Feather splicing is the process in which feathers of different colors
can be spliced together to create different effects. This process is
also called feather mending. There are two basic reasons why a person
may want to splice feathers together. The first is purely aesthetic.
A feather splice can add a very distinctive touch to your arrow making
and set your arrows apart from others. There is a practical side as
well. You may like the idea of having bright feathers to be able to see
your arrow in flight, but you may not want an entire quiver full of bright
colored arrows that may draw unwanted attention. A practical solution
is to splice a section of the bright color to the back of one or each of
the otherwise drab colors. The above photo shows a set of arrows that
I made for my son Jeff using brown artificial barred feathers with bright
yellow spliced in the back of each feather. You get the best of both
worlds, something bright to see yet not so obtrusive to alert your quarry.
The following is the same splicing method that I described in the article
in Traditional Bowhunter magazine
in the June/July, 1996 edition.
A feather is essentially a series of interlocking barbs attached to
a quill. This splicing method removes the barbs from the quill in the
section to be spliced and replaces the removed barbs by gluing in a section
from another feather. It is not very difficult and takes no special
equipment other than a chopper or feather burner to trim your arrow into
its final shape and a straight feather clamp. I will demonstrate by writing
and photos a splice at the rear of a feather. You can use the same technique
to make a splice in the middle of a feather. It just takes a little more
time and attention.
First take a very sharp single edge razor and cut the barbs from the
quill in the section that you are splicing
If your razor is even slightly dull you will not get a smooth cut.
Leave a small piece at the very end as this will be used to strip the
remaining barb stubble and will expose the quill which will then be used
as a base to glue on the new piece of feather
When making this cut, I like to use a steel straight edge to steady
the feather as I make the cut.
You can now peel off the remaining barb stubble which will expose only
Be careful not to cut completely through the quill. The feather should
look like the example in photo 5 which is ready for a new piece of feather
to be glued in place.
Next, cut a piece of feather from the other color that you are going
to use. The splicing will be easier if you cut this new piece from about
the same location on the feather as the piece that you removed. Before
you glue the new piece in, you have to remove most of the quill by sanding
it off. The easiest way that I have found to do this is to put the piece
of feather into a straight feather clamp. You can use a commercially made
clamp or you can make your own. All it has to do is to hold the piece
of feather firmly in place as you sand away most of the quill. I use
150 grit sandpaper for this purpose. Sand the quill away until you are
left with a just a thin membrane that is holding the barbs together.
This new feather section may be slightly wider that what you are going
to glue it to so trim it to the proper width using a pair of sharp scissors.
Put a moderate amount of Duco on the piece to be glued in shape and
simply place it on the base of the prepared feather. With a little practice
the two pieces will "mend" together quite nicely.
Let the feathers dry for 10 - 15 minutes before chopping. To get
each of the feathers that you splice to be exactly the same, put a mark
on your chopper at the point where the splice starts and line up your spliced
feather on that mark. This will assure that all of the splices are exactly
That is all there is to it, you now have a feather ready to go into
the fletching jig. It may look like a lot of effort, but once you get
the hand of it, it doesn't take much time. And besides, what else is there
to do on a cold winter night after hunting season is over other than dream
about next year.