Homemade Long Bow Finished

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.

Long Bow Wood Grain

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.

long bow taper ends and handle

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.

long bow fiberglass backing

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.

Long Bow Tillering Tree

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.

Longbow Handle Shaping

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.

Longbow Finish

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.

Long Bow Tools

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.





Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

    30 replies to "How to Make a Homemade Long Bow With Wood From the Hardware Store"

    • Tom Miller


      Sweet looking bow! I think I am going to have to give this a try. What did the total investment end up being in time and money? Thanks!


      • Dale

        Thanks Tom, The Red Oak and the Maple 1 x 2 were about $8 each, the string was about $10 and the urethane and tape were around $20. So around $50 depending on what you have, and what you need to buy.

    • Todd Walker

      Nice job, brother! I’ve got a piece of hickory drying for a bow now. Never built one for myself. Looking forward to it.

      • Dale

        Thanks Todd, I need to find a good piece of wood that is already seasoned for my next bow, Otherwise I have to wait a year for after I cut a piece off of our tree…I better get started haha

        • Quentin kelly

          Good thing about waiting for a piece of wood to dry though is you can pre cut it and set your wood in a brace while it dries and get basically any recurve form or deflex in it that you want and I will stay so much nicer than if you try to add it to a dry bow. How thick did your bow end up getting around the handle to about half way up the bow arm. I’m makin my own red oak bow this very same way with 4 layers of drywall tape and one thin layer of camp silk overtop and I’m about where I thought I would need to be on thickness. But when I string it up it only moves to a string position and can still not pull it back so I need to remove a lot more

    • chris

      Great article Dale, thanks for the DETAILED info!

    • JHawx

      What iwe heard, you would get a better bow if you combined not 1 type of wood, but 2 types of woods together. The outer layer should be of a harder wood, while inner layer a more bendy wood. This would store more power to the bows coil. Similar principle is used in katanas: hard edge to keep the slicing power, in bows case, making it resistant, snapping it back to the original shape. While bending back makis katanas more resistant to shattering upon impact. In this case, allowing the bow to bend.

      • Dale

        Sounds like a good idea, I might try that on my next one. It would probably look better with different wood grains once it was finished also.

        • JHawx

          you may want to use hard wood as oak as forward facing part
          and yew as archer facing part, yew is both flexible and strong, so it should not snap.

        • Wayne

          Hi Dale, the backing has dried and I put the bow on the tillering tree but there’s no bend at all in the bow. I followed the measurements to the letter, I used European oak. Can you help me please. Wayne

    • Chris Dugas

      Your web page has been the most helpful for a beginner to make his first bow that I’ve seen yet. Thank you.

    • greg

      Good job with detailing and adding video! I’m no good with power tools at all so I was looking for something that didn’t require them. I’m a beginner and your guide breaks the steps down very well, thank you!

      • Dale

        Thanks Greg! I was really fun to make and other than the time it takes waiting for everything to dry and tillering it was pretty easy.

    • Jeff Fraser

      I made my first bow (and arrows) strictly out of bamboo, mainly because I lived in SE Asia and the stuff was plentiful. I was about 11 years old at the time and my main tool was an old Boy Scout jack knife. As I recall, the bulk of my sanding was done on the concrete driveway at my house. Anyhow, long story short with a little improvisation and imagination, and a whole lot of patience, I did it and the final product was very effective (with lots of practice) as I recall.
      I’m now over 50 years old and looking forward to embarking on the same journey into bow building only this time armed with the help of your Web page and videos.
      I’ll let you know how it turns out.
      Regards, Jeff

      • Dale

        Good luck Jeff! Make sure and let me know when you get it done. I would love to see some pictures.

    • Tyler

      Can you find a hard wood like oak at just any store like Lowe’s or Home Depot?

    • Cody

      i didn’t see anything on how you did the tips or take off the extra resin from your stave how should this be completed

    • James

      The arrow rest is on the wrong side … did some research and found that “in the old days” rapid firing arrows was actually possible but the rest had to be where the additional arrows (held in your pull hand) could be set easily and fired with minimal effort and time. I too wish to make one of these and it will be customized to me for this purpose. Maybe next (afterwards) I’ll step up to a crossbow … Great job by the way 🙂 beautiful piece of workmanship.

    • Jo

      I was wondering if eucalyptus is a good wood, there is loads here, oak and the other woods you suggest is not available due to my location. Thank you.

