Recurve Bow Make From Wood And Skis


A little face protection is a great idea when first testing out your homemade bow. [Austin Karls] made this recurve bow during what he calls an engineer’s Spring break.

He settled on the idea after seeing a few other projects like it on Reddit. After first drawing up a plan he headed down to the shop to cut out the wooden riser (the middle part of a bow). Unlike traditional recurve bows this is made up of three parts. Traditionally you would laminate different types of wood to achieve the flexibility and tension levels desired. But [Austin] went with a synthetic material: the tips of two skis. Each were cut to the final length and affixed to the riser with a pair of bolts.

After a few test shots he gained confidence in the design and did away with the face mask. Now if you’re in the market to take your existing bow and add some firepower to it you’ll want to look in on this shotgun enhanced compound bow.

[Thanks Schuyler]

36 thoughts on “Recurve Bow Make From Wood And Skis

    1. Which isn’t much of a problem – the kind of people who build this tend to have moved on to the next project before the end of summer even, much less three years down the line. On the off chance they’re real bow enthusiasts they’ll either get something better or know enough to keep up the maintenance.

      1. The thing is that DIY projects have an undetermined life, unless the actually break or wear out, someone other than the builder may be using it 3 years later. Not I have any solutions to address any problems that may arise out of that reality.

        1. the problem is not that they break, since in this case the skis are replacable, its the moment they break, because that can cause unnececary pain like the string whips over the face or something like that, when not handled with care. thats why i recommended handling with care XD

    1. I recently repaired a 70s Bear one-piece recurve (Stag Hunter, 51lbs) – it was suffering from some minor delamination of the limbs (between wood layers.

      Loctite 420 works quite well for that type of repair – it’s designed to flow into tiny cracks.

  1. Competition recurve bows are typically made like this, so it’s not particularly new. The middle part is made of aluminum, magnesium, or whatever fancy lightweight material, and the bow arms bolt onto it, along with all the counterweights and other stuff.

    1. Watch out with talk like that you’ll bring out the “not a Hack” crowd. Sorry, I just left another HaD article where people were bashing a build because it was “too simple”.

      Oops, too late. I scanned down and saw [Peter] already started the negativity.

  2. Thats Awesome! I looked at using sections of skis as leaf springs for the front wheels on a recumbent trike. Works magic…

    Highly impressed, im going to make one or three.


  3. A few problems with his bow, first, the string is tied too far down the ski tips, he’s loosing a lot of power from that alone, second, because of that, he’s also going to break his string quickly because there’s no string stop… Not a very safe bow to be shooting.

    1. The sad thing is that for many of us, it is easier to come by discarded stuff such as a pair of old skis than it is to obtain suitable materials – even a tree. It isn’t THAT hard to make a decent bow out of lumber from a local home store, but this is a neat trick.

      Similarly, it is often cheaper nowadays to procure metal to make plate armor than it is to get leather of sufficient quality for armor. Precisely the inverse of early Medieval Europe, where leather was relatively cheap but quality metal was quite dear.

      1. I recall that certain trees were prized for their ability to make good bows. I don’t know that pine from the local hardware store is really suitable for making a bow.

          1. Yew was the best available in medieval Europe, having both desirable compression/non-compressible properties. Pine is indeed terrible, but my big block store stocks a variety of woods, a couple of which could be laminated together to get it right enough. In addition, wood isn’t the only material one can use. Horse archers used laminated bows of bone, sinew, wood, etc to get the right amount of spring and overrun most of the Eurasian landmass.

        1. Depending on the design (and your location), osage orange, lemonwood, hickory, even red oak. No doubt there are others available as well – American flatbow designs tend to be more tolerant than English longbows of… varied woods.

        2. Reviving an old post but just fyi the phrase “f@!$k you” only became due to the English long bows in the battle of agincourt were made of the native English yew tree.. the English threatened to cut off the middle finger of any captured French.. in turn when seeing a French they did not like they would stick up there middle finger and say “pluck dew” you can see how the adoption came from that…

  4. I would have liked to see them measure how many pounds it pulls at full draw, it also reminds me I must try and get back into archery again, haven’t been to my local club in a few years :/

  5. Love it :) Just the kind of neat build and fun at heart project that I (and my father) love. I neat side story: didn’t realize until recent family tree searching that apparently my fam were all trained archers back in the old country (yes Agincourt even) so it fits with our current likes and innate abilities in a weird way.
    Fun read :)

  6. A “traditional bow” such as this (yes, a non-compound-bow is considered trad, though not by some at TradTalk and TradGang, and especially at Leatherwall) would not use a string-stop.
    Yew was prized in Europe, though some of the oldest designs for bows found (Mollegabat and Holmegaard) used so-called white-woods such as elm. These designs actually offer a lot of advantages over Yew, such as availability. Hickory was prized in the Eastern US, as was Osage Orange, especially in the southeast. Oddly enough, many flight-shooters nowadays are using Holmegaards and “Moilly” bows. Recurves and longbows of all designs have benefits. And yes, PVC bows are cheap and a real blast to shoot- very quiet.

    Nice bow, will have to peruse the thrift stores for some new “limbs”

  7. didn’t you measure your bow?
    i think the limbs is too long so you can’t get a good brace height
    and you should to thik about the riser materials ,in one piece riser the is a lot a factor can makes crack on the riser ^_^ over all i like your passion

    1. You have it backwards. A longer bow allows for more brace height than a short one because you can bend long limbs more without reaching the breaking point (that is if limb material is identical). The greater the brace height, the more limbs will be stressed at full draw.

  8. Made one like this but first with pvc limbs; when dismantled it fit in a knapsack. But one limb broke after over two weeks of daily shooting. Then i went to skis! So far so good, but my ski limbs are 23″ long each and the string sits further away from the riser at rest. that it does in the article’s picture. I intend to get a “real” storebought takedown bow, but finishing up a custom brazed roadbike frame, and with a vintage touring bike in the shop, i don’t have the spare green.

    I think things like this are great especially for someone new to archery (like me) who wants to try it out, is handy with tools, and lacks cash. Right now I’ve been shooting for only a bit over two weeks but i love it and will stick with it. Props to this guy and all other tinkerers.

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