Introduction: Make a Takedown Bow From Skis!

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

Step 1: Skis

Picture of Skis

The skis used in this Instructable are cross-country skis. The bows turned out to be between 20-26# @ 28” draw.   Bows made from downhill skis will be much stronger due to the increased rigidity; I've heard reports of folks achieving >60# with downhill ski limbs. My initial goal was to make a more powerful bow but for some reason its really hard to find downhill skis in Iowa. 
EDIT: I have since made a bow from downhill skis.  This bow is 58# @ 28".

Step 2: Designing the Riser

Picture of Designing the Riser

A takedown bow consists of two limbs that attach to either side of a riser, or handle, by some hardware.  The riser needs to have a flat surface for the limbs to attach, a grip for your hand and a carved out shelf for the arrow. 
Here is the chance to be a creative in your design.  The riser doesn’t flex at all when using the bow! As long as the riser satisfies those three things it doesn’t matter what it looks like. 

If you are need of inspiration just do a quick image search online for takedown risers.  Or get really crazy/impractical and search for images of World of Warcraft bows. 

Start by sketching your riser on a couple of sheets of graph paper. I drew a few thumbnail sketches on graph paper to get some ideas before starting in on the full size drawings.
The two risers I designed were about 20” and 18” long.  The riser sketched on the left was designed to have only one bolt holding the limb down where the riser on the right was designed for two bolts per limb.  EDIT: The drawings for the risers made in this Instructable are included as pdf's in the final page.

Note: The angle made by the vertical axis of the riser and the attached limb should be around 15˚-20˚.  If the angle is  greater the limbs won't flex as much when pulled resulting in less powerful bow.  Don't stress about this too much!  Even at the end when the bow is fully constructed there are ways to change the angle to increase draw weight. We will cover that later.

Next I made a model of the riser out of 2” thick foam. This step is not completely necessary but it can be helpful to use as a guide when carving the wood riser later. 

First trace a copy of your riser design so you will still have the original drawing to transfer to wood later.  Cut and glue the design to the foam and carve with a craft knife or wood rasp.

You can test out alterations to things like the handle or curves of the riser on the foam before permanently removing wood.  For me, the foam model was really helpful. I’m not great at translating the 3d image in my head to a 2d drawing. Having a 3d foam model allowed me refine my design as necessary before starting in on the actual wood.

Step 3: Selecting and Preparing Wood for the Riser

Picture of Selecting and Preparing Wood for the Riser

Depending on your preference and what materials you have available this step can either be rather short or take a fair bit of time.  I didn’t have a single piece of wood that was large enough to make the riser so I ended up laminating several strips of hardwood together with glue.  The latter method allows you to introduce different colors into the riser as well. 

If you decided to use a single block of wood square up the edges as best as possible with a tablesaw ,or better yet a jointer and planer, and move on to “Rough cutting the riser”.

If you want to make a pretty laminated riser, read on.

Here are some scraps of walnut, oak and pecan for the risers. 
Take a little bit of time to play and arrange the strips of wood to create some interesting color combinations.

Rip (cutting with the grain) all the strips to the same width on a table saw.  The width that you should be aiming for is about an 1/8” wider than the widest part of the ski. For me that was about 2” with both sets of skis.  The 1/8” excess on the riser will be removed later on when sanding. 
Next cross-cut (cutting across the grain) the boards to the same length.  I used a radial arm saw for this step.

Notice how the strips of wood that I ended up selecting were a bit warped.  To make a good glue joint, it’s important that the wood fits together as smoothly as possible.  If you have a planer, flatten the boards or do your best to sand any particularly rough pieces.

Step 4: Gluing

Picture of Gluing

The wood is now ready to be laminated.  Any woodglue ought to do just fine for our purposes.  Below I’m using Elmer’s woodglue.  Halfway through I ran out and started using some Titebond II.  If you end up sealing the wood later with some sort of polyurethane finish (which I highly recommend) its not too important that you use a waterproof glue like Titebond.
Start by drawing a thin bead of glue across the wood and then smooth it over the entire surface of the wood to create a thin, even layer.

Once glue is applied to all the pieces, clamp them together and wipe off any excess glue drops from the outside.  Make sure that there aren’t visible spaces between the boards.  Let sit overnight.

