man holding his wooden recurve bow and arrow

How To Make A Wooden Recurve Bow (Step-by-Step Guide)

Professional archers use recurve bows because they provide great accuracy and stability. For archers and hunters, making a wooden recurve bow is the ultimate do-it-yourself project and gives them the thrill of shooting from something that they created. Making a recurve bow is easy, but it requires a lot of concentration and attention as measurements need to be specific.

Recurve bows are known as the best choice for hunting. The limbs of a recurve bow bend away from the archer, which helps in generating a massive force of energy. Learning how to make a recurve bow with wood involves commitment as it is energy and time-consuming, but it can be quite satisfying. Wooden recurve bows are easy to make with the right tools. An archer takes months or years to make a perfect wood recurve bow, but these steps will help you get started.

Materials and Tools Required

The materials that are needed for making a wooden recurve bow are:

  • Wood: Wood is best taken from a lemon tree, black locust, maple, hickory, or yew tree. Do not use the wood obtained from birch, bamboo, or other trees, as it is likely that they will not work. 
  • Bowstring: The most used bowstring when making a recurve bow is a nylon bowstring or parachute cord, or other thick types of string. (1, 2)
  • The wooden board 
  • Wood laminate
  • Bow Stave: A bow stave is the base material and later will take the shape of the wooden recurve bow
  • Finish that is oil or wax

The tools that are required for making recurve bow out of wood are a saw, a file that should be cylindrical and long or a knife and large and flat file, hatchet vice grip, large screw clamps, draw knife, heat gun, frame for bow shaping, tillering stick, rasp, pencil, ruler measure, and sandpaper.

Step 1: Measure out a Piece of Wood for Making a Wooden Recurve Bow

First, for measuring the piece of the yew wood, determine the center of the bow stave where the wooden recurve bow handle would be.

The piece should be at least 5 feet and 3 inches long. Make sure when measuring that both side limbs of the wooden recurve bow should be the same length. Yew wood is the best choice for making a wooden recurve bow as it would provide versatility, and also, it is considered the easiest, most flexible, and strong wood for making a recurve bow out of wood. But it is not necessary to always use yew wood for making a wooden recurve bow, you can even use lemon tree wood, hickory. Measurement of the yew wood should be done carefully to guarantee quality.

Step 2: File the Bow Limbs

After measuring the piece of wood, the next step is to file both the limbs of the wooden recurve bow using a rasp. At the base of the bow using a flat filer and file, 1 inch wide by 8 / 10-inch thick, and at the tip of the bow by using a flat filer file, 1 / 2 inches wide by 3 / 10 inches thick. This should be done on both wooden bow limbs. The limbs generate the main power behind the arrow; that is why they need to be filed to a specific dimension based on how powerful someone wants their bow to be.

Step 3: Carve the Wooden Board

After filing the limbs using the rasp, the next step is to cut or carve the wooden board in a recurve bow shape. This wooden board will later be used as a mold for the recurve bow to be shaped on. The wooden board should be the same length as you want your bow to be, and the wood used should be flexible, malleable, and strong. Mostly yew, maple, hickory, and lemonwood are used for making recurve bows.

Step 4: Soak in Simmering Water

After carving the wooden board in the shape of the recurve bow, the next step is to soak the wooden recurve bow limbs in simmering water for about 30 minutes.

Putting the limbs into simmering water will make it supple and soft, which will help in bending the limbs of the bow easily into shape. This process is also called tillering the bow, and this step is considered one of the most effective processes when making a recurve bow out of wood.

Once the bow limbs become softer, clamp the limbs on the carved wooden board mold before fitting the shape. Clamping of the limbs should be done by using heavy-duty clampers and holding the limbs of the bow in position for some time, then release it slowly and repeat the process until the limbs become dry or start taking the bow curve shape.

Step 5: Cut Notches in the Bow’s Libs

After drying, the bow limb will completely take the shape of the recurve bow, and the last step is to cut notches at both ends of the limbs where the bowstring will be attached. Use a knife or rasp to do this. This step can also be done by a cylindrical, long file, or a narrow flat file. Notching the bow’s limbs is a small portion of the creation, but the arrow’s nock is considered an important step as even a little mistake can harm the back of the bow. This notch helps in transferring the energy to the arrow from the bow.

When making a recurve bow out of wood, every step needs to be followed carefully.  If even one step is missed or not measured carefully, it can bring the whole process towards failure, and all the energy and time used for making your recurve bow will be wasted.

Tips

  • Choose the right materials for making a recurve bow from the yew wood. Strong but flexible wood will make the best recurve bow. The woods that are mostly preferred by bow professionals for making a wooden recurve bow is yew wood, lemon tree wood, hickory, and maple. Do not use bamboo and birch tree would for making your recurve bow.
  • Use charcoal for marking the shape of the recurve bow on the wood. This would help in laying out the bowlines and keep the curving on track.
  • Carve the bow on the wooden board to give it the shape of the bow.
  • Make a notch for the bowstring. Here’s the recurve bow string length chart for your reference. The notch helps in completing the bow and is considered an important step and when making a notch, make sure that the back of the bow is not damaged.
  • Limbs can be made separately and later can be attached to the bow central handle. It depends on your preference which steps are easiest for you, like making both limbs together or separately.

Warning

  • Making a recurve bow requires wood carved from a tree, so if you’re not hanging over to your local Home Depot and just trying to use a tree in the woods you need to get permission from your local authority
  • Wood splinters and sawdust can damage the eyes easily, which can be quite harmful, so you have to wear eye protection when making a recurve bow.

  • Wear a respiratory mask to help protect the wearer from wood particles as they can cause huge damage to your lungs.  

  • When using sharp tools, precautions like gloves should be worn and carving should be done with care as even a little mistake or slip of the hand can cause injury.
  • When using a saw for cutting the wood, do not use your hands to clear the saw scrapes. 
  • Filing the bow should be done with care as even a small splinter can cut into the skin.

If a person likes hunting via recurve bow then learning how to make a wooden recurve bow can be a fun and exciting experience. The process of making a bow is very simple and does not require professional skills. Following these steps will teach you how to make a recurve bow out of wood. However, this process requires attention and can be time-consuming. Making a wooden bow can take weekends or sometimes even months. However, all the energy and time that is put into making a recurve bow is worth it. As you have created a bow that is classic and timeless that you can continue using as your own. 






References
(1) nylon – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/science/chemistry/how-nylon-made
(2) parachute – https://www.britannica.com/technology/parachute

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