Introduction: Make a Bow for Under 20 Bucks

Picture of Make a Bow for Under 20 Bucks

Make a hardwood bow with no special tools, setups or working space for under 20 bucks. Everything was purchased at Lowes.

Step 1: Glue Together Wood

Picture of Glue Together Wood

I went to Lowes and got these thing.

48"X1/2" Oak trim piece
24"X1/2" Poplar trim piece
bottle of gorrila glue
Stanley hand planer
bundle of jute rope (In the future, hemp would probably be better)

The hand planer from lowes turned out to be just the ticket for shaving down the bow arms to what I needed. Its only 6 bucks and its about 3"X1" big. Any bigger would probably turn out to be too unweildy. Any sort of wood glue would work really.. as a matter of fact, gorrila glue is probably not the best one to use. The wood was just some project wood or you could use trim wood too, I guess.

This is pretty self-explanatory, just make sure you get the glue more evenly spread than it is in this picture. Use sticks and rope as a clamp and the piece until its cured enough to release. This should actually take a few hours but since I'm really impatient, I waited for half an hour and then started carving. Dont do that, it just messes things up in further steps. Whatever you do, don't try bending the bow until the glue is dry either. This just makes them pop apart.

Step 2: Plane Down the Wood

Picture of Plane Down the Wood

This is not really a hard step, but its pretty critical. Try to keep both sides the same and shoot for a shape like one in the diagram. I think The pictures can do a better job of explaining this than I can. So just ask me if you have any questions.

Step 3: Add Handle

Picture of Add Handle

It might look a little complicated but actually is just a rope wound around the handle in a spiral fashion. I soaked the rope with glue too so it would stay there. This does a good job as a handle and a reinforcer for the two pieces of wood.

Step 4: Cut the Ends

Picture of Cut the Ends

You need a place for the string to rest, so in two steps, cut notches at the ends like they are in the pictures. In the first step, cut the profile of the notches, and then smooth them out in the next step.

Step 5: Bamboo Bows

Picture of Bamboo Bows

Heres a picture of a bamboo bow that I made.


Wikiman12 (author)2012-07-22

Hello, I am 12 years old, is this too big of a bow for me?

How much is the pull weight? How heavy is the bow?


MichalW13 (author)Wikiman122017-04-27

and now you're 17.. jeez

Master97865 (author)Wikiman122012-10-19

looks like im not the only 12-year-old around here. as a matter of fact, im a girl as well. i think i might try this project, or maybe a bamboo bow since i know a place where a whole shootload of bamboo grows.

Imcrazydude (author)Master978652013-03-14

You can cut down one thick peice of bamboo it should be almost as tall as you unstrung I'm 11 years old and I've already made a few bows

Master97865 (author)Imcrazydude2013-03-18

Thanks :) I found a piece even taller than me and already cut but it was stuck between the fence and rest of the bush :( obviously, I would have cut it a bit but thanks for the advice :) if I used a branch, would it work even if it was straight but still bendy? Gosh, I type too much. Haha one of my friends found a bow in a forest and the wood was thicker than my forearm and she said it worked XD

Givver112 (author)Wikiman122012-11-09

Come check out my instructable with explainations on what I said before.

Givver112 (author)Wikiman122012-10-31

Ill try to put up a thingy to explain... Three different bows

Xthinker (author)Wikiman122012-09-08

Well, It would depend on how tall your are, and your strength. You could always change the design around a bit, you're the one making it.

GeorgeP49 (author)2016-08-09

Hickory wood is the best for a bow. You can bend it double without breaking. I made one, using a draw knife. I used to climb hickory trees, lean out and ride them to the ground. Carefull not to get stuck half way down. Pick a skinny tree.

The Indians used hickory.

jsalsberry made it! (author)2015-08-16

I really enjoyed making this although there isn't much bend to it

cbadams87 (author)jsalsberry2015-12-25

shorten your string some. could also soak the wood and make a recurve jig for it would increase poundage and add a cool look.

Bulinsky (author)2015-11-12

can you please make a tutorial on how to make a compound bow? Thanks

gorth (author)2015-08-16

This is not an Insructable rather an add for his site.

Billster36 (author)2015-07-05

What did you use for a bow string?

Darkst0fKnights (author)2014-02-22

What is the draw weight of this bow? I am trying to make a 50 pound draw weight bow for myself but nobody ever puts the draw weight in their instructions

i made a piramid longbow and it is 75 lbs at 28 this is probably 30-45

fun683 (author)2015-02-13

How do you bend the bow? Your tutorial doesn't say how to.

kmuggerud (author)2013-04-09

also what is a good tool besides the planer to use?

kmuggerud (author)2013-04-09

when i click on ur website it doesn't show me the detailed description??

Imcrazydude (author)2013-03-14

DON'T use any soft woods pine poplar e.t.c only use hard woods oak cherry osage e.t.c

Zetsumeimaru (author)2013-02-22

I remember long ago, when people used to make bows from a single piece of wood.

