Tools for replacement of feathers
With normal wear and tear feathers on your arrows might need a replacement, while shafts would still be in a good condition. This might be favourite arrows, or some that you use for a daily practice, as it is in my case. I have a set of arrows I use in a new dojo/training place, after a long break or with rough terrain. Therefore, it’s more convenient (and less costly) to replace feathers. You will need to prepare the following – feathers of your choosing (please be aware that they are different for haya and otoya), thread, scissors/sharp knife, tape, contact adhesive (or any other suitable glue, that doesn’t dry too fast), ruler and clear lacquer. You can also use ordinary clear nail polish instead; I just felt a bit fancy. Lacquer will also be a more durable option.
The process of replacing a feather
To begin with, remove the wrapped thread at the top and the bottom of the feathers.
Then take the new feathers and mark point where you’ll need start wrapping a new thread. The distance between top and bottom wrapping of a feather is 15 cm. Carefully cut the feathers until your mark – but not the shaft itself!
Now remove the feathers you want to replace. I did it with a sharp knife, scissors will also be suitable. Take care of you fingers while doing it – have a steady surface, thick gloves and go in the direction from yourself. Lift a bit of the feather at a time. If the glue is very stiff, you can warm up the arrow shaft either with steam or with a hair dryer (if you’re not going to keep any feathers only). If you have any glue residue on the shaft, clean it carefully with a knife.
Prepare for securing the feather to the shaft – underneath the bottom wrapping line fasten a thin thread with tape. About 25 cm would be enough to wrap it along the arrow.
Put the adhesive/glue on the feather stem. Stick it carefully and evenly on the arrow. Take the thread you fastened with tape and start wrapping it around the shaft, splitting feathers about every 5 mm. On the top fasten the thread with tape and leave to dry. Drying time depends on your glue. If you have several feathers to replace, as I did, glue them both to the shaft before securing them with the thread.
Trim the feathers to the right width – 1,2 cm and shape them rounder towards the bottom. You can use your old feather as a guideline for the shape. Once the glue has solidified, take a sharp knife and thin out the edges of feather shafts. Remove the wrapped thread.
Start with putting a new layer of wrapped thread with the bottom part of feathers. Take some ordinary glue and put a drop on the end of the thread and glue it along the feather shaft. Firmly hold the end (it won’t be completely glued) and begin rolling the arrow shaft, neatly lining up the thread one layer after each other. Once you’ve finished with wrapping (it should be about 2,5 cm long), take some glue once again and fasten the cut end to the bind.
Proceed with the top part. To make this task easier, take some tape, and push the feathers downwards. This way you’ll have more space to make the wrap. The hight of the top wrap is about 1,8 cm.
Use lacquer or nail polish to fix thread in place and let it dry.
As you can see, my new feathers are brighter than previous ones, so I’m going to glue some tape along the shaft and use some spray paint to even out the colour.