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Support No. 2 for Objects with Shafts


Arrows and spears are generally made of flexible and semi-flexible materials, and were designed to have a short life. They often become distorted, broken or disassociate from attached materials when they are laid or grouped together on a museum shelf or in a drawer. The feather fletchings also may become crushed and split during display or storage if there is not adequate support. This exhibit/storage support system is designed to support arrows and spears that are stored in drawers, on shelving or are on exhibition (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Storage supports for arrows.



Russell B. Varineau
Arizona State Museum
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721 USA
Tel (602) 621-6314
Fax (602) 621-2976

Nancy Odegaard
Arizona State Museum
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721 USA
Tel (602) 621-6314
Fax (602) 621-2976

Illustrator: Alexia S. Scott after
Russell B. Varineau

Publication: 1992


The storage supports are made of 1/4in thick acrylic sheets which are drilled and bent to form stable, inert mounts with depressions for holding the arrows in place.


Materials, Tools & Supplies

  • Drill with bits to cut acrylic sheeting or drill press
  • Felt strips, adhesive-backed (optional)
  • Heating strip for bending
  • Polymethylmethacrylate sheet, 1/4in
  • Sandpaper, 100 grit
  • Table saw


  1. With a table saw, cut a piece of 1/4in thick acrylic sheet into a rectangle. The width should be approximately two to three times the desired height of the mount and the length will depend on the number and size of arrows or spears to be supported.
  2. Cut a central groove in the acrylic sheet 1/4in wide by 1/16in deep and parallel to the length of the sheet (Fig. 2).

    Figure 2. A groove is cut through the center of the
    plastic sheet, parallel with the length of the sheet.

  3. Clamp the acrylic sheet to a piece of scrap wood. Drill a series of evenly spaced holes down the center of the acrylic sheet and along the groove. The diameter of the holes should be larger than that of the arrows or spears to be supported (Fig. 3). Carefully drill into and through the acrylic to avoid cracking it.

    Figure 3. Holes are drilled in plastic sheet.

  4. Place the acrylic sheet on a heating strip, with the groove up. When warm and pliable, bend the sides of it along the groove to form a 90º angle. Hold or tape the mount at this angle until it cools.
  5. Sand the edges with 100 grit or 150 grit sandpaper to eliminate rough surfaces which would be in contact with the object.
  6. Align as many supports as needed in a drawer, shelf or display case and place the shafts in the depressions (Fig. 1).


To prevent supports from sliding, adhesive-backed synthetic felt strips can be attached to the edges of the base.


Adapted From

Varineau, R. and N. Odegaard. 1990 An acrylic artifact support for arrows. MAA Newsletter [Museum Association of Arizona], Arizona State Museum, Department of Anthropology, Tempe, Arizona 85287.

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