The Art of Making Shafts

We harvest all of our own arrow bolts in the Pacific Northwest from properties owned by our families. We pick the best snags or downed logs that we can find. Most of this wood has either been standing dead or laying on the ground for 50-100 years. All of these bolts are cut to 36″, hand split in half, then into quarters, and then hand packed out to the road and loaded on the truck.

The bolts are then put inside our milling facility to dry. Once dried down to a certain moisture content, they are then run through a Baker resaw/bandsaw where they are cut down into 2″ planks for easy handling.

Then they will be moved into a state of the art dehumidification kiln to be brought down to the right moisture content. We will then move them to a room with big fans and room temperature to set for 2-3 weeks to stabilize.

Once the planks are dried to a certain moisture content, we then take them to a planer. They are run through the planer to be prettied up so that we can see the grain more clearly. Once we have decided the plank has good, straight grain, because here at Wapiti Archery POC, we believe a premium shaft has good, straight grain from end to end.

To find the grain in the plank, we run an awl, which is a long pointed spike, down the grain line on the plank. This tells us how much we have to take off with the jointer to line the grain up. This is so we have grain end to end on our shafts. Straight grain is very important for a good, durable port orford cedar shaft.

Then we take the board to the jointer and joint down to that line, to line up the grain. The grain will be checked several times in the next couple phases to make sure the grain stays straight on the board.

The gang saw is a 3 bladed saw, which is used to cut the planks into smaller 3/8″ wide planks. After running the board through the gang saw one time, the grain is checked on the plank to make sure we did not go off of grain line. If so, it goes back to the jointer to be straighted up. These little planks, once cut, are put into a cart and left for 2-3 days to stabilize.

Once we are done gangsawing all of our wood into smaller planks, it is then taken to the bandsaw where it is turned into squares. These squares are put into buckets and left for 1-2 days to stabilize and make sure the moisture content is correct before running into shafts.

We are now ready to turn the squares into the world’s finest tapered port orford cedar shafts. This machine was built in the 1940s and is still in production today. This machine is no regular arrow machine, when you put a square 3/8″ stick in the machine, it tapers the last 9″ of the shaft down to 5/16″ on the nock end of shafts that are 11/32″ or 23/64″. The machine also builds a 5/16″ tapered shaft which tapers down to 9/32″ on the nock end and these shafts are used by some of the finest traditional shooters in the world and have won many world and state titles.

The shafts after coming out of the ol’ arrow machine are then checked for grain straightness, splits, and any other possible defects. These shafts are then put into cans and moved to the spining room to sit for at least 48 hours to stabilize. Since these shafts have been slightly compressed, they have to sit awhile for the grain to stabilize.

Once the shafts get to the spining room, they are lightly hand sanded. The ones that do not make premiums are not sanded, they are thrown into a bucket to be redoweled and made into kids arrows. The premium shafts are then spined into 5# increments and checked again for grain straightness, and are hand straightened if needed. Not all wood that is taken from the woods will make heavy shafts, we have to run 100s of shafts to get a couple dozen heavies if we are lucky. The wood today, has not changed from the wood that was used 40 years ago. They just ran a lot of wood to get heavy shafts, and our poor old machine will run 300-400 shafts on a good day.

The shafts, once they have been spined, are then grain weighed, matched up within 10 grains, bundled into dozens, and put into bins. We here at Wapiti Archery POC, hope that you will be patient with us and our small company. We try to build the best poc shafts on the market today and we believe that we do that. So, if you ever have to wait for a certain spine shaft for any length of time, we are sure that when you receive them, they will be the finest shafts you have ever shot and well worth the wait, now that you see what we go through to build them.

Thank you faithful customers for your patience with us and our wood,

Dan, Wapiti Archery POC