How to make a recurve bow – Step by Step Guide

Not everyone knows how to make a recurve bow. It’s so complex that only a few people know how to do it properly. But with the right tools, you’ll be able to make one of your very own in no time. It is also a fact that no one can be a perfect bow maker on the first try, so practice makes the men perfect. Follow this step-by-step guide correctly, and you will be able to create your own very first hand-made recurve bow perfectly! 

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How to make a recurve bow

A recurve bow uses the energy stored in its limbs by bending them, then releasing them by straightening them once again. The result is that the arrow flies more quickly and further than a longbow. This makes it ideal for hunting at longer ranges; however, it takes much practice to master this style of bow. 

Furthermore, to build a perfect recurve bow you’ll need lots of practice to get everything just right – straightening the limbs, getting them in the right order, and placing them between the nocks of the bowstring, etc.

What is a recurve bow ?

The most popular bow for archery enthusiasts is the recurve bow and it can be used for hunting and shooting. A lot of people are under the impression that a recurve bow is simply a longbow but with limbs that curve away from the archer when unstrung. This is not true at all, as the recurve bow offers several distinct advantages over other types of bows. In modern English, however,

It most commonly refers to a single-piece wooden stick with elastic materials on each end which stores energy through bending when pulled upon (also called its draw length) and releases energy by relaxing when pushed (its draw weight). 

Making a recurve bow is an art that requires patience and skill. One has to start off with understanding the basic instructions one will need to follow to make sure they finish up on time! The main steps are as follows:

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Want to be perfect into Bow making ? Continue to read

Step 1: Selection of wood

How to make a recurve bow out of wood? We will answer this common question now if you have a piece of wood lying around, good for you. It is always better to use local woods, as they are more durable and also tend to be lighter in weight. Maple, Hickory, Ash, Cedar, Yew, Beech are some of the most durable and suitable types of hardwoods to be used for building a recurve bow. These woods can be purchased at any hardware store.

The critical thing to remember here is that the grain should run parallel to the limbs of the bow. If it runs perpendicular, the bow will not be as strong and will break easily when drawn fully. Also, make sure that there are no knots or other obstructions in the wood before cutting it. Moreover, You can also use premade staves.

Step 2: Required materials and tools

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All you require to make your own recurve bow are some basic materials that could be bought from any regular hardware store near you. Furthermore, you need a few tools that are available in almost every household. The materials and tools required for building your own homemade recurve bow are:

  • A wooden stave that is strong and straight.
  • A hatchet or a saw for cutting the stave. Make sure that it is sharp since dull blades can cause kickback and rip the wood.
  • A bow shaping form to give the raw wooden stave a proper shape of a recurve bow.
  • A heat gun
  • Sandpaper to smooth out. The higher the number of the paper, the finer it will feel and smoother your homemade recurve bow will be.
  • Pencils for marking measurements on the stave.-A drawknife
  • A tillering stick and tillering string for the tillering process
  • Screw clamps
  • A large file

Step 3: Tracing and carving the design on the stave

Before you can start making your bow, you must first prepare the stave. You will need to cut the wood into a D-shape. If you don’t have a specific design in mind, then you can use the dimensions provided below. These are standard dimensions for making bows and arrows:
Bow length: 66-72 inches or more depending on your height
Riser length: 25 inches or less depending on your bow length

There are many ways to do this, but here is how I do it:

  • Get a dry branch about 4 inches in diameter and about 3 feet long.
  • Tie a string around the branch at about 1 foot from one end.
  • Use a hatchet to split the branch in half down the middle.
  • Then, use your knife to split each half into quarters.
  • Once you have 4 pieces, you can remove the string from one of them. You should now have two staves (one with the string still attached).

To begin with, select a piece of wood that is about 60″ long and about 2″ in diameter. The stave will have to be straight and without any branches or knots. You can use either hardwood or softwood, but I would recommend hardwood for beginners because it’s easier to work with. If you’re using a softwood-like pine, be sure to choose a piece that has been dried out for at least six months prior to starting the project.

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Step 4: Check the Stave

Once you have finished shaping the bow, it is time to check for flatness. If your stave has been stored outside and has dried out, you may need to re-wet it in order to get a good reading. A quick way to do this is by placing the stave on a couple of boards and sprinkling water over it. The board should spring back after a few minutes if it is still relatively wet.

Use your straight edge to find the high and low spots on the stave. Mark these with a pencil or a felt tip pen. You will need to find a way of checking the flatness of the bow in your hand, so you can identify any low spots that might cause problems later on.

The best way to do this is to cut yourself a strip of leather, plastic, or some other material that will give you a firm grip on the bow while still allowing you to feel any dips on the surface. Make sure it is long enough to wrap around the bow, and you may need to sew it in place or glue it.

If you are using leather, heat it over a candle flame until soft and then mold it around the bow with your fingers. Once cooled, if there are any dips or high spots on the surface of the stave, they will be apparent when you grip the leather in your hand.

