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How to Make a Longbow – The Ultimate Guide

how to make a longbow
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Longbows have been used since the Stone Age for hunting and in battles. They were usually made from either yew or wych elm depending on availability.

But how to make a longbow? Is it possible to make one yourself? Well, of course!

You can build a longbow at home with a couple of easily found items, and we’re going to show you how.

In this article, we are going to explore how to build a long bow in 4 easy-to-follow steps. Let’s jump right in.

How to Make a Longbow: 4 Easy Steps

Making a longbow is no easy task and takes some time and patience. We will be here every step of the way with easy instructions from picking the wood to oiling the bow.

There are even some pointers at the end for what to use the bow for! Once you have learned the basics you can branch out and get more creative. Here’s how to make a long bow at your home:

1. Make the Stave

This is the beginning of the procedure where you’ll be making a stave appropriately. Here’s how to do it.

How to Make a Longbow - Making a stave

Picking the Wood

The stave should be around 5 feet long. Choose a hardwood that does not have any knots, gnarls, or twists in it.

There should be no cracks in the wood either because the end creation has to be a perfect piece of wood with rounded limbs.

So, if you are going to chop down a piece of wood, be careful not to split it. Remember, You want the wood to be no thicker than 2 inches. And woods like maple, yew, ash, or hickory are the best for this job.

Identifying the Curve

To find the curve take the wood for the stave and hold it upright with the bottom pushed against your foot.

Loosely holding the top of the stave bend it in the middle as gently as you can. The wood with start to bend and the curve will point forward or away from you.

The inside of the bow is the part nearest to you and is the side that you will be working on. You must not make any cuts to the outside of the bow as this will weaken it or cause it to break.

Marking the Handhold

The handle of the bow is in the middle of the stave. Measure halfway between the top and bottom of the bow.

Then, make a mark at least 3 inches from the center towards the top and do the same from the center towards the bottom of the stave.

You have now marked where the handle of your bow is going to be.

No sanding or marking should be done to it as it needs to be strong like the outside of the bow.

You can get some soft leather and wrap it around the handle of the bow or get more creative with it to make the handle a nice-looking feature on the bow.

You can even use pieces of leather to wrap around the top notches of the bow. This will keep the string a bit snugger as well.

2. Create the Bow Shape

Now is the time for you to make a shape that your bow is going to be in.

Putting the Bends to Tests

In order to shape the bow, you first need to test the bends. To do this, you will need to hold the bow up straight and place it on your foot.

The top needs to be held in your hand. Then, use your free hand to push the bow outwards to see where it bends easily, or if it is a bit stiffer.

Adjusting and Bringing Flexibility

To make the stiffer part of the wood a little suppler, take a knife and shave a bit away from the INSIDE of the staff.

Remember, you do NOT want to make any marks, nicks or accident cuts to the outside of the wood or the handle area.

The tips on both ends of the bow and handle are the only parts of the bow that should be stiff. Or at least stiffer than the other parts of the longbow. Carve the wood until the bow bends and flexes evenly.

3. String the Bow

Now, you’ll need to string the bow you just made. Exciting, isn’t it?

Remember that the string of your longbow isn’t like that of modern crossbows. So, be careful while doing and pulling it.

How to string the longbow you just made

Cutting Notches on Both Sides of Tips

In order to secure the bowstring, you need to cut notches at the top and bottom tips of the bow.

These do not have to be too deep but make sure the groove is big enough to house the thickness of the bowstring. You don’t want it to slip out easily. The string must be snug and secure in the groove.

Readying the String

  • Whatever string you are using; be it nylon or bowstring, you don’t want it to be more than 5 to 6 inches.
  • At each of the strings, tie a loop, and then bend the bow. Hook the looped ends of the string into both top and bottom notches.
  • Do not be tempted to give the bow a try or pull back the string yet as the bow needs to finish off and be balanced out a bit more.

Hanging the Bow Horizontally

To test what adjustments are required, you will need to hang the bow over a piece of wood or bench, a tree branch, etc. The drawstring needs to stay vertical with the ground

Pulling the bowstring

Pull on the bowstring carefully with both sides of the bow equally bent. If a particular side doesn’t feel adequately flexible, you need to have some more wood removed from it.

The bow will need to be adjusted as long as it takes you to pull the string back to your draw comfortably.

4. Add Some Finishing Touch

Now that you’re almost done, you can give the bow some touch of personalization.

Finish making the Longbow by adding some finishing touches

Applying a Little Oil

Once the bow has been adequately adjusted; it is time to add some finishing touches to it, such as Tung or linseed oil to be applied to the wood. This keeps the wood moist enough to remain supple and not dry out.

Homemade Longbows: Where to Use

Success in bow-making meets perfection when you can use it for your needs. Longbows are great for archery and hunting although there’re controversies that they are not the best hunting weapons.

Using longbows can be a great sport requiring a lot of control as well as muscle strength.

Now that you know how to make a longbow from scratch, you may try using various kinds of wood. For those who are wood crafters, some longbows with unique designs are available.

Remember that it takes time and patience to make the longbow, but it will be very rewarding once you can make it!


1. How Do I Measure the Length of My Longbow?

You can measure the length of your long bow by using a measuring tape or ruler. Place one end of the measuring device at one end of the bow and then measure to the other end. This will give you the length of your bow in inches or centimeters.

2. What Type of Wood Is Best for Making a Longbow?

The best type of wood for making a long bow is usually yew or maple. Yew is an ideal choice for making longbows because it is strong, flexible, and durable. Maple is also a good choice for longbows because it has high shock resistance and flexibility.

3. Are Any Special Tools Required in Building a Longbow?

Yes, special tools are required to build a longbow. These include a saw, chisel, drill press, clamps, sandpaper, and a drawknife. These tools are necessary in order to shape the wood, drill holes for the bowstring, and smooth out any rough edges.

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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