Making a Simple Laminate Longbow




This is a short guide on how to make a VERY simple laminate longbow. If at the end of this tutorial, you have any questions that are not answered, or you would like more detailed instructions on how to make a longbow, check out

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Step 1:

Step 1
Cut the laminates using a circular saw or a band saw. The dimensions of the belly laminate should be about 75" by 1 1/2" by 1", and the dimensions of the back laminate 75" by 1 1/2" by 3/16". The grain of the back laminate must run straight down the length of the board and be uncut.
When shooting a bow the belly side is towards you and the back is facing away.

Optional belly woods: Yew, osage, lemonwood, ipe, oak and more.
Woods for backing: Hickory, ash and more.

Step 2:

Step 2
Glue the laminates together using the strongest wood glue you can find, then use clamps and alike, to clamp the laminates together. Let the glue dry.

Glue recommendations: urac 185, smooth-on, UHU plus endfest 300 and Casco actually makes a two component boat glue that also works. Important! Always mix the glue well.

Step 3:

Step 3
When the glue is dry, mark out the bow. Draw a straight line down the centre of the bow stave, and with reference to the line mark out the width of the bow.

Width: 1 3/16" at the centre and then let it taper evenly down to 1/2" at the tips on both sides.

Thickness: 1" at the centre and then it taper it down to 1/2" at the tips (Important! Only taper the belly side).

Step 3 1/2
Cut the belly tapers and then cut the back tapers (In other words, simply cut along the lines you just drew).

Step 4:

Step 5
Shape the belly of the bow like it is shown in the photo and carefully take the edges of the back laminate. A rasp works fine for this job.

Step 5:

Step 6
Make some temporary nock grooves using a 5/32" round file.

Fit a temporary bow string and slowly start bending your bow. If and when the bow bends nicely carefully draw it a little further, if any stiff areas present themselves, remove a little wood from these areas and NEVER from the weak areas. Continue like this until the bow bends nice and evenly throughout the entire length of the bow. If the bow is too strong you need to remove wood from the entire length of the bow, but be careful you do not remove too much. Important! When doing this work only remove wood from the belly side of the bow, not the back.

Step 6:

Step 7
Sand the bow and apply the final touches to the nocks.
Last apply a varnish and fit a bow string and you are ready to start shooting.

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    76 Discussions

    Zach S.B

    3 years ago

    Where is a good place to buy bow strings long enough for a 76" bow (i.e. 73")? Most every place I've looked has only stocked up to 68".

    1 reply
    AngusL7Zach S.B

    Reply 5 months ago

    Make your own ;)

    there are a lot of youtube tutorials for good methods

    AngusL7Ghost Wolf1

    Reply 5 months ago

    Pretty much any hardwood would do for the primary construction (yew, lemonwood, hickory, oak, are the most common i believe). I think for the back part, you can use bamboo, which is less traditional but functions well. See my other comment for the youtube guide

    KingJingalingGhost Wolf1

    Reply 1 year ago

    i've heard that yew is the most common to use, due to it being strong but flexible. but other types work just fine


    Tip 5 months ago

    You can also glue the bow in shape, by constructing a wooden frame with holes along it for clamps. Make the frame a little thicker than the bow, in the shape that you'll ultimately end up with (slightly curved arch), then apply the glue like butter, and clamp the bow along the frame. If there is a part where no glue squeezes out, you just apply more, then leave to dry and continue construction [source, (basically just shows what I typed but with better terminology)]

    Longbows were originally drawn back to the ear or farther, while most other bows were pulled back to the eyes. Longbowmen required 10 years of training in order to build up the muscle in their drawing arm. A typical longbowman could fire 12-15 shots in a minute, with very high accuracy. In this way, they were actually more effective than the muskets which were coming into use. However, you didn't need 10 years to train a person to shoot a gun, so longbows were used only in England, and only for a very short window of time (around a century, if memory serves).

    In any case, there is no measure of how much power the bow has per say, unless you know exactly how far back you draw it every time, and you know the equations based on your bow, the type of wood, the string, your draw length, etc.

    Also, native american style bows were usually shot "instinctively", which is a different style. The bow arm is pushed forward while the arrow hand is pulled back to the area of the chin or corner of the mouth. One fluid movement and then released when 'instinct' said it was on target. The bow was not held in the pulled position for more than a second.
    The hold position seems to come from a military background where archers worked in groups rather than a hunting style where they worked alone. For most native traditions the range was much closer than modern hunters would believe. 3 to 10 feet being the range for a honorable kill of the animal. "the arrow would enter the animal before the fletching/feathers passed the hand." It takes good stalking or hiding/camouflage/scent masking skills compared to a tree stand shot at 50 feet. A different skill set for a different time and tradition.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I seen a similar shooting style applied to a slingshot, and it dramatically increased power on impact. I wonder if that was same for native American bow shooting. I want to guess and say they didn't have 60-75# bows like we do now. And also the arrow construction was different entirely, being ultralight in the back, weight loads up most in the front. Most had foreshafts that where friction fit, designed to search from the arrow if the animal hit brush. That was for recovery, but may have added to the ballistic potential of those arrows. If I have a choice, that's how I make mine, and seems they fly pretty darn good, and last longer. Can be a few grains heavy, compared to modern arrows but they hit like a truck. I like it most because I can change tips on the fly, and in a second or two. I would love to learn how they made the bows though

    One small correction: Longbowmen used back muscles just as much as arm muscles, both are required to use such powerful bows.
    Other than that everything you said was right on.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    40-60 pounds - it is really hard to say because it depends on which type of wood you use, your bow making style and skill:) If this is the first time you make a bow, it will probably be lower than 40 pounds before you are done with it.

    As mentioned, the draw weight also depends on your draw length (the distance from the back of the bow to the string when you draw the string back to shoot the arrow). On average when target shooting, this distance is 28" and most people use the corner of the mouth or the cheekbone as an anchor point.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    longbows do not have a set draw length like a compound bow. You pull it back to the length you need. The father you pull it back, the harder it get.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Actually there is a draw weight to longbows. The draw length on average runs about 28" and the weight is measured by placing the bow on a suspended scale and pulling down to that distance. Based on the thickness and number of your tapered laminates including the length of your bow there will be variations to this weight. Material also plays a roll. Indeed there are different drawing distances based on who is pulling it back but the draw weight is measurable.


    3 years ago

    does it work with teak as backing and oak as belly???


    3 years ago

    A formidable weapon , under rated today because of more fearsome weapons , but when the nuclear war happens all the guns will soon run out ammo and those in possesion of a longbow will be kings amongst men.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hello, well done instructable & wonderful e-book (exactly what I've been searching for). My question is on fletching; arrows today have fletching that is slightly turned so the arrow will rotate during flight. Is this truly helpful in the arrows distance & impact?

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Fetching is a world in its self. Some say it helps stability, but to much twist may affect how it clears the bow on launch. Good way to set fetching is two nuts, that fit over the shaft. Nuts have six sides, so you can perfectly line up the feathers in perfect thirds, even if you add a twist. And you will get the same pitch on all three feathers


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the kind words.
    Offset or helical feathers on an arrow will make the arrow spin when it is in flight, just like a bullet shot from a rifle. If there are any inconsistencies in the the flight path of the arrow these inconsistencies will be spun in all directions, making the arrow more accurate.
    I am quite sure that this style of fletching arrows do not make the arrow fly further, it is much more likely that it has the opposite effect, though I have not done any testing.