Picture of Red Oak Pyramid Bow
I'd been involved in archery and bowhunting when I was younger, shot an old PSE wheel bow, chased deer around the woods of New Hampshire. But life intervened and archery took a backseat. Anyways, some how I got a bug in my backside to build a bow over spring break.  I did a great deal of reading over at paleoplanet, tradgang and primitive archer, and I'd suggest anyone who chooses to follow this instructable do a fair share of reading over there before proceeding.

So, let's begin, shall we?
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Step 1: First, a confession

Picture of First, a confession
This wasn't the first bow. No the first bow was built using these old Pop Mech plans. However, it was powerful weak, only 20lbs at 28"s. So after further research i found the description of pyramid bows. Not wanting to design another weak bow, I entered the dimensions of the Pop Mech bow into Solidworks and recorded the displacement under a 20 lb load. I then designed the the new bow in Solidworks such that an applied load of 50 Lb resulted in the same displacement as the other bow.

Step 2: Select your wood

Picture of Select your wood
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The easiest wood to begin with is red oak, as it's available at any hardware/lumber store. I selected a 1"x3"x8' board with the straightest grain I could find, as well as the widest growth rings and greatest weight relative to other boards in the stack. You will have to dig through the pile, you might need to visit several stores, it's worth it, bad wood, bad bow, bad injuries.
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How do I tiller it? Please help I'm a newbie...
Andrew LB2 months ago

If you want a protective finish that will give the look of your wax/turp/blo mixture, while preventing sweat from raising the grain, I'd recommend getting a bottle of Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil and hand rubbing it into the wood. (make sure you wear nitrile gloves). I usually pour a bit into the cap of a used water bottle and dab a finger in it and get to work rubbing it into the wood (you want to create heat from the rubbing action) till it's absorbed, working in sections to prevent it from building up on the surface of the wood. I recently refinished a friends bow for him and it turned out very nice.

Oh... and if you want to speed up the process, before each coat of Tru-Oil spray a tiny bit of Armor-All (yes.. the crap i'd never put on my car) on your gloves so they get slippery, and rub the wood down, followed by the above Tru-Oil method. Someone over at RimfileCentral told me about it yet nobody can seem to figure out the original source. My theory is that some guy with a Tru-Oil finish applied Armor-All to a shotgun or rifle prior to going out in bad weather with the intent of protecting the wood. He ended up dinging the finish while out that day and touched it up with some fresh tru-oil only to find it dried in 5 minutes instead of a few hours. And no joke, that's seriously how fast it dries. Armor-All works like a catalyst and some sort of reaction occurs.

Here's a couple examples of how Tru-Oil looks on Walnut. The first is my Browning Auto-5 16ga (circa 1928) which I refinished and re-checkered after I gouged the crap out of it climbing a fence while running from a bull (long story). The other is a pair of custom grips I made from a block of Pao Ferro (Bolivian Rosewood) and hand checkered. You can build up the finish further but I like the feel of the wood.

seanwhalen3 months ago
Great plans! I made this last summer. It was a fun and easy project that took me all of one afternoon. I used a piece of red oak salvaged from a job site. The photos were taken before I stained it. I used a red oak stain and finished with polyurethane. The bow has held up exceptionally well. I use it on average maybe twice a month, just shooting at a small target in my back yard. It is surprisingly powerful. I had to reinforce my homemade target because it kept blowing arrows straight through the back and into my shed.
kelsch3 months ago

when you are "Tillering" the bow how and when do you know to stop? do you just guess? please help!

kelsch3 months ago

What kind of bow string do I use and where can I find it?

12010044 months ago

wouldn't the grain split apart? I'm making a flatbow out of osage and I'm getting the back down to one growth ring. Just wondering.

obi wan kaoni4 months ago

this is brilliant and i just rang the wood shop up to order a peice of maple how ever i think its going to be 5inch thick can i still run with that or would it be better to buzz it down to 3inch and if it were to stay at 5inchs would that increase the poundage on it ?

It's very interesting the way you've cut the bow.

Looking at the end grain, where you can see the rings. you've cut across these instead of going with the rings.

Hey it works, but it definitely a different way to do it.

ElCubano6 months ago
If you paint this like Katniss' s bow it will look badass!
thinking about making this, anyone know what would be the best wood for this project?

maple or yew

Osage Orange/bodark/bois d'arc, how ever you call it, is some of the best wood for making bows. Hell "bois d'arc" is French for wooden bow. If you can find a knot free length of the stuff, GET IT.
yew.....its expensive and rare so dont osage,lemonwood are easyily available in the USA i believe...........basically any dense hardwoods are capable of making reasonable bows..........ive read oak with a hickory strip glued on the back works well.............
The best wood for making bows is dead wood, Oak is the next best thing.
where might I get deadwood? what is it anyway?
read the comments
oneofakind37 months ago

Is there any more simpler tools that I can use besides a table saw?

oneofakind37 months ago

also hickory, ash, elm, and oak.

