Introduction: Scale Wooden Crossbow

Picture of Scale Wooden Crossbow
version 2

version 1

In this Instructible I will show you how to:

-Create your own scale (1m,1m) crossbow that is powerful enough to punch holes into various items.

-Bow saftey

-where to get materials

-what tools to use

-prices and information

-general tips on fine tuning

(4 years later: please note that I no longer post to this website, I post my projects here now: )

Step 1: 1: Gathering Materials & General Instruction Information:

Picture of 1: Gathering Materials & General Instruction Information:


-a 2/4 (preferrably a soft wood like pine)or any wood that is wide enough for your adapted crossbow.
-at least tow peices of bamboo
-kite string (a nylon string NOT WIRE)
-a wrappable wire
-door latch (see photo)
-assorted nails and screws (of the 2" and 1" varity)

::note::All these materials came from a mere two stores; Home depot(wood and door latch) and Dollarmart (bammboo and kite string)


-file (small)

::note:: I used a band saw, although it is not made for wood, you can use any other saw you see fit (wood saw that is)

Step 2: Cutting the Board

Picture of Cutting the Board

I cut mine into the firing stage and the butt in one go; the measurements are on the photo (yours can be different!. I used some pine I found, but an equivilant board costs around $5:00.


-Be careful when cutting!
-use a woodsaw for straight, even cuts
-measure twice, cut once!

Step 3: Assembly: Part 1

Picture of Assembly: Part 1

In this step you should file the door latch/firing mechanism so that it will let go of the string (less than 90 degrees on mount. First, use those handy 1" nails and hammer in the butt of the bow.(easy)

Next, nail the handle on (also easy)

drill and clamp the four coffee stirrers (or 3 in the middle) and use a drill bit smaller than your nail (obviously).

Now, cut and nail the firing mechanism block to the stage around 20cm away from butt or 5 cm from front.

screw in the door latch to the mount

Step 4: Assembly Part 2

Picture of Assembly Part 2

In this step, you will add the most important part, the bamboo.

First, cut notches (carefully) into the ends of the bamboo

secondly,use the wire to wrap the bamboo together (prevents diffrences in spring).

now wrap the center with string to prevent slipping and make it easier to nail.

Finally roping:

-bend the bow firmly (so that the bamboo is strung around 6 cm from front.

-tie string to bamboo.

Now listen to the wonderful sproinging noise!

-The bamboo should be strung with reef knot ties.

Step 5: Finishing Tips and Saftey

Picture of Finishing Tips and Saftey

SAFTEY tips:

1. Never, Ever fire at any living thing!
2. when cocking bow, always aim at a target (downrange)
3.when loading bolt, aim carefully at target and load from side (don't put finger infront of bolt)
4. be careful with sharp tools and objects.


simply use pencils as i do, or you can buy some dollar dowling (pencil width) and follow thse steps:

-drill hole in tip

-push nail into hole after nipping-off head

-secure with woodglue

-cut notch into back end


tuning you bow is the ardest part, I had to re-string my bow until it fired properly.

Step 6: Fire!

Picture of Fire!

heresimply push the door latch to fire! watch the vid on my youtube channel here


knex gun instructions (author)2011-03-12

that door latch is called elbow cacth

No, actually it's called an "elbow catch".

solarbipolar (author)2014-12-26

"This video is private"

-- YouTube

bwells2 (author)2011-07-29

Could it hunt game?

paulm (author)bwells22011-08-07

I doubt it,

Jim123456789 (author)2011-04-30

did you add a like a rail to the firing ditch

meburnfire (author)2011-01-09

Say, would 1/8th inch 3 strand twisted nylon cord work as the bow string? Cuz thats all that I have, so would it work better or worse?

