Introduction: Crossbow With Wooden Stock and Rattan Bow

Picture of Crossbow With Wooden Stock and Rattan Bow

A while ago i searched Ible' for crossbows and found mainly K'nex thingys and stuff too badly build to be really useful for tagetshooting. (I am truly sorry if you made one thats don't fit this, please let me know)

This is a crossbow i built in 2002 for a friend. At that time i worked as webprogrammer so my skills and tools were not what they are today after teaching woodshop for the last three years. I see a lot of embarrassing mistakes i made but hopefully you'll avoid them.

At that time i mostly built medieval things so this was a nice change for me. I have the Payne-Gallwey-book and wanted to try something from the 17-1800 century chapters. My friend was going to use it for target shooting and live roleplaying (with blunt arrows of course) Using rattan limits the bow a bit but it still fun to use whitout it beeing so heavy its any actual danger.
The stock is made of ash and the bow of rattan, wrapped in rawhide for strength and waxed linen for protection.

This was made in 2002, way before steampunk as far as i know. If i would build it today i may have gotten more brass on it but i like a clean look (steampunk could be very nice but tend to get a bit christmas treeish) Since i bought my first camera while building there are some pics missing, due to lack of camera and experience in documentation. Hopefully you'll manage anyway. A exact copy would'nt be as fun to see as you own creation.

As usual - sorry for misspellings and bad language.

You will use axe, knife, powertools, hot wax mixed with turpentine and so on so use common sense. If you dont have any, lend some from a friend. It seems like some americans need a lot of these warnings. As i say to my pupils - if i warn you three times and you still hurt yourself, whos fault is it? ;-)

I suppose you all know that this is a sporting tool that in the wrong hands could be dangerous. Please be careful, dont shoot anybody that doesnt want it and use blunt arrows and proper protection when needed. For scandinavians: var fonuftig for f*n!

Step 1: Making the Stock

Picture of Making the Stock

First i started making a piece to try out how large the stock should be, where the handrest and trigger would fit. I'm sorry i can't give you any measurements, the crossbow is no longer in my possession. You will have to do some trial and error.
As you can see i didn't make the hole for the bow until it was ready and i could try i out to see how far it should be pulled to get the right strength. (normally you want as much as possible but my friend had a limit to ~25 pounds since he was going to use it for live roleplaying)

The stock was shaped with the tools i had available at the time - handsaw, electric drill and rasp.

Step 2: The Lock

Picture of The Lock

The lock is the most interesting and fiddly bit to make. It has to be able to hold the bows strenght as long as nessecary, release easily, hock the string i a way that doesent wear it down and so on.

Step 3: The Bow

Picture of The Bow

The bow was made of rattan, a kind of grass believe it or not. It got very long fibers so it wont brake. The rawhide helps it go a bit faster and protects the wood.
Rawhide could be found in dogs chewingbones, just soak it in water for a few hours and it will be as soft as a dishcloth.
I didn't take any pictures of the rattan wile i shaped it, got my first camera after i started building.
You could use a small axe and work it down. Test it while you work so it gets symmetrical.

Step 4: The String

Picture of The String

The string was made from linen or hemp twisted together with a extra enforcement loop in the end. Before i started making it i throughly waxed the string using a blend of beeswax melted and mixed with turpentine
Use a small pot and melt the wax slowly, when its floating mix carefully with the same or a little less amount of turpentine. If you want it to get harder you could add some linseed oil.

If you can't see how the string is made ill try to scan page 111 in Payne-Gallweys book.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

Final step, putting it all together. Make sure you are careful, misstakes now will be harder to correct.

I'm sorry i dont have any pictures of the arrows. They are like ordinary bowarrows but shorter, usually the lenth between the bow and the hooked string. The end should not have the usual notch but should be flat on two sides so it fits between the two flat bars on the lock.

I wish you happy and injury-free building and shooting!


Shabraiz10 (author)2016-06-21

Hi I failed to make this miserably, I was wondering if you would sell it me with three arrows it would be a great present

ngnak (author)2015-10-16

How does this kind of trigger mechanism work? I have made sketchups of rolling nut triggers and this kind is a first for me. :)

ngnak (author)2015-10-16

How does this kind of trigger mechanism work? I have made sketchups of rolling nut triggers and this kind is a first for me. :)

Londonbrig0 (author)2014-09-08

Did you just make this part yourself? Is it aluminum?

scientist80 (author)2014-07-14

u left out like half the info I need

Vidar_76 (author)scientist802014-07-14

I don't mean to be rude but it's a kind of failsafe - when you are old enough to read an instruction and figure out the not so obvious parts you are old enough to use a crossbow. Be patient. ;)

josuchav (author)2013-11-14

I can't see how exactly you attach the enforcement loop, though I'm sure the site won't appreciate posting copyrighted materials, but could you maybe explain it in a bit more detail?

