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Mobile Support System for Objects with Shafts


The storage of shaft weapons (e.g. spears, arrows, halberds) can be dangerous to both the weapons and the people working around them unless a proper storage system is developed.

When objects are stored improperly, the fletching on arrows and other shafted weapons can become distorted and damaged beyond repair.

In addition, many of the natural dye colors in bird feathers can fade when exposed to improper light conditions. Structural colors can become obscured by the accumulation of dust and grime.

Moreover, the possibility of specimen breakage or even personal injury is high if weapons are not adequately secured.

The purpose of this rack system is to provide the maximum amount of horizontal storage space for a collection,and to give proper support for the more fragile components of each object. This system also allows easy access to the objects themselves.


Paul S. Storch
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Blvd. West
St. Paul, MN 55102 USA
Tel (612) 297-5774
Fax (612) 296-9961

Illustrations: Karen Ackoff after
Paul S. Storch

Publication: 1992


The support structure is similar to a print drying rack without the screening material but with internal supports for moveable shelving. It is constructed as a frame of 2in x 4in wooden boards with end and side supports (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Front and side views of mobile wooden rack showing vertical and horizontal supports.

The weapons are tied to polyethylene foam blocks mounted on a foam core board. Sharp tips are protected with a 
small block of polyethylene foam. The supports boards rest on the rack cross braces (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Top view of arrows mounted on tray and
resting on rack cross braces.

Materials Tools Supplies

Component                               Material                           Quantity                    Size 
frame                                       kiln-dried wood                 12                            2in x 4in x 8ft

frame                                       kiln-dried wood                   4                            2in x 4in x 44in

shelf supports                            kiln-dried wood                  30                           2in x 4in x 44in

side shelf supports                     kiln-dried wood                  30                           2in x 4in x 92in

cross braces                              kiln-dried wood                  112                         1in x 2in x 44in

plywood sheets                          (APA approved)                   4                           8ft x 8ft x 1/4in

plywood sheets                          (APA approved)                   2                           8ft x 40in x 1/4in

casters                                      locking rubber                     6                           3in diameter

sealer                                       latex acrylic paint                 1 gal.

object supports                          polyethylene foam

adhesive hot melt glue sticks       hot melt glue sticks

object supports                          pH neutral paperboard    as needed
                                                (foam core)      

barrier                                      polyethylene sheeting,   as needed
                                                5-6 mill

object ties linen tape                  linen tape                      as needed

hinges, piano type                      wood screws 
                                                (brass or stainless steel)



  1. Build frame as shown in figure 1. 
      The wood used for the frame is chosen based on the weight of the objects. All wood used should be pine, poplar or aspen to minimize off-gassing. Hinged doors, made of plywood, can be put on the front, the back, and the sides. 
      Hinge the doors to the frame with continuous piano hinges for added strength. 
      The plywood used for the doors must contain phenyl formaldehyde adhesives instead of urea formaldehyde adhesives. The American Plywood Association (APA), for example, identifies plywood of this type with a special stamp.
  2. Attach locking casters to the bottom of the frame for mobility in the storage area.
  3. Seal all wooden surfaces with several coats of acrylic latex paint.
  4. Cut supports to fit the dimensions of each object from boards of paper covered foam planks. The paper used in this laminate should be pH neutral.
  5. Raise the shafts off the board by placing blocks of expanded polyethylene foam at several locations along the shaft to keep fletching and other fragile components off the horizontal surface (Fig. 3).

    Figure 3. Side view of arrow storage mount.

  6. Attach the base of the block to the support board with hot-melt glue.
  7. Cut the top surface of the poly-ethylene block to fit the circumference of the shaft for a better fit (Fig. 4).

    Figure 4. Polyethylene foam arrow mount.

  8. Secure the shaft to the support board with linen tape ties that pass through holes cut in the board and around the shaft (Fig. 5).

    Figure 5. The arrow is secured to the support
                    board with linen tape ties.

  9. Protect the tips of the weapons from damage during handling by carving a slot in a small block of polyethylene foam to fit the width and thickness of the projectile. Slip the block onto the tip to a distance of at least half of the length of the tip.

    If the hafting area and the proximal end of the projectile point contain resinous material which is sticky, wrap the area with silicone release polyester film before covering with the polyethylene foam cap. This will prevent the cap from sticking to the weapon (Figs. 3, 5).


Arrows that have been treated with hunting poisons such as curare can maintain their potency for a long time and must be handled with extreme caution to avoid injury. It is best to put polyethylene bags over the tips first to isolate the surfaces, then slip on the protective polyethylene foam block.

Clearly label the weapon both with an attached tag and on the base to indicate that it possesses a poisoned tip.

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