Introduction: Simple Wooden Crossbow

I'd been kicking around the idea of a crossbow for a while.  But what finally got me to start putting it together were some wood scraps lying on the floor after I'd cut out a longsword from a piece of plain old whiteboard.  One of the pieces looked very much like the butt of a rifle. There were enough scraps to sandwich together the rough shape of a crossbow so I got a pencil and ruler to start marking. 

It didn't really take but a few hours to construct it, however, I took step-by-step pics the whole way which slowed the process down.  In the end I have a crossbow that will launch a bolt more than 100' feet.

Step 1: The Pieces.

Most of the components I already had on hand, such as the whiteboard, glue, screws, fork, tools etc.  I went to Home Depot and Hobby Lobby for the oak strip, string, feathers and dowel.  You could improvise, but I laid out a few dollars to save time and effort. 

The ingredients:

-(2) Red Oak strips 1/4"x2"x4'
-Some pieces of 1/2" thick white pine board
-Drywall screws
-Wood glue
-Nylon string
-(1) Fork
-3/8"x12" dowels

-Hot Glue Gun
-Dremel Tool
-Jig Saw


Step 2: The Bow.

Alright, step one.  When selecting an oak strip take your time and sort through them to find one that bends easily and evenly.  By easily I mean that after bowing a few you'll notice the difference in how some strips are very stiff and some are nice and flexible.  This is crucial because I've spent a lot of time making long bows that snapped on the first draw because I didn't select strips with good flexibility.  Yes, I know, Yew or Maple would be better, but Home Depot only carries Poplar, Pine and Oak and this is supposed to be a bow on the cheap.  Anyway, once you've found a strip that feels reasonably flexible make sure it doesn't twist when you flex it.  Two fingers on each end and some pressure to make the strip bow is the method I used.

Now, since the string will be moving directly across the top of the crossbow, I didn't taper the cut symetrically.  The top of the bow is horizontally straight while the bottom goes from the bottom-center to about 3/8" from the top on each end.  This is to allow room to make the notches for the string.

Step 3: The Body & Stock.

Step 4: The Body & Stock Cuts.

Step 5: Assembly of Body & Stock

Step 6: Bow Attachment

Step 7: The Trigger

Step 8: Stringing the Bow

Step 9: Bolts

3/8"x12" dowels and feathers obtained at Hobby Lobby.

Step 10: The Finished Product.


rt3tech made it! (author)2013-08-23

Probably. If something looks and feels like it might work then it wouldn't hurt to try it out.

rt3tech made it! (author)2013-08-22

Anything in particular? Gotta dig out the cob webs ya know?

rtg123 made it! (author)rtg1232013-08-23

don't worry. But is there any other wood i could use?

rtg123 made it! (author)2013-08-22

Could you please give a few more measurements for later steps. It would help sooooo much!

anushrav made it! (author)2013-08-17



rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2013-08-20


KevinAlien26 made it! (author)2012-06-03

Do you think that the bolts would be suitable for a non-homemade crossbow? I am getting a crossbow in a few days and it would be great to not spend money on carbon or aluminum bolts when i could make simple throw aways while I am not camping. I live in an urban area and i don't have much range for target practice so i feel the aluminum bolts will start to bend and waste away since they don't have the distance to slow down before they hit a target.

MMoyce made it! (author)2012-03-04

how to attach the fork on the cross bow ?

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2012-03-04

In step 8 there is a good pic of the fork attached. Basically, you dremel a notch for the curled forks to sit. Then you run a screw through the side, through the curled forks. Fork attached. Hope this helps.

drewmanni1 made it! (author)2012-02-19

This was the first project I did in my new wood shop and I love it. Thank you for the design...I think the trigger is genius!

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2012-02-21

Awesome! Any modifications/improvements/pics ?

bwells2 made it! (author)2011-12-25

How far does it shoot?

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-12-26

I'd say a max of 50 yards or so.

EmcySquare made it! (author)2011-06-13

The fork idea is GREAT !!!
4 stars

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-06-13

Thanks! I was contemplating what to use for a trigger the whole build. Then is just hit me as I stood in the kitchen. :)

Phoghat made it! (author)Phoghat2011-11-02

Why, did your wife throw one at you? LOL

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-11-02

>rimshot< Ha! No wife to throw forks at me. I was building in the kitchen. :D

crossfire made it! (author)2011-07-02

What a great idea! the fork as a trigger is ingenious!

Phoghat made it! (author)Phoghat2011-11-02

That' what this site is all about: "Genius"!

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-07-03

Thanks! And it actually works perfect! :)

meatygut made it! (author)2011-10-19

how and where do youi put the fork on the srossbow?

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-10-21

So you've looked at the pics I take it? Fork position is dependent upon how far back the string will pull to firing position. That point is where you'd hook the prongs on the fork/trigger. So, if you're pulling the string back to firing position with one hand, you'll use your other hand to mark that point. From there you just put the screw hole where the trigger hinge will sit. The prongs are now set to be able to hold the string in firing position. You could vary it up or down the stock depending on how much power you want and the bow can take. It's mostly something you have to eyeball.

Silver Night X99 made it! (author)2011-10-15

I was wondering, since I intend to use this for a Renaissance Festival and for LARPing, what's the poundage on it?

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-10-21

Could tell you. lol I've no scale that would give a rough est. Lemme check at work today and maybe we've got one. I'm curious myself. It'd probably do fine in LARPing. The tension is easily adjusted depending on string material and length. Anyway, I'll get back to you.

chrizw123 made it! (author)2011-07-15

this is a great design! gonna make this this week

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-07-15

Cool. Share some pics. :)

Dream Dragon made it! (author)2011-06-15

FINALLY!!! A "Crossbow" that's actually a CROSSBOW" and not just a cruciform shaped catapult! The fork trigger is an excellent Idea. Thanks for sharing your project.

rt3tech made it! (author)rt3tech2011-06-15

Thanks! And you're welcomed. :)