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?
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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
dog 053.jpg
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.
1-40 of 356Next »
Joe Torres3 months ago
I've been looking for red oak and couldn't find any, is there another type of wood I could use?
the problem is that I can't find it in my city (Mexicali, Baja California, México) and I really want to make a bow.

you can use white oak,hickory,(my choice),maple,(native Americans in my area and in your area ) Osage

jholt5 Joe Torres3 months ago

Look for mexican rose wood/bocote, chechem, cocobolo, purple heart or ziricote. All of those are woods that grow in mexico/central america and would be acceptable/good/exceptional bow woods.

A quick question about Yew. It happens that we have a ton of it growing on the West End here. But it's green naturally. Seasoning? How long?

usmang22 months ago

have a look at this website very good for woodworking

gcaces1 year ago
hey, i know this is out of the topic, but is mahogany a good bow wood?

Since mahogany is a hardwood it should have the same effect, however it is a more decorative wood and may cost more.

Silent_Shadow7 months ago
How do I tiller it? Please help I'm a newbie...
Go to the site poor folks bows. The guy that has the site has a very detailed tutorial on how to tiller a bow. What ever you do DO NOT SOAK THE BOW !!! Building a bow takes time and patience. Short cuts = fire wood

the easiest way i found was to soak it before you try to shape it... although there is a possibility of lifting a splinter as it dries... it makes the process a lot easier

Andrew LB9 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.

MarkS22 Andrew LB3 months ago

You say those grips are custom made, how did you get the S&W logo on there? Those are some beautiful grips I would like to get some like that, where can I find some?

swagbucket4 months ago

would you do any extra shaving on the limbs to try and adjust the poundage on the bow or do you just leave it as is?????

love it

obi wan kaoni6 months ago
seanwhalen9 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.
kelsch9 months ago

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

kelsch9 months ago

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

120100410 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 kaoni11 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 ?

charlesian200011 months ago

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.

ElCubano1 year 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

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

also hickory, ash, elm, and oak.

PLUCK YEW1 year ago
Nock wedges????? do you get fries and a coke with that?
PLUCK YEW1 year ago
oh boy...
mje1 year 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.
1-40 of 356Next »