If you decided to glue all the strips together at once to save time your boards may end up uneven like this.  It is best to get them as smooth as possible before we continue.  For me, it’s back to the planer.  To avoid uneven boards like this, glue fewer strips of wood together at a time so there are less “moving parts” when clamping.

Step 5: Rough Cutting and Carving the Riser

Picture of Rough Cutting and Carving the Riser

Now that you have a squared smooth block of wood (or laminated woods) its time to cut out and spray adhere the pattern to the block.

Rough cutting the riser is best done with a band saw, but a scroll saw like the one here will do just as well.  First draw and cut a few relief cuts from the edges to the paper.  They are the black lines in the above photo.  The relief cuts are small cuts made in the waste wood (the part of the wood we are trying to remove) from the outside of the block to the pattern. 

After all the relief cuts are made, start in on the curve. As you reach the relief cuts the pieces will just fall away as shown here.  This provides a natural stopping point anywhere along the cut. 

It’s now time to cut the arrow shelf.  Turn the riser on its side and draw in the shape of the shelf.  If you have a band saw, cutting the shelf is rather simple – just do the same thing as you did to rough-cut the shape of the riser.  If you only had a scroll saw like I did you might need to use a chisel for this step.  Most scroll saws can only cut wood up to two inches thick.  The risers I designed are closer to 3 – 3 ½” wide when turned on edge. 

To chisel the shelf, start by clamping the riser down to a bench and cut vertical slits with a handsaw. Next, flip the riser on its edge and clamp it down again. With the chisel and hammer, taking care to hold the chisel as perpendicular as possible to the riser, cut out the pieces with even blows.

From here, its time to rasp, file and sand the risers for the final, smooth shape!  I did most of the shaping with a disk and belt sander.

Step 6: Cutting the Skis to Length

Picture of Cutting the Skis to Length

To get an idea of what the bow will look like when unstrung, lay the ski and the riser next to one another as shown below.  You don’t want the limbs to be too long or you could lose some power.  That is especially a concern with cross-country skis as they are less rigid.

For an 18” riser, I cut the limbs to be 22” including the section that overlaps with the riser. The limbs were a bit longer for the larger riser to keep it looking balanced.

Use a square to make an even line across the ski and cut it to size with a hacksaw.  Avoid using a radial arm saw or chop saw for this especially if your skis contain metal reinforcements.

Check that the ski is actually square after cutting.  If not, sand or file it flat.

Step 7: Drilling the Holes for the Hardware

Picture of Drilling the Holes for the Hardware

The number of bolts you want to use to attach each limb will probably dictate the diameter of the bolt you use.  For the bow with only one bolt per limb I used these 1 /2 ” bolts. For the other riser I used 5/16” bolts.

To drill the holes, select a bit that is the same width as the outer threads of the bolt.  You don’t want the threads to bite into the wood at all. The bolt should go into the hole with no resistance and shouldn’t wiggle once it’s in place.

Ideally for this step you would use a drill press. Clamp the ski and riser to the bed of the drill press checking to make sure you are perpendicular to the bit. 
If you don’t have a drill press you can still drill these holes with a hand drill..

Make a mark with a nail in the center of the ski about 1 ¼” away from the end. This will help to keep the bit centered if you are not using a drill press to make the holes.
If you can clamp the limb onto the riser and drill both together do so!  Otherwise you can drill them individually.

To stop the head of the bolt from biting into the back of the riser its necessary to counter sink the holes.  Use a bit that is a hair wider than the widest part of the head of the bolt.  Determine how far down you want to countersink the holes by holding the bolts across the limb and riser as shown below.    You want to have about ½-3/4” of exposed thread coming out the front to put on the washers and wing nuts. Mark the wood lightly with pencil and back to the drill press (or vice and hand drill).

Step 8: In Case You Messed Up..

Picture of In Case You Messed Up..

So perhaps the holes didn’t quite line up when you put the bolt through the limb and your bow may look a bit like this! A small gap like this can lead to a wobble in the limbs that makes the bow inaccurate. No worries though, its easily fixed. 

Cut and glue a small wood shim to the end of the problem limb.  Once its dry, sand it down till it fits snug.

