DIY High-Performance Board Longbow Build

– Hey, guys. Thanks for joining me today. Today, I'm gonna show you how to make a high-performance longbow. If you've never made a bow before, this is the place that I would
recommend that you start. And if you have made self bows before and you wanna get into laminated bows, this is the place I would
recommend you to start as well. And the really cool thing
about this kind of bow is you only need three materials. The first thing is a good piece of wood. Secondly, you'll need drywall tape. And the third thing you really need to get is some wood glue.

I prefer this Titebond III wood glue, because it's waterproof. And this is all of the materials we're gonna need to make an
awesome, really fast bow. And as far as tools go, you can go really minimal
or use power tools. It doesn't really matter, 'cause we're not removing a ton of wood. I will say, if you use power tools, it's a lot easier to mess up the bow, so just be careful and take
it as slow as possible. These three materials are
really cheap and accessible. I think I got it all for under $15. But I did find out that the wood glue and the drywall tape is
a lot cheaper on Amazon.

So I'm gonna leave some links below, so that it'll be convenient
for you to find them. Let's talk about the kind of thing that you're gonna want to get
to make a good, solid bow. The first thing you need to know is that you don't need to source
it from any special place. You could just go to the hardware store and pick up a piece of wood. And there are many different kinds of wood that will make a bow. Some will make better bows. Some will make worse bows. The first thing you wanna look at is the hardness of the wood. If the wood is so soft that you can put your
fingernail into the wood, it's too soft to make a bow. You're gonna want a harder
kind of wood than that. The second most important thing
is the way the grain runs. You want the grain to
run the entire length of the bow's stave or the piece
of wood you're picking out.

You don't want the grain
to be running off the side of the wood anywhere. If it runs off the side of the wood, that can create a weak spot
where the bow can break, but you want it to go
directly straight down on the top of the board, and then also on the side of the board. There are many woods you can
use from a hardware store. Red oak can work good. Maple can work good. I'm gonna try poplar today. It's a hardwood. It's really cheap wood. And I think it's gonna
make us a really good bow. Most boards at a lumber
store are kiln dried. And what this means is
that the drying process is sped up by basically
putting it in an oven or a dehumidifier. And what this does is
it sucks the moisture out of the wood really fast. This process is a great
production way to dry wood, so that you can have
lumber to build a house or do construction, 'cause you don't want that wood shrinking after you put your flooring down.

But the problem with this with bows is that it dries the woods so fast it can make the wood brittle, because with a bow, we need it good under
compression and tension, because we're bending the bow. It's not gonna be a static piece. When we're bending this bow, the back of the bow is under tension and the belly's under compression. So that brittleness can be really bad. And that's exactly why we're
gonna add a bow backing to the back of this bow. Now, there are multiple, multiple bow backings you can use. And I have a video on "10 Bow
Backings That Actually Work." But today we're gonna use
my favorite bow backing, which is this fiberglass drywall tape. It's really easy to use. It's extremely cheap, and it's so, so durable, you really just cannot beat it. Before we go ahead and put
the bow backing on the bow, what we need to do is to lay the bow out and get it to the rough shape we want.

And if you wanna follow along with this, I've got a free PDF download for you guys that shows you all the dimensions. And it's something that
you might wanna print out or save onto your phone, so that when you were building the bow, you can reference it to know
where to lay out the handle, and remember all the little things that is easy to forget when making your first bow. Let's get right into
the layout of this bow. As you start to lay your
bow on the piece of wood, you wanna look for defects
to try to avoid those.

And one end of the piece of
wood I have has a split in it. And so that's the side I'm gonna cut off. I want a 64-inch bow. This whole bow is six-feet
long, so 72 inches. So I'm gonna cut off the side
that has the split in it, so we can avoid that, and we'll use that extra side we cut off to beef up the handle section. The first thing you wanna do is find the very center of the bow, which, in my case, is gonna be 32 inches for a 64-inch bow.

(upbeat music) Now that we've found the center, we can lay out the handle section, and where we want the center of the bow is where the most
pressure is on your grip. So on a finished bow like this, right here, where the most pressure is, is where the center of
the bone needs to be. And that's gonna lay an inch
and 1/2 below the arrow rest. So we already found the center of the bow, which is right here, so we need to measure up an inch and 1/2 to mark the arrow rest. So now we marked out
the center of the bow, and then we went an inch
and 1/4 to the arrow rest. Now we're gonna mark
down two and 3/4 inches and that'll give us a
four-inch handle section. Now we've got our
four-inch handle section. From there, we need to
create our fade outs, so we're gonna do two-inch
fade outs on either side. This should create a total
of an eight-inch handle, which is exactly the same
size of our scrap piece, so we can glue that on to
make a thicker handle section.

Okay, so we've got our two-inch fade outs, center of the bow, and a four-inch handle. As far as the limbs go, we're gonna keep it a very simple design. Our limbs come out to 27 inches. So we're gonna find the half point of 27, which should be, what? 13 and 1/2. So that's gonna be the
mid point of our limb. So we're gonna keep that
one and 1/2-inch wide limb. But when we get to the half point, we're gonna make this
skinnier and taper it down to 3/4-inch length. That's gonna make the
limb tips a lot thinner, which will make our bow a lot faster. So we're gonna find the center of here, which should be 3/4. And then half of 3/4 is 3/8. So take it 3/8 on either
side of the center. From here, I'm gonna use a
straight edge to mark my lines.

