Picture of Make a takedown bow from skis!
Ever notice how the cool action heroes all use bows and arrows these days? Katniss Everdeen, Legolas, Hawkeye, Lara Croft...Now you can join their ranks with this step-by-step guide to designing and building your own bow out of old cross-country skis!
I made this pair of bows at the artist residency, Grin City Collective, in Grinnell, Iowa.
Skis are an excellent material to use for the limbs of a bow. First off, they are uniform. You won’t have to worry about inconsistencies in the material; you can expect both limbs of the bow to bend equally.  This also eliminates the tedious process of tillering the bow.  The front of the skis also already have recurved tips.  All of this means using skis saves a lot of time.

What you’ll need: Materials
Skis – cut down to become the limbs
Lumber – to be carved for the riser.  Either a large block (at least 3"x3"x20") or scraps will do.
Couple of bolts, washers and wing nuts – to attach limbs to riser
Nylon twine (or any low-stretch string)- for the bowstring

What you'll need: Tools
Hand drill with assorted bits
Chisel and hammer
Wood rasp or file
Assorted sandpapers
Wood finish
Glue or spray adhesive

The following tools are not required to make the bow but will make the process a lot easier if you decide to make a more complicated riser (handle) for your bow.
-Tablesaw                -Band saw
-Hacksaw                 -Planer
-Drill press               -Belt/disc sander         

Skis ~$10 at a yard sale or Goodwill. 
Lumber  -- scraps
Hardware --  less than $4
Twine -- $3 for a roll

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jonny37984 days ago
What are the dimensions of the riser? I am thinking of just using a 2x4 for the wood for the riser.
my riser cracked

Did you use a softwood like pine? That would likely be the cause. While the author didn't name anything specific besides scraps. Best to use hardwoods.
Maple, oak, ash, poplar or if you want art work mahogany. There are many others. And so you know ash is light weight and poplar not much heavier will both take staining well.

After making your riser be sure to give it some protection. A water proof sealer would be best. West Marine expoxies are well priced and will keep it safe and looking great. If you don't have one near you go to your hardware store for Thompson's wood deck water sealer.

xArsenal2 months ago
That quiver is badass! Where did you get it?
Yoshinok (author)  xArsenal1 month ago

I made the quiver. I might get around to writing an instructable on it as well!

That would be awesome! I'm sure that I'm not the only one who'd like something like that
That would be awesome! I'm sure that I'm not the only one who'd like something like that
xArsenal xArsenal2 months ago
Also what were your skis made from? I had wooden ones and one of the snapped...
Shazzam.tky made it!1 month ago

This was a fun project, not sure what the draw weight is. I'll have to find a way to check.


do you use a pair of skis for one bow? also, has anyone made their own arrows? we have chickens and get lots of feathers & I'm thinking..... What type of tip would you use & where would one look for something like that?

Best place to get quality wood dowels is hobby lobby or home depot. You should use 5/16" x 32" oak dowels that go for $0.89.
Sand the dowels lightly and if you want aftermarket broad heads take one of the dowels to a bow shop and let them know what you have planned.
Yoshinok (author)  bowprepper1 month ago

Making arrows from dowels is quite tricky. There is an incredible amount of variance in the stiffness of dowels found at a hardware store.

Here is some advice given by r/ADDeviant on a recent reddit thread:

"If you start out with dowels, you will go through a hundred, select 30, if you know what you are looking for. Of those, 20 will actually be usable. Of those, 16 will survive the process of straightening and checking. Of those, maybe 4 will suit your draw length at your draw weight.

If you really know what you are doing (and it can be learned) you can mess with things that affect spine, like length, head weight, and tail tapering, and get more than the 4 mentioned above.

Weight and length matter less than spine, over normal distances, say, out to 40 yards.

Other than that, poplar and birch, which many dowels are made from, work great for arrows. Be prepared to heat straighten them and get good at hook straightening.

And, if a bow is cut to center, it will be less fussy about spine.

I do make arrows from shoots and dowels, you just need a whole basket of skills to do it right."

To shoot accurately you need arrows that are as similar (preferably identical) as possible. Spining, the arrows ability to resist a flexing motion, is critical for accuracy and safety. Here is what happens when you shoot an arrow that is not spined heavy enough for a powerful bow :

based off the picture it appears to be the front of two skis, so you'd need the pair. I'm not 100% sure, I'd honestly like this answered myself.
Yoshinok (author)  Pyroknarks1 month ago

Exactly. The back end of the skis don't flex nearly well enough to be used. I suppose one might get creative and build a riser out of the unused ski backs. Then it would be truly be a ski-bow.

