There comes a time when the vanes on your arrows will become damaged or frayed and need to be removed.

This should be a straightforward task if it is done the right way. Taking a little bit of care means you will be able to reuse the arrow shaft after the damaged fletching is removed.

We are assuming the fletching has been adhered directly to the arrow shaft rather than to an arrow wrap.

The fletching and any remnant glue or epoxy can be removed in 3 steps.

  1. Scrape away the old fletching

  2. Remove any remaining traces of the glue residue using a foam sanding block

  3. Finish the cleaning process by wiping down the shaft with denatured alcohol or an alcohol-treated wipe

When the arrow has been properly cleared of the old or damaged vanes and residues it will be ready to refletch.

Of course, to avoid having to do this type of work again, it would be a good idea to apply an arrow wrap before starting the fletching process.

Scrape Away Old Fletching

Use a tool such as a Q2i ZipStrip or a Bohning Strip-Pro.

This simple tool is effective in prising up the edge of the damaged fletching vane so that it can be pulled straight off.

It is also designed so that it won’t damage the arrow shaft in any way as you go about the scraping task.

You can then continue using the tool to scrape the glue away that may be still adhering to the arrow shaft.

Sand Away Excess Debris

When the largest parts of glue residue have been scraped away you will most likely be left with the hard to move glue residue.

This can be sanded away using a foam sanding block.

These blocks are inexpensive and come in a range of coarseness levels.

The best idea would be to get yourself a selection from fine grit (220) up to a coarse grit (60).

Use the grit level you need depending on how much debris needs to be removed.

The great thing about these foam blocks is they can be rinsed out and reused over and over again.

Note, a Scotch Brite pad will perform equally as well.

Final Clean

To ensure every last scrap of the previous fletching and glue has been removed as well as the fine dust from the sanding job, give the arrow shaft a quick wipe with a cleaning wipe.

Any type of cleaning wipe will remove any loose particles and the alcohol that the wipe is treated with will quickly evaporate the moisture.

Something as simple as a lens or screen cleaner cleaning wipes.

An alternative product some people like to use, particularly if the glue or epoxy remnants are more difficult to remove is acetone. Better known in some circles as nail polish remover. 

This is a little more of a harsh product and, if applied and left on the shaft for too long can cause some damage to the carbon.

So, if you need to use a wipe with acetone, make sure it is applied quickly to avoid damaging the carbon surface.

When this is done you’ll be ready to refletch the arrow.

Conclusion

As long as you have equipped yourself with some simple basic tools you should have no trouble cleaning up a damaged arrow.

The process of removing fletching from a carbon arrow should be quick and easy.

A way to make the job even quicker and easier next time is to apply an arrow wrap to the shaft before refletching.

Next time, it would then be a simple matter of peeling off the old arrow wrap and the vanes will come straight off with it.


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