Step 9: Sanding and Finishing the Riser

Picture of Sanding and Finishing the Riser

Time to sand out all those tool marks and scratches!  I went up to ~400 grit with the sanding.  220 grit should be totally fine.   After sanding, wipe off the dust and coat it with some finish.  I applied two coats of a satin polyurethane finish sanding in between each with 400 grit sandpaper.

Step 10: Carving the String Grooves and Making the String

Picture of Carving the String Grooves and Making the String
For a weak recurve (25lbs or less) it’s not necessary to reinforce the tips of the limbs. A few small files I use for jewelry worked well to carved the notches. Be sure to round over the edges of the groove so that the string won’t wear out with use.

For these lighter bows nylon twine will be more than strong enough to serve as a string.  The twine itself is a bit too narrow for the nocks of arrows to grab and shoot accurately.  This can be worked around by twisting the string in a special way (shown below) to double its thickness.  

Before making the twisted string, determine how long it will need to be by stringing your bow with a bit of untwisted twine.  Tie two bowlines on either end of the twine and string the bow.
A string that is too long or too short for the bow will greatly hinder its performance.  The distance between the string and the riser is called the brace height.  Although it will be slightly different for each bow a good ballpark range is around 7” for the brace height.

To make the twisted string that will actually go on the bow, cut a piece of twine that is three times the length of the twine just used to string the bow.

A video showing how to twist the string is below.  In case its hard to see, here’s what is happening:   Fold the string in half with a loop on one side.  Pinch the end of the loop with one hand.  With your index and thumb of the other hand,  twist the top strand away from you.  At the end of the twist grab the bottom strand between the top of your index finger and the pad of your middle finger.  Rotate your hand back to the front while holding all the strands.  Inch your hand that is pinching the loop toward the newly formed twist.  Repeat.
  NOTE in this video I am showing the twisting process with the hemp string as it is a lot easier to see in the video than the nylon. You want to twist the nylon twine for the bowstring NOT the hemp.

Now that you have a large piece of twisted nylon twine, tie a double knot in the end to stop it from unwinding and cut and melt the end. Tie a bowline on either side of the string at the appropriate spot on the string  Follow each bowline up with a simple overhand knot and cut and melt the ends. 

Almost done with the string!  The section of the string where you grip and nock an arrow takes a lot of abuse while shooting.  An additional thin layer of twine can be added to reinforce this area.  This process is called serving the string.  The serving should span a few inches blow the arrow shelf to a few inches above.

To stop the serving from coming undone and sliding up and down it will be necessary to thread the hemp twine through the bowstring.  A small nail can be inserted into the twisted bowstring to aid in threading the hemp. The tape in the above photo serves to hold the hemp in place during the twisting.
This method is similar to a basic whipping.  However, the hemp to weak to try and pull the end loop back into the coil. Instead, thread the working end of the hemp through the tiny exposed look and through the bowstring.  Tie a clovehitch, trim the excess and apply a dab of superglue on the end to keep it from coming undone.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

The bow is now fully functional! Yay!  To make the bow even more pretty I added some leather on the arrow shelf.

Step 12: Go Shoot Your New Bow!

Picture of Go Shoot Your New Bow!
Here is a silly video of me assembling and shooting the bow.  Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed my first Instructable!  I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.  Thanks!


Step 13: Tweaking Your Bow for Strength

Picture of Tweaking Your Bow for Strength

Here are a few ways to increase the strength of your bow.

The riser - limb angle:
The smaller this angle the more the limbs will be forced to flex when pulled thereby generating more energy.  For reasons of not putting too much stress on the skis (they do have the potential to break) I wouldn't decrease this angle below 10˚.  The easiest way to change this angle is to cut a small shim of wood and drill the appropriate holes.  Insert the shim between the limb and the riser and bolt them all together.  To make the shim more visible in the photograph I have wrapped it in some paper.  Shimming the limbs increased the pull of this bow from 26# to 30#.

Changing the lengths of the limbs:
If the limbs are too long the bow can be rather weak.  Longer limbs will flex less when pulled.  Less flex = less force.   The further the string can be pulled and the limbs can flex without breaking the stronger the bow. Limbs that are too small can be broken as they flex too far with a standard draw.  My advice: If you want to change the limbs, take 2 inches or so off each limb.  Re-drill the holes and make a new string. 

