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Make a takedown bow from skis!

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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
Handsaw
Clamps
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         

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

 
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triumphman4 days 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.

dszura15 days ago

how long should be skiing?

chilihook made it!17 days 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!

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xeorius20 days ago

Hi ! Good job !

eterovic made it!2 months ago

Truly a great project

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orkface2 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.
sitrik3 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?
louye4 months 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)  louye4 months ago
Cracking is bad. Best go with the skis that don't make cracking sounds.
Preppersaurus4 months ago
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)  Preppersaurus4 months ago
Glad to hear it! Feel free to post pictures of your new bow!
FairPlay mate
FairPlay
If I had some old skis I would do this
TomShauley4 months 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?

-and-

Could I use the same designs in the attached .pdf files for the stronger bow if I simply adjust the angle of attachment?
clusterflop4 months ago
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.
hottdylan4 months 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
josuchav5 months ago
THIS ROCKS!!!!
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.
vbenitez5 months 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)  vbenitez5 months 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?
gmorin25 months ago
Thanks for the ible. I used maple to construct my riser and downhill skis, I cut them at 22" and mounted them at 23 degrees. I just need to craft the string but am wary of using twine. I am also doubting the strength of the skis as they are laminate. I have attached a picture of the ski and my completed bow so far.
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I have a few questions about the riser and arms for the downhill ski bow. I know you have templates of the other 2 risers that you made. Do you have one for this one too? Also, How long did you cut the limbs and how long is the overall bow? Last thing. I am around 6' tall and would need a draw of about 32"-33" (I'm guessing). Is there a way to adjust it from what you have built to accommodate for a longer draw length? Thanks.
Yoshinok (author)  preachercotton5 months ago
Sorry about that! Your question sorta got buried in my email.

I do not have a drawing of this riser. I can tell you that its 18" long and that the limbs are cut to 28". Making the limbs a tad longer for your increased drawlength couldn't hurt. You can always cut the skis down again if its too long!
knex luver2345 months ago
Well football season is over and I have my skis! Need to stop by my schools wood shop and pick up some walnut and then it's project time!
Tbashton5 months ago
Quick question. How would I reinforce the bow so that it has a better pull strength?
Yoshinok (author)  Tbashton5 months ago
This is covered in the final page of the instructable.

The simplest answer is get stiffer skis. I got a pair of downhill skis to make a bow that pulled 58# @ 28" draw.
knex luver2346 months ago
A draw weight of 40-45 pounds is ideal, and (IF LEGAL IN YOUR AREA) I highly suggest giving bow fishing a try, it is a lot of fun when you get the hang of it. When bow fishing you must keep in mind water refraction so you must aim lower that the fish to hit you mark, the deeper the water the lower you must aim.

Thanks again for all the help, I really appreciate it, I have my riser designed on autoCAD and when football is over it's build time!
knex luver2346 months ago
i will be sure to! i am a highschool student and it is currently football season so my free time is minimal, but as soon as the season is over i will be in the shop working!
This is a cool build for me because i am left handed therefore finding bows that arent super expensive isnt easy so it will be nice to have a custom left handed bow.
Also i am looking for my build to have a higher poundage as i would like to use it for bowfishing IF THIS IS POSSIBLE so you would suggest to build my riser the same way you did in order to handle the stress? thanks for the help and responding so quickly!
P.S. i plan on using layers of Oak and Walnut
Yoshinok (author)  knex luver2346 months ago
You will definitely need to laminate the wood in the direction that I have shown above. Downhill skis are going to be your best bet for higher draw weight.

I've never gone fishing with a bow. How strong does the bow need to be?
knex luver2346 months ago
i am planning on building one of these bad boys, in my imaginations eye i see the grain of my wood running the other dirrection, my lamination layers running parrallel to the arrow if that makes sense, is this ok?
Yoshinok (author)  knex luver2346 months ago
I think that as long as the skis you use aren't too stiff (read : NOT downhill skis) that you shouldn't have too much trouble. The force exerted on the riser would be going in the same direction as the grain of the wood. For flexible, lighter skis used in this instructable I think you'd be fine. Just make sure that the wood is fairly thick where the bolts actually pass through the riser. There are a lot of factors at play; the quality of laminations, the strength and quality of the wood, the angle of the limb attachment, the thickness of the wood, the size of the bolt, etc could all play a part in determining if the riser would break. Be careful and let us know how you get on!
Love this idea. I have always liked the idea of a takedown bow. But they are PRICEY. Never thought of using skis. Went to Goodwill and found a set for $5.50. Got to try this. Thanks for sharing!!!
Yoshinok (author)  preachercotton6 months ago
Absolutely! Let me know if you have any questions. Be sure to post some photos when its all done!
Yoshinok (author) 6 months ago
I just posted a photo album 'ible of my latest bow. It is a far more powerful version of these bows made from downhill skis.

Check it out here:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Powerful-takedown-bow-from-downhill-skis/
dzivotic16 months ago
Exelent idea and realisation.

While i wa reading article, i got lucky and bought two pairs of old skiis for 15$. This bow will be definitely made, just to find some free time.

I am pretty tall guy, aorund 2m. Is there some clacluation or suggestion on bow lenght based on hight of person that will use it.
Yoshinok (author)  dzivotic16 months ago
With your height and likely longer draw length I wouldn't make the bow much shorter than 1.5m. This is just a precaution. If the limbs are too short they will stack when pulled to a longer draw and could potentially break. Hope this helps! Be sure to post photos of your finished bow!
Zippityboomba6 months ago
For some reason the image uploader won't work, so I can't share my build of this cool project. In any case, it measures 30# at 25" (perhaps my skis are abnormally stiff), and shoots beautifully. Thanks for the guide.
Yoshinok (author)  Zippityboomba6 months ago
I am glad the guide was useful to you! Since I wrote this 'ible I have found that the stiffness of cross country skis are widely varied. I also just finished a new takedown made from downhill skis that weighs in about 58# at 28". I will post photos of that soon.

Sad that the image uploader is giving you trouble. I had issues when first putting the 'ible together too. The "answers" section under the community tab at the top of the page cleared most of my issues up. Perhaps your answer can be found here:

http://www.instructables.com/tag/type-question/?sort=none&q=image+uploader

jgilbert317 months ago
Is there a way for me to get the PDF without a pro membership? I'm unemployed and can spend on things like that, but would like to build this with my son. I found skis at the local recycling center. Now I just need to find some hard wood!
chekurd7 months ago
I know what my woodshop prodject is gonna be
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