Quiver Your Timbers
By: Ross McKay

Bow And Arrow Magazine March – April 1968

 It seems as if it doesn’t matter how many arrows you carry, sometimes there never are enough to make that killing hit on game. All it takes is one arrow, well placed and with the right penetration to bag the game, be it squirrel, cow or elk.

 The different types of game offer different terrain for hunting and the requirements on the hunter and his equipment vary too. When out for a deer or other big game, you may not carry more than five arrows. The popular bow quivers are made to carry from five to eight arrows.


 The pesky ground squirrels, gophers and ground-hogs are different. There are many more of them in the field and usually you throw more arrows at them than at big game animals. One shot at a deer and it usually is gone unless you are one of the fortunate few who have had them stand around waiting for the next shot.

 One of the most popular quivers, one that will work very well regardless of the game hunted, is the back quiver. The Indians used them and they lived by the bow. The back quiver can carry many arrows, depending on how big you make it, and it can be silenced to keep the rattle dow. Many archers never have used anything else.

 There are many styles of back quivers on the market, both of leather and the solid frame styles. Each has a different advantage to the hunter but let’s take a look at the old style, ever popular, leather back quiver. This is the type used by the Indians, made from the skins of the animals killed.


 These differ from the modern quiver in one respect. They are made of soft leather. If you make a quiver from the last deer you killed or just go out and buy the leather on the market, you have to determine which tyoe, the soft or hard leather, you wish to make. The soft quiver is perhaps the fastest: It requires less leather and the top can be held open with a piece of coat hanger to keep the shafts available and aid in replaceing the shafts in the quiver when picked up. It has the advantage of holding the shafts together and therefore minimizing the noise they can make rattling together as you walk. A soft black quiver can be very silent.

 One disadvantage of this style is that it holds a limited quantity of arrows and there is a problem on keeping the sharp broadheads from rattling togther and dulling themselves. Steel on steel is fine when it is a sharpening steel on a hroadhead but two sharp broadheads rubbing together. This can be overcome by putting a piece of balsa wood or sponge rubber in the bottom of the quiver and placing the head in it. This also requires removing the quiver from the back. A bit slow and often not too good in game country.

 There are many styles of the popular center and side back quiver. Some have large capacity and others are smaller. Your choice depends upon your requirements. Making a back quiver is relitively easy or difficult, depending on what you need. First you must determine the type of quiver. Is it to be a large one for squirrels and rabbits or a smaller one? Let’s make on of each.


First you will need a pattern. Tandy Leather Company in Texas has been in the leather business for many years and they have patterns for just about anything you can think of, including archery quivers. They have one pattern for a center back style that will hold many arrows and they have a kit that will make a small size shoulder or hip quiver. The quiver itself is the same but the straps are different, depending on the use. Some time ago I purchased a back quiver kit from a local store and promised the little woman I would carve a deer scene on it for her.

 If you have never done leather carving, it is an experiance in itself. Two years later when I started getting material together to write the article the memory of the spouse revived and she mentioned that now would be an excellent time to make that quiver for her. After all, I had promised. True. What I had in mind was not to carve a quiver at all to put it together the fastest and easiest way. Impossible!!


 Out came the tools and after several nights of banging with the hammer the carving was done. The next step would be to saddle stitch it, once again the fast and to me the best looking method. Oh no! It must be laxed with leather, after all, it had been promised. After several more hours of pulling leather through leather the quiver was finished. It isn’t that much work if you enjoy the type of activity.

 The patterns that come with the kit can be saved after the quiver has been completed and used for future quivers if you like the style. They lay the entire project out for you from beginning to end, step by step and furnish precut leather for the job.

 You can bypass all the carving and merely put the kit together with saddle stitching or take it to the local shoe shop and have them stitch it together with their machine. Another alternate is to use rivets for putting it together. They can be purchased from Tandy and are very good since  all that’s required is a punch to make the hole and a hammer to pound the two pieces together. The finished quiver will hold a dozen shafts easily and has only one strap over the shoulder. Itis both simple and efficient: the cost is less than five dollars.

 Now if you want a simple quiver, one that you can put together very quickly and one that will hold enough arrows for a day’s shooting whether for varmints or big game, it is not hard to come up with a good design of your own. First determine what type you want, full center back or over the shoulder. I favor the over the shoulder style since I don’t bend easily. If you are limber any style will work.

