There are quite a number of ways to put point and nock tapers on your wood
arrows. But one thing is for certain, if the tapers are not accurate the result
will be that the nock or broadhead is mis-aligned and you will very likely get
poor arrow flight.
There are several commercially made tools for putting accurate point and
nock tapers on wood arrows. These tools range in price from a couple of
dollars to over a hundred dollars. The above photo shows four of the more
widely used taper tools. The first tool (from the left) is similar to the old
plastic pencil sharpeners that you used in grade school. These tools come in
different sizes for different diameter shafts. So if you have 11/32"
shafts then you have to have a tool specifically for that size. These tools
are cheap, selling for about $4 each. The problem with them is that the blades
will get dull pretty fast and the result is a less than clean cut. The blades
are not replaceable so you have to buy a new taper tool when they get dull.
They also will not work very well on hardwoods like ash.
The second tool is a more refined version of the first. It is still a
pencil sharpener type tool, but the housing is aluminum and the blades are
replaceable. You can buy the tool plus guides for 5/16", 11/32" and
23/64" shafts for about $25. If you only make a few sets of arrows each
year, then this is probably the best tool to purchase. Extra blades sell for
about $1 each.
The third tool is the Horizon power taper tool that has been around
for a number of years. I understand that Horizon has recently informed dealers
that they will no longer be making this tool so it may be unavailable in a short
time. This tool uses a small electric motor with a sanding disc attached.
There is a nylon guide that the arrow goes through. You can get guides for each
size of shaft that you are using. Using the same guide, you can make either a 5
degree point taper or a 11 degree nock taper by simply turning the guide around.
These tools sell for about $75. I have used one of these tools for years and
have found that there are some problems with them. First, if the shaft
diameter is not exact and the arrow wobbles around a little in the guide, then
the taper will not be centered on the shaft. Also you have to be careful that
the nylon guide does not move to the side after you get it set. If it moves
towards the sanding disc you may find that you have cut too deeply and your nock
or point will fit too loose.
The fourth taper tool is a Woodchuck taper tool. This design has
solved the problem of different shaft diameters by having a "V" groove
in the body of the tool that is permanently set at the correct angles for nocks
and points. It has a positive stop so that you can adjust the length of tapers
that you want to make. This taper tool sells for about $130. If you build a
lot of arrows, then this is probably the machine for you. If you have a group
of people that you shoot or hunt with then one option is for everybody to pitch
in a buy a community taper tool. Just make sure that you are all good friends
who can share equipment.
Another option is to make your own taper tool. I have seen several
examples of people using table saws or radial arm saws with a sanding disc
attached. Use your ingenuity to develop a system to hold the shaft at the
proper angles. If anybody out there has a good set of plans for building a jig
for use on a table or radial arm saw that you would like to share, let me know
and I will add it to this section.