The first thing to remember when fletching arrows is that cleanliness makes a huge difference. Spending time preparing your arrow shafts is essential if you don’t want to be picking your fletchings off the floor.
Step 1. If you are replacing fletchings make sure you remove the old fletchings and all the old glue residue using a blunt blade. Do this very lightly to prevent damaging your arrow shaft. Scrape around the whole outside of the shaft.
Step 2. In order to ensure the shafts are clean rub them down using a clean abrasive pad and then rinse the shafts under warm water. Next use some steel wool or very fine (600 grit) sandpaper. This roughs-up / scuffs the surface so the glue has something to hold on to.
Step 3. Rinse the shafts once more to remove debris and then dry them. Next wipe the shafts with a clean cloth and some Isopropyl alcohol or pure acetone. Don’t use White Spirit or Turpentine because they will leave an oily residue which means that your fletchings will slip off.
Step 4. Your arrow shafts are now ready to glue your fletchings on. Fletchings are glued on by using a fletching jig to guide the placement of your fletching onto the arrow shaft and hold them there while the glue sets.
We use AAE Fastset Gel Arrow Adhesive, but just about all super glue gel types available on the high street are more than fit for purpose. Make sure the super glue is a gel type since this contains latex. The latex content of the gel type glues reduces the brittleness that regular super glue has.
Place the fletching in the clamp of the fletching jig and apply a thin continuous bead of glue on the fletching.
Step 5. Place the clamp in the jig and push the clamp down relatively evenly so the fletching is in full contact with the arrow shaft. Apply pressure on the clamp/arrow shaft for about 10 – 15 seconds. Leave the arrow in the jig just a short time; 30 seconds to a minute.
If you are gluing feather fletchings leave them in a lot longer; up to fifteen minutes. This is because feathers have some natural curvature to them and when you put them in a clamp you are changing that shape. The feather wants to spring back to its natural shape. Therefore if you pull the clamp up early, before the glue has dried enough, you risk the feather springing off the glue line.
Step 6. Once the fletchings have been glued on, dab spots of glue on the leading and trailing edge of the fletching “top and tailing” This gives a little added security to the fletching.