How To Make A Recurve Bow

how to make a recurve bowPeople interested in learning how to make a recurve bow often do it to save money by making it themselves, while others prefer to have a customized bow. Whatever your reasons may be, making your own bow is sure to teach you a lot about archery.

Prepare yourself:

First, get to know the different parts of a recurve bow. For this, look for plans and diagrams that show you how to build your own recurve bow. You can get these online or at a local store or you can find them in a self-help kit.

You would need the following to build your own recurve bow:

  • Jigsaw
  • Sander
  • Clamps
  • Bow String
  • Wood glue
  • Measuring tape
  • Paint and Paint Brush

The basics:

These days, recurve bows are made of fibreglass and laminated wood, with the wood acting as the divider between two laminated sheets of fibreglass. The fibreglass, however, takes on the load of carrying the maximum amount of load while the wooden part carries not more than 10% of the load.

If you increase the space between the fibreglass and go in for a thicker wooden core, the bow’s strength will automatically increase. It is important to note here that as the wooden core’s thickness doubles, automatically the bow’s weight quadruples.

How to prepare the bow:

A recurve bow is one up on the traditional bow because it can throw arrows much farther off than a traditional bow, and with greater force. It may take a lot of skill to make a perfect recurve bow, so it’s good to get started now.

Your bow will be shaped from a wooden stave. It should be of the same length as your bow and should be made from strong, malleable and flexible wood. Good choices are maple, hickory, lemonwood and yew.

You will need a bow shaping frame, a hatchet, a large file, a vice grip, a tillering stick, a heat gun, a draw knife and a few screw clamps.

Make the outline of the limbs and arrow. Ensure that the stave is in standing position and with the help of your hatchet, smoothen the stave as much as you can. While marking, take care that you have the sizes your need of flat and narrow limbs. Choose the position of the handle now.

Make sure that the stave bends by laying its bottom tip against your Make sure it will bend by putting the bottom tip against the arch of your foot. Hold the upper end of the bow using one hand and pull the back closer to you. However, don’t pull too much as your stave could be badly damaged.

Now that your bow is in an outline with the hatchet, it’s time to shape the limbs. Put the handle part of the stave into the vice and secure it firmly. Ensure that the back faces upwards. Now, take the draw knife and mark it along the stave using long strokes. Keep doing this till the stave is the of the thickness that you want your bow to be. If your stave has any rough edges, sand them down now. However, don’t let your bow be too thin or it will break easily.

Here’s a great video on how to make a recurve bow at home:

Although the limb broke this time, you can watch another video where he successfully made a pair of limbs:)

How to shape the bow:

It’s time now to put the stave in the frame to shape your bow. Keep moving the bow to different parts of the frame till you get the kind of curve in your bow that you want. Ensure that you get one curve a distance away from the handle and another near the handle for each limb. To tighten the stave to the frame, use screw lamps. Else, heat the stave using the heat gun and then tie that part to the frame.

Next, take exact measurements. Ensure that both limbs are as close to being equally bent as is possible. To make sure you’re doing it right, bend the stave at equal distances from both sides of the handle. With so much done, allow for each bend to set well. Keep them tied in to the frame for a few hours or better still, overnight. This will give the wood sufficient setting time in its new position and will pave the way for a really good bow.

How to string the bow:

To string the bow, cut grooves for the string. Put grooves both at the top and bottom of the limbs to hold the bowstring firmly in position. Use a long cylindrical file for this for best results. Now, also cut grooves on the inner part of the bow to protect the quality of the exterior wood.

The next stage is to check the evenness of the bending of the bow or tillering. Once you’ve got your bow in the required position, give it a tillering string. Remember to measure out double the length of the bow string for a good-sized tillering string. Make a loop at each end of the string and attach it to the grooves on the limbs.

Fix the bow on the tillering stick and pull the stick closer to a notch near the top. Now, pull the bow farther away, but do it slowly as you watch the way the bow bends. This process is slow, so be patient. You might hear some sounds from the bow. If you do, stop and shape the limbs using your file. It’s pertinent to point out here that the tillering process needn’t take a few minutes or hours, but a few months too, so do it slowly to increase the bow’s draw to its maximum length.

Now that your tillering process is underway, take this time to smoothen the front part of your bow using your file. Begin stringing the bow. After it reaches a good draw, take it off the tillering stick and the tillering string and attach the bowstring. At both ends of the bow, use nylon bowstrings to make loops near the grooves. To complete the job of making your own recurve bow, you can now add some leather, or artwork or just a protective coating.


If you’re a woodworking hobbyist or professional, you’re going to love making your own recurve bow. How about starting today?


Author: John Clax

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