medievalcrossbows
medievalcrossbows

The crossbow is a weapon that for centuries had its opponents in various circles. It’s a dangerous but beautiful tool and draws a large crowd of aficionados. It’s their initiative that formed the observations below. They are the effect of many years of crossbow experience.

Remember that the crossbow is a dangerous tool, that might at times cause more damage than firearms. Use it wisely.

Wood:

Wood used for manufacturing crossbows should be sturdy and hard. For centuries wood of this kind has been used to manufacture crossbows.  It’s not worth it to stint and buy soft wood of common kind. The best for the task would be: oak, elm, walnut, ash, pear tree or tough maple. As for the finish, Teflon and polyurethane are most commonly used these days.  They are resilient and easy to work with. The stock should be varnished regularly, to keep it in great shape for many years.

Waxing the groove:

Medieval-Crossbow-Heavy-Draw-Weight
medievalcrossbows

In cold days, use non-alcohol  veneer. When it’s hot outside, it’s better to use beeswax. Use your fingernail to test the thickness of wax. If you get any under your nail, it means the layer is too thick.

Bowstrings:

Until 16th century they were made of flax, hemp, tendons or cotton. Those were not resistant to moisture and less safe than modern materials. Nowadays the most highly considered fiber is Dacron B-50 – very resilient to moisture and damage.

Central plait of bowstring:

In medieval times, a three-layer plait was used.  In case of damaging one layer, two more were left to protect the string.

Bow:

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medievalcrossbows

Wood was used in the past to make bows for lighter crossbows.  They were also made composite, with horn, tendon and wood. However, making a composite bow took time, as the glue took a long time to dry. The 15th century saw a revolution in bow manufacture – improvements in steelwork allowed for use of steel.  However, steel is not used in cold temperature, as it might break.

Also used in bow manufacture are glass fiber and aluminum, although they are less resilient.

Rear sight:

Holes drilled in this part of crossbow allow for different bolt weight, length and distance of shooting.

Bridle and fittings:

medievalcrossbows
medievalcrossbows

Fittings were made of iron.  They had side wedges to secure the bow.  They are heavy and expensive, but allow for quick fixing or dismantling of the bow. Bridles used to be made of hempen or flaxen rope.  Nowadays nylon is used, similar in looks but way more resilient to damage.

Greasing:

In the past, tallow and fat were commonly used.  Nowadays those unhygienic  substances are replaced by graphite powder, used for the rotating breech. It’s best not to use grease or oils.

Decorations:

A crossbow is a beautiful weapon. It can be carved or inlaid. With time and care you can make it your own, custom piece.

Bolts:

It’s better to avoid putting anything on the bolt ends.  Just leave the wood bare. It’s recommended to make a small notch in the bolt end, or treat it with sandpaper.  The bolt point is usually used for aiming, provided it’s perfectly straight. Longer bolts make for better aim.

Nut materials:

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Rotating nuts used to be made of bone, iron, wood and brass. Nowadays also steel, aluminum and nylon are used.

Triggers:

Although some manufacturers use brass rods, it’s much better to make the trigger from iron. It’s much safer and more resilient.  The triggers used nowadays were in existence back in 15th century.

Stock designs:

Dependent on religious culture, they evolved over the years. Roman crossbows were beautifully ornate, where eastern – European stocks were simpler in design, even strange. At around 17th century, the designs became richer, mainly thanks to Belgian makers. Stocks from this era can compete with modern, Olympic stocks.

Bolt clamp:

First spring designs come from the second half of 14th century.  Not much is known about earlier methods of bolt clamping. In modern times steel is used for this, as it’s very resilient to damage.

Perfect crossbow?

We can be certain it doesn’t exist. Maybe this is why this weapon still has so many followers. Many aficionados spend loads of time on improving, decorating and evolving their crossbows. Everyone wants perfection, wanting their piece to be the best of them all.