Takedown Recurve Bow - Home Made




About: Don't take the world to seriously relax a little and enjoy the ride.

I had wanted to make a re-curve bow for some time now and I have finally done it!!

I made the bow by designing and building my own riser from 3 different types of exotic woods to give me a great look once complete. I used skis as the arms because of the flex and it was much easier then forming my own arms, though I may now attempt that.

I have included a whole bunch of pictures in each step to make things easier to understand.

Overall this project wasn't that hard.

materials needed

For Riser

- A single, 3" x 24" x 2-1/4" block of hardwood ( I made mine by gluing 3 types of wood together)

- Pencil and paper for sketching the riser design

- Jig saw or ban saw (to cut out the riser)

- Wood Glue

- Lots of clamps

- Sand Paper and Belt Sander

- Wood Rasp

- Epoxy self mixing resin ($9.50)

- Varathane and paint brush

For Arms

- 1 set of cross country skis

- measuring tape

- fine toothed saw to cut skis

- drill and attaching hardware

- paint

- Round wood file

Extra Items

- Bow String

- Arrows

- Some sort of target material

Step 1: Designing the Riser

The first step is to design how your riser (the middle wood section) of your bow will look as well as function. I started by looking at bows online and trying to do simple sketches of what I thought would look good. Basically there are only a few main things you will want to be sure of. They are:

- Total riser length - Should be around 16" minimum to 24" maximum, My bow riser is 20"

- Where the arrow will sit - The arrow should sit when finished in the exact middle of the riser

- handle location - Your handle should be just below the arrow location.

- Angles of arms when attached - Most store bought bows have an angle of 15-20 degrees but because I am going to use cross country skis I will change my angle to 10 degrees so the skis will sit more upright. The reason for this is because they are quite flexible and I want to get the most power I can out of these arms.

I am proficient in " Google Sketchup" and actually did a rough 3D model of what the riser would look like before sanding.This is not necessary but helped a little.

Step 2: ​Choosing Wood & Laminating It Together (Glueing)

Choosing wood for a bow riser is not very hard and there is only 1 main rule that should be followed but in all honesty will probably work regardless.

Main rule - Use hard wood. - Hard Wood will make for a stronger and more powerful finished product along with the fact that hardwood usually has beautiful grain associated with it.

I went to Lee Valley and grabbed 4 pieces of wood

1- Zebra wood - 3" x 24" x 1.5"

2 - Purple Heart - 3" x 24" x 1.5"

3 - Padauk x 2 - 3" x 24" x 3/8"

*** I wanted a "fancy" riser so I bought pricy wood you don't have to, any hardwood will work just fine***

I cut the Zebra wood and Purple heart in half and laminated them together making sure to give the glue 24 hours to set.

After un-clamping, the 4 pieces we not totally flat so I used a clamp and a hand plane to smooth them out before attaching the Padauk to the top and bottom of the other pieces.

after all glue had dried there might be small gaps around the edges I filled these with a clear drying self mixing epoxy resin just to fill the gaps in the wood.

I now have a block of wood that measured 3" x 24" x 2-1/4"

Step 3: Cutting Out the Riser

Draw out your riser design to scale and place it on your wood block. Then trace the design with a pencil and then go over it in marker because its much easier to see when cutting and saw dust is everywhere. I used a ruler to draw where I would like to make my cuts in order to make cutting out the piece easier. I don't own a ban saw so I have to use a jigsaw which is harder for cutting smooth lines.

I made a series of small cuts perpendicular to my riser line to make cutting much simpler. My finished cut piece is very blocky and has saw marks all over it but that's okay we are going to sand that bad boy down and make it look nice.

Step 4: Sanding and Shaping the Riser

Not really a fast way to do this other then some gritty sand paper and a power tool. I only have a belt sander so what I had to do was flip the sander upside down and sand my riser that way.

I just worked away at the riser until I began to get the shape I wanted.

after I got it close I used a wood rasp to sand where the belt sander could not.

Sanding tips.

- Be sure to always be moving your riser as to not take off to much material

- pay attention to other parts that may be getting sanded with out you meaning to when working on weird angles.

- take your time and take breaks, no point rushing

- Wear a face mask and safety glasses to protect from ingesting wood dust.

- Wear ear protection, its going to take a while so don't damage your ears

- keep sanding until you reach your desired shape

Step 5: Making the Arms

I used a pair of old cross country skis for the arms. I got these a my local re-use center for $20.

Measure your skis from the tip down anywhere from 20" 26" for good spring power. I cut these at 23.5" from the tip.

I laid out the bow to see how everything was going to look.

Step 6: Attaching Arms

attaching the arms is easy but needs to be done correct so follow these steps

go and buy your attaching hardware;

2 bolts @ 3"

2 bolts @ 2"

4 washers

4 wing nuts

all hardware is 5/16

1 - measure where the wood of your riser stops on your ski from the bottom. draw a line across the top of the ski as guide.

2 - make points where you are going to drill that are directly in the middle of the ski. from the cut edge of the ski I made marks at 1" and 2.5".

3 - using masking tape tape the ski to the wood as best as you can exactly where you want it to sit when attached

4 - clamp the wood and ski down and using a bit that can be used for wood and plastic drill through the ski and wood. I used a 5/16 bit because that was the size of my bolts.

