In my attempts to learn more skills that could be valuable in any post collapse society or shtf situation I decided to try my hand at making a homemade long bow. My plan original plan was to make the long bow the primitive way and use one of the branches off of our ash tree.
That plan was quickly squashed by Lisa and we decided that it might be a good idea to start with a 1 x 2 from home depot and see how it turned out. Now that this has been successful, she might come home to a few branches missing off of the ash tree very soon.
I was going to do a video about How to make a homemade long bow with wood from the hardware store, but I decided that because Go Geronimo has done such a great job with his videos, why reinvent the wheel. I will however go through all the steps in the process and add the videos here in this article to save you time searching around if you decide to try your hand at making a homemade long bow too.
Tools and Wood Selection
In the video below he goes through what tools you will need and how to pick the right piece of wood. I didn’t use Gorilla Glue because after doing some research I found that Titebond III wood glue is better for bow making because it “flex’s” and lasts longer.
Choosing the right piece of wood for your bow is crucial because with all the work and attention to detail you will be putting in, picking the wrong piece of wood will cause problems down the line.
Finding the right piece of wood is easier said than done, you won’t be able to find a “perfect” piece of wood from Home Depot, but do the best you can.
I chose a 6ft 1 x 2 piece of Oak because Oak is a strong wood. You can also use wood like Hickory, White Ash, Green Ash, Black Cherry but Oak is just fine. Softer Woods to avoid would be Aspen, Cottonwood, Poplar, Balsa and Pine.
Measuring, Gluing and Cutting
This video goes through the main part of taking a 1 x 2 and making it start to look like a bow. He explains how to taper the top, bottom and sides of the bow.
The video also shows how to glue the handle and the end pieces on. I chose maple for this because I wanted a different wood grain, but you can use the Oak if you like.
It’s a little tricky getting the wood to stay in the right place when gluing, but don’t worry, you will be filing and sanding this later anyway. I used two clamps for the handle, and one for the ends
Backing and Handle Shaping
This video goes through how to apply the backing and shape the handle for your bow. In this video he used epoxy, I decided to go with fiberglass tape because I couldn’t find the epoxy and glue is cheaper.
The video also goes through how to taper the ends of the handle to curve to the bow. Be careful not to cut too deep. I did, and it’s not only hard to sand out, it can weaken the bow.
As you can see in the picture below I applied a layer of glue, then 1 strip of fiberglass tape. I did this three times alternating the direction of the threads in the tape.
If you decide to go with the fiberglass tape method, make sure and use extra strength Fibatape. This tape flex’s and has cross threads. press the glue flat between each layer to make sure the glue seeps through the tape.
The Tillering Tree
A tillering tree is important because you want to exercise the wood and condition it to the bending and flexing.
The above video explains how to build the tillering tree and in the video below he explains how to use the tillering tree.
Tillering requires a lot of rinse and repeat. Take your time with this though, the better you do at this, the better your bow will perform and reduces the risk of snapping.
I used some leftover wood to make the base, and a pine 1×2 for the stem. The notches are cut 1″ apart (angled up) and the scale under the tree will give you the pull weight.
Tillering requires finding the weak spots at certain draw lengths and sanding them out. Be prepared to test, sand, test, sand, test, sand until you get the bow to bend evenly at different pull weights.
Finishing the handle
After you have the bow tillered you will cut out the arrow rest and begin to shape the handle and give it some character. This video shows how easy it is to get it to fit your hand even if you have minimal wood working skills.
This is also where you will round off all the edges. You will need to round off the tips of the bow, down the edges and make everything look nice and professional before your apply the stain or finish.
Important: I am a south paw so I hold the bow with my right hand and pull with my left. The arrow rest should be inside, between you and the bow. The video shows how to do this for a right handed bow, I just reversed everything.
You will want to use really fine sand paper because once you apply the stain (if you choose to) all the little imperfections will be magnified.
Finishing Your Long bow
Now comes the fun part, putting some personality into your long bow. I put stain on this bow, but on my next bow I might just use the urethane because it shows the wood grain better.
After you use 220 grit sandpaper on the bow and wipe off any residual dust from sanding you can apply one layer of stain to the bow. This needs to dry over night so I hung mine from my garage door to let it dry.
After that give it another sanding (fine grit sandpaper) and apply 2 or 3 layers of spur urethane, sanding between each layer but not the last.
Spur urethane is important because it is provides protection from weather, moisture and sunlight. It also is less susceptible to cracking over time.
This picture shows the tools I used, I wanted to make this bow completely with hand tools. It would have been a lot easier with a jig saw and a sander, but the reason I wanted to try this is to see how difficult it would be to make a homemade long bow without access to electricity.
I had to add some paracord to the bow also, yet another good use for paracord. I took the strands out of the 550 so it would lay flat on the handle and used some Coban behind the paracord to give it a better grip.
This last video is me shooting the long bow, as you can see it actually works. I still need to shoot it quite a bit more before I go on to chopping down Lisa’s tree and starting my next project, but I’m pleased with the results.
I love the DIY stuff, here are some of those links. I have made a homemade food dehydrator, a hidden counter top extension and a greenhouse. I’m sure I will be adding more because I love learning new skills.
The videos didn’t go through how to string the bow so I just went to Amazon and bought a premade bow string for a 72 inch bow.
Did I forget anything? If I did or you have any questions about making the long bow, leave a comment below and I will let you know what I did.