Egor22 (author)2010-10-11

Well my Friends sister told about this site and she was right about how awesome it is haha

matthiasofgondor (author)2009-01-20

I couldn't find peices of bamboo like that anywhere I looked around town. What exactly did you use and what were they called?

im not sure but would i pvc pipe work

paulm (author)matthiasofgondor2009-01-21

i just used a piece of bamboo, if you are willing to pay extra, you can grab a tiki torch and cut off the torch part.

matthiasofgondor (author)paulm2009-01-24

i may have been confused on the thickness of the bamboo than. If at all possible do you think you could give me guestamate of the thickness and length? Thanks for the help :D

paulm (author)matthiasofgondor2009-01-24

i used rather thin bamboo (didnt last very long) that was an avg of 1.3 cm wide and around 1 m long

i would recommend getting slightly thicker bamboo (1.5 cm) to avoid any tearing.

when i built this originally, i used 2 bamboo sticks; just use 1 for better results.

also (most importantly) don't leave it strung. it will tear and bend. mine has been unusable for years now due to my leaving it strung. (i even took archery back in a summer camp... why didnt i remember that golden rule =/)

minerug (author)2008-07-17

Since the crossbows of old had steel or metal bow bits (I don't know the proper term) is there any instructable that have metal bow on a wooden stock arrangment?

red-king (author)minerug2008-11-18

by bow bits do you mean the limbs and the trigger?

minerug (author)red-king2008-11-18

yeah, I probaly maen the limbs

Phoghat (author)minerug2009-08-29

If youwant to use a car spring, iy's going to have to be de-tempered, rebent, and tempered again. I saw one made on TV. Meanwhile, try<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="">;Qif=crossbow_0.jpg&Qiv=thumbs&Qis=XL#qdig</a><br/>

paulm (author)minerug2008-08-07

I plan on making a proper X-bow with a car's leaf-spring for the bow part, but it'll have to wait until I'm less busy there aren't any instructibles I can think of, no.

grevious (author)paulm2008-10-16

and when ur done that post it aswell please? :D

minerug (author)paulm2008-08-08


liny (author)2008-03-20

I made a crossbow during February. The bow´s made of 3 metal clothe hangers things of diferent sizes. These are then put together and reinforced with wire. At first i used 5 kite strings but the crossbow just broke them after some shots. Mine can shoot about 20- 50 metres depending on the arrow, is that ok for a crossbow? I know modern crossbows can shoot about 1 km. Here´s a photo:

paulm (author)liny2008-03-29

look at the trigger system i used,

notice that if i where tu use your clothespin trigger system, the bowstring would not hold.
im not sure how far mine can shoot, ill have to re string it and have some fun with it again, or build another with PVC pipe.

my bow isn't comparable to a modern bow, theyre quite unrelated in design and materials.

liny (author)paulm2008-04-09

Sory, my trigger is not a clothepin, it is just a model to make my string go dirrectly into the arrow. Here is a close up of an updated version of it. Now it has the real mechanism and the wooden model is gone. By the way, my trigger is that metal bar you see below the crossbow, clothepins are weak, those would be ripped apart.

liny (author)liny2008-04-09

BY the way, how much weight does it have in lb. (normally, bows and crossbows are meassured like that though i dont ussually use pounds or any imperial measurement.) Mines around 20.

Kaiven (author)liny2008-11-09

Wow. Your crossbow is nice. You should probably post it, or at least the trigger :P Do you pull back on it like a gun trigger or do you pull it down to release the string?

liny (author)Kaiven2008-11-10

Well, it is not that amazing. The metal thing you see there is what stops the crossbow´s line from going upwards and missing the arrow. It also holds the arrow in place when I want to point downwards. Most of the time I point either downwards or upwards so that holds it in place. The trigger is just a metal point pushing on the line so it hits the metal thing and goes straight. It is not the best in accuracy but has decent accuracy. The bow is made out of metal so a clothepin wouldn´t hold it in place, that is why I made that simple trigger.

