A while ago i searched Ible' for crossbows and found mainly K'nex thingys and stuff too badly build to be really useful for tagetshooting. (I am truly sorry if you made one thats don't fit this, please let me know)
This is a crossbow i built in 2002 for a friend. At that time i worked as webprogrammer so my skills and tools were not what they are today after teaching woodshop for the last three years. I see a lot of embarrassing mistakes i made but hopefully you'll avoid them.
At that time i mostly built medieval things so this was a nice change for me. I have the Payne-Gallwey-book and wanted to try something from the 17-1800 century chapters. My friend was going to use it for target shooting and live roleplaying (with blunt arrows of course) Using rattan limits the bow a bit but it still fun to use whitout it beeing so heavy its any actual danger.
The stock is made of ash and the bow of rattan, wrapped in rawhide for strength and waxed linen for protection.
This was made in 2002, way before steampunk as far as i know. If i would build it today i may have gotten more brass on it but i like a clean look (steampunk could be very nice but tend to get a bit christmas treeish) Since i bought my first camera while building there are some pics missing, due to lack of camera and experience in documentation. Hopefully you'll manage anyway. A exact copy would'nt be as fun to see as you own creation.
As usual - sorry for misspellings and bad language.
You will use axe, knife, powertools, hot wax mixed with turpentine and so on so use common sense. If you dont have any, lend some from a friend. It seems like some americans need a lot of these warnings. As i say to my pupils - if i warn you three times and you still hurt yourself, whos fault is it? ;-)
I suppose you all know that this is a sporting tool that in the wrong hands could be dangerous. Please be careful, dont shoot anybody that doesnt want it and use blunt arrows and proper protection when needed. For scandinavians: var fonuftig for f*n!
Step 1: Making the Stock
First i started making a piece to try out how large the stock should be, where the handrest and trigger would fit. I'm sorry i can't give you any measurements, the crossbow is no longer in my possession. You will have to do some trial and error.
As you can see i didn't make the hole for the bow until it was ready and i could try i out to see how far it should be pulled to get the right strength. (normally you want as much as possible but my friend had a limit to ~25 pounds since he was going to use it for live roleplaying)
The stock was shaped with the tools i had available at the time - handsaw, electric drill and rasp.
Step 2: The Lock
The lock is the most interesting and fiddly bit to make. It has to be able to hold the bows strenght as long as nessecary, release easily, hock the string i a way that doesent wear it down and so on.
Step 3: The Bow
The bow was made of rattan, a kind of grass believe it or not. It got very long fibers so it wont brake. The rawhide helps it go a bit faster and protects the wood.
Rawhide could be found in dogs chewingbones, just soak it in water for a few hours and it will be as soft as a dishcloth.
I didn't take any pictures of the rattan wile i shaped it, got my first camera after i started building.
You could use a small axe and work it down. Test it while you work so it gets symmetrical.
Step 4: The String
The string was made from linen or hemp twisted together with a extra enforcement loop in the end. Before i started making it i throughly waxed the string using a blend of beeswax melted and mixed with turpentine
Use a small pot and melt the wax slowly, when its floating mix carefully with the same or a little less amount of turpentine. If you want it to get harder you could add some linseed oil.
If you can't see how the string is made ill try to scan page 111 in Payne-Gallweys book.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Final step, putting it all together. Make sure you are careful, misstakes now will be harder to correct.
I'm sorry i dont have any pictures of the arrows. They are like ordinary bowarrows but shorter, usually the lenth between the bow and the hooked string. The end should not have the usual notch but should be flat on two sides so it fits between the two flat bars on the lock.
I wish you happy and injury-free building and shooting!