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Pro and cons of different wooden arrow shaft material

There are numerous other woods that are successfully being used to construct good quality arrow shafting, like Cedar, Ramin, Ash, Maple…etc.

Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Shaft sizes can now be obtained in 5/16″, 11/32″ and 23/64″.Like most things, wood arrow material choice is a compromise, with straightness, mass weight and durability being the main differences. They will all shoot well when well made and tuned to the bow. In general, the softwoods: spruce, cedar, fir and pine(hexpine), are lighter in weight and less durable than the hardwoods: ramin, birch, laminated birch, maple, hickory and ash. The softwoods are generally easier to straighten and maintain.

Port Orford Cedar – Port Orford Cedar (POC)  has been the wood standard since the hey days of the 40’s, 50’s , 60’s and into the 70’s. It makes fine arrow, is easy to work and was relatively cheap to obtain. It is also on the light side, probably the least durable and quality shafts, altho available, are getting tough to find. Port Orford Cedar is best know for its wonderful aroma. The shafts are light to moderate in physical weight and are generally pretty straight grained. A number of shaft suppliers are offering Port Orford Cedars that are tapered for about 9″ on the nock end from 11/32″ to 5/16″. These tapered shafts are said to clear the bow riser for better arrow flight. You can also get barreled shafts that are tapered at both the nock and point ends.

Ramin-They are heavier than cedar, but not quite so heavy as ash/maple/birch.  Because of the grain structure, they are not particularly pretty when stained, but it is a closed grain so they take an excellent poly finish. they seem to be much cheaper than cedar or any of the hardwood shafting.

Maple – Some of the American hardwoods are starting to show up as arrow shafting material. Maple shafts are very smooth and uniform and have a very pretty grain. They are not as heavy or as durable as the Ash but seem to make a nice compromise of weight and strength.

Ash – Ash is a popular woods next to POC.  It is really heavy, only available in 23/64ths diameter shafts (that I can find) .They are hard and the best for staying straight but ohh soo slow. Let’s say,Maple-Ash-Hickory,IMO are made for furniture, not so good for arrow shafts.

Laminated Cedar or Pine – Shafts made from pieces of pine or cedar that have been laminated together to form a more homogeneous material are said to be made so that weight, spine and straightness can be controlled in the manufacturing process.

Spruce-a bit lighter on average but tougher and fir is heavier and tougher. Lodgepole pine is pretty much only available currently as Hexpine, a radially laminated product heavier and tougher than POC and a very good arrow wood also. Personally, I’m shooting Fir these days as I can easily get the weight, toughness and quality I need at a reasonable cost and IMO is a superior arrow wood.

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