Picture of How to Make a Repeating Crossbow
Holding zhuge nu.jpg
This instructable will show you how to make a repeating crossbow, also called a "Zhuge nu" or "chu ko nu." This is a type of crossbow invented in China thousands of years ago that is like an ancient submachine gun. Just push the lever forward and back and it will fire a steady stream of arrows until the magazine is empty. It doesn't have that much power or accuracy compaired to a normal crossbow but it has a fast firing rate and is easy to use.

I have included an instructional video and a step-by-step photo instructable. If you have any questions or any of these instructions are unclear to you please let me know and I will try to clearify.

I think this instructable meets the requirements of the Epilog challenge and the Launch it! contest so I am entering it in those.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
You will need:

-A 2x4 in any type of wood, prefer few defects of course (at least 27" long)
-1/2" Sch 40 PVC pipe (at least 22" long)
-Red oak 1x2 (53" or more, other hardwoods are OK)
-A 1/2" x 5.5" x 48" poplar board
-3/8" poplar dowels (recommend three 48" dowels)
-5/16" dowel (at least 10")
-Larger dowel, 3/4" to 1" diameter (at least 6" long)
    -white glue
    -hot glue stick
-String (I used 9/16" venetian blind chord, it is mixed polymers)
-Two 1/4-20 bolts, 3" long, with nuts.
-Wood screws (at least 6, ones that are 2"-3" long would be great)

-Wood stain
-Spray on clear coat
-Brown spray paint
-1.5" wide hinge
-1.5" wide by 1/4" thick oak or poplar board (10")

All of that is available at a hardware store, mine was from Lowes mostly.
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brian.griffin.31586526 made it!8 months ago

Thanks for the instructions on How to Build the repeating crossbow, I'm in the process of building the limb for this crossbow. The limbs for my bow are being made out of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC Pipe. The entire thing is built from Red Oak. On the left side of the bow I did a drawing of a Snow Leopard and on the other side, and don't think you can read it that well it says: "People should not be unfamiliar with strategy, Those who understand it will survive, Those who do not understand it will perish" Sun Tzu's Art of War.

Again thanks for the instructions on building this.

Jaycub (author)  brian.griffin.315865268 months ago

Great work that looks beautiful!

mr magic made it!2 months ago
I whipped this up with the kids on the weekend. Few things to tweak but goes pretty well. Great instructable.
My only headache was having to use imperial measurements, I thought Canada was metric?
Either way awesome. Thanks
Jaycub (author)  mr magic2 months ago

Cool I always am happy to see someone making one! Looks like it came out good.

I am apologize about the measurements but I can't say I feel bad at all haha. Here in the USA I have to learn and use imperial and metric and have sets of tools for both in order to get my projects done. People say metric is "better" but it is just easier to think about at first because it is base 10, they are no different really.

cwees4 months ago

would it possible to make a larger/ more powerful crossbow for it? I have always wanted to make one of these

halfeatenham6 months ago

Is anyone else having an issue with the vidoes picture not working but getting sound?

lilchumy7 months ago

lol, that's the same band saw I have! I didn't think anyone else had that rinky dink thing. I got it at a yard sale a while back and don't know what size blade I need to put in it. any idea what size it is?

Jaycub (author)  lilchumy7 months ago

I think it takes a 56-7/8" blade.

Mine is gone now, YAY! (After the motor quit for like the 20th time and this time would not resurrect after a brush cleaning, and the bearings got super hot, I stopped using it and got a bigger one more suitable for my amount of use).

lilchumy Jaycub7 months ago

Congrats, I got mine at a yard sail for 15 bucks so I cant complain. I use it every day and it is just not big enough or powerful enough. Someday I will get a new one. One more question. Did you find that you could not make very good precise cuts with the half inch blade that came with it? Do you think a 1/8 inch blade would be better? (Nice prodject too by the way)

Jaycub (author)  lilchumy7 months ago

I don't remember which blade width I had... but yes it was hard to make precise cuts. It was better as long as I kept the plastic blade-guide pins (which eventually had to be replaced with wood dowels) in good shape.

tatebullrider9 months ago

I made this and it works great, and is really fun to shoot. would it still work ok with fletching? just wondering. awesome build btw :)

Jaycub (author)  tatebullrider8 months ago

It can work with fletching, you may need to change the design of the magazine to accommodate that though. Small soft feather fletching would probably be OK.

ok, thanks keep up the good work.

