Cutting your arrows to the perfect size is essential for achieving optimal performance and accuracy. However, many archers wonder how to cut carbon arrows themselves instead of relying on an archery shop to do it for them.
Carbon arrows are one of the most popular and reliable arrow materials out there. These arrows are strong, lightweight, and fly amazingly well. However, they always come in longer lengths and are designed to be cut to the exact length that people need. So you need a way to cut these arrows down to a size that fits your personal draw length and makes for a more accurate and comfortable shooting experience.
Luckily, cutting carbon arrows yourself isn’t as hard as you may think. All you need are a few basic tools, the right arrow measurement, and some free time in order to cut your arrows to the perfect length!
Why Cut Your Arrows?
Arrows need to be cut for a few reasons. First, everyone has a different draw length. Arrows made in pre-determined lengths can often be too long or too short for many archers. Using arrows that are too long or short can lead to losses in performance and consistency. The overall length also affects the stiffness of the arrow, otherwise known as the arrow spine.
The arrow spine is how much flex an arrow has. Longer arrows have less spine than shorter arrows, meaning they will flex and bend more. If they flex too much, however, it can cause accuracy issues over longer distances. If you’re shooting in competitions or bowhunting, this is the last thing that you want. On the other hand, short arrows also come with some disadvantages.
Arrows that are too short are prone to fly erratically, but they can also slip off of your arrow rest if you aren’t careful. Not only is this dangerous, but it can end up snapping the arrow and sending pieces of carbon into your hand and arm. This is why it’s so important to cut your carbon arrows to the proper length. You don’t want them too long, but you also don’t want to cut them too short.
Your overall arrow length affects a lot of things, one of them being the FOC. This stands for “front of center”. This is the percentage of the arrow’s weight that is found in the front half of the arrow. Getting the right percentage of FOC will lead to better arrow performance and greater penetration. This is important in regards to arrow length, as it will affect what the ideal FOC should be.
The best FOC is usually around 12 to 15% for bowhunters using large broadheads, while those strictly shooting field tips will do better at around 8 to 11%. With this in mind, your arrow length will often help dictate what percentage you can achieve.
The shorter the arrow, the higher the FOC should be. Short arrows are much less stable in flight and need a higher FOC to better stabilize them. Longer arrows, on the other hand, can handle a lower FOC. With that in mind, you can start to see why cutting your arrows to the right length is vital. But how do you properly cut carbon arrows?
Tools You’ll Need
If you want to cut your arrows yourself, you will only need a few simple tools and a place to work. All of these tools can be found at relatively cheap prices and will allow you to always cut your new arrows to the perfect size. Some of these tools include:
1. Arrow Saw
The first thing you will need is something to cut your arrows with. The best option is an arrow saw, although you can use other things such as a bench-top miter saw or mini abrasive saw. Of course, saws that are specifically designed to cut arrows are the ideal choice. These will include everything you need to get a clean, smooth cut on the arrows. While arrow saws can be a little pricey, all it takes is cutting your arrows a few times to break even when compared to having an archery shop do it for you.
Investing in an arrow saw is a great idea if you intend to experiment with different arrows or pursue archery in depth. Here are a couple great models to look into if you want to start cutting your own arrows:
Decut Archery Arrow Saw
Weston Arrow Saw
2. Ruler or Tape Measure
If your arrow saw or other cutting device doesn’t already have a measuring system, you will need a simple rule or tape measure. This will help to ensure you get an accurate length on each arrow that you cut.
3. A Place to Work
You don’t need a giant workshop in order to cut your arrows, but it does help to have a clean workbench or open work surface on a nearby table or desk to work. It also helps if it is in the garage, a shop, or even outside, as there can be some debris that is stirred up while cutting arrows.
4. A Vice Clamp
This is another item that will probably already come equipped with your arrow saw. In the event that you are using a miter saw or cut-off saw, a vice lamp will help to hold the arrow. This ensures a clean and even cut, as well as provides some safety to the entire process.
A single sheet of high grit sandpaper will work just fine. This is to clean up your cuts on the arrows once you are finished. All arrow materials, including carbon, aluminum, and wood arrows, will need to be sanded after cutting.
6. Safety Gear
Anytime you are working with power tools, safety should always be the first consideration. Some basic safety gear like a pair of gloves, a dust mask, and some protective eyeglasses. As we mentioned before, cutting an arrow can send small debris into the air. You will want your eyes and mouth covered while cutting and the proper safety gear will do just that.
How to Find Your Ideal Arrow Length
After you have assembled all of the right tools to cut your arrows, you still need to figure out just how long you need to cut them. You may already have an arrow length that suits you perfectly. In this case, you can use one of your existing arrows as a template to achieve the perfect length. Simply align it next to the stock arrow and make a mark with a Sharpie to get the right length.
If you don’t know what your ideal arrow length is, no worries. Finding the right arrow length is very simple to do and will only take a minute or two. All you need to do is draw your bow and have a friend measure the distance between the nock point on the arrow and the throat of the grip on the front of the bow. With this number, you can now cut your next arrows down to size.