Shaving material from the tips:
Not all of the force that is stored in the bow by pulling the string is transferred to the arrow on release.  A significant amount of the energy is used to move the limbs back to the resting position.  If the limbs are lighter less energy is required to move them thereby increasing the energy imparted on the arrow. This doesn't change the draw weight of the bow but instead makes the bow more efficient and powerful. 
Because the tips of the bow limbs must travel the furthest to reach the resting position they are often the portion of the limb that gets shaved down. To shave the limb, take a rasp/file or sander to the edge of the tip. If you shave too much material from the tips you can compromise the integrity of the bow. You've been warned. It can be done if you're mindful not to go overboard. I wouldn't take more than 20% of the material in the top 1/3 of the bow.


6/21/13 3:00 PM CST  Added two more photos to introduction.
6/22/13 6:45 PM CST Added "Costs" section to introduction.
6/25/13  3:58 PM CST
Added "Tools" section to introduction
Added downloadable patterns of risers
Added step "Tweaking your bow for strength" to end if 'ible.
Added more photos to describe riser/limb angle relationship
Corrected dates in Changelog and moved Changelog to final step of 'ible.


balthizar (author)2017-06-26

Does the arrow rest need to be flat

salmansheikh (author)2017-05-21

How are these drawings to be printed out? On two legal size sheets of graph paper? they don't look like 2 8.5X11" pages taped together.

Neo457 made it! (author)2017-03-03

Great instruction

superbuilderlego (author)2017-02-24

what kind of skis?

thesuperninja2 (author)2016-10-13

What's the draw?

DaPound (author)2016-05-22

awesome thank you for sharing I have to learn how to make arrows

jdishman (author)DaPound2016-09-04

if you want to go primitive, use river cane.

bjaunarajs made it! (author)2015-08-04

Great instructable, but I've got a bit of a problem, can anyone help? when I load the bow, one ski has a much more severe "bend" to it then the other. it also creaks a bit. I'm afraid to pull it back in case it breaks. anyway to reinforce the skis? do I need a different set? thanks for the help!

jdishman (author)bjaunarajs2016-09-04

looks as if the angle on the riser is more straight than the other.

KerryD4 (author)bjaunarajs2016-04-05

Shorten the limb that bends too much, an inch or half-inch at a time, and/or narrow the width of the stronger limb by sanding the edges where stiff, until it curves in a good tiller. (Length, width & belly thickness can all be reduced with care, but never reduce from the back). A bow that looks visually lopsided, but bends evenly, will work just fine. (There are Japanese bows with top limb double the length of bottom limb and very low-set handles.) Most important are a well-distributed bend and a strong undamaged back. Make sure to sand evenly to keep the string properly centered.

KerryD4 (author)KerryD42016-04-05

PS: Yoshinok is correct that a crackling noise is a very bad sign that it probably is damaged. Unless the noise is very faint, it would be safer to get rid of it.

Yoshinok (author)bjaunarajs2015-08-04
Good on ye to ask.  You're right -- one of those limbs is bending more than the other.

I'd stop shooting with those skis. The tiller being off (the limbs not bending evenly/where they should) is not great to begin with, but I've found its more of a problem with these ski takedowns.

Problems with improper tiller:
  1. Hand shock/vibrations in the bow.  The limbs are unevenly strained and will come back to "rest" at different speeds when the string is released.  This will make the bow unpleasant to shoot and inaccurate. 
  2. One limb is being put under greater strain than the other.  This can eventually cause the over stressed limb to fail.  
Problem with improper tiller with ski bows:
Same as above  but... The skis are supposed to be uniform -- same strength in all the congruent areas.  Assuming that your riser design is symmetrical and that the nock point/shelf is near the center uneven bending is alarming.  This means one of the limbs is weaker and that probably means its been damaged.  The creaking sounds almost certainly confirms this.

Nothing is more unpleasant/dangerous than having a limb break while being pulled. You REALLY don't want that to happen, trust me. So, if the creaking is from the limb, which I suspect it is based on the fact the bend is asymmetric, I'd say that you should get rid of the skis and fashion new limbs for this bow. 