Best place to get quality wood dowels is hobby lobby or home depot. You should use 5/16" x 32" oak dowels that go for $0.89.
Sand the dowels lightly and if you want aftermarket broad heads take one of the dowels to a bow shop and let them know what you have planned.
Awesome instructable! I've been looking in thrift stores for a suitable replacement for my old Wing Presentation II bow that recently delaminated, and all I ever find are stupid old skis. Being a sculptor, woodwork and inventive type, I'm amazed that I didn't come up with this idea myself seeing all the skis that I do.
I've just found my next project.
ccdm132 months ago
What did you do about the metal trim around the skis
mdavison22 months ago
Well done mate excellent bow im in the middle of making my bow at the moment .
michell.temiz4 months ago

I also made my own bow using this
awesome instructable! It took me a few days though without using a
bandsaw or a stationary drill. Here are a few short videos of my bow in
action (my video editing skills are none existant so I apologize for

Anyway, my bow is not quite as powerful as I would want it
to be, pulling it back feels like nothing. My question is, can I
increase the bows power by making the string grooves go slightly further
down on the skiis? Because right now they are at at the very end of it.
Theoretically it should make it more powerful right, since it forces it
to flex more, but do you think it's a good idea?

Thanks for reading!

Jack Moran made it!4 months ago

Finnished mine!

AdnamaG5 months ago

what can you use other than skis or PVC? do you have to make a riser?

Finley375 months ago
I made multiple bows but instead of using skis I used PVC because I had some around the house. I got a 35lb draw off of it and it extremely accurate. Great tutorial
jgarratt made it!6 months ago

Great Ible dude! Had lots of fun making this one :D

ski bow.jpg
streetlegend6 months ago

Awesome tutorial!

If for some reason it is difficult to find skis in your country or state like me, you can use two grass slashers instead. you can find quite heavy duty ones if you want to create a stronger bow. i got about 25 lbs out of mine

yverweij made it!7 months ago

Not quite finished, but here's mine. Awesome instructable, thanks for sharing!

triumphman10 months ago

I have the downhill skis, wood and bolts/nuts and some paracord too. I shoot lefty. Should the arrow rest be cut on the other side of the riser ? Also , do you recommend 10 degrees for the angle ? I want a strong bow for hunting and fishing. Thanks.

riser is on the right side for a left handed shooter, and i dont recommend paracord because it stretches. you can get some dacron on ebay or something for 10$

kian t7 months ago
awesome idea, and it works great
gpezzin8 months ago
great idea and tutorial. Finished my own an hour ago. Now I must find a string that doesn't stretch. Any suggestions?
Shenvy made it!8 months ago

Very good tutorial, I was able to do it despite lacking proper tools :(
Skis used are actually mine (when I was a kid) so I didn't spent any money for them. I removed the metal bit on the sides (I don't know how you call them in english).

VanniMGK10 months ago

I was able to do it :) thank you I just added some art


How log was the project start to finish?

honestly it took me around a week, it was mostly the shaping and sanding that took forever.

kekio8410 months ago

I had this idea too,and i made it but i cuted the ski's on a wrong place and now the bow is way to tight,and i don't have enough stenght to pull it to the end.

Johnhall1410 months ago
Great ible, I've been wanting to make a takedown recurve for a while now and I found your guide for making the riser very helpful.
dszura11 months ago

how long should be skiing?

chilihook made it!11 months ago

This project was great fun! Thank you so much for posting it. If you have the chance or interest, check out the Google+ community PVC Archery and Crafting. This 'ible has garnered a lot of interest over there. A quick question: What is the brace height of your bow? My riser is 20 inches and limbs are 24 inches. At brace the string is almost 11 inches from the riser. Way too much. I have already cut 10 degree wedges to place under the limbs. Thinking of cutting the limbs to 20 inches as well. Hoping to get 'er up to 25 pounds. Thanks again for a great project, I'll be making more!

xeorius11 months ago

Hi ! Good job !

eterovic made it!1 year ago

Truly a great project

orkface1 year ago
Awesome 'ible got my skis from the local tip shop just got to get the wood next. Any tips for doing this without any of the power tools, my father inlaw has a jig saw and a table saw but apart from that I'll be hand sawing and chiseling this out.
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