3$ Bamboo Longbow




About: i am a photolab technician and an incurable packrat. i have made swords ,chainmail, crossbows.cameras,bike trailers,kayaks,guitars{slide and electric},knives,various film winders and vacum easels for the ph...

here is a quick and easy project for the budding archers among us.
make a bow ,terrorize the local wildlife{dont really though}.
useful for survival situations.

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Step 1: Materials List and Overview

good day folks today im going to show you how to make a longbow out of bamboo garden stakes.
this material shows up every spring in the seasonal sections of dollar stores and walmart gardening centers.if your lucky and have bamboo or river cane growing near you the your price just dropped.
a bow like this is not going to take down a deer but in a survival situation being able to make a light bow out of available materials may just give you the edge you need to not die of hunger.

materials required:
2 packages of 48"bamboo garden stakes{20 pcs) ................$1 each
1 Roll dollar store jute twine.........................................................$1
Total $3
roll of hockey or electrical tape
glue to coat bindings
tape and glue are not 100% necessary for this project .

tools required:
but a pocket knife or small finetoothed saw wont go astray{even a sharp rock}

Step 2: Arrange the Materials

first thing to do is pick through your sticks.
select the best and straightest ones you have
line them up from thickest to thinnest {this will save you from the first result i got)
make 3 even piles choosing an even cross section of all sizes of cane.
i selected six sticks for each bundle and discarded two{the numbers of sticks are optional but more means stronger}
in 2 piles line up the sticks with the thicker ends all together.
in 1 alternate between butts and tips

Step 3: Tie Off the Ends

take one of the two aligned{bias} bundles and even up the ends{thinnest section}.
tie it very tightly about 1 inch or so from the end.
then about a foot or so down the shafts tie it again very tightly.
repeat with the other bias bundle.
so what you should have now are two bundles of sticks tied near the thinnest ends.

Step 4: Next Step

now take your two bundles, turn one around and interleave them into each other until the ends come within an inch or two of the second bindings.
now bind the bundles an inch or two below the ends.
what you have now could be used as a weaker bow with a bit more wrapping.
but we want to make it stronger again.

Step 5: Beefing It Up

now take the bundle left over{the ones with the alternating ends}
and lay them on the bundle evenly {the ends should line up between the first set of bindings an the tips}.
tie them off very tightly and wrap the whole bundle in several places with the twine.
wrap the middle section to form a handle.
and {i cant stress this enough} make all bindings as tight as you can .
the energy stored in the bending wood should not be allowed to dissipate by sticks flexing away from each other.

Step 6: Nocking and Stringing

to form a "nock" wrap some twine around each end to form a knob that your string wont slide down over.
i wrapped mine in hockey tape but you can also dip it in waterproof glue to keep it together.
the string should be 4 to 6 inches shorter than the overall length of the bow unstrung try to avoid stretchy cord as this will steal power from the bow.
i used a leftover endless loop type string {made from nylon net twine} that didnt pan out { too flexible} on a 50 lb oak bow i made last winter.
for the draw weight your going to get here you can use a couple of strands of the jute twine twisted together.

Step 7: Uh-oh

when i strung the bow i heard a sickening crunch and got to do my homer simpson impression yet again.

so what happened?
i didnt grade the piles before i selected the bundles and all the skinnier ones ended up together.
so i had to cut off the busted end and pull that bundle out untill the end was in proportion to the rest
then retied it .
as you can see the string is now too long for this bow but it worked well enough to try it out
it draws 20 lbs or so {maybe a bit less its hard to tell}.