Vidar_76 (author)josuchav2014-03-18

Sorry for a very late reply.
I found parts the book scanned on:

This picture maybe explains how the string are made:

josuchav (author)Vidar_762014-04-11

No worries, and thanks for the links.

Whythisguy (author)2013-02-27

Wow how long did it take you build this? Also how much money did you spend on parts?

Vidar_76 (author)Whythisguy2013-02-27

It was a few years cinse i built it but most oft the parts was stuff i had laying around. The rattan part was 2 meters long and i think it costed aprox. 10€. The stock was made from a larger piece of ash that i gotten from i friend, the metal part was free but the box of spring costed maybe 15€.
Im unsure about the time it took but if i made it today it would be two days of actual work, its hard to say. The rawhide and glue has to dry and so on så its a lot of time spent waiting. Best way to find out is to start building ;)

morfmir (author)2013-02-10

har du nogle billeder af boltene den skyder med?
Det ser ud til den er over 10 år gammel nu, hvordan holder den? Kan den stadig skyde?

Jeg under mig over at der ikke skal være en form for rille på toppen for at holde bolten på rette kurs.

Vidar_76 (author)morfmir2013-02-10

Armborstet är tyvärr inte kvar i min ägo men senast jag hörde av ägaren så fungerade den gott. Har tyvärr inga bilder på bultarna, dom var ca 30-35 cm långa och 8-10mm tjocka.

På de äldre, främst 14-1500-tal, armborst som jag har sett så har jag aldrig sett någon ränna. Tror att det är viktigare att bågen drar rakt.

Tack för din krympburksinstruktion, har använt den i min undervisning!

fenrisilver (author)2010-01-16

This is probably the best crossbow instructable on the site. The bow you made loos amazing, and I really like how sophisticated you made the stock, with a trigger and everything. I'm not so sure about using rattan as a material though. At my karate class some of the teachers have staffs made of rattan, and I know that if they take enough abuse, they can shatter.

Vidar_76 (author)fenrisilver2010-01-16

Thank you!
Everything will sooner o later shatter.. I guess that the difference is that your karateteachers were hitting the rattan instead of just bending it. Just lika metal wood vill bend to a certain point and then start to deform och break. Bu using a quite long bow the bending per cm (or inch) gets less than with a shorter bow.
The rawhide in front of the bow will make the break less dangerous. Usually the wood vill loose some strenght instead of break when old.

(and without a stock and lock it would just be a bow ;) A stock with a stiff bow and som rubberband is a slingshot, not a crossbow. There seems to be a lot of confusion.)

iminthebathroom (author)Vidar_762012-12-19

I used to fight in the SCA society of creative anachronism. We used rattan for our swords for when they eventually break they break without sending shards into someones face, so rattan is actually a good choice from a safety point of view

Vidar_76 (author)iminthebathroom2012-12-20

I actually got the rattan from my SCA-friends, their use of it as svords, poleaxes and bows inspired me to try it on my crossbow.

By they way - i saw that almost 25 thousand people has seen my 'ible. Thats insane. Don't you have anything important to do? ;)

nutsandbolts_64 (author)Vidar_762010-05-10

 What if the slingshot (under your definition) has a mechanical trigger?

Then it would be a very obscure and cool invention they used to call the "slurbow" it was a crossbow with a barrel for slinging lead balls to kill small game.

And they just /had/ to pack gunpowder in there

imBobertRobert (author)2012-06-06

nice finished project! im thinking about making one of these, but im probably going to use a different kind of bow for a budget. i probably will stray from the design a lot, but i never could figure out how to make a lock, so i never pursued this project. now i know how i could make one ;)

ILIKETORTLES (author)2012-05-03

Couldnt u use a crossbiw string for the string?

Vidar_76 (author)ILIKETORTLES2012-05-04

How do you mean, a crossbow string? The one i use is a quite typical crossbowstring.

