Author Options:

Which wood would be good for making a crossbow?? Answered

I want to make a crossbow, not a proper one one, just a toy one so that I can have some fun. However, I'm not sure which wood would be best for the bendy bow bit. I'm located in England, and I would like an easily accessible wood to make it. 


ive made a few bows out of cedar. it is an easy wood for the novice. there are more powerful bows. but Cedar is easier to make without it breaking.

English Willow should do fine; it is the same wood used to make cricket bats, it flexes and is hard to split.

Yew would be traditional. Stiffer though.

Willow Youngs Modulus 4400 MPa

Yew 9100 MPa.

Always learning new data, even if yew is poisonous..

Some works have the berries as poisonous, some don't. I knew a very famous astronomer who refused to stop eating them when we took him on a road trip, he lived another 12 years !

Pleased I am.. You survived his passing.

Where would you get Yew wood?

Willow can be bought from the same supplier cricket bat makers use.

Yew grows wild in the UK, and can be found in most local woods. There's also the traditional source, that many churchyards have Yew trees growing in them.

Nice link shame they won't ship to Canada.

3 different Yew grows wild here in Canada also; but it is hard buy and very expensive just to get a piece of Pacific Yew shipped to Ontario from the west coast. You just walk in the bush and take some ether, in most places the Yew tree is protected, and it is the only Yew suitable for bow making.

After reading your discussion I looked up on the wood-database.com about this tree/wood. Apparently it is poisonous, the entire tree including the wood even after it is dried.

These were some comments in the discussion of it.

    Ivan Hawkes

    4 years ago

    The Yew I work with is from Vancouver Island, Canada. It is very
    workable and easy to control. The tight grain gives nice color
    variations and patterns. A mountain side was clear cut, with all
    commercial wood being removed, but the Yew was left to rot, a shame. I
    love working with it, making canes and staffs, but I am concerned with
    the toxicity rating. Can anyone tell me if holding a cane made of Yew
    would be dangerous to the user?

  • 5

  • Reply

  • Share ›

      • Avatar


        Ivan Hawkes

        3 years ago

        I can tell you from using a yew walking stick for over thirty years
        that I have had no health problems caused by the stick. ( unlike the 6
        skin heads that had a go at me in a subway they found it to be very bad
        for tooth decay) this has been my companion since my spinal injury in
        the armed forces and I would recommend a yew walking stick to anyone in
        need it is strong light and flexible.

      • 1

      • Reply

      • Share ›

      • Avatar


        Ivan Hawkes

        3 years ago

        Yew has many uses but nearly every part of the plant is very toxic.
        I'd suggest gloves, mask/respirator and eye protection as a minimum
        when working - either with European or the Pacific northwest varieties,
        and perhaps a wrap of some sort for wherever contact is made with the
        skin on a finished object. That said, I agree, it's a beautiful wood and
        hard to come by. If you have an extra length or two I'd be quite

      • Reply

      • Share ›

        • Avatar

          Madison Link

          3 years ago

          The comments neglect an important mechanical property that made yew
          the wood of choice for longbows: The heartwood is highly resistant to
          compression, and the sapwood is highly resistant to tension. This meant
          that a bow carved along the heartwood / sapwood boundary had all the
          advantages of a composite wood bow (higher draw to weight ratio and
          livelier release) and none of the disadvantages (such as a tendency to
          loose strength and fall apart on hot, humid days).

        • 2

        • Reply

        • Share ›

          • Avatar

            Garry Jones

            9 months ago

            Here in the South of England this is a fairly common tree and the timber is available but is rarely kiln

Excellent database... One wonders why a tree would become poisonous ?

To protect itself from attack. Black Walnut is poisonous to other trees !

Oh I know Yew is poisonous but not all of it is.

See my Instructable "Three Essential Groups of Wild Edible Plants"


The thing is you can't buy good bow wood off the net, I bought a wood bow once and it worked good until the day it broke. The broken end flung back at me and stabbed me in the chest. A solid bow wood must be perfect, no knots, strait grain, no cracks, no twists in the grain, perfect in every way or it will break and it can kill you.

Laminated wood bows can be made from cheaper wood and work well, but even they must be made with wood that has no knots, splits, or other defects.

The sacred wood or (Yew to a white eyes) is why it is protected in Canada, Indian treaties. It is the best bow wood, but that is not what the author of this question was asking for.


1 year ago

I would try a willow branch. I have been impressed with the strength and bendyness (not a real word but describes it well) of willow. When I have harvested it for projects I sometimes have had trouble cutting even small sticks and forget about trying to break them off. While ash would be probably stronger it is also harder to bend. It used to be common to use willow "twitches" to "switch" kids because the small sticks would bend and sting but not break or do damage to skin.

I would give wood a miss and use pvc instead, very accessible from .ae to .za


1 year ago

Early crossbows wer made of a single piece of wood, usually ash or yew.