How to Make Self Bows From Wood

Written by joe kelly
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Make Self Bows From Wood
Build a self-bow like those used in medieval times. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A self-bow is a bow made from a single piece of wood. Many medieval longbows were fashioned from single pieces of yew, elm or ash. Today you can purchase a self-bow kit and build your own bow. These kits use bow blanks typically made of hickory and often include leather to wrap the handle and a bowstring for the bow. An individual can construct a self-bow using one of these kits in a few days with some simple tools you have around the house or can find at your local hardware store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Self-bow kit
  • Draw-knife
  • Wood rasp
  • Sandpaper
  • Polyurethane wood finish
  • Rags

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Lay out your self-bow design on a blank pattern provided with the kit. A typical self-bow design is the longbow. A longbow measures at least 65 inches long and is about 1 1/2 inches around at the centre and taper down to about 1/2 inch at each tip.

  2. 2

    Shape the rough cut bow blank using the wood rasp and drawknife to fine tune the bow's shape. Create a handle in the centre of the bow that fits your hand, using the rasp and sandpaper. Shape the arrow shelf into the bow above the handle position.

  3. 3

    Set the bow's tiller, the difference between the upper and lower limb measurements from the bowstring to the limb bellies. The lower limb typically has less material removed from it to create a stiffer limb as compared to the upper limb. The upper limb should be have a tiller about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thinner than the bottom limb. Tiller the bow using the drawknife, rasp and sandpaper.

  4. 4

    String the bow, with the bowstring included in the kit.

  5. 5

    Draw the bow back slowly an inch at a time to check that the tiller of each limb is even. Correct any uneven spots with the rasp and sandpaper.

  6. 6

    Remove the bowstring and sand the bow smooth. Apply a coat of polyurethane with a rag. Let dry thoroughly, then sand the bow again with finer grit sandpaper. Repeat this process three or four times. Wrap the handle with the leather from the kit. Glue an arrow rest to the arrow shelf. String the bow and take it to the archery range.

Tips and warnings

  • Take the tillering slow and steady. It the most import step in the bow building process.
  • Wear eye protection when working with wood to prevent injury.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.