Introduction: Simple Wooden Crossbow

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of 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.

Picture of The Body & Stock.

Step 4: The Body & Stock Cuts.

Picture of The Body & Stock Cuts.

Step 5: Assembly of Body & Stock

Picture of Assembly of Body & Stock

Step 6: Bow Attachment

Picture of Bow Attachment

Step 7: The Trigger

Picture of The Trigger

Step 8: Stringing the Bow

Picture of Stringing the Bow

Step 9: Bolts

Picture of Bolts

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

Step 10: The Finished Product.

Picture of The Finished Product.


rt3tech (author)2013-08-23

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

rt3tech (author)2013-08-22

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

rtg123 (author)rt3tech2013-08-23

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

rtg123 (author)2013-08-22

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

anushrav (author)2013-08-17



rt3tech (author)anushrav2013-08-20


KevinAlien26 (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 (author)2012-03-04

how to attach the fork on the cross bow ?

rt3tech (author)MMoyce2012-03-04

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 (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 (author)drewmanni12012-02-21

Awesome! Any modifications/improvements/pics ?

bwells2 (author)2011-12-25

How far does it shoot?

rt3tech (author)bwells22011-12-26

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

EmcySquare (author)2011-06-13

The fork idea is GREAT !!!
4 stars

rt3tech (author)EmcySquare2011-06-13

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 (author)rt3tech2011-11-02

Why, did your wife throw one at you? LOL

rt3tech (author)Phoghat2011-11-02

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

crossfire (author)2011-07-02

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

Phoghat (author)crossfire2011-11-02

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

rt3tech (author)crossfire2011-07-03

Thanks! And it actually works perfect! :)

meatygut (author)2011-10-19

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

rt3tech (author)meatygut2011-10-21

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 (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 (author)Silver Night X992011-10-21

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 (author)2011-07-15

this is a great design! gonna make this this week

rt3tech (author)chrizw1232011-07-15

Cool. Share some pics. :)

Dream Dragon (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 (author)Dream Dragon2011-06-15

Thanks! And you're welcomed. :)

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