    • Steve

      You did a great job, but I do have advice so you can do even better.
      Use Resorcinal formaldehyde boat builders adhesives in any archery project. Its the quality article. like Selley’s 308. Chalk match faces to be glued if thick laminations. Chalk one piece to be glued and register the pieces , rub on the other in small circles; ,anywhere there are holidays will be gaps in gluing and so you scrape or use a Jack plane on a very very fine setting upside down in your lap on the chalk “hits”; once you get complete chalk pass over your done.
      Make tapered Rock maple separation laminations. You will find thickness to poundage graphs online or in books like “Flat Laid long bows by Aussie Alan Clerk at Cross Bow developments Australia, Use Bow-Tuff fibreglass outside laminations as this is where the real power is stored in a leaf spring like a flat laid long bow. You also want to keep the mass of the limbs as light as possible especially at the ends.
      Two 6’x4x2” pieces of Lumber with a rebate for the riser/handle and a series of G clamps as a jig to squeeze the rotter after you glue, then wrap the lot in plastic.
      Then after the glue has cured in your jig, do your cutting tillering, window and rest carving and finish with this stuff http://tbirdarchery.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_2&products_id=7 then you’ll have something that will really let one go and will be purt near indestructible. Make the String from 0-50 Dacron, and serve it with serving twine, setting the brace height the same as clenched fist with the thumb extended from the belly to the string (about 7″ max for a longbow)
      Your natural talents demand the best in materials and technology while your home.
      If you want to make a survival bow whilst in self imposed or forced exile, your going to be stuck to Self-wood bows or Turkish re-curve like animal tendon jobs, and should look for Osage Orange, Purple Heart, Ash, Elm or Hickory. Oak will work but will also one day fail or take a set, Also ask a Moose or an Elk for his back legs for tendons (always say please, and Moose’s names are generally Bullwinkle) a run down for bush manufacture of self bows with animal sinew backs can be found in “Hunting with Bow and Arrow by Saxton Pope (it actually goes into a bit of detail of Indigenous American bow manufacture like recurving on hot rocks etc. and hunting techniques for North America and is out of copyright so a free download. Flint knapping is a great skill to tie in with this too and very very handy indeed.
      Take a look at the Traditional Bowyers Bible series if you get serious. I have a link to Volume one, but people should probably buy this one as it is copyright.
      Good luck, you’ll have no problems.

    • Zack

      Do you know approximately the weight of the draw on the bow?

      • Dale

        This one is 35 lbs, but that can change depending on the thickness of the limbs.

    • Gary Kupsak

      I just finished forming (rounding the staves) of my 72″ red oak bow and just strung it for the first time with a 72″ pre-made string. Thank God it survived the first bending, but there is a huge difference in the bend on each side. The one side is 8″ from the string to the end of the handle and the other side is 7″ from the end of the handle to the string. This is the first time I’m trying this and I’m lost. Do I take stock of the side that has the greater bend or the side that has less bend. I hope someone can help me before I start building a tillering tree. Thanks in advance for any advice you may give. Gary

    • Richard Moss

      Hi Dale, just a little info but the bow you made is not actually a longbow, it is what is known as a flatbow, close to the longbow but with a handle like yours than the limbs and usually with flat limbs, as its name implies, A longbow does not have wide limbs but instead they have round ones, they also do not usually have a shelf to fire the arrow from, you fire the arrow off your finger. just thought you might want to know in case you find someone that goes into a rant about it. It does look great though

    • Chad

      My 12 yr old boy got enthused about making a bow with your method. The first one broke in the tillering stage when his big older brother was trying it out. It seemed real stiff for a 12 yr old boy though. Does that change through the tillering stage or is there some way to make it more flexible or less poundage on the draw i.e. starting with a thinner board than 3/4″?

    • Harry Garrett

      Wow Dale, this is the best and most detailed guide I have ever seen!
      What is the total budget and time you have put in to build this one? I am talking about all the additional equipment required to build such bow.
      Thanks for sharing this!

    • Steve

      I’m in serious need of help. When making this a right or left handed bow. How do I know where to make the cuts for the arrow rest? You have a flat side and the beveled side of the bow

    • Alex S

      That is in fact a longbow. The comment that it is a flat bow is only partially correct. This is a flat bow, however, the word longbow does not exclude a flatbow. A flat bow is simply a type of longbow, as opposed to a rounded and thin English longbow. The defining characteristic of a longbow is that the strong only touches the tips at one point and does not lay along the limb like a recurve. Longbows tend to stack more as they are drawn and don’t give the mechanical advantage that a recurve does but are smooth forgiving and quiet. I have personally made several of them and I always flatten out my limbs with block sanding. The self bow will eventually break but I generally get quite a bit of shooting out of mine before that happens.

      • Kraven

        I have this really old looking definitely hand made long bow that i know nothing about and i can seem to find anything either i was hoping maybe i can get pointed in the rite direction thatnks for your time

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