so i just purchased a hickory stave and a ‘youth bow hickory kit’. i probably could have headed out an harvested a stave myself but i’ve grown impatient. i’ve been wanting to make a bow for awhile so i broke down tonite. i’ve got the first volume of the bowyers bible. tomorrow i’ll pick up a drawknife. what else do i need??? never done this before.

I’m at the same place you are… 'cept I gots a short piece of some cherry wood. I’m gonna make a miniture bow first so I don’t spend too much time on it if I fuck it up. I got the bowyers bible too. Let me know how it works out.

i got the youth kit cause it is already floor tillered. i just need to nock it and do the final tillering. i figured that should give me a good bow to compare the raw stave with. i am going for a sinew-backed flatbow design.
got some deerlegs i am using for sinew and stuff. i’ll put a page up tonite for that.
whats your plan??

Just got the “Naked into the Wilderness” bows and arrows making DVD. I’ll let you know if they say anything cool.

I’ve got a stave of ironwood that im turning into a bow - are you guys simply leaving it wide at the handlegrip and tapering from tip to tip - maintaining the round form of the stave - or are you flattening the arms out like the fancy recurve bows you see in the stores?

i’m making a flatbow. no recurve though. i’ve heard that flatbows are ‘easier’ for the beginner. ironwood? awesome choice. i’d love to see some photos

so heres where i’m at. the right limb still needs some work. it pulls 42 lbs at 25 inches, going for 40 at 29.
this is some of the most zen shit i’ve done in a long while.
i’m trying to flatten the belly out a bit.
hows that vid scout?

That ironwood split. We took to the hills and got some yew yesterday. Fucking forest is a mess around here from loggers and storms. I got a nice piece for a digging stick as well.

strung the bow today. had no idea that i had no idea how to properly string a bow. it took on a big set, oh well. this is how we learn.
good luck with the yew.
ironwood still sounds awesome

I have a vine maple stave drying for a short bow. I cant wait for the wood to be dry so I can finish it for trying to shoot geese from the kayak. I have a yew longbow that I made last winter with Kiliii’s help, yew is an awesome bow wood.

i just went out and took a elm tree. it was hard to split though, the fibers are long and once you start to tear it just works itself deeper. anyone know a way to split a sapling clean?
ive made a bunch of quick bows (using mostly northern white cedar) where i go out find a suitable sapling and carve it right there. you can have a decent bow in about an hour.
ive also got a hickory and an ash stave drying. i want to carve them fully primitive, no metal tools. any suggestions?

to split a sapling… split it in the middle not on the ends. elm has an interlocking grain that likes to meander from the ends

this is way old thread… and i’m new, but i’ve got a bit of experience making “primitive” style bows.

first off, wild harvesting of woodenstaves is really difficult, the wood needs to dry/cure for a long ass time, like a year.

the first bows i played around with were made from cheap one by twos from lumber joints.

back in georgia, red oak is cheap, i don’t know about here.

the next biggest fattest tip i can give you is BACKING MATERIAL!!!

the indians use sineu, the chinese use horn, some civs used linen or silk. the easiest bang for your buck is some double layered drywall tape. it’s like this grid looking fiberglass tape.

also, i’d like to stress, the bow is the ultimate waste of time in any survival situation. it requires alot of time and effort and expertice. i would first master creation of the atlata and dart, and the sling, and the throwing stick before i wasted any more time on bows…

ironwood… lol how’d that work out for you?

i broke about 15 homade bow-like creations before i got one that was even close. investing anymore than 10$ in the whole project is folly.

also, fun filled fact, drop by a local meat departmnt, or butcher shop and ask you buy their cut “Silverskin” as most meat cutters don’t identify it as sinew.

they’ll prolly just give it too you, or charge dirt cheap, because they normally throw it out. it makes the best bowstring.

Any Stick makes a bow, the tricks the arrows.

Why are people so obsessed with sinew-backed bows? Isnt that like way more power than you need? And more time and effort than nessesary? In the (greatest) book, Survival Skills Of Native California, it details a perfectly good, plain wood bow that can be manufacured in less than a day (provided you can make fire and already have good cordage for the string) that lasts for years. Sure its not as powerfull as sinew-backed, but whats the real point? Hunting Bison? (anyone in the Great Plains area is exempt from the need for explanation)

Sinew backing a bow puts the wood inside the bow under compression and keeps it from breaking, it doesn’t add much poundage, maybe 2.5 lbs it also allows you to use less then perfect staves that would otherwise not be suitable. If you have a good stave you can make a self or unbacked bow although even Yew English long bows were commonly Linen backed, which although not as good as sinew works pretty well and is easier to come by. Try making a few it’s cheap fun and good experience. PS make arrows to they’re trickier.

Although archery is not one of my areas of expertise, I do shoot and have studied making bows some.
My understanding is what puuku said. Backing a bow (with whatever) can make a less than ideal piece of wood work better as a useable hunting weapon. It allows the bow maker a bit more choice in terms of what piece of wood or type of wood they want to use.

The archery forum at has a bunch of really knowlegable people who could give you the full detailed explanation of exactly what backing a bow accomplishes and all the specifics of each kind of backing material.

if anyone is interested I have a spare yew stave that’s been drying for a few years, free to a good home.

if anyone is interested I have a spare yew stave that's been drying for a few years, free to a good home.

I’ll totally snatch that up if nobody else has. I’ve been dragging my feet on making a composite horn bow for awhile, but having a nice stave might be incentive enough to get going on it.

I thought I’d show you all the happy end product of amateur bow crafting. This is the bow I made a few years ago. It was my first attempt at making a bow, and I managed to make many mistakes and somehow fix them, some of them fixed unintentionally. It started off as a hickory flatbow, and I added silencers to the string made out of rabbit fur. Later on, I attempted to recurve the ends, but only had slight success before I felt going any farther would compromise the bow and make it likely to crack. I then backed the limbs with bamboo, and wrapped them in leather and artificial sinew. The backing helped to level out a slight twist in the lower limb, as well as even the disparity between the flexibility of the limbs. The finished product appears as follows: