How to Make a Layered Oak Bow (or How NOT to Make a Pyramid Bow)




Introduction: How to Make a Layered Oak Bow (or How NOT to Make a Pyramid Bow)

About: I enjoy building things. There is something quite satisfying about making something from various parts, rather than just buying it. Also, I tend to be a bit frugal. So, many,if not all, of my projects will b...

I've been wanting to make my own bow for a while and I had been reading up on it for a couple weeks when I decided to give it a go. I figured I'd make a pyramid bow based on Tool Using Animal 's instructable, found here . (Props to him by the way. Great instructions. I just didn't follow them very well)

To give you a heads up, I did not end up with a pyramid bow, and the bow I ended up with has about a 30 lb draw, but I decided to put this here so others could learn from my mistakes, or maybe adapt what I came up with to suit their needs.

This is what I ended up with...

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Step 1: Gather Materials

I started out with :

1x3x8 oak
tape measure
Stanley SurForm wrasp/plain thing (good for shaping wood, and actually used it to remove up to about 1/4-3/8" at various times)

I ended up also using:

Table saw
Bow saw
Bench vise
Wood Glue
3/8" dowel
Drill w/ 3/8" bit

...may hav forgotten 1 or 2 things...

Step 2: First Cuts

First, I cut a 9" section off the end. This would be my handle. It was to be glued to the belly of the bow to increase rigidity near the center.

I then marked out my centers and set about making cuts that I hoped would work out well. This is where I began straying from the printed instructions.... The attached picture shows what ended up happening to my handle/grip.

Step 3: Marking Out the Limbs

I then marked out the limbs. The limbs were full width (2.5") near the grip, and narrowed to 1/2" at the tips. Referring back to my previous step, the grip was now a straight 9" section, joining the limbs. This made a bow that would be about 72" overall.

After marking out the limbs, I went about cutting them out on the table saw. I tried to do this freehand. Bad idea...

Step 4: Complete Redesign

After thinking about it and getting angry, cut off my limbs, with the idea of making a more take-down style bow. Since at least one of my limbs turned out well, I would split it and use it for both limbs.

I would also cut the ruined limb into a re-enforcing piece and split that.

I cut out a second piece for the handle so that the new layered limbs could be sandwiched between them.

Step 5: Gluing and Attaching

The re-enforcing pieces were glued to the limbs with wood glue.

The Handle Pieces were notched to the proper thickness and glued on either side of the scrap piece of wood. 

In addition to glue alone, doweling was used to attach pieces together.

When fitting everything together, things still separated a bit. This is when more disaster struck. I decided to screw stuff together to increase strength, and this cracked the handle . This leads to the final step...

Step 6: Twine Wrapping

I wrapped the handle heavily to prevent it from exploding when I pulled back on the string. After this, I also heavily wrapped the limbs to reduce the chances of them exploding.

3/8" nocks were drilled out on one side at either end.

Finally, I braided the twine to use as a string. 

Yes I know I didn't tiller it, but at this point I was fed up with it, and decided to just work it in by exercising it. It should be ok for a little while anyway for target shooting (which was my goal), but I will make another one soon, done properly, with hopefully improved results.

So, based on my experience...

1) I DO NOT recommend using power tools for bows unless absolutely necessary. (Small mistakes become major ones in a hurry)
2) Take your time, and read instructions
3) Make sure you have proper equipment before beginning 
4) I would suggest, the fewer pieces, the better, and stronger the bow (Unless you are doing proper laminating)

Hopefully you learned something from this. 

Also, just a friendly reminder, bows ARE weapons. Do NOT shoot them at people or things that you do not wish to injure or kill.

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    4 Discussions

    Ha, you had better luck than on the bow I was working on! I had made a two layer bow (I don't remember quite the woods I used but it wasn't cheap)... Anyways I had it almost finished...and in a hurry to test it, I didn't let the glue dry nor did I tiller it... anyways I strung it - it was ok.. I started to pull on the bow string and SNAP! the wood split rendering all the work I did pointless... looking back I should have let the glue dry longer or just do a single layer type bow, I should have added reinforcing pins/pegs.. and I probably should have tillered it once I strung it... oh well - I gave up for now on making a bow and bought a small bow...(child's - but perfect for practice) though I couldn't find a basic bow (though I was at the Evil Empire (Wal-mart)..instead of someplace better suited...) So I got the one I found for about 25$ not too bad for a little compound bow, that's good for practice.. though I have to say it's going to take quite a bit of practice to master as I have never used a compound bow before...


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    for a good place to start , try !


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've found its good to practice relatively close to start with, and then increase your distance after a few shots. i.e start at 10 paces and them increase to 20 to 25.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for sharing your experience making this. Sometimes the best Instructables are the ones which help us learn from others' mistakes!