Introduction: Re-curve Bow From Skis

Picture of Re-curve Bow From Skis

During my most recent skiing outing and I flexed my skis in such an extreme manner that Glenn Plake himself would have gone white as snow,my brain retained this idea that skis must be unbreakable.

So without much ado,I dug out the old vokle skis from the shed and got stuck in with a grinder and.............. that's pretty much the only tool you need.

I've made various types of bows over the years and this has been the simplest and most powerful by far and can also be dismantled for ease of storage or transport.

length and width of finished bow is personal preference and I imagine different eras or skis and models could be stronger or more flex.You could probably use a snowboard as would have benefit of having both ends re- curved or a freestyle ski ( but could be too long)

Like most sports you can set yourself up fro the whole sport at a garage sale for about 20 bucks, but whats the fun in that? 

Step 1: Selecting Ski

Picture of Selecting Ski

Use any skis you can get your hands on,Dump shops,op shops, garage sales ( yard sales) ski shops, you see all the old 80s and 90s skis all over the place.

tools required

Angle grinder plus cutting disc and burnishing  disk                                                 G cramps x 2
rule                                                                                                                               nylon cord ( venetion blind string is ideal for bow string)
marker pen or some sort                                                                                               Arrows
eye protection
ventilated area

Step 2: Cutting Skis Into Staves

Picture of Cutting Skis Into Staves

If you can get skis without bindings great,if not you will have to remove them.possie drive screwdriver and a flat head should be enough.You can always grind them off if you have trouble.

Once bindings are off find centre of ski I( used protractor) then strike a line full length of ski.strike another line 15 mil either side so you end up with 3 lines ( marker pen,chalk line up to you) 

I chose 30 mil as my width but there could be advantages in having 50 mil or tapering to much wider at the top. A quick google on bow design will give you an idea but it's mostly trial and error.

cut the strips from both skis as marked so you end up with 2 lengths both 30 mil wide.

I initially made the bow too long so after a bit of trail and error I found 650mil per stave optimum for my draw length.

Step 3: Finishing Strips

Picture of Finishing Strips

You must ensure strips are a uniform length and width to ensure the draw is 100% equal.

Make 2 notches each side of tips for bow string.

Cut 2 pieces 150 ml long out of the off cuts off each stave,you could use 2 pieces of heavy wood,steel or whatever you have lying around.These off-cuts are for cramping either side of join to hold bow together.

Step 4: Clamp Together

Picture of Clamp Together

Clamp the four pieces together,you could use big hose type clamps or anything you can think of.I just used two woodworking cramps I had lying around.

Ensure the two 150 mil pieces are dead centre, i measured from string notch to piece to be cramped.

Notice how one of the pieces is a bit crudely cut, this isn't really ideal but it is a 15 min project.

Step 5: String Up

Picture of String Up
Get your length of venetian blind nylon or something similar tie a bowline around one set of notches then tie another about 200mil ( give or take) down from the other set of notches.

e.g if your bow is 120 cm long then bowline loop to bowline loop will be about 100 cm give or take. You can easily change it if it is to curvy or too flat.

You want the bowlines to be big enough loops to unstring the bow without undoing any knots.

It is a good idea to do a few test draws  (pulls) to check for any weak points.Bow making can be dangerous,I have had one of these snap when I tried to use epoxy instead of using cramps and got a face full of ski and a blood eye brow to show for it.

Bows are not toys ( unless it's a toy bow) they were man's most lethal weapon until the femme fatal.


Phil B (author)2012-08-19

Thank you for this idea. Until recently we lived near to a popular ski run and I saw old skis used there as fence staves just to make some use of them. I have been thinking about a crossbow and this would be a good source for the bow. What is your estimate of the pull in pounds from your bow?

mr magic (author)Phil B2012-08-19

About 45 lb ish.Quite nice to shoot.

cross bow you could prob keep original width, and cut it down to jst foot and half each blade.
would get a massive poundage.

Phil B (author)mr magic2012-08-19

Thank you.

jakeson (author)2012-08-19

You clearly never had a limb from a recurve break and tag you in the nuts.... I love the idea but the potential for problems with this is huge... I have been shooting for a few years, and let me tell you, there is a TON of pressure on those limbs. I winced as soon as I saw the picture. Remember when this fails (when not if) there is a lot of power behind all those little bits and pieces to be hit with....

