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Help needed with Type 16 arrowheads

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Hey folks,

I've been making arrowheads for a short while now, and I've got my bodkins and Tudor heads sorted out, but I'm totally lost when it comes to type 16 heads, as pictured here.

I know they're forge welded, with the socket and part of the point forged as normal, and the barb and point section welded on, but I have no idea how you'd approach it.  I can't figure out the shapes each part would need to be in order to weld them properly, and I can't work out how you'd get such small pieces to just the right temperature to weld when one is tiny in comparison to the other.  By the time you've taken something as small as the barb section out of the fire, placed it on an anvil, positioned the socket over it just right, grabbed the hammer and got ready, all the heat in the tiny part would have vanished!

Any thoughts, tips, advice etc would be awesome!

Westminster type 16.JPG

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Hi Will and welcome.  The curmudgeons, among others, are going to tell you, "If you add your location to your profile you would be surprised how many IFI members may be close to you and it may help us answer your questions more accurately..."


I am apparently one of those others about whom I just typed....

Concerning the arrowheads: I have no specific knowledge of the making of one but I am shocked to think they would be forge welded.  Given the history of arrow production during war time I would think that doing precarious forge welds on small pieces like that would create a bottleneck in the operation and reduce production.  My uneducated guess would be that they would forge an offset near the center of the piece (triangular shaped) and then fold the two parts into each other.  It it would look like a bow tie  with a triangular knot prior to bending.

Now that I've made myself wrong someone who knows far more should have wisdom to share soon enough!

Good luck and please share some pictures of your bodkins and Tudors.




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Hi Lou!

Thanks for the quick response.  As frustrating as it is (cos I've never even attempted a weld!) I do know that they were forge welded!  I've got lots of them from various smiths and you can see the join in a fair few.  It's also the universally understood method of production for these heads.  They weren't overly common, certainly not a standard military head (despite what some will say!) so the extended construction time isn't too much a problem.  

My main issue really is HOW they were fire welded.  I'm starting to think that perhaps the socket and bodkin section ended with a split, which the barbed section was slotted into, and then fire welded.  This would keep everything together nicely, instead of trying to manipulate small loose parts.

Here's a pic of a few early efforts at Tudors and Type 10s.  Each attempt gets tidier of course ;)


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Methinks, the two warheads on the left of the picture are traditional bodkins. The first two on the left are probably Phillips screwdriver heads? If, indeed that is so, their profiles are a little too acute.

Nice job overall.

But the battles of Crecy, Agincourt, and Poitier have already been fought a few years back.

Is a marketing survey in order in the next little while?

Just trying to help.


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 Not sure what you mean.


The heads on the left are replicas of MOL 02250 from the museum of London, and they're Tudor bodkins from the 16th century.  The heads on the right are Type 10s from around the 14th/15th century.


None of which helps in trying to forge a Type 16... 

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You are right, the first two arrow heads I have not seen before. Could the furrows be blood grooves?  

The last two, on the left of the photo, are traditional bodkins. That type of warhead was used at the 3 battles I mentioned, in the 14'th. and early 15'th. century in France The English army soundly defeated the French army in all three battles, (Hundred Years War) Those style bodkins were used by longbow men. They first saw action against the English armies in the numerous battles and skirmishes on the Welsh borders.at least 100 years earlier. (the battles of the Welsh Marches). The English used thousands of Welsh longbow men against the French. (they learned from past mistakes).

I am sorry about not having information on welding, but I have not heard that the arrow heads were welded. It is not necessary and it would have added great extra cost per arrow.

The historical warheads were press fitted onto arrow shafts. Those arrows were made by the millions. They were fired en mass in the general direction of the enemy. Clouds of arrows blocked the sun. Fire was rapid, ongoing and devastating. Two generations of French nobility were decimated. The arrows were designed to penetrate chain mail. Only the development of hardened plate armor stopped them.That armor made its appearance in the third battle. Agincourt

 The bodkin would be make for a more devastating wound if that bodkin remained while the arrow was pulled out.

.Some of the first factory machines were devoted to automating arrow making.

There are master armorers at the British Tower of London armory and museum. Check their website. And if necessary, contact them.


Also, check out the British War Museum. Also the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

P.S. the barbed arrow heads are for hunting arrows. The big ones were designed for killing deer.

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Welcome aboard Will, glad to have you.

I can think of a couple ways to make the points by welding.

First don't forge the barbs down so far before welding but forge the core to a relatively fine wedge. This leaves the weld sections of the barbs enough material to not burn while the thinner center can soak to welding temp faster. forging the joint as a 3 ply wedge perpendicular to the barb plane allows blows to strike directly through all three at once. Weld, forge to profile, file and finish.

Forge the core as you would a bodkin but blunted and split it. Forge the barbs in one V shaped piece. Insert it into the split, weld, file and finish.

