Homemade Maple Tree Bow and Arrow




This will give you step by step instructions teaching you how to build a survival bow and arrow will nothing but simple tools and materials found in your backyard.  It is a comprehensive guide that focuses on how to transform your wood into a functioning bow.

Step 1: Materials

Required Materials:
-Sharp Knife
-String of choice (I used parachord)

-Tape Measurer
-Sand Paper

Step 2: Finding the Right Tree

In order to have a strong bow, you want to avoid using a dead branch on the floor of the woods.  
Instead, I recommend walking through the woods trying to find straightest branch or small tree possible that is still alive.  

I found a small tree with no branches that I thought was thick enough to withstand the stresses of being used as a bow.  

After finding it, I sawed it down for further evaluation.

Step 3: Measure and Cut to Length

Length can vary for your bow, but I chose to cut mine to 50 inches using my saw.  

While the tape measurer was out and next to the wood, I took the time to mark the center at 25 inches using my knife.  

If you do not have a tape measurer, you can use your string to find the center.   Place the string over the bow and fold it in half over itself.  Measure from one end to find the center and make a marking with a knife.

Step 4: Start Trimming Down One Side of Wood

Starting about 4 inches away from the center in each direction, use your knife to trim away the bark on just one side of the bow.  

After the bark is removed, continue removing more of the wood from that same side until the diameter is halved.  

For safety, hack away at the wood in a direction away from your body.

Starting 4 inches away from center in each direction will give you an 8 inch handle and will give the bow a stronger point to bend around.

This video may be useful:

Step 5: Finish Trimming Bow

Once the majority of the wood has been sliced off, try to smooth it down.  
         -The flatter the surface is, the stronger the bow will be.  

I used sandpaper to remove the impurities and flatten it out.  If you do not have sand paper, just carve away bumps carefully with your knife with a slower motion.  

Bow should look like this once you are done carving/smoothing one side of it.

Step 6: Work a Bend Into the Bow

Slowly begin working a bend into the bow so the wood can get used to bending.   Be careful with this step.  If you try to force too much bend into the wood too quickly it will break.   Start by placing one end of the bow on the ground, bending the bow with your hands.  

If you get tired of this you can rig it to bend itself.  I did this by placing the center of the bow on the corner of a counter top.  Next, I hung two buckets from each end of the bow.  I started by adding a gallon of water to each.  Every 30 minutes I added half a gallon to each bucket (increasing the force acting on the bow) until there was 2.5 gallons in each bucket.  I let the bow hang like this for about 6 hours.  Periodically, I would go over and rhythmically push each end of the bow downwards so the buckets starting bouncing in harmony to get more bend into the bow.

Be careful during this step to add water to the buckets at the same pace.  If you add more to one side it will topple over and spill everywhere.  Also, I had to use type to keep the bow from rolling over.  It needs to stay oriented correctly so it bends the right way.

Step 7: Add Notches to Ends

Using the tape measurer (or just eyeball it), mark 1/2 inch down from each side with the knife.  

Next, make a notches 1/2 inch away from each end that cover the entire circumference of the bow using your knife.
The notches need to be wide enough to accomodate the thickness of the rope you choose to use.  

The notches also need to be deep enough so that the rope does not slide down the bow when you pull the string back.

Step 8: Complete by Stringing Up the Bow

Stringing up the bow can be tricky.

I placed the rope around the notch at one end of the bow and tied a knot.  

Next, I tied a knot into the rope near the other end of the bow using a bowline knot.  I tied this second knot so that the loop was about 3 inches short of the notch it was supposed to rest in.  

This website is helpful for learning different knots: http://www.animatedknots.com/

I then bent the bow and stretched the rope to slide the loop over the other end of my bow and into the notch already carved there.

The bow is now complete and ready to fire!

Woodworking Challenge

Participated in the
Woodworking Challenge



    • 1 Hour Challenge

      1 Hour Challenge
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest

    17 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I like how this was a step-by-step website really helpful when your doing a hands on project.


    1 year ago

    That was awesome thanks


    2 years ago

    Can u send me a link to make the arrows I made my bow out of bodart wood and is holding an awsome string th I just need arrows for it now and then the hunt is on


    3 years ago

    black walnut is also a good wood . I made a couple of bows with black walnut


    Pine is too soft of a wood to have the structure to deal with the stress. Reputedly the woods of choice are, in no particular manner except for my memory, English Yew, Osage, Bois D'arc, Hickory, Ash, and you go by the density of the grain from this point. Paracord, for string and handle wrap. Not being in a hurry is the only thing I advise.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I never have seen a maple tree (I live in Argentina). Is its wood enough elastic and flexible as needed for a bow? Forgive my ignorance.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    As a native Pennsylvanian and now West Virginian: no. Mayple is not particularly springy like hickory or ash.


    5 years ago

    This is cool how far can it shoot acctaly at a target


    5 years ago on Step 8

    Really in depth. I might try this for an elf costume. Have you attempted any other kinds of wood since then?


    5 years ago

    Thanks for making a good bow with real string not a rubber band its awesome


    5 years ago

    you can also make a super easy tillering board ( do research ) to give your bow a perfectly even bend. Also, pull it back to 28 inches means the length from where the bowstring is not pulled and to where it is pulled to the max limit.


    6 years ago on Step 7

    Hello! I was just wondering if there is any reason to make the bow out of Maple specifically. I was reading somewhere else that pine is best - do you happen to know if there is any truth to this? How strong does this bow end up being? Do you just use it for fun? I really like your tutorial by the way, it's very well done. Thank you!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice bow, although it looks like you could remove more wood from the belly to get a better effect. At this point, it seems like it has more potential in it. Look up the process of tillering a bow online and give it a go.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    @mbreukel, I am new to archery so I am not quite sure what you mean by "can you pull it to 28 inches". It is very strong though and, yes, I think it shoots pretty well.

    This is my first instructable, glad you liked it!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice bow!

    a few questions:
    can you pull it to 28 inch?
    how strong is it?
    did you ever shot it?

    @rimar2000, maple is usuable for bows, my personal bow also has maple inside of it.