How to Make a Metal Arrowhead

by Crispin Trubiano
Forging bodkin-style arrowheads from iron is a craft that originated in medieval blacksmith shops.

Forging bodkin-style arrowheads from iron is a craft that originated in medieval blacksmith shops.

Jupiterimages/ Images

Arrowheads have been made from a myriad of materials since ancient times. Common arrowhead materials throughout history have included wood, flint, quartz, bone, iron and steel. Forging bodkin-style arrowheads from iron or steel is an entirely different process from the traditional methods used to create stone heads; crafting arrowheads in this manner involves a blacksmith's forge, and as such a certain amount of familiarity with metallurgy is needed.

Items you will need

  • Forge
  • Anvil
  • Smithing tools: cross-pein hammer, forming tongs, chisel, bellows
  • Grinding wheel
  • 8mm round blank of steel or iron
Step 1

Heat the end of the metal blank by placing it in the forge until it is between orange and red -- the metal will be at this color when the material is at the correct temperature for shaping. Use the hammer and anvil to flatten the end of the bar until it forms a triangular shape that is about 5 cm long. If the metal gets cold and goes black, reheat it to orange-red.

Step 2

Use the forming tongs to bend the triangular piece into a cone shape. Use forming tongs with a cone shape on one tong and a flat piece for shaping on the other. Continue to work the metal until the end is conical in shape.

Step 3

Cut the cone-shaped piece off from the blank to create the bodkin. For a short arrowhead, clip the metal only 1 cm from the narrow end of the cone; for a longer arrowhead clip up to 3 cm of metal off the blank with the cone.

Step 4

Use the anvil horn to flatten the bar at the tip of the cone, leaving a square chisel-shaped protrusion connected to the cone. Shape this protrusion into a diamond-shaped arrowhead, reheating as necessary. Straighten the head and the bodkin. When finished shaping the bodkin and head, place the new arrowhead into the quench tub and let it cool.

Step 5

Use a grinding wheel to grind the arrowhead to the desired sharpness. The grinding wheel can also be used to shine the iron.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experimentation with tools, forming techniques, and exact specifications will yield the arrowhead that suits your needs and skill.
  • Always take proper safety precautions when working with fire and hot metal. Use appropriate safety gear and equipment, including a fireproof apron, gloves, goggles, boots, and wearing short sleeves and hair. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

About the Author

Crispin Trubiano has been working as a freelance writer since 2010. His articles appear on various websites, where he specializes in areas such as technology, health, television, film, literature and music. Trubiano currently studies sociology at Roger Williams University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images