Step 8: Ammo and Improvements

if you have any sticks that are really straight when you start save them for arrows.
i didnt have any straight ones so i made an arrow from a 30"length of 3/8 dowel with duct tape fletchings and a .38 cal cartridge case pressed on the end for a point
it will fire real arrows but the ones i bought for the 50lb oak bow are too stiff for this bow for them to be perfectly accurate.
well i hope you enjoyed this i know i did.
as for improvements and embellishments here are a couple of ideas to try
1 for a stronger bow use heavier pieces of bamboo but not too heavy,or you can cut off the smaller sections of the bamboo and have the bundles farther apart and use more backing sticks

2 wrap everything real tight

3 use a better grade cord for the bindings than i did{this stuff smells like tar and was probably recycled ships cable} speaking of recycling you can twist up your own twine if you want using the rope maker i submitted last winter {recycled cord recycled instructable lol} https://www.instructables.com/id/E2NCEWBMVFEZBF90AX/
4 if you cant get bamboo or rivercane try willow shoots or the suckers {small shoots} of any hardwood tree.
even a bundle of dowels will work. or warped arrows even.
1 do not point this at anyone or anything that you might damage you could put someones eye out or kill a family pet so dont.

2 if you need to use it for survival go ahead i know some good recipes for squirrell.
as for hunting well id check the regulations in you area first as minimum draw weight requirements would restrict this one {here the regs are 35lb and up for small game and 45 lbs and up for big game.{not to say you cant make a legal hunting bow this way just that this one isnt heavy enough}

3 also bamboo splinters easily if cracked and the splinters are sharp if you need to cut it good sharp pruning shears would be best and sand down the ends

thanks for looking

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    97 Discussions

    Tset Tsyung

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi LennyB,
    Having some trouble with the nocks... I've made the main bow but the nock keep sliding down the body as I string it. To be fair even the main binding slip but I made sure that ALL bindings and nocks were down very tight. So much so that the bamboo was creaking as I was tying it... any ideas how to stop the nocks from moving?

    3 replies
    lennybTset Tsyung

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    i ended up taping the seams and nocks with black hockey tape.
    glue also comes to mind dip the nock end of the bow in some wood glue and let it dry at least a day before stringing it up.
    also if you have one heavier bit of bamboo sticking up you can try a pin nock where a pin through a loop is all you use i havent tried it myself yet{at least not with bamboo}.
    my description of it is a little thin so google it in images youll see it there.
    hope this helps


    Reply 3 years ago

    Raw hide bindings are the way to go if one can. ( I use raw hide).


    6 years ago on Introduction

    A real bamboo bow is actually carved from a branch from a bamboo plant. Of course, the plant must be quite old before it is big enough for that, but bows made that way are among the best in the world, outperforming yew and even most synthetics.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Not completely correct. Research the bambo bows that the Chinese had around 850AD. Pretty much just like this bow but hefty. And they used them in peace and in war.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    not as well as a proper store bought bow ,but better than throwing the sticks at a target, lol.
    the biggest issue with it was it broke on the third day that i used it.
    i made a much better one from old tent poles later that worked a bit better because it wasnt as chunky and didnt break.
    next one is gonna be made from fibreglass driveway maker poles.
    some people have even made the from old arrows.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Just go to lowes, or even walmart in the garden section, i live in terre haute IN by the way so i know lol.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    if thats what you want to use sure go ahead.
    it should work just as well


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    not very well
    but if it doesn`t stretch too much or break you might get away with it


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I just made a bamboo longbow from my own design, but I found with the large body the arrows tend to fly to the side. Any ideas on now to fix this?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    that depends on how thick it is.
    usually an arrow if its properly flexible for the draw weight used will flex around the middle of the bow and go straight.{although it will whip side to side in flight}
    but if the middle of the bow is too wide it cant or if the arrow is too stiff same problem.
    a lot of designs have the mass at the middle of the bow wider front to back instead of round like bamboo bows usually are.
    also if you are using storebought arrows designed for a compound or other heavy draw bow there probably not spined correctly{matched flexibility}.
    hope this is helpfull.
    let me know how you get on with it.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    hey i was just wondering if you could give an opinion, I have tried to make a bow and am going to attempt to make a type like yours also, but i was just wondering what kind of rope/string i should use for the launcher rope, people say nylon string is the best suited for a bow, but do you have any other recommendations? i would like to have a string that can increase the range and accuracy. thanks

    1 reply