How to Build a Bamboo Bow

Written by nathaniel miller
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How to Build a Bamboo Bow
Bow limb dimensions.

Bow building is a rewarding and worthwhile effort, but it is more of an art form than a process. One bow can take upwards of 80 hours to make and many bowsmiths consider the process more enjoyable than the final product. This article will outline the steps needed to make a bamboo backed flatbow.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Band saw
  • Wood rasp
  • Bowstring
  • Tape Measure
  • 6ft. White oak 1in x 2in. lumber
  • 6ft. bamboo

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  1. 1

    Using the diagram, mark out the dimensions of your bow limbs on each end. Your handle will be between 4-inches and 6-inches long.

    How to Build a Bamboo Bow
    Bow limb dimensions.
  2. 2

    Cut out your bow using the band saw.

  3. 3

    Mark and cut out the bamboo backing just as you did with your bow.

  4. 4

    Using wood epoxy, glue the bamboo backing to the back side of your bow. Clamp it in place using C-clamps and let dry to 48 hours.

  5. 5

    Sand the edges and round the "belly" of the bow (the side that faces you when you are shooting). You want to fade your handle into the belly of the bow by gradually feathering the angle of the handle into the belly wood.

  1. 1

    Build a tillering jig out of a 2 by 4 and some plywood. The stand allows you to observe the angle of bend in your bow limbs and is invaluable to the bow building process. Tillering is the hardest and most time consuming part of bow building and should be approached with patience.

    How to Build a Bamboo Bow
    Example of a tillering stand.
  2. 2

    Place your bow on the tillering stand and slowly bend it a few inches. Step back and observe the bend in each limb. Are they bending evenly? If so pull the string a little further and check again. You want the bends to be even and smooth through the entire draw. If there is a hard spot or a hinge in the bend, work it out by using the rasp

  3. 3

    If there is a hard spot or a hinge in the bend, work it out using the rasp to remove wood around the spot of concern.

  4. 4

    Repeat steps 1 through 3 until you reach your total draw length (28-inches in many cases).

  5. 5

    Sand the entire bow one last time and then seal it with a finish of your choice. Enjoy!

Tips and warnings

  • There are many bow building workshops that can teach you how to make a flatbow in as little as one weekend.
  • Building a beautiful, usable bow comes with practice and patience.
  • Wear safety goggles while tillering your bow, as it is possible for the bow to shatter.
  • Do not be discouraged if your first attempts at bow building end up in splinters

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