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How to Make a Recurve Bow at Home

How to Make a Recurve Bow at Home

It feels great to own your own tool, right? What if it was made by you? You will put everything you need and you won’t have to pay money for a bow build by someone else. That’s the goodness of making your own tool at home and it is not very complicated. Here is a guide on how to make a recurve bow at home. The steps have been simplified to give you the best bow with less effort.

Before you start building your bow, you need to have the required tools and materials. These are the tools you need:

Some Basics before You Start

The common modern recurve bow is made out of a lamination fiber glass and a wooden core. The common design is two fiber glass laminations separated by wood core in the middle. Therefore, the functions can be accredited to the fiber glass. There are currently bow kits in the market which you can buy to make the building of the bow at home easy. This kit contains the material needed including the right wood. It can also have laminations for you. Remember that the laminations determine greatly the weight of the bow and it may be difficult for beginners to know which laminations they need for a certain weight of the bow. Remember that the fiber glass and the wood core largely affects the overall weight. You can use thicker wood if you want to add some weight. The thickness of the fiber glass is normally not the same for the back and the belly. For example, if you want to make a 40 lb. bow, use a 0.175 inch long core, a 0.42 inch thick glass for the back and 0.48 inch thick glass for the belly.

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The Riser

You now have your core. You will need to mount the riser which is the initial step towards making your bow. You have to glue the riser pieces to the core. The wood pieces of the riser can be obtained from a single wood or different types of wood. Using same wood gives uniformity and the grains are easily integrated. Always remember to use hardwood parts. These are very resilient and have an excellent grain. You can choose whichever you like but the common wood used is maple. You can also use lemonwood, yew, hickory or Orange Osage.

In this step, you only glue the riser parts to the core lamination. You need to be very accurate with the alignment of the pieces so that you don’t get it wrong. Make sure that the wood pieces lie in an orderly manner and marking the midpoints can help greatly so that you put the points in a straight line and get the perfect arrangement. Apply wood glue and then clamps the pieces immediately. Make sure to use as many clamps as can cover the whole riser length. This ensures even pressure is applied to the pieces and you get a strong bond. Points of weaknesses are eliminated and the riser will obviously last longer besides having a wonderful look.

The glued pieces should be left to dry for 24 hours. The initial 6 hours of drying require slightly higher temperatures than the subsequent periods. Check to see if all parts are well glued. Now, it is time to shape the riser and make it be part of the core. This is done by making the riser curve smoothly towards the core. Make sure to get that curve right. It should be uniform in both directions and do not cut into the core as this creates a point of weakness. Do not leave knots either because this will impair the function of the bow by causing rigidity.The Riser

Making the Recurve Shape

How then are we going to bring out the recurve shape from the currently straight limbs? Using a wooden outline will be best. Make a 2-inch thick wooden block which will then help bring out the classic bow design. Because shaping such thick wood only involves chopping out the flesh, it is easy to use it to bend the limbs of the bow. A block of width 7 inch and length 70 inch can be good for shaping the bow. The length can vary with the length of the bow.


In order to enhance the recurve shape, a second pair of core laminations is applied to the existing bow assembly in the wooden block that was made into a bow shape. The wooden strips are added to the ends of the initial assembly. The best point is that which lies between the middle of the riser and the initial end of the core. Wooden strips are added from here on both sides from the belly part of the bow. You have to put this tightly in place using glue and even fastening by rubber bands. To prevent the bow from sticking to the wooden block, it is good practice putting a surface in between, preferably wax paper. Clamping of the parts is also good for emphasizing the bond. Drying of the glue at this point requires temperatures of at least 100 Fahrenheit. Once the glue dries up, the bond will stick and you can then release the rubber loops and the clamps and there, your bow will have taken shape.

Adding Fiber Glass

After the wooden core is done, it is now time to apply the fiber glass. Remember that thicker glass is always applied on the belly side and thinner glass on the back. For perfect gluing, you need to rough the side that will attach to the wooden core. This is best done by a sandpaper, for example a drum sander. The outer sides of the glass should have masking tape applied to keep them clean because you might be required to make some markings later. Mix plastic glue and hardener then apply it to the surfaces of the core and the roughed sides of the glass fiber. Lay the assembly into the wooden block and then clamp at the center and fasten the rest of the surfaces with rubber loops to ensure that the glass fibers take the shape of the bow.

The glue should be dried at temperatures averaging 130 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 6 hours then left to dry for the next 48 hours.

recurve bow

Tapering the Ends

The limbs are not yet ready before they are tapered. Make markings on the bow where the fadeouts end then start the tapering from this point to the end of the limbs. Cut off the excess flesh and smooth the edges using a rasp or sand paper.


The Nocks

Measure 33 inches from the center of the bow then make grooves 1/8th inch deep on both limbs. These are the nocks for holding the bowing string. Make sure that the recurve is at the center of the bow during tillering. If it leans to one side, then remove some weight from that side and fine the groove of the holes. Make these adjustments until there is a uniform recurve.

the nock

Shaping the Handle

In bow making, the upper and lower limbs are identified at the time of building. Make sure that the handle is a bit thicker towards the lower limb because this part experiences a greater pull during shooting therefore this should be compensated.

Finally, carefully remove the masking tape and your bow is ready for final sanding and painting. Fill the string holes once you have established that the recurve is at the center.Shaping the Handle

Glue dry surfaces and always remember to take the first trial at shooting when all the building is finished.

final bow

Using Skis

You can also make a recurve bow using skis as the limbs. In this case, all you need to do is make the riser by clamping the wood then have the skis bolted on both sides of the riser. The riser is made just as described in this piece. You will then make the tapering ends using a jig saw and smooth them with a file. This method is becoming popular and you only have to buy the skis or you can take a used pair from a friend or your store. That is how to make a recurve bow at home.


Bonus: Free ebook how to make a recurve shared by : You can download here and read offline.

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