Good luck and I'd love to see how you get on!
Nectar76 (author)2016-01-27

Thanks!! It was a really fun project I actually built the middle from a 2x3

JAVIER OCTAVIOB (author)Nectar762016-08-29

Recortaste el ancho de los skis ? a que medida ?

Nectar76 (author)JAVIER OCTAVIOB2016-08-29

The skis were wider than the wood I did not make them smaller I just left an equal amount of ski hanging off the edge on either side

Los esquís eran más ancha que la madera no hice más pequeños que acaba de dejar una cantidad igual de esquí colgando del borde de cada lado

JAVIER OCTAVIOB (author)2016-08-29

Recortaste el ancho de los skis ? a que medida ?

sulay (author)2016-05-17

Made it

sulay (author)2016-05-17

Made it

deswiger (author)2016-05-07

Hey, watch out for that shadow guy, he looks pretty ominous. Any who, I'm not sure why any one would mess up a perfectly good pair of skies like this (unless you were tired of breaking your leg on the down hill bunny trail) {just kidding} but this is a really a cool idea. And it looks nice too. Great job , thanks for the share, glad you didn't mention "RAMBO", he's a bum. Semper Fi.

deswiger (author)2016-05-07

Hey, watch out for that shadow guy, he looks pretty ominous. Any who, I'm not sure why any one would mess up a perfectly good pair of skies like this (unless you were tired of breaking your leg on the down hill bunny trail) {just kidding} but this is a really a cool idea. And it looks nice too. Great job , thanks for the share, glad you didn't mention "RAMBO", he's a bum. Semper Fi.

Nate5b (author)2016-04-09

Neat project, I've been wondering what to do with my old skis.

Donnieb2 (author)2016-03-25

How do you get the templat to be 20 inches

beerhandle (author)Donnieb22016-04-01

rule of three or open the jpg file with photoshop and change the canvas from 18 height to 20 inches height and increase the size of the jpeg

DavidG390 (author)2016-03-27

I've made a number of these thinking I was the only one to do so. Paracord is usually fine for the string, but will wear out at the nock, and replacing it is cheap enough. I've achieved a 50# pull by using one set of youth ski tips, and two adult tips and winding them together tightly (using a lever) with paracord, thus foux laminating them together, but allowing them to slip slightly against each other when flexed. I tried strips of duct tape but after a while, the duct tape would fatigue from the flexing. The winding has held out much better. For the riser, I used a 1X2 piece of oak laminated to a 1X2 piece of maple - super strong! This bow, with my homemade duct tape fletched arrows gives me more pleasure to shoot than my compound bow....well....equal I suppose. Now I'm working on a reverse draw crossbow prototype.

manofsteelinstructable (author)2016-03-26

Hi. Is anyone who made this still available here?
I wanna start making this so need to ask some questions from some expert.

Javelin_ACR (author)2016-02-08

Hey man great build with nice instructions. Do you think that it would be possible to make the riser out of cast aluminium using the lost foam method? I would love to hear your opinion. Thanks

DonnH1 (author)Javelin_ACR2016-03-22

Hey Javelin_ACR

I'm not Dan but am willing to chime in. The riser needs to be made of something strong and light weight and safe. By that I mean something that will not fracture and possibly cause you injury. Laminated wood is generally the choice but could be metal such as steel welded in a box shape (hollow inside) but maybe cast aluminum or better yet magnesium. You could make it lighter weight by machining out excess materials that don't contribute to the design.

Javelin_ACR (author)DonnH12016-03-24

Thanks you for taking the time to tell me your opinion! I haven't done a lot of homemade weapons building so I really enjoy hearing other peoples opinion on my ideas because I would prefer if things didn't blow up :) I was thinking that using the lost foam casting method would allow me to create a riser with some hollow spots above and beneath the grip. Then I would not need to do as much cutting and filing to get rid of the excess metal with out needing any machines other than a hand-held corded drill. Once again thank you for your opinion and information.

