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Tonka Arrows


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My friend gave me a bundle of tonka cane to use as shafting for arrows.  It’s a laborious project but hoping to get a half dozen arrows made for an upcoming snowshoe race/shoot at my club…and if I don’t loose too many I’ll have some for the Spring Thaw Primitive shoot in April!

I have never used this material for shafts so it will be a bit of a learning experience!

The first thing I did was grade and cut the shafts roughly to length. I don’t care about the crookedness of the shaft right now, just want to make sure there is enough “meat” on the rear of the shaft so I can cut some nocks…also don’t want the foreshaft to be too thick.

Next I sanded dowels down to the correct diameter to fit in the hollow ends of each of the shafts.  I sized (put glue on) the dowel and inside of the shaft, then inserted (glued) the dowel about 2-3 inches into the hollow tonka shaft (tonka is like bamboo or river cane…hollow inside but the walls of the tonka are considered stronger than river cane).  The dowels will help give the arrow strength at the nock and business end.

I’m now in the process of straightening the shafts…I heat the shafts on my wood stove and they get very pliable at the nodes…then I can start straightening them.  This is a tedious process to get them very straight.

I’ll keep you posted on how they come out!

Take care,








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12 hours ago, Lawdwaz said:

I love the start of the new arrow shafts but I'd rather see your homemade lasagna on that wood stove.  :)


Dutch oven lasagna definitely sounds good!  How about swinging by when I’m boiling sap and I'll cook one up!  The full recipe will feed about 6 so we will need to rustle up a few more people.  I’ll keep you posted!

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On 1/19/2023 at 8:34 AM, Dinorocks said:

Dutch oven lasagna definitely sounds good!  How about swinging by when I’m boiling sap and I'll cook one up!  The full recipe will feed about 6 so we will need to rustle up a few more people.  I’ll keep you posted!

Let me check my schedule…….……




I’m free.    :)


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We will be in touch Larry!

Had some time this morning to work on the arrows…hopefully I’ll have them done for tomorrow morning’s league.

I finished straightening the shafts, and then tapered  the ends for my points and made the selfnocks (I cut, filed, and sanded them to match my bow string).  When I’m working on selfnocks, I like to temporarily wrap the ends of the shaft with artificial sinew to preventing any accidental spitting.  Next I weighed them and graded them out again.

I cut and sanded a bunch of turkey feathers I got from “Turkeyfeathers”(Jay)…I remove some of the feather fibers on each end so I have a good surface to secure them to the shaft.  I use deer back sinew for my arrows (leg sinew for backing my selfbows)…by chewing the strands in my mouth, the enzymes, etc in my saliva help soften the sinew and draw out the natural glues.  The sinew I’m using is from a deer I harvested with my selfbow this past season so it was still flavorful!

Once the sinew is hydrated, I start by wrapping the nock-end of the fletching to the shaft, spacing the fletching out by eye.  I’ll finish by wrapping the sinew around the base of the nock to prevent the nock from splitting from the bow string.  Next I add a few drops of glue to the base of the fletching and then wrap the other end, giving the fletching a little helical twist.  I add a touch of waterproof wood glue to the sinew at each end to make sure it doesn’t unwind if it gets wet. Lastly I wrap some artificial sinew through the feather fibers, making sure there is good contact with the fletching along the shaft.  After the glue is dry, I remove the artificial sinew…the artificial sinew is waxed so it doesn’t stick to the glue.

I don’t have a spine tester …I’m not too concerned this time around (they feel pretty stout) as I was mostly just trying to see how this was going to work.  I plan to hunt down more shafts and make some hunting arrows with stone points for next season.

Now hopefully I don’t loose my new arrows right away!

Have a nice weekend!


…picts didn’t load in chronological order.  
And as alway, please let me know if you have any questions.














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