Sooner or later every archer will have a fletch come unglued from an arrow. Rather than throw the arrow away, with a few simple tools you can simply glue on a new fletch, feather or vane. The skill of fletching an arrow allows an archer to customize their arrows with particular colours but it is also a valuable skill to know should a fletch come off at a tournament far from your local pro shop or while hunting deep in the woods.
Arrow fletching requires only a few simple tools. The most important is a fletching jig. Many different models are available by a variety of manufacturers. Bitzenburger manufacturers one of the best on the market and has for many years. Made from metal it is durable and accurate. The arrow jig holds the arrow shaft and clamps the fletch in place while the glue dries. The cost is around $100 and this jig will last a lifetime. However, choose whichever fletching jig you are most comfortable with.
You will also need a set of replacement fletches (all the same size and weight, but usually two colours will be required one colour for the cock or index vane and another colour for the remaining hen vanes), 99% isopropyl alcohol, a cotton ball, q-tip, carpenters knife, and fletch glue such as Bohning Fletch-tite or another quality fletching glue.
All the photos in this fletching tutorial can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Step #1: Start by tearing off the damaged fletch and scraping the old glue off the arrow shaft with the carpenter’s knife. It is usually easiest to replace all three fletches at once but if you are careful only the damaged one can be replaced. Do not nick or cut into the arrow shaft while scraping off all traces of the old glue. Use caution not to cut yourself during this step as well.
Step #2: Wipe the arrow shaft clean with the cotton ball that has been saturated with the rubbing alcohol. Do not touch the part of the arrow shaft where the fletch will be placed once it has been cleaned. Place the shaft in the jig to dry. The alcohol must be completely dry before applying glue to the shaft or fletch, drying usually only takes a couple minutes.
Step #3: Insert the new fletch into the clamp of the jig so the edge that attaches to the arrow is flush against the straight bottom edge of the clamp. Pinch the top of the clamp open and release gently to close and hold the new fletch in place. Dip the q-tip in the rubbing alcohol and wipe clean the edge of the fletch where the glue is to be applied in the next step and allow to dry.
Step #4: With the arrow shaft in the jig, pick up the fletching clamp and apply a thin line of glue down the edge of the fletching. Apply only enough glue to hold the fletching in place. Too little glue and the fletch will fall off, but too much glue will ooze out onto the other fletches along with making an unsightly mess and adding extra weight to the arrow. Use caution and don’t glue your fingers together or to the parts you are working with.
Step #5: Clamp the new fletch into the jig making sure it has full contact with the arrow shaft without smearing the glue. Allow the glue to dry before removing the clamp. This usually takes less than five minutes depending on the type of glue.
Step #6: Gently remove the clamp from the fletch and rotate the arrow to the correct position so the next fletching can be applied. A nice feature of the Bitzenburger jig is by simply turning the knob located on the bottom of the jig one “click”, the shaft be will properly positioned for the next fletch to be applied. (IMG513)
Step #7: Repeat steps #3 to #6 for each additional fletch to be applied. Allow 12 to 24 hours for the glue to fully harden before shooting the arrows.
Re-fletching an arrow is an economical way to repair arrow shafts that have missing or damaged vanes. Re-fletching an arrow also allows archers to get better arrow flight by adjusting where the fletches, feathers or vanes are positioned on the shaft. Customized fletches also allow archers to personalize their arrows with a multitude of possible colours combinations making the sport of archery even more fun!
Copyright 2016 Mike Wilson