DonnH1 (author)Javelin_ACR2016-03-22

Hey Javelin_ACR

I'm not Dan but am willing to chime in. The riser needs to be made of something strong and light weight and safe. By that I mean something that will not fracture and possibly cause you injury. Laminated wood is generally the choice but could be metal such as steel welded in a box shape (hollow inside) but maybe cast aluminum or better yet magnesium. You could make it lighter weight by machining out excess materials that don't contribute to the design.

DonnH1 (author)Javelin_ACR2016-03-22

Hey Javelin_ACR

I'm not Dan but am willing to chime in. The riser needs to be made of something strong and light weight and safe. By that I mean something that will not fracture and possibly cause you injury. Laminated wood is generally the choice but could be metal such as steel welded in a box shape (hollow inside) but maybe cast aluminum or better yet magnesium. You could make it lighter weight by machining out excess materials that don't contribute to the design.

PatriciaR13 (author)2016-03-23

OK the bow thing from skis is OK but the dude is awesome

racer283 (author)2016-03-22

Would it be okay to sand off the paint on the skis so I could paint them my own color?

Farmer Bean (author)2016-03-22

Sweet instructable!

raffiots (author)2016-03-22

I've made three of these bows over the course of the past two years, and I've got to say they're great! At 25-30 lb, depending on the riser design, they're great for lighthearted archery fun.

You're not going to go hunting, and you're not going to make a half-dollar grouping at 20 yards, but you are going to have a wide grin on your face as you and your friends volley fire medieval style at a pizza box.

I also find these great for first-time adults, who want to try shooting a bow, but who I really don't want to hand my 55-lb compound, or even my 40# recurve. Much less intimidation for the first-timer, and much less worry for me.

And now for science: I built a rig to test different riser lengths, limb angles, etc... and on that rig i've tested multiple sets of cross-country ski limbs for draw weight. I've gotten a few sets up to about 48 # at about 26". Some of these are fiberglass exterior with a plastic core and some are fiberglass exterior with a wooden core. The wooden core are significantly stiffer and will yield a higher draw weight at a shorter distance.

I've only had one set of limbs fail on me, and they failed exactly how I thought they would. I accidentally left one of the bows strung overnight, and when i came back in the morning, the limb had collapsed inward by about 20 degrees. The plastic layer on the bottom of the ski failed in compression, and crumpled under the constant, low load. With the plastic-core fiberglass skis, this is the failure mode that I would expect, as the fiberglass top layer should be very strong in tension. (however, if it is over tensioned, it will fail rapidly and possibly violently.. be careful!) This is why I always un-string my ski bows, and I usually keep their poundage under 30. I'm pretty confident that at this weight, the materials are more than strong enough. As always, remember that you are re-purposing and object that was not designed for this use. If you feel like something isn't right, stop, un-string the bow, and be safe. Wear eye protection, and use common sense!

Go make a bow!

LeslieGeee (author)2016-03-22

Yoshinok a beautiful bow thank you for taking the time to share your tutorial with us :)

gnomonklater (author)2016-03-22

I have seen this instructable before, either here or somewhere else, and I have the same question as I did before. Can you please post a dimensioned sketch of the riser? I have tried searching online for a riser with dimensions for one, and have never been successful. Maybe it doesn't really matter, but I just work better with dims. It allows me to create what you instruct exactly as you made it, thus insuring I will have a bow that works exactly like it should. If you included a sketch of the riser in the pdf download, I didn't see it in the one that immediately follows the instructable, and the other pdf download, For some reason, I couldn't download the "Custom PDF." Perhaps I didn't read the instructable correctly, but is the intent to print the riser sketch and just trace it for the pattern? Thanks! Great instructable, by the way!

DanielH57 (author)2015-09-29

You know, it's a lot safer, and almost as cheap, to get yourself a real hunting bow on ebay.

I started prepping recently, and realized I'll need a means of both defense and hunting, should "SHTF", that has a means of reusable or easily replenished ammunition. So I started with a Compound bow, I purchased a 1980's Browning Bushmaster Camo Deluxe S9C 29-31 inch Draw, 50-70 lbs Draw weight, all for less than $50 including S&H... 40-45 lbs is enough to take down a Deer/Elk... 50-60 you're looking at surviving a bear attack. 70+ and you're taking home Moose for your meals. So it's current settings 50 lbs draw weight, isn't where I want it, I'm going to take it to a shop and have the strings inspected and if they can be, adjusted to 70lbs, otherwise I'll need new strings, because there is slight fraying, other than that, the bow is in peak physical condition for a 30 year old bow, it's ready to hunt with.

