Now that you have all of the equipment that you need, you're ready to start to crest your arrows. My first bit of advice is try not to get into a big hurry. It seems that every time I get in a hurry I mess something up.

1) Prepare the shafts: Make sure that your shafts are fairly straight. For a reference on how to straighten wood shafts go to that section and refresh your memory. The shafts don't have to be perfect, but they do need to be reasonably straight. It is difficult to get uniform cresting lines on crooked shafts. I crest after I have applied 2 coats of whatever finish that I am using. After each coat of clear finish has thoroughly dried, rub until smooth with #0000 steel wool.

2) Lay out the pattern: It is a good idea to draw on an index card the cresting pattern that you want to use. Use this pattern to make your first shaft. After that you can either transfer that pattern to each individual shaft, or fix the pattern to your cresting machine to use as an indicator for each successive shaft.

3) Start with the base color: If you are going to be using bright or metallic colors, it is usually best to lay down a base of white first and then apply the colors over the white. You get a lot better coverage this way without having to use a lot of coats of paint. Put this base color on each of your shafts and let it dry thoroughly. In all of your cresting use several thin coats rather than trying to put on one thick coat. Also, clean your paint brush often. I will clean my brush between each arrow for every color that I am using. Paint consistency is important. If the paint is too thin you will have trouble getting any sort of opaque coverage. If the paint is too thick, then you will have trouble getting a smooth finish. Experiment a little on an old shaft before you start. Another important thing is how much paint is loaded on your brush. You want enough to get good coverage, but not so much that it is difficult to control how much you're putting on. Also, don't leave the brush on the shaft very long, particularly with fast-drying paints. If you do then the paint will start to dry and you will get a very rough finish.

4) Add other colors: After you have the base coat, start with the wider bands of whatever colors you have chosen. I like to work from the thick bands down to the narrow bands. Again, do one color at a time, take your time and let each arrow dry thoroughly before you put on a different color. (See photo 1 showing each successive phase)

5) Add thin line to separate colors. I like to put a thin line of silver between other color bands. This really adds a striking look to your cresting. For this, you will need a very small brush with a very fine point. This is something that just takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it really goes pretty fast. (See photo 2).

6) Let the shafts dry thoroughly. If you want to apply a clear dip over the entire shaft, then let them dry for a day or two before you do dip to prevent the cresting paint from smearing.

7) Using markers instead of paint and brushes - Some of the paint markers on the market work very well. The only difficulty that I have found is that they tend to run if you try to dip a clear coat over the entire crest. One way to avoid this running is to apply a clear coat spray over the crest rather than dipping. The markers that I have used most are the Opaque Paint Markers made by Deco Color. You can buy them at a hobby supply or art supply store. Buy the markers with the "extra fine" tip. The advantage of the markers is that there is no brush, no brush cleaning and you get a very uniform line. There is no clean-up as you just put the cap back on the marker. You can also use them to add other little details like drawing a set of deer tracks on your arrow, putting on your name or initials, or any other thing that your creative mind can think of.

Raw Arrow Materials
Weight and Spine
Straightening Wood Shafts
Tapering Tools
Nock Alignment
Aneline Dyes
Feathers - Wing Choice
Feathers continued..
Splicing Feathers
Arrow Finishes - Part I
Arrow Finishes - Part II Bohning Paints
Arrow Finishes Part III - Other finishes
Cresting - Part 1
Cresting Part II
PBS Arrow Building Contest 
Finishing Wild Turkey Feathers
Homemade Cresting Machine
Marble Dip
Self Nocks

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