Step 5: Carve the limbs

This is the part in recurve bow-making where you start to see your bow take shape. Use your belt sander to carve down the limbs until they are as wide as you want them to be. Be careful not to go too far, though, or you’ll end up with a fragile limb and a fragile bow. This is also the point where you can decide how long you want your bow to be. You must also sand the limbs.

Step 5: Sanding

The last stage of building a recurve bow is sanding. Use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth the wood down, and be sure to test it for comfort at every step until you are satisfied with the shape that you have created. Increase the number of coarseness levels as you work your way up from 60 grit all the way to 220, progressively making everything smoother and softer until it’s exactly how you want it.

Step 7: Shaping the recurve bow

Now that you have carved out your limbs, you will need to sand them again. Sand them until they are as smooth as possible, then re-coat with the glue and let dry.

Step 7: Make notches for the string

Tape your bow limbs together so that they are perfectly aligned. Use tape that is very sticky and thick so that it doesn’t come off while you are making the bow. Now comes the fun part! You will want to take your string (or whatever material you plan on using)and string your bow.

Step 8: Tiller the bow

Now that you have your bowstrung, you will need to drill holes in the ends of the limbs. You will want to do this on both sides of each limb. This is where your rubber bands and cordage will go through, so make sure they are big enough!

How big? It depends on what kind of arrow you plan on using with it. If you are going to use wooden arrows, then these bow release triggers should be at least 3/4″ in diameter. If you plan on using aluminum arrows, they will fit through a hole that is 5/8″ in diameter.

Step 9: Tiller the recurve bow

Once you have your bow in hand, it’s time to set the tiller. Tiller is a fancy word for how straight the limbs are. In this case, we want them to be as straightforward as possible. If they are bent too much, the bow will be harder to draw and shoot. If they are not bent enough, they will be weaker and more likely to break.

To check for the tiller, stand at the end of your workbench with the bow facing away from you. Put your hand on one limb and pull on it. If the other limb moves toward you or up toward the string, it is twisted in relation to that one. You can correct this by turning the limbs in opposite directions until they are as straight as possible. If you have to twist one limb more than 90 degrees, you may want to consider making a new stave instead of trying to salvage this one.

Now is also a good time to check for straightness and twist. To do this, place the bow on your workbench with the tips facing up. Put your hand on one tip and slowly push down while holding the other end in place. You should feel some resistance from the wood fibers trying to spring back to their original shape. If you feel a sudden lack of resistance, then your bow is twisted.

Step 10: Attach the string and Finish

For a homemade recurve bow, it is better to have a homemade bowstring as well. For this purpose, you need a two-ply linen thread or rawhide if you prefer making the string yourself instead of purchasing one from an archery shop.

Whichever type of string you decide to build, place it under the opposite limb using some extra wood glue. On average, homemade bows require 68-inch length strings, while store-bought ones typically have 72 inch long bowstrings.

The closer you get to being finished building your own homemade recurve bow, the more critical it is to treat each small step with utmost care while building up towards the final result.

Step 11: Attach the string and Finish

Once you have finished tillering, it is time to attach a string. Proceed to thread your bowstring through each of the notches with a lot of care and caution. Once you’ve tied the ends together in a knot after looping them around half a dozen times,

Secure them using an arrow nock in building a recurve bow which acts as a stopper when the string is pulled back fully. Always remember to use a stringer tool to attach your homemade recurve bowstring for building your own handmade recurve bow.

After following all these steps, you must have come to know how to make a recurve bow! Now that your homemade recurve bow is ready, you can design or paint it the way you want!

Video Guide Make American Hunting Bow

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Here are a few things to remember:

Here are some things to keep in mind while making/building a recurve bow:

– In building a recurve bow, there are three important things that you need to remember: evenness of limbs, equal length of limbs, and equal draw lengths.

– Some wood may break when initially bending it; this is normal and does not affect the strength of building a recurve bow’s structure. (However, building a recurve bow is always better to use non-breakable wood.)

– When building a recurve bow, it’s important to remember that building a homemade recurve bow does not really involve building something on an assembly line, which means you can’t expect everything to go perfectly according to plan.

– While building your own homemade recurve bow, it is always better to use non-breakable wood.

– Tillering process may take months, so be patient and carry it out steadily.


We hope now you have come to know how to make a recurve bow at home with simple tools from your garage or workshop. After this step-by-step guide, you’ll be on your way to making an excellent beginner’s bow for hunting, target shooting, or archery competitions.

We hope that this article has been helpful in some small way as we all enjoy our hobbies of archery more by understanding how they work!

Best of luck!


Hickory, Bamboo, Oak, Beechwood all could be used for making a durable and sturdy homemade recurve bow.

All you need is a few tools that are available in almost every household. Some simple materials could be bought from any regular hardware store nearby.

There is no such thing as the most difficult part. Building a recurve bow at home is a relatively effortless process. You only need to be careful and have some basic carpentry skills.

The shape of the recurve bow that we want is one curve towards the handle and one facing away from the handle for both the limbs.

In building a recurve bow, there are three important things that determine the perfection of your recurve bow: evenness of limbs, equal length of limbs, and equal draw lengths

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