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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That quiver is badass! Where did you get it?
Also what were your skis made from? I had wooden ones and one of the snapped...

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?

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.
mdavison29 days ago
Well done mate excellent bow im in the middle of making my bow at the moment .

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!2 months ago

Finnished mine!

AdnamaG2 months ago

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

Finley373 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!3 months ago

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

ski bow.jpg
streetlegend3 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!4 months ago

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

triumphman8 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 t5 months ago
awesome idea, and it works great
gpezzin5 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!6 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).

VanniMGK7 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.

kekio847 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.

Johnhall147 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.
dszura8 months ago

how long should be skiing?

chilihook made it!8 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!

xeorius8 months ago

Hi ! Good job !

eterovic made it!10 months ago

Truly a great project

orkface11 months 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.
sitrik11 months ago

can you make bows out of water skis?

Thanks for this beautiful instructable! Just got a pair of ski's, now searching for the right wood.

What's the big difference between the single and double bolt version? Wich one do you prefer, and why?
louye1 year ago
I have 2 pairs of old Trak skis. One is fiberglass over a wood core. I can hear little fracturing sounds when I flex it. They other ski is fiberglass over a plastic core. I don't hear any sounds when I flex it.

Which ski should I use for the bow project? Thank you.
Yoshinok (author)  louye1 year ago
Cracking is bad. Best go with the skis that don't make cracking sounds.
Yoshinok, I saw this and had to make it myself. Surprising since I haven't picked up a longbow in 40 years. Took a few days to make and almost lost it. So I had to make a SECOND one for my wife. During testing I managed to bag a composting bin and a retaining wall. Now, all I need to do is practice. Started working on a multipurpose fetching jig for arrows. Thanks for the motivation.
Yoshinok (author)  Preppersaurus1 year ago
Glad to hear it! Feel free to post pictures of your new bow!
FairPlay mate
If I had some old skis I would do this
TomShauley1 year ago
I went to your stronger bow update, and I've got 2 questions-

Have you found the 2-bolt design better than the 1-bolt?


Could I use the same designs in the attached .pdf files for the stronger bow if I simply adjust the angle of attachment?
I guess winter is the wrong time of year to find cheap used skis on ebay. Found a few but they were a minimum of $45 or more and some sellers were ripping off buyers for $35 on shipping.
hottdylan1 year ago
If you have a old compound bow and don't have time to make a wood riser take the limbs off the compound and take the sights and stuff off and you have a riser
josuchav1 year ago
Thanks so much for posting it. I don't know how easy it'll be for me to find skis in GA but I'm definitely going to the thrift store this weekend.
vbenitez1 year ago
Hey Yoshinok so I'm horrible with wood projects have you thought about or do you sell the risers? Love the bow.
Yoshinok (author)  vbenitez1 year ago
I am afraid I haven't any risers at the moment. I won't have regular access to a shop for a few months either. Perhaps someone else here might be able to help you out?
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