IF However it works for you thats fantastic and I really actually hope all goes well!

mr magic (author)jakeson2012-08-19

If You read the last step I noted I had been hit in the face from a breaking bow.

Sure there are potential problems,all risks are well mitigated.I am also a reasonably competent archer and I know how much flex a ski can take being an expert skier.

I have a bit more fear from I.E.D.s or from my chainsaw.!

I appreciate your concern.

jongscx (author)2012-08-19


What kind of Draw are you getting on these things? (There-abouts)

mr magic (author)jongscx2012-08-19

I measured by putting the bow on a metre rule on a bathroom scale.Pull down to my draw distance.Is about 45lb ish.

I am intending to redo the handle so the two staves lean forward when unstrung much like a mongol horse bow which should increase draw weight.

Lt. Duct Tape (author)2012-08-19

Ingenious! What material was your ski made from?

mr magic (author)Lt. Duct Tape2012-08-19

What ever skis are made of,I don't think it matters though a wooden ski might not flex as easily. These ones were made of an Aluminium sandwiching a core of some graphite type stuff.Hence the need for ventilated area,it sure makes a mess when cutting.

berteh (author)2012-08-19

wonderful suggestion, thanks!

l8nite (author)2012-08-19

oddly enough we do get snow skies in 2nd hand/thrift shops here in Florida, next time I see a pair I'll have to grab them !

rocklocker (author)2012-08-19

I knew I kept those old skies for something. Great Idea.

couchpotato130 (author)2013-08-18

PUTE IT IN INCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

couchpotato130 (author)2013-08-18

PUTE IT IN INCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

fantasyman (author)2013-06-13

thank you for this great instructable, i only have one question:whatk ind of material are(pardon, were) your skis made of? they are incredibly thin, compared to skis i've always seen

Imcrazydude (author)2013-05-02

Draw weight?

darrenhall (author)2013-03-21

This is an elegant and beautiful build - big respect.


triumphman (author)2013-03-03

It would be nice if you stated your size measurements and weights in inches (USA) and pounds (USA) for us blokes across the pond, thanks mate !

builder928 (author)2012-11-05

nice bow and thats a really good idea

snoopindaweb (author)2012-08-27

Back when America was built with inches, the rule of thumb with Recurves and I'm sure Long Bows was 4" shorter String "Loop end - Loop end" than the Bow, a 54" Recurve needs a 50" String Braided "Artificial Sinuew <=== S/P? - comes off the spool endless and waxed heavily" - like from, or maybe a Bow String from a Sporting Goods or Archery Shop for less than $ 10.00 last I knew (Not enough to ruin the Beer Fund), etc, etc.

Needs a period after 50" String, to make better sence.

Questor (author)snoopindaweb2012-09-24

and you need to learn to spell

mr magic (author)Questor2012-09-25

You can't start a sentence with a lower case 'and'

snoopindaweb (author)Questor2012-09-25


mr magic (author)snoopindaweb2012-09-25

yeah , maybe it means science.

mr magic (author)snoopindaweb2012-08-28

Period after 50? Usually menopause strikes by then

snoopindaweb (author)mr magic2012-08-28

=////=======> HAR..! 54" Recurve needs a 50" String, loop end 2 loop end.

herkavar (author)snoopindaweb2012-08-29

For safety reasons, I'd like to clarify. First of all, recurves and lonbows are very different, and you don't want to assume that they're the same. Recurves are a stiff in the handle bow, and a longbow is a bend in the handle bow. Recurves have a rectangular cross section, and longbows have a rounded cross section. A 54" inch recurve bow is going to have a very different string length and brace height than a 6 foot longbow. You can't apply this "rule of thumb" to determine string length. String length is different for each shooter, and each bow. To measure string length, you need to know the correct brace height for a given person on a given bow. This is found using a "fistmele" measurement. You place the back of your fist on the belly side of the handle, with your thumb fully extended. The string length should be such that the bow string just touches the tip of your thumb. Depending on the bow and the brace height for a given person, this can be anywhere from 2.25 to 4.5 inches.

snoopindaweb (author)2012-08-27

Back when America was built with inches, the rule of thumb with Recurves and I'm sure Long Bows was 4" shorter String "Loop end - Loop end" than the Bow, a 54" Recurve needs a 50" String Braided "Artificial Sinuew <=== S/P? - comes off the spool endless and waxed heavily" - like from, or maybe a Bow String from a Sporting Goods or Archery Shop for less than $ 10.00 last I knew (Not enough to ruin the Beer Fund), etc, etc.

