Cecil and his brother Cliff began hand making shafts in 1953 in Grants Pass, Oregon. Cecil built bows while Cliff turned out shafts for family and friends on the shaft machine. In the early 1960’s Cecil and Cliff moved to Alaska where the taper machine was retired to the attic. Years later that little machine would become the work-horse behind Rogue River Archery.
In 1975, Cecil moved back to Oregon where he met and married Paula. It wasn’t until one day in early 1996 that Cliff called us up and mentioned that no one in Alaska sold a decent P.O.C. shaft worth shooting. So, after several long discussions, the search for that special wood (that use to just lay around at every corner) began! And the old fashioned shaft machine was brought out of retirement.
Several months passed until the perfect stock of wood was located. Soon truck loads of the finest P.O.C. started rolling in. On August 1, 1996 Rogue River Archery Inc. was officially opened for business and is currently the ONLY manufacturer of fire killed, old growth, tapered, Port Orford cedar shafts. We make them now just like they were made some 20 years ago.
The raw wood for our P.O.C. shafts is cut into 11/2 boards to facilitate drying with a minimum of checking. It is then stacked outdoors and sticker sealed. Finally, the wood is covered with a shade cloth to protect it from the elements. Only 15% light ever reaches it.
The wood is then hand selected and placed in our low temperature kiln where it is dried for three to four weeks until a 6-7% moisture content is reached. Once the boards are dried, they are ready for processing.
The raw boards are cut to length and run through the planer to check the grain. Cecil studies the grain of the wood and scribes a line to follow. The grain is marked and the boards are tapered to follow the grain with the planer. The maximum variation allowable is 3/16 of an inch which results in a lot of reject wood.
W run the wood through the band saw and cut it into 1/2 inch square dowels. The dowels are checked for grain and straightened as necessary since our shaft machine will not run crooked dowels. The square dowels are hand fed through the old fashioned shaft machine which turns the shafts at 5,000 r.p.m.
The shafts come out hot and shiny, highly burnished, and tapered. They are then straightened again while still hot. We leave the shafts sit for 48 hours or more to stabilize, as the heat and pressure of the burnishing process compresses the outer fibers several thousandths of an inch. It takes about 1 minute to produce 1 shaft and we produce approximately 1,000 shafts per week.
The finished shafts are hand spined on a dial indicator for accuracy and sorted. We weigh them on an electronic scale to create the matched sets. We strive for the highest quality possible to produce a shaft that hasn’t been manufactured in more than 20 years.