How to Make Your Own Wooden Longbow

traditional archery bows

How to Make Your Own Wooden Longbow

In today’s technologically advanced world, longbows may seem like a relic from an earlier era. Yet their timeless simplicity continues to draw a growing following. Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced bow hunter, making your own wooden longbow can be both thrilling and rewarding.

Wood is the primary component of a wooden longbow, and selecting the correct wood can make all the difference in its performance. Yew is traditionally used as the wood for longbows, but other options such as ash or bamboo exist too.

When selecting a tree for your bow, the appropriate limb thickness is key. Most longbows require at least two inches of thickness in the limb.

Longbows were traditionally made of yew wood; however, other hardwoods such as elm, hickory, ash, osage orange and black locust can also be used for crafting this versatile weapon.

If you’re crafting your own wooden longbow, consider opting for a “laminated” design that utilizes multiple pieces of wood to reinforce its limbs. This is especially common with D-section bows which have a back part that is in tension while their belly part has compression.

Make your own laminated bow by joining two or more pieces of wood together, or purchase an already-made laminated bow. Depending on its intended use, use strong and stable hardwood such as yew for the back limb, while light-weight hardwood like ash or bamboo is used for the belly.

Once your limbs and riser are cut out, it’s time to begin assembling the bow. Mark about 2-1/2′ of back on each end of the riser (on the side that will face away from you when shooting) then use either a file or band saw to trim away this marked section and integrate it into your bow.

Once your riser is assembled, use wood glue to glue the two ends of the limb together. Use a clamp to hold the entire bow in place while you sand its edges and tips for smoothness.

Once you’ve chosen your desired draw length, use a bladed knife to create an angle in the center of each limb that slightly less than that desired draw length. If unsure, test out each bow by pulling it repeatedly against a mirror for confirmation.

Repeat this process at various draw lengths to identify weak spots and eliminate them. Tillering can be an intricate but necessary step in perfecting your bow’s construction.

Once you’ve eliminated any weak points, continue to sand the entire bow until it bends evenly across all draw lengths. This process may take some time and patience, but the results are worth all the effort!

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