If you did this bowl out correctly, your top limb will be longer
than your bottom line. The reason that is, is because we have all
this extra handle section on the bottom, 'cause your arrow rest is
just gonna be right up here, so your top limb is gonna
be an inch and 1/2 longer, and that's completely okay. We'll need the top end to bend a little more than
the bottom end at the end to get a smooth shot.

I need to interrupt real
quick to let you guys know that we now have a website. And on that website, we're not selling t-shirts, but we're selling bow strings, something that can benefit me and that can benefit you at the same time. So if you wanna support this channel, head over to or click the link below to
go pick up your bow string. They are Flemish twist both strings. I make them out of Dacron. Decron? Dacron? Dacron string, and I also have a hybrid bowstring, if you want something
with a little more speed and a little bit oomph. I've got three bow strings up for sale. I'll custom make the length. And the whole website is 40% off. So if you need a bow string
or a tillering string, head over to, pick up yourself a bowstring. I would appreciate it, and I know you guys would like it to. Oh, and if you already have a bow string, that's completely okay.

Go ahead, go over to, buy a bow string. That way the one you have now can become your backup, and you can have a new mainstream. Come on. All right, now back to the bow build. Layout sometimes it can be
difficult to understand, so I'm gonna walk you
through it one more time. We first found the center of the bow. And then from there we
went up an inch and 1/4. That's where our arrow rest will be. And then we came down from
that point four inches, which is going to be our
whole handle section. So it's an inch and a 1/4 up. Or if you're gonna measure
from the center line, that's gonna be two and 3/4 down. Either way, you've got
a four-inch section. From there, we have the fade outs, two-inch fade out, and another two-inch fade out. Then go down the limb, halfway down the limb,
you're gonna make a mark.

And then from there, you're gonna fade all the
way down to 3/4 of an inch. It's gonna be the same
thing on this other side. All the way down halfway on the limb, fade out to 3/4 of an inch. If you want all of these measurements, again, they'll be in the free
PDF download for you guys. At this point, we're gonna
glue up the scrap piece of wood to the back of the bow. This will give us a much thicker
handle section to work with and keep the handle from bending. These two pieces of
wood are extremely flat, and so I don't need to sand them down or smooth them out anymore. But what I will do is I'm
gonna grab a hacksaw blade and rough up these two surfaces, so that I can have more gluing surface. I wanna give myself every opportunity that these two pieces
of wood don't separate. Oh man.

That's so brittle. When you have really dry wood like this, a sizing coat is important. All the sizing coat is, is just putting some glue down and letting it soak into the dry wood. If all you do is put a
quick layer of glue down and clamp it down, a lot of that was gonna
soak into the wood. So go ahead and put a sizing coat down, let it sit there for five minutes, and that'll become tacky. Once that glue becomes tacky, then go ahead and put
one more layer of glue on both sides of the wood, and then clamp it down. I found that this helps, especially when you're using dry wood to keep the laminations held together over a long period of time. All right, it's tacky, so we're gonna go ahead and
give it another coat of glue, and then clamp this together. The cool thing about this Titebond glue is that it sets up in 30 minutes. I think I'm gonna leave
it a little longer, but I'll leave it for about
an hour with a clamps on it, and then I can go ahead
and put the bow back in the same day.

Then all I have to do is wait 24 hours to finish out the bow. You don't have to do
it in different steps, like glue up the handle,
wait a couple days, and then glue up the back of the bow. It says to not stress it for 24 hours, which we won't do. They'll have a tight enough adhesion that we can take the clamps off, so we can put the full backing on. With a glue up like this, your clamps don't have
to be extremely tight. If you don't have clamps, you could wrap it in duct tape real tight, or you could just set a brick
on it or something like that, and that should work out fine.

These factory cut boards are
actually really straight, and so all you need is a little
bit of clamping pressure, and it should hold for you. Also, if you clean up
the glue while it's wet, it'll make it a lot easier. We're gonna go ahead and let this dry, and then we'll get onto the bow backing. Okay, I've got everything
ready to glue up, and I put some wax paper down, and then I laid out the fiberglass strips. These are really easy to lay out. You just wanna unravel this, make it the length of your bow. You want six strips, and then you wanna make
three bundles of two. So you end up with three bundles, but there's two in each bundle. It goes a lot faster that way instead of applying six individual strips. I'm gonna go ahead and
do another sizing coat like we did before on the handle. I decided not to shave
down the bow profile. Since it's such a flat board, we'll be able to put
the fiberglass tape on without clamping it, just laying it completely flat, which is a thumbs up, to not have to do like
an ACE wrap around it or something like that, because then it gets
just so much more messy.

