Fletching 3 (Cresting)


CustomExamplesNow that you have your shafts base colored, it is time to apply the cresting if you so choose. Cresting is the application of stripes on the shaft in various colors. Cresting is done by using a cresting machine as pictured below. This one is available from many stores and it is made by Bohning. It slowly spins the arrow so you can apply the cresting paint to the arrow. One of the most important aspects of cresting is the quality of paint brushes you use. I use only sable hair brushes. They seem to work the best for me. You will need a variety of sizes to use when cresting. Another very important aspect of cresting is assuring the lacquer paint is thinned correctly. You will quickly learn that lacquer needs to be thinned correctly to flow properly. There are also water based cresting paints but I don’t care for the quality of most of them.

cresterI have heard of folks using a drill and other devices but in my opinion if you are serious about making your own arrows, this is the way to go. Again as I stated before, make sure that the cresting paint you use is compatible with all the other coatings you are using. I use “Bohning” cresting lacquer and it works quite well. There are a few steps you will need to follow before you crest.



Before I start cresting I like to go over the stained shaft with 0000 steel wool. Make sure you wipe the shaft down after you sand it with the steel wool. This will knock down any high spots that were caused by the staining process. Once done, this is where I would dip the shaft in the gasket lacquer to apply the first coat of clear.



dry rackThe cresting will flow much better on a smooth surface vise a rough one. Once I dip the shaft I will let it dry for at least one half hour prior to starting to crest. Once dipped in the gasket lacquer, I will hang the arrows on my drying rack. As you can see this is not a high tech device, I made it out of a spare piece of trim wood and some clothes pins. This allows the shafts to dry evenly.


Okay now that the clear is dry. We can load an arrow into the cresting machine. Below is what the shaft will look like before you start to crest. All the base colors have been applied and now it is time to decide how you want your stripes to look. I suggest that you take you time at this stage and think about color combinations and the layout of the stripes. I like to make cards that have the spacing of the stripes and the colors that I use on the various arrows I make. I can lay the card into the cresting machine and follow the patterns as I need to. As you can see in the picture, there is some imperfections in the edges of the stain, this is not an issue as the stripes I place will cover those areas.

pre crest





Below is an example of a completed shaft with cresting. I purposely did not coat the middle section with clear to make my point about cresting over a non smooth surface. Look at the silver area (second strip from the left), see how rough the stripe looks? This is because there was no clear to smooth out the grain of the shaft. The stripes will flow much better over a smooth surface. In any event complete all your shafts, let them dry over night and then you are ready for the final clear. I will dip my shafts another 3 to 4 coats each of clear gasket laquer to seal them. This will protect them from the environment and also will help stiffen the spine of the arrow slightly. Remember to sand the shafts with 0000 steel wool between clear coats to get the smoothest finish you can!


crested arrow







So lets review the steps in this stage:

1. Smooth the shafts with 0000 steel wool.

2. Apply the first coat of clear.

3. Apply the cresting as desired.

4. Apply the rest of the clear coats, coats 3 & 4 remember to sand lightly with 0000 inbetween coats.




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