How to Make a Wood Recurve Bows: A Step-by-Step Guide

There is a certain allure and satisfaction in crafting your wood recurve bow. Building a bow from scratch allows you to personalize the design, choose the materials, and create a unique piece that reflects your skill and craftsmanship. How to make a wood recurve bows? In this blog post, we will take you through making a wood recurve bow, from selecting the suitable wood to shaping and finishing the bow.

Selecting the Right Wood:

How to make a wood recurve bows? The choice of wood is crucial in building a sturdy and functional recurve bow. Some commonly used woods for bow-making include:

  1. Yew: Known for its excellent strength-to-weight ratio and flexibility.
  2. Osage Orange: A dense, resilient wood with good power and durability.
  3. Bamboo: Often used as a backing material for added strength and flexibility.
  4. Hickory: Provides a balance between flexibility and strength, making it suitable for beginner and experienced bowyers.

When selecting wood, consider its availability, suitability for bow making, and your personal preference.

Designing the Bow:

Before starting the construction process, it’s essential to have a clear design plan. Consider the bow’s length, draw weight, and desired limb shape. You can find various bow design templates and resources online or consult experienced bowyers for guidance.

Preparing the Wood:

Begin by roughing out the shape of the bow stave. Remove any excess bark, knots, or irregularities using a drawknife or a sharp chisel. Ensure the stave is straight and free from cracks or defects that could compromise the bow’s integrity.

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Layout and Markings:

Using a measuring tape, mark the desired length of the bow on the stave. Make additional markings for the handle, tips, and limb fades. These markings will serve as guidelines during the shaping process.

Shaping the Bow:

  1. Handle and Limb Fades:

Start by shaping the handle section of the bow. Use rasps, files, or a spokeshave to create a comfortable grip that fits your hand. Smooth out any rough edges or bumps to ensure a comfortable shooting experience.

  1. Limbs:

Gradually shape the bow’s limbs, starting from the handle and tapering towards the tips. Use a rasp or a drawknife to remove excess wood and create the desired limb profile. Pay close attention to symmetry and balance between the limbs.

  1. Tiller the Bow:

Tillering carefully adjusts the bow’s limbs to achieve even bend and flexibility. Attach the bow to a tillering tree or a sturdy frame and gradually apply tension to the bowstring. Monitor the limb bend and make necessary adjustments by removing wood from the stiffer areas until both limbs bend uniformly.

Stringing the Bow:

How to make a wood recurve bows? Once you are satisfied with the tiller and the limb shape, it’s time to string the bow. Use a high-quality bowstring made specifically for recurve bows. Follow proper stringing techniques to avoid damaging the bow or yourself during the stringing process.

Finishing Touches:

  1. Sanding and Smoothing:

Carefully sand the entire bow to remove any rough surfaces or tool marks. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually move to finer grits for a smooth finish. Take care not to remove too much wood or alter the bow’s shape during this process.

  1. Applying a Finish:
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Consider applying a protective finish to the bow to enhance its durability and appearance. Options include natural oils, varnishes, or sealants designed for wooden bows. Apply the finish according to the manufacturer’s instructions and allow it to dry completely before using the bow.

Testing and Adjustments:

How to make a wood recurve bows? Once the bow is complete, testing its performance and making necessary adjustments is essential. Here are a few steps to follow:

  1. Stringing and Drawing:

Carefully string the bow and draw it to your intended draw length. Observe the limb bend and note if it feels balanced and smooth during the draw. Make sure there are no signs of excessive stress or unusual vibrations.

  1. Shooting Trials:

Take the bow to a safe and open area for shooting trials. Start with light draw weights and gradually increase as you gain confidence in the bow’s performance. Pay attention to arrow flight, accuracy, and overall shooting experience. If you notice any issues, such as limb twists or string oscillations, you may need to make further adjustments to the tiller or limb shape.

  1. Fine-Tuning:

Make adjustments to optimize the bow’s performance based on your shooting trials. This may include slight tiller adjustments, refinements to the handle or limb shape, or experimenting with different string materials. Record your changes and their impact on the bow’s performance for future reference.

Safety Considerations:

Throughout the bow-making process, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment:

Always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing, when working with tools or sharp objects.

  1. Tool Handling:
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Handle tools with care, ensuring proper grip and control. Keep blades sharp to minimize the risk of slips or accidents caused by excessive force.

  1. Work Area:

Maintain a clean, organized work area to minimize tripping hazards and improve safety.

  1. Research and Guidance:

Seek guidance from experienced bowyers, join bow-making communities, and conduct thorough research to learn proper techniques and safety precautions.


How to make a wood recurve bows? Making your wood recurve bow is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. By selecting suitable wood, designing the bow, shaping the limbs, and applying the necessary finishing touches, you can create a custom bow that suits your shooting style and preferences. Remember to prioritize safety throughout the process and conduct thorough testing and adjustments to ensure optimal performance. Enjoy the journey of crafting your very own wood recurve bow.

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