 First make a pattern from heavy craft paper, show card, or butcher paper. You can cut this and then for it to see how the finished product will look. I you don’t like it it is much easier to make a new one from paper than from leather; also much cheaper. If you want it simple you can cut a rectangle from your paper and form it to the quiver shape. This will hold many arrows, depending on how big you make it of course. You can go too big and defeat your purpose.

The one thing that will take a bit of extra effort is the base of the quiver. You can take a polythylene bottle, one with a shape that you like, and cut the bottomnfrom this and use it as the base of your quiver. It will stop the broadheads from going through and you can alwayd put a piece of carpet or wood in the bottom for softness and strength.

 One system I use that works very well is to take a piece of scrap lumber and cut an oblong hole in it, the size you wish for the bottom of your quiver. Do this with a saber saw, coping saw or other type that will allow you to use the center plug that will be cut out. The size I use measures five and one half inches long and three inches wide. Cut it with ends rounded of course.


 After the hole is cut and the plug or center piece is out, take a file and taper the side of the hole so it slants inward from one side. Sand it smooth and coat it with wax or paraffin. Take the center section and sand it down. I found that I had to sand mine down almost one half inch all around for the proper fit. It will vary as to the thickness of the leather used.

 You don’t know what you’re doing? You are making a pattern that you can use for the base of your quiver. Take the center plug, after sanding, and cover it wit wax or paraffin. Now you have your base or bottom of your quiver, at least the form of it, and the pattern for the sides or main body of the quiver.

 The main section of the quiver can vary in height, depending on the length of shafts you shoot. If you are a long draw archer you will make your quiver a bit longer. I made one that measured twenty-one inches long and it works quite well for me. The one I made for my wife illustrated here is nineteen inches in length. Make them long enough to cover at least two-thirds of the shafts used and maybe a little more since the broadhead will change the overall length of your shaft by two inches or more.


Now that you have your patttern cut for the body and base of the quiver, you are ready buy the leather. Most harness or saddle shops have leather they will will seel in small lots. I made a quiver from the belly leather that a saddle shop couldn’t use. Such leather will vary in cost as to the quality and the quantity needed. Belly leather usually is cheap but you must look out for bad sections in it, especially in the flank areas.

 Allow enough extra leather from the body section or buy an extra piece or two for making the straps. You will need a shoulder strap and at least one strap to come from the base of the quiver to meet the shoulder strap. I made mine with two straps, one from each side of the quiver to meet the shoulder strap in front, but this isn’t necessar. Just allow enough good leather for strap material. You might even have the shop owner make the cuts you need if you like. They often will do it for a small charger. Either way, take the leather home and if you do the cutting, use a strap knife, and a straightedge, such as a ruler, to get a good straight line on your cut. Unless you are very steady, freehand cutting will give you wavy lines.


Take a piece of leather for the base; it should be about six by eight inches if you use the same board cuts I did and soak it in water for several hours. I prefer to have my base cut and formed before going ahead with the rest of the quiver. After the leather has soaked long enough it should be soggy and very pliable. Lay it over the hole cut in the board with the finish side of the leather facing you. Take the block that was cut from the center of the board and place this over the leather. Now take a wide headed mallet or hammer and pound the leather into the hole using the black to force it in. When it is even with the bottom of the board, place it in a corner to dry. When it dries it will be very stiff, just what you need for the base of your quiver. Remove it from the board form. I use the center section or block and cut right at the top of this with a sharp knife. When the excess leather is trimmed away you will have a cup or oval shaped piece of leather about one inch deep.

 Take the base and the main section of leather and form the body of the quiver around the base. If you made the square or rectangle shape cut for the quiver the top will be as big as the bottom. If you want the top flared a bit more than the bottom merely cut one side on an angle. You can angle both sides if you like or just one. Now with the flared top, as illustrated, youcan allow about one half inch overlap on the leather for stitching. If you prefer to butt the leather and cross lace, that will work too.

 We now have a flared top quiver wih the base formed. All that is left is to assemble the two parts and add the straps. If you like measurements, the top of the quiver measures eighteen inches ling, nineteen inches high, and the base is thirteen and seven-eighths or around it off the fourteen if you want. This is allowing about a half inch overlap for stitching.