Using a hole cutter bit drill from the back of the riser making the holes large enough for the head of the bolt to fit in. drill the holes deep enough so the bolt sticks up just past the riser maybe 1/4-1/2"

after all holes are drilled use a nail set to hammer in bolts so the fit snug then add your arms and tighten down with a washer and wing nut.

Using a round file, work in some notches where the string will fit. Angle the notches away from the middle of the bow to act as a rest and not have the string fall off.

Step 7: Testing

At this point I have basically a functioning bow but it needs to be tested before paint.

Here is a quick testing video

This was shot at close range about 20'

Notice I only pulled it back about 50%-75% draw. I have another video of it at full draw. Because of where I was shooting I wanted to be safe.

Step 8: Final Sand and Finish (for the Riser)

Now that we know that the bow is shooting correctly we can make it look a little fancier.

After making sure everything fits nicely do a final sand on your
riser then add some stain or varathane. I wanted the natural wood colours so I went right to varathane.

let everything set for 24-36 hours

Step 9: Painting and Design Detail

Hang it up somewhere and use multiple of layers of paint. Try to use a paint that has some flexing agents in it because the arms will have to flex quite a bit, automotive paint should work great.

keeping the bow all white looked good but I wanted to add a Canadian feel to it so I did some detail work.

Step 10: Complete Bow

All Done!!

The bow is complete and ready for real testing

These shots were taken at about 35yrds and the grouping is pretty good.

In the video it looks like the arrow is wobbly but in actuality is was flying straight I was using a cell phone to film it. When I walk up you can see how the arrows have hit the target for a better idea of how it was coming off the bow. All consistent

(sorry about not turning the camera)

I hope you have all enjoyed this instructable

I did this for fun enjoy.

Wood Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Wood Contest

Formlabs Contest

Participated in the
Formlabs Contest

2 People Made This Project!


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122 Discussions


Question 9 months ago

I noticed in the comments that your draw weight is optimal at 32lb. If you shorten the string it will increase the draw weight at the cost of accuracy. Is it possible to get a greater draw weight by using a different material for the limbs? If so .. do you know what sort of material would be good to use for the limbs/ what material should be avoided?


4 years ago on Step 9

I really like the concept of creating sth. new from sth. old. Like your crafts skills, too. Only I have to say that for my tastes the inking and fine liner finish somehow ruined the otherwise professional attire of the bow. But it's your bow in the end.

What about the arrows - the way the bow works, the arrows' fins will hit the ledge and the grip with each shot. Don't you think the fins will be ripped off soon?

2 replies
Geoffrey KAzze01

Reply 9 months ago

It happens with every bow. The fins just compress, it wears them down in the long run but if the ledge is smoothly sanded it won't rip them off.

TylerS180Geoffrey K

Reply 9 months ago

Have you thought of attaching a stick on arrow rest to the shelf area? I found a cheap one for a few dollars and it works really well on a bow that I bought.


Question 1 year ago

What can we use for the arms other than skis?
And can I use plywood?

1 answer
Geoffrey KKetanP41

Answer 9 months ago

Plywood would not work, you need straight grained wood for the arms.

Corasaurus Rex

1 year ago on Step 5


You could laminate thin pieces together I would assume and bend them in some form of jig.


Question 1 year ago

I'm just in the process of building my own bow. I notice one thing missing from the instructions. How do you determine the correct bow string length? Am I right thinking the length of the riser, arms and where I cut my string notches, if I don't watch out, may not be an exact dimension for an off the shelf bow string?.

1 answer
Josehf MurchisonChrisM934

Answer 1 year ago

I have been a bow hunter for a very long time.

A Recurve Bow is set up right when the recurve is flat like in this pic.

Bend the bow until the recurve is flat and measure from knoc to knoc and you should have your bow string length.


1 year ago on Step 10

Hi, I'm hoping to make a similar bow soon. One thing I need to ask though: how do you determine your bow string length to get the optimum performance from the bow. Thanks.


2 years ago

please send me the riser pdf. salmanisheikh@gmail.com. Thanks.


2 years ago

Hi! This is awesome! please send me the riser template in pdf.


Thank you!


2 years ago

i see everyone is wanting a pdf of the riser. guys if you just get graph paper, you can copy the one above or design your own. its pretty simple..

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Graph paper that is "old school" and takes a little bit of effort to do, people seem to get a little confused with "making your own something by hand" and wanting the easy option for plans, even if a PDF was included then there seems to be the ones that say that they need the PDF in actual size as or if it is actual size they complain that their printer can't handle the dimensions. My only problem with making this is I would not have a clue how to tell if a set of skis are cross country or downhill. I have noticed that there are a few instructable's using cross country ski's but can't say that I have seen any with downhill ski's.


2 years ago

if you attach simple and cheap arrowrest the bow will be much prciser than before

1 reply
Corasaurus Rexsimarsch

Reply 2 years ago

I actually already did. I even brought the bow into BassPro and they loved it. They also measured my draw length and we added a new correct length string and arrow rest. The bow has a 32lb draw weight and shoots like a dream.

louis kruger

2 years ago

Hi plse send me the riser template in pdf. Much appreciated. louisk666@gmail.com


2 years ago

Hi! This is awesome! Can you please send me the PDF with handle template? ugis.kudulis@gmail.com!

Thank you!


2 years ago

hi, could u send the the pdf of the riser ?

My mail: congbattu1997@gmail.com