JosephR38 months ago

thank you

will try to build one

Joseph Roberts




fallsville@frontier .com

JosephR38 months ago

thank you

will try to build one

Joseph Roberts




fallsville@frontier .com

NoviceRick1 year ago

super cool. i played romance of the three kindoms, a historical chinese war game, and always wondered if repeating/auto crossbows were real. i didnt expect this.
I just had a thought, it wouldnt be too hard to put a trigger mechanism that can be disabled with a switch, then you can have auto shot mode or a trigger mode for when you want to shoot with acuracy.

There is a really cool commercially available one that re cocks itself with a CO2 paintball tank. It is expensive as hell but seems pretty wicked.

Jaycub (author)  NoviceRick11 months ago

That would be cool and is definitely possible, I'm sure you can figure out a way to do it if you make one.

jwgottabass11 months ago

1st of all, this is of course awesome so thanks for proving normal people can make one. But it looks heavy as all get out. Have you considered using other materials? Like I was just watching an Instructable on how to make your own kydex holsters and that stuff is super light, and seems fairly easy to work with, the bolt hopper on top made out of kydex seems like it would drop a couple pounds.

Thanks again for making this.

iFirefly11 months ago

What a beauty! Your video mentioned that we would find a link to the plans - in PDF I hope - but I don't see a file attached - except for the pro members.


Jaycub (author)  iFirefly11 months ago

The plans are the images in step 2.

iFirefly Jaycub11 months ago
Thanks; my computer wasn't displaying all of the pictures.
jsmit32 years ago
I would suggest making the bow out of wood it may be harder but its more powerful

it's more powerful if you use metal bar so it will be "repeating arbalest" instead of "repeating crossbow"

Jaycub (author)  jsmit32 years ago
I used to use wood bows when i sold these as kits but it is easier to make it out of PVC and the statement that "its more powerful" is incorrect. This PVC bow is more powerful and smaller that the wood bows that were on the kits.

Hard to make.but it's worth of it

Jaycub (author)  Jason the marksman1 year ago

Did you make it?

ubicity1 year ago
great stuff
jhowie1031 year ago
Very impressed
Ridach1 year ago
there is no measurements for the handle, or did I just miss it
Jaycub (author)  Ridach1 year ago
It is there, in one of the lower pictures. You have to click on the images of the plans to enlarge them and you will find it in the image that shows "oak 1x2s."
jsmit32 years ago
Also in the instruction it doesnt tell how to release the string
Jaycub (author)  jsmit32 years ago
If you are talking about the thing that puches the string out of the notch, then you are saying things where you don't know what you are talking about again.

If you read the last step I describe how sanding the front edge of the notch will make the string slip off at the right time. I have made several of these things and the string-pushing block is realy not needed.
jsmit32 years ago
The bow part rather than pvc
Big Baneser2 years ago
OMG!!! I saw a repeating crossbow in jack the giant slayer but it had two barrels and left me very confused
Kid Ninja2 years ago
Just a note, the magazine walls are 18 inches long, not 15. Just a typo. :)
Also, for the top half of the magazine walls, mine's not coming out to 14.5 inches. Is there an error?
Okay, as far as I can tell, the 9.5 inch measurement should actually be 12.5 inches, and the 14.5 inch measurement should be 17.5 inches. That allows the bottom and top edges to be the same size, and allows for the same angle on the spacer and the magazine walls.
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