Surefoot-Fellwalker Boltwrights builds Medieval and Renaissance style crossbows for historical reenactment combat games, as practiced by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.. SF-Boltwrights was founded by Chuck Dodd and M Fellwalker (Lord Richard Surefoot and Her Ladyship Morgan Fellwalker in the SCA), and we began building crossbows out of our shared love for beautiful wood, the uncomplicated beauty of period engineering, and the sheer joy of shooting non-lethal ammunition at a shield wall of armored foes charging down at you with rattan swords.
Fellwalker Boltwrights is now fully owned and operated by the family of M Fellwalker.
Several "Student", "Assistants" or "Internship" positions (aka Apprentiships) will be available in 2005. Please subscribe to the mailing announcement list where the info and requirements will be posted.
We currently offer three tiller styles, (the cavalry model has been discontinued), based on historic examples.
Standard woods are maple, cherry and walnut. Maple is a pale wood with a fine grain. Cherry is reddish brown. Walnut is chocolate brown. Hard maple is very popular because they aren't kidding about that "hard" part (it's like cutting a rock), but it's worth it if you want a combat bow that may outlast your armor.
Other woods can be had by special order but will cost extra based on costs and availability of lumber and additional time spent working difficult or hard wood. (We have made tillers out of ash, oak, curly maple and mahogany) Specialty woods can run from $30 to $300 depending on the type of wood and the quality of it's figure/color and rarity. Some woods are not appropriate for crossbow stocks. Some woods are difficult enough to work with you'll have to really convince us it's a good idea to be using it.
Please contact us with our idea and we will esearch the wood for acceptibility for crossbow use. Some woods may work as inlays, if not the entire tiller structure. Also, some woods are dangerous to work with, and can cause reactions evenn afte a piece is finished and sealed
Length of the tiller is about 30" on all styles of bow and some cavalry models have been as short as 27". Each bow varies within a couple of inches because we cut the length based on how many knots, splits etc we need to cut around on a piece of lumber. We've found 30" is a nice comfortable length for these bows. Custom lengths are available.
Woods are finished with a linseed oil and pine resin varnish and polished to a low luster in hand rubbed wax. Your bow can be cleaned and maintained by using products such as Howard Feed-N-Wax and Howard Citrus-Shield paste wax (no connection to Howard, we just really like this stuff. Makes your bow smell like oranges) or other natural wax finish. Firing mechanisms are by locking-pin and have brass pin, trigger handle and bolt clip.
All bows have a 1 3/4" wide bolt channel to accomodate golftube, Siloflex or Fellwalker style fiberglass APD crossbow bolts. They do not fire target, hunting or light combat bolts.
A kit containing pre-cut parts for 1 dozen Fellwalker APD bolts or one dozen Silofex bolts with Omarad tipes with a full 1" foam, comes with each bow purchase. Bolt kits may also be purchased seperately at $30 per kit (1 dozen bolts), or $25 per kit if you buy two or more at the same time (or $25 each if purchased with a crossbow). Assembled kits are available for an additional $30 per dozen.
Prods are cut from 7075 T651 (stress relieved) "aircraft" aluminum alloy and are covered with hand stitched buff-colored (natural) rawhide. Other colors or alternatives may be considered as long as they rpovide suffient safety by tethering the prod to the bow body in accidental breakage (note, in 8 years of building prods, not one of SF or Fellwalker Boltrights bows have ever suffered a broken a prod) The safety strap is required for all bows in Caid and was in use in period for the same reasons) Normal draw weights for SCA "heavy weapons" combat are from roughly 800 to 1000 inch pounds. (1000 ip is the maximum limit for heavy combat crossbows in the Kingdom of Caid chapter of the SCA, Inc., where we live). We've made a number of 600 inch pound crossbows for use in kingdoms with light arrows on the field, and other poundages are available by special order. Our 31.5" prod will draw just under 1000 inch pounds at about 10.5 inches of draw. (9 pounds per inch of draw). Unless you request otherwise, we will use our standard 34" prod that allows an easier draw to the same poundages. Aluminum prods may be purchased seperately for $40 plus shipping (prods purchased seperately come without a bowstring or cover).
Steel stirrups are available in three styles and come standard on our Italian and Flemish style bows. You may order a Flemish or St. Sebastian without the stirrup, but we won't sell the Italian without. Stirrups can be purchased seperately for $15 plus shipping.
The standard prod binding uses a waxed linen skein. Binding the prod and stirrup in with steel bow irons is not currently available pending finding another waterjet cutting company.
The bow comes with one string, made from 70# artificial sinew. Additional strings may be purchased for $15 a piece, or two or more at $12 each (or $12 each if purchased with a crossbow). We don't recommend using commerical modern crossbow strings (dacron etc.) on these prods, as they have little to no "give" and create a harder shock on firing which can wear out your prod quicker. Do not use Fastflight strings on our prods!
We keep very few bows available on hand and build almost all of our bows individually to order. We are currently unable to give estimates of completion times. Rush orders will incur extra charges starting at 200% of the order total.A deposit equal to 1/3 the cost of the bow (or $80 for most standard orders) is required at time of order. The deposit is non-refundable in case of patron cancellation, as it goes towards buying materials.
A (very exerienced) woodworker who had long provided beautiful custom furniture, built in cabinets, etc. for Pietro's parents was recent killed when a router bit broke, sending it at high speed through his throat. I doubt his accident was caused by using a non-carbide bit.... however, during early bow development with Surefoot we experienced three bit failures in the course of a half hour, one large piece flying past my head so close I could feel it passing by
Likewise, a member in another historical research group I belong to was recently killed in his shop while tuning his bow (granted it was a compound bow...however, I have seen and read accounts of wood longbows and other self bows which have simply and suddenly dissolved into a cloud of flying slivers when failing
I do not bring these incidents up to discourage anyone from attempting to build their own bow or crossbow; just trying to instill a respect for this weapons form into some corner of their mind, that as users of a weapon who's level of danger from irresponsible use is exceeded only by the siege wepons we include in our "battles", they need accept that reality and make themselves responsible for only bringing safe equiment onto he field of combat.