SasquatchKid (author)2012-04-01

Were did you get the trigger I want to make this for a costume for Rennaciase fairs already hayve the chain maile thanks


Vidar_76 (author)SasquatchKid2012-04-04

Hi. The trigger was made from 12x12mm iron bar. Welded together and shaped with a hacksaw and filed to proper shape. Try and ask your friends /parents and see if someone can help you make one.

jaylan77 (author)2012-01-30

is there any other types wood that would be sutable for the bow
because i cant find ratan

knex luver234 (author)2010-11-30

nice crossbow crazycreator187, looks nice, i think ill make one like yours! how gooda accuracy and range does it have?

wy not? looks pretty biesty

thanks, the accuracy depends on how straight your bolts(arrows) are and what sort of fletchings are on them. As fro the range that also depends on the bolts but if you shoot it straight up the bolt goes out of sight and stays in the air for 10-15 seconds. as I said further up, if you want me to I could probably take the crossbow to pieces (none of it is glued) and make an instructable.

CRAZYCREATOR187 (author)2010-10-18

I have just finished a crossbow, it uses a roller nut trigger, has a pine stock with 25 by 25mm square tubing, the bow is made out of a leaf spring.

That is a great looking job,I'd love to have designs for that.

I could probably take it all apart and make an instructable if you want, It would be more of a guide than step by step instructions.

Vidar_76 (author)CRAZYCREATOR1872010-11-29

It looks really nice!
How heavy are the bow?

CRAZYCREATOR187 (author)Vidar_762010-11-29

do you mean weight or pull back weight?

crossbow nut8899 (author)2010-10-09

kool invention i want oooooone

PastTheVoid (author)2010-06-22

A bit big for opening bottles. Not really the right shape either.

Vidar_76 (author)PastTheVoid2010-06-23

Have you tried? :)
Sometimes you'll just take the first hard thing thats closest to you. I consider it a useful skill to open a bottle with anything laying around.

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-05-10

 Now this is what you call a vintage crossbow! or real crossbow... ah whatever, I'll just say this: This is the sum of all DIY Technology ever developed in the 21st century!

CRAZYCREATOR187 (author)2009-09-26

wouldn't you need a slot across the top of the stock for the fletches on the bolt to run in? nice crossbow

Vidar_76 (author)CRAZYCREATOR1872009-09-27

Thanks! And no, the bolt has only two fletches so its no problem.

abadfart (author)Vidar_762010-01-07

not true i have 2 and they both have a track 

Vidar_76 (author)abadfart2010-01-07

There are many different ways to solve this problem, since this was a crossbow that was supposed to have some historical feeling to it and most historical crossbows i have seen had two fletches i choosed that solution.


abadfart (author)Vidar_762010-01-07

ok both of mine are from the 60s and later 

abadfart (author)abadfart2010-01-07

but still nice job

starfire9532 (author)2009-11-01

where do you get the rattan

Vidar_76 (author)starfire95322009-11-01


I got the rattan from a German man i met at a SCA-event in southern sweden. If you google you might find something more near you.

Vidar_76 (author)2009-10-23

I assume you are joking. Role-playing withouth blunt arrows would be a sure way to get very few players and after a while they will be few and badly hurt, ie not your friends any more. Be safe and make sure you stay friends even after the game!

A bow made of pine would be one of the most useless ones in the history, pine is good for building fences and simple furniture. Cant take any strain at all.

(using capital letters and a question mark would make your comment easier to read. Or maybe its just me getting old...)

NRen2k5 (author)2009-09-09

Needs more work. No, not the crossbow - the instructable. It needs more writing, and some more info like how to build your own trigger assembly or where to get a premade one.

Vidar_76 (author)NRen2k52009-09-09

This is a ible' about how i made this particular crossbow, they can be made in hundreds of ways. If i should cover all the ways a crossbow trigger may be built it's better to make a whole new ible'. Considering how long it took to get this one approved and how much spare time i have at the moment it will take a while... If your in a hurry to know more just google and i promise you'll find something useful. I admit that the text is a bit short, will try to write more when i have some spare time.

skimmo (author)2009-08-24

if i met you ied shake your hand, you have just summed up what ive been looking since i first found instructables well done

About This Instructable



Bio: Working as a wood/metal shop teacher for kids 9-12 years old. Restoring a old house and a Saab 95 V4 1975. Currently bad at ... More »
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