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What is a recurve bow? Unlike traditional bows, a recurve one is made with limbs that gently curve away from the body of the archer when it is strung. Hence, it works to store more energy and also performs with more energy. The speed of the arrow being shot in this case is much more than the speed traditional bow arrows deliver.

Now, you can either buy a recurve bow or make one yourself. For the DIY enthusiasts among us, making a recurve bow at home can seem like a fantastic idea. Not only is it ergonomic, but it also allows you to customize the bow however you like. 

It is not hard at all to make a recurve bow by yourself. To make things easier for you, we are going to discuss the steps you need to take in order to make your very own recurve bow. So without further ado, let us get started!

Step 1: The Type of Wood

Firstly, you need to choose your wood for the construction. You can use any kind of wood you want, however some types are definitely better for recurve bow construction. 

To name a few, choose any wood from between maple, lemonwood, hickory, etc. These are known to be flexible and can be worked on much more easily.

Step 2: Equipments You will Need

For those who think that making a recurve bow can be quite stressful and might need a lot of equipments, we are sorry to say that you are wrong. In fact, the stuff you need to have in your inventory for recurve bow construction are probably the things you already do have available in your garage.

Minus a few extra equipments you might need to buy if you do not already have them, recurve bow DIY is still cheaper and easier than having to waste time looking for the right bow in the market and then spending a butt load of cash over it. 

Get a bow shaping frame. Using a bow shaping frame instead of eyeballing it can make a huge difference. Other than the bow shaping frame, gather your carpentry knives, a hatchet, screw clamps, heat glue gun, nylon strings, tillering stick and a large file together. 

In case of the knife, a draw knife is more appropriate for making a recurve bow. However, if you want you can also make use of a saw for the cutting. But since a lot of people just do not have saws lying around in their garages, we are going to work with a draw knife in this recurve bow making article.

After you have all your stuff together, make a clear outline on the body of the bow wood piece with a crafting pen or marker. Do not forget to mark where you want your handle to be. 

Step 3: Stave

Work on the stave with one hand while the other uses a hatchet to smooth it out. Next, test it by bending the bottom of it against your thigh while your other hand pulls the upper tip of it in the other direction. However, make sure you use appropriate amount of strength here as you would not want to damage it before even using it.

Step 4: Shaping and Smoothening 

Shape and size the limbs (around 1-1/2 inches in thickness) and riser after you tighten the handle onto the vice. This process can easily go wrong if you do not have enough patience and hurry it away instead. So keep your cool while shaping. 

The limbs should be approximately 29-30 pounds in weight. Use the draw knife to shape and smoothen out the stave in long strokes until you get the thickness you desire. 

Next, simply just sand it down but make sure you do not sand it too much as we do not want the stave to be too thin. You do not need to smoothen it out completely right then if you know you are going to make more changes to it later on. 

Drill on the pre-marked holes on the ends of the limbs when you think it is appropriate. Make sure the holes are accurately centered. It is a good idea to always mark out a straight line from the shoulder to the designated hole area beforehand. 

Step 5: Framing the Recurve Bow

Now for the fun part! Place your stave inside the bow shaping frame according to how curved you want your bow to be. 

Know that for a recurve bow, one curve needs to be closer to the hand while the other needs to be away from it. After you have them all shaped, screw clamp the entire stave to the frame. 

Make sure that both of the limbs are as closely curved to each other as possible. Use a measuring tape to deduce how much distance there is in between the two limbs when you bend the stave from both sides of the handle. 

Afterwards, give time for the bends to set in easily, which will result in a stronger and more flexible recurve bow.

Step 6: Cutting Up the Notches

After you are done with the frame, it is time to start working on the strings. Cut up the notches for the accurate placement of the strings. These notches go at the end of each limb.

If you cannot cut up notches with the help of a knife and a flat, you can easily use a long cylindrical file for it. Make sure you do this under parental guidance if you are below 16 years old.

Step 7: Tillering Your Bow 

The next two processes are about tillering and stringing the bow. To tiller, place your recurve bow frame on a tillering stick. Pull one side of the tillering string closer to the top notch of the bow. 

Gradually pull the bow further away, but make sure to put just enough pressure on it. Again, we are looking for a bend here, not a break.

This tillering process is pretty long as it can take from weeks to months for the recurve bow to be ready. This gradual process should be smoothly done.

 If in case you hear a creak coming from the frame, stop the tillering process right then. Know that you can still make use of the bow during this time, however it will not be of great strength. 

Also, know that making use of the recurve bow during its tillering process could in fact slow down the entire process and also create difficulties with shooting later on. Hence, it is better to simply just wait out the entire tillering process till the recurve bow feels like it’s ready to use. 

After the long tillering process is done with, you have to move on to the stringing process if you think your recurve bow has now reached an appropriate draw. The best material for stringing is nylon, as it is flexible and strong as well.

For stringing and the rest, we suggest you contact and meet up with your local archery store so that they can tighten whatever may be needed. 

Professionals like them will fit on the rest and set the entire bow up without causing any damage to it. You can surely do this yourself but if you are a novice in the world of archery, we suggest you take help from a professional for the last few steps. 

This way, the professional can also give you tips and instructions on how to take care of your recurve bow and how to perform well with it. 


After completing all the above mentioned steps, you should be resulted with a pretty sleek looking recurve bow. You can get your game up by adding some extra touch ups to the bow by painting it or adding artwork such as logos or your initials over it. 

No matter what you do, we recommend you do not forget to look for a protective case for your recurve bow afterwards. It is quite easy for your recurve bow to get damaged if it is kept out in the open all the time.

We suggest you thoroughly look for strong and flexible bow cases for your freshly made equipment. These cases can be made from hard plastic shell or resemble a bag. 

Whichever they may be, make sure you get the right kind of case for your recurve bow. Do not mistake a compound case to be appropriate for your recurve bow. It is also a wise idea to check if the cases come with storage pouches for the extra accessories of your recurve bow. 


A sport like archery can take a long time to master. However, with the right equipments and immense dedication, one can easily have a really good time and head back home with only happy memories.

The steps mentioned above are ideal for making recurve bows. We hope you did not find them to be difficult as we have thoroughly explained each of the steps one by one. 

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