A third possibility would be to forge a blunt bodkin, punch an drift for a round pin. Insert and weld pin, fold it back along the core, forge to profile, file and finish.

You know the more I think about t his the more ways I can think of to try. I STRONGLY doubt there was only one way to make them, the British Empire was just too strongly invested in archery.

When I was in school shop class we were allowed to make frog gigs. Pretty weird for Southern California, it's a desert state nobody gigs frogs. Anyway, we forged a single barb point by. Forging the end of a piece of 1/4" round to about 5/8" wide give or take. Then ground it off at a 45* angle give or take. Then we heated it back up and turned the 45 back over the shaft and ground the point and outside edge of the barb. Turning the barb on the flat caused the inside to form a rough nasty surface that didn't release from flesh.

If 15 year old city kids can learn to make these points in about 10 minutes ea. I think a professional smith would be knocking double barbed versions out like crazy.

Here's what I'd try before welding points. Isolate the material for the socket and point+barb. Basically forge an obtuse V in the stock. One thick end is the socket, the other longer section provides steel for the point and barbs.  Form and roll the socket. Using my socket tongs forge the point end into a wide short wedge of the desired thickness in the center of the core section. Split down the center from the end and turn the halves back to the core or socket on the flat. File to profile sharpen and go hunting.

Were I making arrowheads for the king's army I'd have 4 apprentices making them production line fashion. #1 forging and cutting the blanks with the material isolating shallow V. #2 forging and rolling sockets. #3 drawing splitting and turning the barbs. #4 filing and finishing.

I WAS going to say, " I'd anticipate more trouble making a nice Tudor point." but never having made but one needle bodkin I think I'll keep mum. :ph34r:

Frosty The Lucky.  


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Awesome response, that's what I was after!  Some of it (ok, most of it!) went over my head due to lack of experience, but your second method made sense.  I can't quite imagine what shape the barb section needs to be, as once you fold it to form the angle of a V shape, it all starts to squash and swell in odd places.  I'm not sure if you'd need to then grind the barb section to make it defined, or shape the split in the bodkin to match or something.  I assume you need a close fit for things to weld properly?  And then you've got the issue of working out the cross section of the barb piece, which of course gets all strange looking in the fold area...  My brain can't cope with it!  Maybe actually doing it will clear up many of the issues.


The Tudor points are a piece of cake, once you accept the fact that you're gonna be constantly reheating and swaging, instead of (as I tried originally) to get much of the shape in one or two goes.  I think mine take about 6 heats to get them properly formed in the swage.

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20 hours ago, WillS said:

Awesome response, that's what I was after!  Some of it (ok, most of it!) went over my head due to lack of experience

Perhaps this is the real issue,  I suggest you back up and learn some basic smithing skills before attempting advanced smithing techniques. It should save you a lot of trouble, Forge welding for example is a basic apprentice skill, along with drifting upsetting and drawing out.

Welcome to I Forge Iron

dont forget to edit your profile and add your general location

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Bent on the flat, not folded. Practice with modeling clay, (plasticine?) to develop the way you want the material to move and how to move it so. Flatten a piece of clay, bred dough or whatever, into a rectangular strip, lay it on a table then bend it back on itself WITHOUT lifting it off the table. This process is "bending on the flat" or as we say this side of the pond, "bending the hard way."

I used the more descriptive term over the local jargon.

Now, forget the socket for now and roll a point quantity of modeling clay (or whatever) using your thumb mash one end, split it with a butter knife and bend the sides (on the flat) back on the body of the point. From there you can see what needs filing or grinding away to make the profile.

For this kind of barbed point you are done forging after you bend the barb sections back on the core.

I've watched a number of Youtube how to videos of some pretty poor blacksmith . . . ish guys making arrowheads. 6 heats for a Tudor point is high end though not bad. I think with practice I'd get it to file time in 4.

I only saw one smith isolating material like Mark Aspery emphasized at the clinics he held for our club. Watch some of his videos and pay close attention to how he isolates material to form sockets. A socket is a socket, doesn't matter if it's an arrowhead or an axe they're made the same way.

Watch some welding videos by the better smiths, Mr. Aspery, Brian Brazeal, etc. there's a LOT of junk online by "ex spurts" who only have a camera and connection as a claim they  know what they're doing. The "king of Random" is a prime example of dangerously foolish how to videos.

Welding isn't hard, it's the prep work that really makes it work. And practice makes you good enough to do it.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Excellent, thank you very much Frosty!

I'll have a go at bending the barbs back the way you suggest.  I do eventually want to learn to weld them on, as that's the historical method.

For what it's worth, normal Tudor points are made slightly differently to the ones I do - in fact I'm willing to bet nobody has ever made a copy of the head I'm copying for my Tudor points!  Usually people have conical swages, and with those the process is a while lot easier, and quicker.