As a rule of thumb, your arrow length should be a little longer than your draw length. Most archers will add around an inch to an inch and a half to get their ideal arrow length. This also allows you to take advantage of the amount of spine in the arrow and to remain safe. The last thing that you want is an arrow that is too short, as this can cause potential safety issues in addition to flight problems.
How to Cut Carbon Arrows
When it comes to cutting carbon arrows (or any arrow material for that matter), there are only a few simple steps to follow. The key is to work through all of these steps consistently with every arrow to ensure that they are all the same. You want your arrows to be the same exact length with the same cuts to get precise and consistent arrow performance. These steps include:
1. Check Your Measurements
Check your measurements and double, then triple check them. Most arrows aren’t cheap, so you want to make sure you are cutting them to the exact length that you need. Even after measuring the arrows and marking them to the desired length, take a minute to double or triple-check each and every one to verify it’s marked to the correct length. If you need to, you can even nock each arrow and draw it back in order to confirm that the line that you marked falls where it should.
2. Lock Down the Arrow
Most saws, arrow saws or otherwise, should come equipped with a vice clamp. If yours doesn’t, make sure you grab one that is big enough to tighten down over an arrow. If your saw comes with a clamp, simply place the first arrow into the slot and tighten it down until it holds the arrow snugly. This is usually done by turning a lever or wheel to tighten the clamp. You want the clamp to firmly hold the arrow and not allow it to move while you are cutting it. On the other hand, don’t tighten it too much. Carbon or wood arrows can crack or fracture with too much pressure, and aluminum arrows can easily bend.
3. Line Up Saw Disc and Your Measurement Line
While you are clamping down your arrow, slowly lower the arm of the saw close to the shaft of the arrow to ensure it is lined up with the measurement mark you made. Make sure the saw is completely off (and preferably unplugged) during these steps. Keep in mind that this step is crucial to a properly cut arrow. If you want to give yourself a little slack, move the arrow down a bit so that your saw disc makes contact just past the measurement line. This will give you a little bit of room for error. You can always go back and cut an arrow again to retouch it until it’s the proper length. Just be aware there is no way of fixing or restoring an arrow that is cut too short.
4. Turn on the Saw and Slowly Cut the Arrow
Turn on your arrow saw and ensure all of your safety gear is on. When you are ready, slowly and firmly bring down the saw disc through the arrow shaft. Don’t make any sudden movements or jerk it down too fast. Apply consistent pressure down through the whole cut until you have made it completely through the arrow shaft. This should result in a perfectly cut arrow and you can now repeat steps 1-4 with the next arrows in line!
5. Trim Any Arrows As Needed
If for some reason any of the arrows didn’t come out as you planned, place the arrow back into the clamp and carefully trim the end with the saw. The good thing about arrow saws is that they do a great job of cleanly cutting through arrow shafts. You will not need to worry about ruining the arrow should you need to remove some excess material afterward. This will allow you to achieve the perfect length.
6. Sand the Ends of the Arrows
The last step involves taking the sandpaper and sanding the ends of the arrows that you cut. Do this in small circles. This will wear down the sharp edges left by the saw, as well as clean up any inconsistencies that might be left over. This will prepare your arrows for gluing in inserts and leave you with a higher-quality product.
How to Glue in Arrow Inserts
After your arrows are cut down to the ideal size, you are now ready to glue in your arrow inserts. These will allow you to screw in various arrow tips, from field points to broadheads. This is also very easy to do on your own, and involves the following steps:
1. Prepare the Arrows
The first step is to ensure all of your arrows were cut to the proper length. Once you are sure, take a little bit of soapy water and thoroughly clean the ends of the arrows that you cut and sanded. You can also use denatured alcohol to clean the shaft. Just make sure you clean the inside of the arrow shaft where the insert will be located.
2. Prepare Glue or Epoxy
You have a few different options when it comes to gluing in your inserts. Some archers prefer a hot glue that needs to be heated up and melted before applying it to the inserts, while others use a mixed epoxy. If you are using epoxy, you have a little more time to work and apply it. Prepare the epoxy by mixing the two included components together.
3. Apply Glue to Inserts and Place Them in Arrow Shaft
Apply the glue or epoxy liberally to the insert. Immediately push the insert into the arrow shaft, twisting it as you do. This ensures an even application inside of the shaft. Wipe off any excess glue.
4. Let Your Arrows Dry
Set the arrows down on a flat surface to allow them to completely dry. Depending on the type of adhesive material that you used, it could take several minutes to several hours until the arrows are able to be used. For the best results, wait a full 24 hours for all of your arrows to properly set and dry.
Learning to cut your own arrows can not only save you money but can be an extremely rewarding way of fine-tuning your personal archery gear. Whether you are cutting carbon arrows or aluminum, getting your arrows to the ideal length will ensure you have the most consistent and accurate arrow for your bow!