the quill has been scraped down pretty close to the feather vanes, I use the butt of the knife handle and tap solidly along the length of the quill.  This will start separating the feather into two sections.
 I complete the separation by cutting very carefully with a utility knife.

Now I can continue shaving down the sides of the quill until it is as thin as I can get it without cutting into the feather vanes.
 To work down the bottom of the quill I use some 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around a large dowel and clamped into my small vise.

I then drag both the sides and the bottom of the quill across this sanding block until the quill is extremely thin.

 I test the thickness of the quill by wrapping it around a 5/16” dowel to see if it bends smoothly.  If the quill is too thick it will snap, rendering it useless.
 When the quill is thinned down correctly, I assemble all of the materials to attach the fletchings to the arrow.  Here I am using two fletchings; one yellow and one red.  The fletchings will be attached with contact cement.

I mark the area of the arrow that I want to cover with my fletchings.

And then I use a throw-away foam brush to paint a coat of contact cement onto the arrow.  I cover about a quarter inch above and below the area I will be working with.
 Next I paint the bottom of each quill.

Now I set everything aside to dry.  The contact cement must be completely dry to the touch before you press the fletchings onto the shaft.  And you have to be sure to put the fletchings exactly where you want them.  Once the two painted surfaces touch, they’re stuck.  No changing your mind.

When it’s time to attach the fletchings I use a push pin to hold the end in place.
 And then spiral the first fletching on.  I leave about an inch between the spirals so I will have room to go in between with my second fletching.

 The second fletching goes on the same way.

With both fletchings in place I separate the vans a little and fluff them out.
 I use a utility knife to trim off the excess quill at the front and back.

And put a drop of fletching glue on the front and back of each quill to help secure it more firmly.

Now I apply a coat of polyurethane to the shaft.  I use a small artists brush to seal the area between the fletchings.

And here’s the finished product, ready to go out and irritate some squirrels. 

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