Tools for making arrows

Although there were a number of tools associated with arrow making, many of which are described in a 17th century book The Academy of Armory, by Randle Holme III of Chester (pictured), there are no worthwhile illustrations.  However, the book mentions the following tools for making arrows:

(1) A 'Flote’ (float) – also used by bowyers, for rough working of wood. It is an iron instrument with teeth on the lower side and an iron handle.

(2) A 'Polisher' used for 'setting a gloss and brightness upon their work ' (by 'boning')

(3) A 'Framing or slitting saw, a slender saw set within an iron frame with a removable handle. With this the horn slit and string groove are made.

(4) Small 'half round' (concave) planes – one termed a 'ripper' used to make 'the rough work fashionable', the other hollow to complete the rounding of the shaft (examples of these were recovered from the Mary Rose, items 81A 1039, and 81A 1040).

(5) 'Graver' – a long, smooth iron file, more suited to arrow shaft preparation than the clumsier flote (float).


Information supplied by Hugh Soar, author of 'Straight and True: a Select History of the Arrow' ISBN 9 781594 161476

Image of The Academy of Armory reproduced by kind permission of Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020