Refinish A Recurve Bow: A Step by Step Guide

By Andy Ryan


Updated at
refinish recurve bow

A recurve bow is a type of traditional bow that curves away from the archer. If your recurve bow’s finish is peeling or damaged, you should think about refinishing it. Before refinishing a recurve bow, you should have a fundamental understanding of carpentry. 

Learn how to refinish your recurve bow with these tips.

Tools Needed

The tools you’ll need  to refinish your bow are listed below:

Sand Your Recurve Bow

  • Sanding must be done carefully and thoroughly. Start with the lowest grit and work your way up. After you’ve finished sanding, give it a nice rubdown with a tack cloth.
  • Putty and filling material, such as toothpicks for holes, can be used to repair any cavities, cracks, or sight holes.
  • Masking tape can also be used to protect any logos or vital bow information features from being wiped clean during the sanding and painting process. (1)

Basic Bow Refinishing Sanding Tips

  • Aim for a dull finish while sanding your recurve bow’s wood embellishments.
  • When sanding with the #80 grit sandpaper, use moderate hand pressure.
  • When sanding, use safety gloves and eyewear.

Focusing on the Limbs

Always sand in the direction of the timber grain while sanding the hand area of your recurve bow.

Between the fiberglass layers of your recurve bow, look for the wooden laminated surface. A thorough sanding to a dull finish should suffice.

When sanding the riser shelf region, make sure to sand in the same direction as the wood grain.

More About Fiberglass Bow Limb Sanding

  • Always Use 40-grit sandpaper, sand the damaged area of the fiberglass limb.
  • Wrap the bow limb in fiberglass mesh, splinters should be removed.
  • Use scissors, cut the mesh to fit. Remove the cut fiberglass mesh and set it aside.

Constant Checking is Key

  • Wipe and remove any dust that has settled on your recurve bow with a tack cloth for best results.
  • The sight screw holes on the riser of your recurve bow can be polished if desired. Fill these holes using putty-coated toothpicks.
  • Give these some time to dry.
  • Examine your recurve bow for any flaws.

Detailed Procedure for Refinishing Bow Limbs

Begin by sanding all wood components with #80 grit sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the wood grain. You can use painter masking tape to mask off the glass limb parts instead of sanding them. On the limbs and hand part, sand the wood layers in between the glass layers. Now scratch the surface of the fiberglass limb using 320 grit sandpaper.

Check the Limbs’ Condition

Before sanding, evaluate the condition of your recurve bow. You should inspect the limbs for any gouges. Also, consider how the bow was stored; dampness, molds, or liquids that accumulated on the bow could cause some of its parts to deteriorate.

The Essential Use of Sandpaper Grit

A #80 grit sandpaper will impart just the appropriate amount of roughness to your recurve bow’s limbs to balance out scratches. It also offers just the correct amount of surface area to prevent further harm to your equipment.

Why Should You Opt for a Dull Look?

A decent sanding with #80 grit sandpaper should provide a stripped appearance. The striped finish is intended to highlight any extra issues with your recurve bow, such as cracks. This is especially useful on the limbs.

Changing from One Grit of Sandpaper to Another

It’s a good idea to start low, with #80 being the lowest, then move up to #100, #150, and finally #320.

It depends on the state of your recurve bow. In most circumstances, sandpaper with grits of #80 and #150 will suffice. (2)

A Steel Wool Will Help

After you’ve finished sanding, go over your recurve bow with steel wool to get into those hard-to-reach regions.

When using steel wool, the same guideline applies as when using sandpaper: always sand/stroke in the direction of the recurve bow’s hardwood grain.

Always Remember: Towards the Wood Grain

A good rubdown with a tack cloth should always be done after the sandpaper and steel wool operation. Any missed locations or residual glossy areas on your recurve bow should be sanded after wiping away any dust.

Seal the Deal

When refinishing a recurve bow, epoxy sealers are typically used. It depends on the bow; some people recommend using high-gloss tung oil.

Best Longbow Tip Clear Coat

Applying is simple, but understanding the coating process will go a far way especially if you’re going for a specific style or finish.

To Strip or Not to Strip

As a general rule, stripping should only be used as a last option.

If you must strip, try utilizing a refurbisher rather than traditional paint strippers. Paint strippers may include strong chemicals that harm your recurve.

Taking Out Old Varnish

A plastic scraper can be used to remove varnish from your recurve bow. When scraping varnish, make sure to scrape in a direction that leads from the riser to the nocks.

Patience Will Reward You

Allow at least 24 hours for your recurve bow to dry after applying the coating. Before you use it, you’ll want it to be dry and lovely.

Here are a few learning guides that you may check and try for your recurve bow.

(1) painting process –
(2) sandpaper –