Questor (author)snoopindaweb2012-09-24

I make my crossbow strings from waxed dental floss. find the proper length for your string. put two nails, at that distance, on a board. wrap about 15 or 20 wraps around, nail to nail. whip the ends to make loops the proper size. Find the center and start whipping, a layer or two, an inch or so from one side to the same distance on the other
of that center mark. I then drip melted wax over all the whippings.

snoopindaweb (author)Questor2012-09-25

Great idea..! & Yet another good reason to carry a couple packs of Dental Floss in an "Emergency Kit"... P.S. You woulden't beleve it, I looked a bit closer at My rule and realized what that stuff was on the bottom, Metrics, YUP.! Thanks Again. G-G

mr magic (author)snoopindaweb2012-08-27

Yeah that is prob right. I was guesstimating.
four inches off 50 seems about right.
I just try and string it up from what I have lying around. Though I always thought when England built America they had invented the Musket.

scottyman79 (author)2012-08-26

Why not drill 4 holes on each stave and bolt the whole assembly together with hex bolts? This would prove effecient and still allow the disassembly of the unit.

mr magic (author)scottyman792012-08-27

wouldn't want to compromise strength with holes.

scottyman79 (author)mr magic2012-08-29

I dont understand how that would compromise the strength of skis, though if you were dealing with fiberglass then yes it would really cause problems with the integrity of the unit but skis generally have a core made of high durability metal. I agree that a small snowboard would be better because it is already one whole unit and though I know almost nothing about skis I do know a thing or two about snowboards because I own a couple myself. I may be wrong about the skis core materials but snowboards do in fact have a metal core. = )

mr magic (author)scottyman792012-08-29

You wont know till you try it out

scottyman79 (author)mr magic2012-08-29

Regardless I think your idea is brilliant. I am a survivalist living in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, U.S.A. and this tutorial is excellent reading. Thank you.

With electrcity and internet access? HEATHEN!


acoleman3 (author)mr magic2012-08-29

well, you could always make 3cm x 18 cm panels, sandwich the staves between them and use 2 hose cramps on each side of the break. that might bind it together enough.

etb (author)2012-08-28

You said 650 ml for your draw length. But what is yiu drawlength? 28"? Or more

mr magic (author)etb2012-08-29

74 cm that is about 29' in the old fashioned measurments

goldie25 (author)2012-08-28

A gret idea. I like the comments about using a pipe to join the two pieced. Th pipe could be flattened into an oval cross section with a sledge hammer and a block of steel to act as an anvil.then use remocable bolts with wing nuts so you don't have to carry an anvil. Hope to see you on Turoa.

mr magic (author)goldie252012-08-29

turoa sat. look out for the flash

bmwsid (author)2012-08-28

When I saw this, I had a good idea. Make the bow so that you shoot THROUGH the center, instead of off one side. The benefits are great, and the arrows don't need to be as stiff. (spine)
Also, then it is SO much easier to shoot right OR left-handed!
Just make the hole in the riser big enough to get the fletching through.

wiatmatt874 (author)2012-08-28

Use a good carpenters glue like lapages (must be an indoor glue like cabinet makers qualtiy) and clamp it together. you cant pull it apart but it will be alot stronger.

jtmcdole (author)2012-08-26

What about overlapping them pieces and bolting them together (along with glue)?

mr magic (author)jtmcdole2012-08-26

is good to keep equal pressure on each limb so whilst overlapping would presumably work it is not a mirror image.

AJMansfield (author)mr magic2012-08-27

What you could do though is sandwich the skis between the scrap lengths of ski you cut of, and drill-bolt-glue the thing together.

robertjm (author)2012-08-26

This is AWESOME!! I've got some mismatched skis in storage. May just have to try this. I did have to cringe slightly as I recognized the pattern on those Vokl skis you cut up. Something like $800+ new if memory strikes me.

mr magic (author)robertjm2012-08-27

yup,good well spent.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things out of stuff
More by mr magic:D.i.Y ArrowRe-curve Bow from Skisretro bike cum single speed racer
Add instructable to: