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How to Make Medieval Arrow Tips (Bodkin)

A bodkin is a style of arrow tip that was used in the Middle ages and right through the Renaissance. It was a fairly effective tip for an arrow. It had good penetrating ability for both chain mail and plate mail.

In this tutorial I show you how to forge them.

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Medieval bodkin banner


There are many different types of arrow tips. And there have been many used throughout the centuries. One of the more popular tips was called a bodkin. The point is pyramidal in shape with four sides and they tended to be very long. Sometimes they were very long and called a needle bodkin.

The shape of the bodkin

This picture gives you a good look at the pyramidal shape of the bodkin.

The point opens rings

The bodkin would enter a ring in chainmail and force it open allowing the arrow to travel further into the target.

The shape curls steel

And this picture gives you an idea of it's effect on platemail. (This is aluminum foil). The tip of the bodkin pierces the plate and penetrates in, opening up a square hole. But it acts almost like a can opener in how it shears the steel allowing the arrow to continue further. The black arrow shows you how one corner is shearing.

Bring to a point

First off make a tool that will help with the arrow tip making. This is a drift. The rod is the same diameter as the arrows we want. And I brought the end to a point. Then I cut the rod to a length of about ten inches.

Use a drift

Then I put the drift in a vise like this. We will use this later to help shape the arrow tip so it will fit nicely on the wooden arrow shaft.

Bara of mild steel

I started with a bar of mild steel that I bought at the home depot. Mild steel doesn't harden or temper much but that's ok. We will go with mild steel arrow tips. They are ok for what we want. You have some choice in the diameter rod you want to use. I am using 5/16" in diameter rod.

The forge

I am forging in a home made forge using Metallurgical grade Bituminous coal. If you need to get some coal I have a page with how to get it here:Coal for blacksmithing.

NextOkay! Let's start forging

You can watch the video tutorial here:



Blacksmith tools: The blacksmith uses a set of general tools and also uses some unique and amazing specialized tools. Ever wonder how the groove in a sword is made? I have it all here with pictures.


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