La cacatua carmesi (author)2012-10-22

Is fir tree wood goo for making bows or should I buy another kind of wood?

Try oak or pine! :)

OK, thanks!

hedge98hog (author)2010-05-10

Do you have to use oak?

Givver112 (author)hedge98hog2012-10-31


HamsterPants (author)hedge98hog2010-05-14

If oak were the only wood that could be used, then we'd still be throwing rocks at each other in stead of using guns. lol

Any wood that is strong can be used. Flexible is also a feature to look for. Bows can be made of more than one wood also, with layers to make for a different behavior altogether.

Fiberglass is also a great material for making bows.

my dad once worked in a fibreglass shop, he says it's bad for him

Mr. Thirty6 (author)2010-11-27

Is the bow in this 'ible good for hunting? I want to hunt deer, and only want to make a bow that will down a deer. Also, can sights be mounted onto it? The sight's thing isn't that important, I can improvise that somehow, but the deer thing would definitely be good to know. Thanks!!!

Givver112 (author)Mr. Thirty62012-10-31

If you kill a deer, use a strong bone for an arrowhead

shmyt (author)Mr. Thirty62011-03-21

Shoot it at a target (piece of wood or maybe large roast if you don't mind wasting dinner or buying two) and if it goes through it can kill deer if you hit it right, if not try a different arrow or type of arrow, if that doesn't help use a heavier wood. (note I am in no way an expert in hunting, bows or archery in general; take proper precautions and its not my fault if you mess up or something bad happens when trying my ideas) now let's fire some hopefully deadly projectiles!

hedge98hog (author)2010-05-15

What type of string do you suggest using? 

Givver112 (author)hedge98hog2012-10-31

Kite cord! strong enough to hold kites in strong wind!

Nylon, with Dental Floss to thicken a section in the middle so the arrows stay put

Get a big roll of floss and make the string yourself.
A jig is easy to set up with 2 nails and a plank of wood.
Set the nails partway in a plank of wood about as far apart as the string should be long.
Wrap 7-8 times around the nails with floss. Tie ends together so you have a big loop.
Now wrap floss tightly in a spiral over 4inch sections in the middle of both sides of the loop.
Slide the wrapped sections so they are around the nails.
Now wrap floss tightly both sides together about a 4 inch section in the middle for the arrow notch.
Pinch together the wrapped sections at each end to form a hole for the bow ends and wrap tightly with floss. Now you can take your finished string off the nail jig.

DANISMAN (author)hedge98hog2011-04-13

I used 5-50 military cord. This stuff will never break.

horsehair, or linen, maybe try using actual bowstrings!

dra9on112233 (author)2011-03-18

Is there a way to make sharp arrows,anyone?

Givver112 (author)dra9on1122332012-10-31

Use a pencil sharpener (manual) or a knife (whittle)

lhall1 (author)dra9on1122332011-04-17

sharpen the arrow to a point then slitly char it useing a lighter or a candle ONLY any thing more powerful is not good ,the reson you char it is that the heat hardens the wood by taking away moisture and making the wood denser

DANISMAN (author)dra9on1122332011-04-13

Yeah, you can make wood arrow heads the glue on to the arrow, or do the same thing with stone, flint would be the best.

hamzah123 (author)2011-07-15

what kind of bamboo u use??not any kind of bamboos are flexible

Givver112 (author)hamzah1232012-10-31

VERY THIN BAMBOO! Bamboo has the separator things. they might lead to a broken bow

hrodriguez7 (author)2011-10-09

if you buy the stuff at home depot, will it sill be @ 20 bucks?

Givver112 (author)hrodriguez72012-10-31

Little bit lower. I know wood isn't the most expensive From Home Depot. probably 20 or so

Du7raz (author)2011-11-12

anyone else gonna use this for a hunger games cosplay?

Haha thats exactly why im looking at this tutorial. But it seems kind of hard! Any other websites that you found that could help me out?

Start with a piece of wood about 4 1/2' . Measure out the half point, and two inches each way to give yourself a 4" handle. With/without a parents help, plane a taper starting at your handle. taper the woods width from 1/2" to a taper leading to ~1/4". last sand it. WARNING sanding by hand is painstaking and hot. Take intervals of stop time to allow the wood to cool. last get a piece of kite-wire or sinew 4" smaller than the unbent bow.(3 1/8') Last, with a handsaw or Dremel tool, cut two nocks at the ends, about 1/2" away from the end. This will allow something for the bowstring to hold onto. make sure to pull it tight to get about 3" between the handle and the string. (To make an arrow, get a thin dowel for 75 cents each. saw or break each arrow according to the bow. Do this by pulling the whole dowel back, and breaking it when you can't bend further. Very last, hot glue, or temporary glue feather pieces to the end. when temp. glueing, bind them on with thin wire on a contsant interval. If thi is confusing, sorry.

GofishRC007 (author)Du7raz2012-04-29


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