I go into all this, because it just shows you, that you can in fact get a survival bow, for less than $100. You'll just need to spend more, if you plan to become an avid hunter. So far I've spent about $160 that includes arrows, Ghillie suit, wrist guard, quiver, release, and bow. I still need new sights, biscuit, and front stabilizer. All of which you can get in a combined package, which is why I've saved it for last. It's $50, so a total of $210, if you want to become an avid hunter, around $110 if you're just getting the bow, arrows, and quiver. And it's much safer, all these materials are intentionally designed to make up a hunting bow.

gnomonklater (author)DanielH572016-03-22

That is a great heads-up. Sometimes it is great to hunt up what you need and have a great place to buy ready made items, but with all due respect, this site is called "Instructables," and as such, sometimes it is more about the making than the getting. At least that is the way I look at it. I bought a pair of X-country skis a while ago specifically to do this structable with. Can't wait to get started using this great plan.

EmilA8 (author)DanielH572015-12-13

I don't agree that it's cheaper. I made the bow from leftover oak board that we used for the kitchen table. I bought The skies on a yard sale for aprox. 7$ and the nuts and bolts for 10$. And The (bad) string were from some old fishing equipment. (i know the bolts are expansive, I live in Sweden). You can see my bow in The comments above

EmilA8 (author)EmilA82015-12-13


InstinctsKill (author)DanielH572015-10-20

But if I buy a bow, I get absolutely zero of the experience in making my own bow out of the materials around me. If I buy it, I don't have a cool conversation piece that will likely work just as well as your store-bought bow, which is made out of the same, or at least similar, materials as other bows. And on top of that, if I were to really take prepping seriously, I'm not only going to buy a whole bunch of supplies in preparation for something to happen; I'm going to prep my ability to survive with the materials around me in case those things I buy go missing, are stolen, break, etc. What good is your $100 bow if you can't use it and you don't have a firm enough grasp on how to make another one? Sure, your bow was cheap, but my experience and knowledge is priceless.

jak_kr0 (author)DanielH572015-10-08

Daniel, This site is generally for those who enjoy being resourceful, creative, and inventive. It's for the makers, creators, and non-consumers.

It's not primarily intended for the discount sportsman shopper. Perhaps you missed the point??

Nectar76 (author)2016-01-27


EmilA8 made it! (author)2015-12-13

Followed your guide and i must say im really satisfied. I did not have The proper tools to make it but i put some hours into it and it turned out allright. The only thing that isnt good With the bow is my string, it's too thick so The arrow starts to wobble. And perhaps The skies could be shortned a bit for improved strength. Otherwise it was an awesome guide

timiscool (author)2015-12-09

cool! i am trying to get my boy scout troop to build these, wish us luck!

BahD (author)2015-07-12

I started out by using "0" steel wool to rough up the plastic sufaces of the limbs.

Then I did the following:

1. spray black primer on both surfaces.

2. spray a light tan base color (matte finish for all colors) across the entire surface.

3. light brogwn strips randomly sprayed.

4. light and dark green randomly sprayed.

5. took long blades of grass and used them to mask off a light color over a dark area and a dark color over a light area.

TimD40 (author)BahD2015-11-25

I did this too but was thinking that the only real way to finish this off is by going Redneck on it! Camo Duck tape and away you go LOL This bow is a blast to shoot too :)

jvasquez23 (author)BahD2015-08-19

I see you used the regular skis instead of XC skis. Does yours come with the metal tips? How heavy is the pull?

BahD (author)jvasquez232015-08-22

These were children's downhill skis, about 36 inches long. All plastic with a foam core and no metal edges; do have a fish scale pattern on the belly of the limbs.

It pulls 30 pounds at 26 inches and 33 pounds at 28 inches. I regularly shoot at 28 inches.

xStill (author)2015-09-01

great project, I finished it in about a month (+1 week aquiring the skis)

I picked up this leather from a store, and I'm stumped on how to attach it to the riser. Help!

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