PLUCK YEW8 months ago
Nock wedges????? do you get fries and a coke with that?
PLUCK YEW8 months ago
oh boy...
mje10 months ago
Very nice! I've done a few similar self bows with a heavy kraft paper backing. I don't have a table saw, so I use an inexpensive bandsaw and clean up the edges with a mix of belt sander and rasps.
zwells1 year ago
What do you mean "ease the corners"
wtannebe1 year ago
Can you give instructions for the jig used for cutting the limbs?
Doug19651 year ago
In step 6, why have the nocks not been cut in yet?
The knocks aren't cut they are secured on.
rchoppy2 years ago
I'm a little knew to bow terms. About how strong does one have to be to use this bow to it's maximum strength? How would someone make a weaker bow if required? I'm looking to make a bow like this for my girlfriend, but I really doubt she has the armstrength to pull a very powerful bow.
Jaygo rchoppy1 year ago
You need some method of "weighing" the draw. I use a spring plunger scale of the type used to weigh fish but it goes heavier. I attach the scale to my string and pull it to draw I go. You shave the limbs lightly as you go so you can reduce it to whatever you want. Most hunting bows go from a minimum of about 45# to about 60# at full draw. For simply target shooting, 35# is a popular weight. For smaller women or kids from about 10-12yrs, 20#-35# is a good weight range. These are just rough averages. You can make them whatever you or the intended used is comfortable with.
RIKZAK661 year ago
Hey Tool Using Animal,
I have a little question. How did you made the bow string???
gcaces1 year ago
hey, i know this is out of the topic, but is mahogany a good bow wood?
how many pounds of force does this exact bow have? do you know?
Hey boss,
I have to thank you cause you got me into making bow and my owns strings.
I took the initial ideas from your instructible but turned out the piece that I bought had a defect a 4ft so I had to cut it there. So I made a short 4ft pyramid bow and it was allot of work seeing as I didnt want to use any powertools. I made it pull 50pds bends 11inches on both sides at max pull and the string is made from good old hemp cord. Made a waxed hemp endless loop bowstring that works like a dream just gotta twist it a bit sometimes but so far so good

So yeah.
Thanks very much for the instructible and ill upload the pics in the time being. In the meanwhile making the exact same idea except 7ft instead of 4 cause I found a nice straight piece and I wanna make an epic longbow from it

vandejake1 year ago
currently on my forth home depot oak board bow, so far no failures, I have built three flat bows (similar to pyramid) and currently tillering a 78" american longbow 50# @ 28". One thing not discussed in this DIY is the use of backing once you get the back of the bow shaped (the tapers) consider backing it to keep it together during the tiller stage, using simple wood glue and any linen (or glass) will do nicely pull it tight clamp it on the nocks and it shouldn't explode as you work it. over all great DIY buddy!
DarkHood1 year ago
this bow looks awesome so going to make it
afridave3 years ago
yesterday i broke my third bow on the tiller.........first one was oak which broke at 38 pounds at 28 inches....i was aiming for 40 pounds...........second one was imboia which i broke on purpose was well over 50 pounds and about 29 inches when it broke
last one was iroko which i was very carefull with ...i was aiming at 35 pounds at 28 inches broke at about 33 pounds at 28 inches.......

so im rethinking all of this.......ive been attempting the longbow concept that bends through the handle but yesterday i glued a riser on a piece of iroko and will attempt again with this new method.......i build as long as my wood will allow........the oak was 6 ft long..........the iroko are both 70 inches as i get two equal staves out of one piece of wood.......i think one of my mistakes is that im starting with my rough shape to thin and not leaving enough timber to reach my desired draw weights.......not sure what im learning but will get it right eventually.................i believe breaking bow may in the long run be more educational than it seems...... ...."a fully drawn bow is a 7/8 ths broken bow"
Jaygo afridave1 year ago
This build does not fully explain tillering. There's more to it than shown. He tillered to form but that's all.
A bow should be 'exercised' on the tillering bar, pulling it to varying degrees starting from light to greater bends as you progress. It wouldn't hurt to flex the bow at least a dozen times at each stage of shaping. In the end, it doesn't hurt to tiller a couple inches beyond your target draw. That can help prevent failure if the bow is over drawn. Such tillering can also reduce string follow.
Kynan4th4 years ago
i think i shall make a pyramid bow, ive got nothing better to do, but i reckon ill save up for some ash, itll be harder to work, but worth it if i succeed, but with the height thing, should i do longbow measurements? height of the archer plus a hand? because 6' 4" of ash, plus the handle bit, is gunna cost alot
Jaygo Kynan4th1 year ago
Check hardware stores for tool handles. Many are made of ash, hickory or other "white" hardwoods.

To the many comments about what type of wood to use, hark back to the beginning of this build along. He recommends a red oak board. You can find these anywhere lumber is sold, they are not expensive and just the thing to make a bow until you improve your technique. Learn to make a good bow first before going on to more exotic- and expensive- woods.

Another thought on backing came from another site. It recommended using layers of the drywall net stuff for seams and patching built up in layers with wood glue. It's durable, cheap and easy to make, and works.
i bought a rough cut board of ash with nice straight grain and free of knots for i think 8 bux. then they planed it for me. i am in the process of making the handle. it seems like its gonna be sweet though. i went with ash rather than oak. it seems like more ppl recomend it
i believe oak backed with a hickory strip is very good....i live in south africa and cannot find a piece of hickory for love or money.........
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