Ramin and compressed cedar shafts (Forgewood)
- There has recently been some discussion of Forgewood and Ramin shafts.
Forgewood Shafts were developed and patented by Bill Sweetland in the late 40's-early 50's and he sold them for at least 20 years. He pioneered a method of hydraulically compressing Port Orford Cedar boards which were then doweled into 5/16" shafts "of uniform thickness with an extremely hard footing for about six inches with the remainder of the shaft compressed to a lesser degree". (quoted from an article by Cliff Huntington and available on Trad Gang, a popular traditional archery website)
They were a terrific hunting arrow--heavy, straight, and tough. For that purpose, (short shots/maximum penetration), I believe they have never been equalled in a commercially available wooden 5/16" shaft. After Mr. Sweetland's death, as I understand it, his equipment was eventually purchased by a gentleman from Alaska who hoped to use the process on a different specie of wood native to Alaska. He was not successful. To the best of my belief, there are currently no compressed wooden shafts commercially available--and Forgewoods have not been produced for decades.
Ramin is a tropical hardwood imported from Southeast Asia, primarily for use as wooden dowels. It is not compressed. It does, however, make an outstanding arrow. It is dense, fairly heavy, can be straightened, and is pretty tough. Because it grows in the tropics, growth rings are difficult to spot. My 5/16" shafts, full length, run from 340-360 grains. My finished 28" arrows run about 500 grains. They will take a self knock, although I do reinforce them with a wrapping of thread. They are currently my favorite wooden shaft, and I've tried more than a few....
I hope this information is of use.
Robert Redbowe, Bowmaster
Barony March of Mons Tonitrus