 Place the body of the quiver with the finished side out over the base and curl it around the base. If you like you can hold it with clamps while forming, When using the base leather have the cup part facing down. Take rubber cement and apply to the sides of the base and about one half inch on the bottom inside main section. Determine where the leather will overlap a punch a hole in the base at this point. If you have cut your body with one side straight, the line formed by the overlap will be on a diagonal down the back of the quiver. If you butted it, it will be down the center.

 After punching the pilot hole, punch one side of the main body and hold it in place. Take the rest of the leather and work it around the bottom, holdng it snug against the base. The rubber cement will stick and help at this point. At intervals you can punch holes through both the body leather and the base. This will guarantee that the base and body will fit snug, When you arrive back at the pilot hole, punch a hole in the overlap section making it fit the base and first hole punched.
 The hole punching is done very easily with a leather punch. If you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, you can use an electric drill. The size hole will be determined by the type of fastening you plan to use. You can use the rivets made and sold by Tandy, pop rivets will work fine but would be rather costly, or regular copper harness rivets will do. If you have no rivets and want to vary the looks a bit, take some latigo leather shoe lacing and pull it through the holes and lace the entire quiver.

 Overlap the center seam about one half inch and mark the punching at one inch intervals. Punch the outside first. The using these holes mark the punch position on the inner side. This will ame the holes match the lacing. Take about two feet of the latigo leather lacing and lace up the back of the quiver. You will have a tag left over that you can run inside.

 The main part of the quiver now is finished. All that remains is to put a dividing strap on the top and the shoulder and base straps.

 The dividing strap is placed either in the center of the quiver or run through in two places. It prevents the quiver from seperating when full and also helps to divide the safts. You can put field points in one section, blunts in another and broadheads in the third.

 You can make the strap for this from the extra leather left from the main section or purchased for this reason. A piece one half inch wide and sixteen to eighteen inches long will do. Put this through the top in two places and either use a buckle to join in the front or rivet to hold it solid.

 The shoulder strap should be made wide at the top where ot attaches to the quiver. This will make it ride easily on the shoulder. If you make it too marrow it will have a tendency to dig into the shoulder and become a nagging nuisance. Make it a tapered cut, three and one half inches at the top and tapering to an inch and one half at the bottom where it will be folded over once inch D ring. The length of the strap is nineteen inches with one inch folded over the ring and two inches inside the quiver where it is attached with rivets.

 The strap for the bottom is made with a strap cutter or a straightedge. It should be three quarters of an inch wide and eighteen inches long. This is longer than needed but if you have the leather it is best to make straps long, it is easier when it comes to making adjustments. The end of the strap is riveted to the bottom of the quiver on the right side, in back naturally. It is attached just where the base starts to curve. Bring the other end up and now you will need a snap and buckle. I used a chap snap, again purchased with my leather, and a harness buckle. You may substitute a regular buckle if you like but the harness buckle makes a neat finished job, is easily adjusted and leaves nothing to snag on brush.


 The quiver is finished! You can fill it with arrows and make the necessary adjustments as needed. The single strap method may not work for you. It won’t for me so I brought another strap around from the left side of the quiver and about six inches from the bottom and again a snap that will fit into the D ring.

 The quiver can carry up to thrity shafts if you want to jam them in that tight for really getting with the varmints. One problem I had with my back quiver was trying to go under trees and through brush. I always managed to snag the quiver on a limb and had to back up to untangle. Before I mastered the art of crawling through fences with m back quiver. I would always dump all or nearly all my shafts on the ground and curse as I had to stop and pick them up as squirrels watched. Now I can move through brush with little problem, I can go through fences too and the squirrels that were watching before are now running for cover.

 One thing about the back quiver I favor, it carries a lot of bow ammo and when you get used to it you really can pepper a hillside with shafts in a hurry.

 You may want to vary the style of the quiver, you can make it from deer skin, coyote or cat fur if you like.You can carve it, burn your brand or name on it because leather is very versatile material with which to work and all if requires is a sharp knife, a punch, and a pattern. Once you have the pattern for the type you like, file it away and if the one you make ever wears out or a friend wants one, you can bring it out for them to use or revise yourself.
 Back quivers aren’t quiet as a rule and they can dull a sharp broadhead but many archers have downed many game, animals, and varmints carrying them, not to mention their use before we ever started the sport.

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Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting

Article From Bow & Arrow Hunting