Kaiven (author)liny2008-11-10

I actually made your crossbow. I will get pics if you want them :D No glue was used in mine, it all fits nicely together. I don't get how you get a 20 pound pull off of three coat hangers... I used three and got less than a 1 pound pull.

liny (author)Kaiven2009-07-18

I forgot to mention, it wasn't 20 pounds max... i measured wrong... its about 10 - 15 pounds maximun.. not even close to 20. Even though it still packs a powerful blow. Another crossbow i made has 4 pounds of weight, not strong but flexible and long lasting.

liny (author)Kaiven2009-07-18

Really thick hangers.... those were extremely difficult to bend to start with ... it took me some hours of bending. The bad thing is that thick hangers get worn out quickly since these are more compact and dense. After some time they start deforming and losing both power and elasticity. Even though, i also made a bow (to exchange the worn out bow) with a more flexible type of coat hanger (the thin ones that have plastic cover) and that lasts much longer. It is not as powerful but who needs power for a small homemade crossbow made for fun to shoot at plywood?

paulm (author)liny2008-05-16

D'oh! you mean draw strength, My bow has a fair amount of power in it, but as I have stated before, no where near a real bow. Im guessing around the same as yours. I cant truly measure its power as the bow has been sitting drawn (oops!) which has most likely caused some fair amount of loss... however, the bamboo is still straight! (I have it un-strung atm)

paulm (author)liny2008-05-02

20 is an awful lot, I think you need to weight it again. Mine is around 10 pounds max (I am estimating). I like the trigger system, it is original, but I would still be worried about all that tabe getting ripped apart.

knex gun instructions (author)2009-03-21

is there a name for the door lacth?

knex gun instructions (author)2009-03-21

what kind of string did you use?

Shadowblade52 (author)2009-02-16

hey im confused about one of the measurements at the bottom of the drawing. Why is the 5 cm mark put on there on not closer to the top?

paulm (author)Shadowblade522009-02-17

its my recommended width for the butt of the crossbow, i think i describe the firing platform in more detail earlier on... i really ought to redo this whole instructible withautsocad and such but the bow itself has been destroyed..

chickenliver123 (author)2009-01-31

hey, i love this instructable, cannu tell me where to get the door latch?

paulm (author)chickenliver1232009-02-01


checkout home dept, canadian tire (if in canada =P) or any home hardware store.

hughligen (author)2009-01-24

bamboo is really inefficient for bows/crossbows. try yew (type of wood) it's what most bows used to be made out of. nice instructable though. :)

paulm (author)hughligen2009-01-28

thanks; i made this instructible when i wasn't as tech-savvy as i am now. if i built this tomorrow, i would be researching it and making some sort of plan beforehand.

matthiasofgondor (author)2009-01-20

what is a reef knot tie? it seems (according to the picture) similar to a slip knot?

paulm (author)matthiasofgondor2009-01-21

yes, any knot that holds its shape so that you can take off the string when the bow isn't in use will work

kaos863 (author)2009-01-01

I made a composite bow using high carbon steel and red oak. It has a pull of 80lb.

Shadowblade52 (author)2008-12-13

Hey you said to use a small file. What exactly is that for and what size is it exactly?

paulm (author)Shadowblade522008-12-13

looks like i mentioned file twice just any flat file will do

Shadowblade52 (author)paulm2008-12-14

okay thanks haha but what do I use it on because i couldn't see where you used it...

MethAne (author)2008-08-02

hello there. I made a crossbow these days, and it's pretty different from the yours. now, i have a question; can i use the fishing wire?

MethAne (author)MethAne2008-08-02

and yes, my trigger is a clothepin and one elastic

QwertyuioLP (author)MethAne2008-11-10

I've got a different trigger kinda like yours but is doesn't use elastic bands to hold it down. What I did was cut about 1-2 cm off the bottom of a wooden peg whacked a nail through the top and cut it off about 1/2 way. Then I just glued it on and put a nail through the back of the peg. Works wonders.

paulm (author)MethAne2008-08-07

for that type of power, I'm sure fishing line would last, on my crossbow it might be cut by the trigger

About This Instructable




Bio: I am now an engineering student
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