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That's true.  I do have lots of modern versions of them, made in mild steel however. 

I think part of the problem is that I'm looking at these heads and I can see the weld join, but it doesn't make any sense as to how it's been done.

I've attached two photos of different angles of the same arrowhead.  The red lines are where I can see the weld line - it doesn't look like a flat piece laid into the socket, as it's a flattened diamond section.  The edges are of course ground that way, but right in the middle, where the barb section meets the socket piece, it's still a diamond section.  Folding a flattened diamond section "on the flat" as described by Frosty wouldn't work I don't think, as it would do all sorts of weird things in the area where it's folded.  I hope that makes sense?!

Also, in trying Frosty's method of folding the barbs back using some clay, the shape ends up very different to what I'm seeing on these heads.  Because of the shape, the area where the two barbs fade into the main head end up much higher, very close to the tip.  I've attached a photo of my attempt in clay, and as you can see the shape at the tip is completely different to the head in the photos, and no amount of grinding would solve that!  Where the split is folded back, the tip squares off, and there's not enough material to shape into the finished head.


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One vertical and one horizontal  with vertical laid on top and welded together in a T so one side has 2 weld lines that are separate and the other has the single ^ weld line?   Have you looked at all the various ways they used to weld the edge steel on knives back then---butt, lap, cleft, etc.  IIRC "Knives and Scabbards, Museum of London" has a list of them.

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Keep playing with the clay, you're splitting it too close to the finished core tip. You want a lot to grind down to final profile so leave more. You can also leave the hinge point thicker so you can forge a longer point before the barbs separate.

Don't bother to roll the socket in the clay, that's not something you need to figure out is it?

Do you have chewing gum in sticks your side of the pond? If so experiment with a stick of gum.

No researcher stops at one experiment. Don't keep trying a fail till YOU give up altogether but don't stop at one fail. Every failure is a lesson, keep notes and take pics though sketches are better at highlighting specific details.

Thinking about it over brunch after church today. A Tudor point only needs two chisel cuts to produce plenty of material to forge barbs out so a modified Tudor would make a fine type 16 blank. Thinking about how I'd modify the Tudor it occurred to me that were I teaching you you'd be forging leaves long before you were making arrow heads. Seriously, the only difference between a birch leaf (go ahead Thomas laugh) and a Tudor point is a stem as opposed to a socket. By time you were forging leaves proficiently switching over to arrowheads would be a snap.

Oh and the guys needing a spring swage to forge a Tudor point are the poor smiths to which I was referring. One guy forging in a dark lean to by a pond actually had a two piece closed die and it took him several heats. At that rate of production you'd be speaking French right now.

You don't have a problem till you can't get it right after 50 or so failed points.

Frosty The Lucky.


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Ah, we'll have to agree to disagree there somewhat - two of the best arrowsmiths (master arrowsmiths, in fact) Mark Stretton and Hector Cole use a spring swage for Tudor points!

Regarding the Type 16 - I'm sure it CAN be done by splitting and folding, but I'm really hoping to learn how to do it with a weld.  That was the point of my original post - knowing that they were welded, and knowing that my personal favourite versions of them are also welded is why I'm more interested in understanding HOW they're welded, as compared to finding an alternative method.  Hope that doesn't sound ungrateful - the advice you've given thus far is fascinating and greatly appreciated - perhaps I should have been cleared originally.

I still have no clue how these barbed sections are welded on, as none of the examples I have seem to make sense in a practical viewpoint.  I know they are welded, I know WHERE they are welded, but no manner of thinking is giving me the answer HOW they're welded.  

Unless of course the socket section is stood upright on the anvil, point skyward, and the barb section is hammered down onto it.  That's the only way I can currently see it being done to produce the exact same result I can see in the heads I own.  However, that of course returns me to the problem of holding both barb and socket section in the fire at the same time, bringing them to welding heat simultaneously without melting the tiny barb section... And so on.  

I don't seem to have progressed at all with this haha!

By the way, this is a perfect example of a good Tudor point.  How this could be done without a swage I don't know ;)


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Okay, Mr.s Stratton and Cole aren't on the mediocre list but both were going to great lengths and extra steps to produce instructional videos. I'd be stunned if either went to that much work to produce any type arrowhead let alone a Tudor.

How to make that point without a swage? Roll the socket, forge end a flat and get your file out.

Get FOLDING our of your head! I haven't describe one process where folding takes place. Bending on the flat and folding aren't even similar.

However if you wish to hammer weld them, disregard my slit and bend suggestion.

Try instead my suggestions for forge welding. If you're using wrought iron then it should be easy UNLESS you're forging the barbs too close to finished profile then they're just plain too thin.

There isn't anything in one of those points that isn't basic blacksmithing.

Frosty The Lucky.



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