But if I can keep it flat like this without rounding the corners, I can just lay out the fiberglass tape, and it'll make it a lot
cleaner and a lot easier to do, and we'll just trim down
the profile of a bow later. So I'm gonna go ahead and do a sizing coat like I did on the handle, just a real thin layer of glue, let that get tacky, and then we'll apply the fiberglass. (Kramer claps) All right, time for the first coat. We're real good and sticky. It soaked up a lot of the glue. I'd rather go over with
the glue than under. (Kramer chuckles) And from there, get your first bundle
of the fiberglass tape. Extremely easy. Just lay it on. You wanna make sure
there's no wrinkles in it or anything like that. As you're rubbing the fiberglass tape in, the goal is to get all
the little divots out. So if you see little holes
inside of the fiberglass tape, there's no glue, put more glue on it, rub it in with your finger, and then at that point, when every single divot is filled, add the next layer of tape.

(tape crinkling)
(upbeat music) All right, it looks like down here we're in really good shape. The fiberglass tape
went on nice and smooth. That wood is so flat. It
just laid flat on there. Looked really good. And I was able to get every single crevice out of that fiberglass tape. I put more glue in there
and smoothing it all out, got all the wrinkles out. And I think this is gonna
make a really good bow, and I'm so excited for it, but we have to wait
until it dries 24 hours before we can stress it. So I'll see you guys tomorrow. Welcome back to a new day. We gave this bow plenty of time to dry. There's a couple of dark spots on it and that's just because I put
too much glue in that area.

And that's completely fine. What we need to do next is to get this bow to its rough shape. So let's get right to it. (upbeat music)
(saw whirring) We started taking the limb tips down and took off the excess fiberglass. So now that the profile
is more or less close to what we're gonna have
when we're finished, it's gonna be a little skinnier, 'cause we're gonna clean it up. But on the belly of the bow, we wanna take off enough wood to where we can bend it with
our hands on the ground. This is a process called floor tillering, and it's not bending it very much, but you just wanna make
sure your bend is even on both limbs. Then we can move on to
the tillering process. So right now it's just hogging away a lot of excess wood on the belly, a little bit on the handle, and then after that, we'll really be able to
get into the fun stuff. (upbeat music continues) (saw scratching) A common easy mistake to make is to take one side down
further than the other.

So the solution to that is
to draw an even line down the whole length of
the limb on both sides. Then when you're taking your wood down, you just take it down to the line, and you know you'll be
equal on each sides, but you wanna check both sides very often, 'cause it's not good to take
one side down really far and leave the other side high. (file scratching) (file scratching) Even though poplar is a hardwood, the wood is very soft. I'd say it's just a little
bit harder than pine is. So what that means is that this wood is super easy to work with, but it's not gonna produce
the fastest shooting bow that you can make. We've got the bow shaped out
and we've got floor tillered. The handle section actually
turned out really good as well. You can hardly even see the transition in between our glue ups. So everything's looking really good. So now it's time to start thinking about putting the string on it.

And in order to put a string on the bow, we need to get the nocks cut. So we're gonna jump in and
cut the nocks right now. Everybody probably has their
own way of cutting nocks, but this is how I like to do it. I'll come down about 3/4 of an inch and I'll make a mark. Now we've got the back of the bow here, the belly of the bow on this side. So the handle is gonna be on this side. You always want it
angling toward the handle. I've made a bow going the wrong way when I was first starting out.

So always start on the back of your bow and angle towards the handle. Some people eyeball this, some people prefer to use a square. What we want is a 45-degree angle, from the back of the bow
to the belly of the bow. And then from there, I'll just come forward just a little bit. Give myself another line. So right in between those two lines is where I'm gonna cut the groove. I'll match this on the opposite side. What I used to cut is a chainsaw file. I find these to be really easy. They can get clogged, but it's the perfect
thickness of a bow string. (file scratching) Start off slow to get it going. You wanna cut the nock to
the width of a bowstring. So there's a little
bump on the bow string, so that's not deep enough yet. (file scratching) That looks perfect.

Now it's just a matter
of repeating this nock on the other side. The most important thing when
you're cutting your nocks in is that you need them to
be even with each other. Because if one… Let's say I did my other
nock loop way down there, for an example, I've got one nock loop here, one nock loop way down there, what's gonna happen is it's
not gonna pull evenly the limb and it'll cause this limb
to twist kind of this way.

And so you don't want that
limb twist in your bow. So it's not necessarily important how far up your nocking point is, but it's very vital that
you're nocking points are lined up together. Fiberglass tape has a grid pattern, so you can just follow that
over instead of squaring. Before you cut the second nock in, make sure you look across
to see if they're lined up. We're looking good. (file scratching) (upbeat electronic music) (singer sighs) (upbeat electronic music continues) Okay, so we're at my favorite part of the bow making process. We've got, technically, a board right now, or a stave. And since we're starting
to get a string on it, this is the process of
turning it into an actual bow.

This process is called tillering. And all tillering is, is taking off wood on the belly of the bow to make the limbs bend evenly, so we're turning a board
into a bow right now. That's why I liked this so much, because it gets so
exciting and nerve-wracking as you start to bend the bow. There's a couple tips or techniques that'll help you if this is
your first time tillering.

First thing you need to know is that you don't necessarily
need any special tools to tiller. You can do most of it by floor tillering, and then once you get a string on it, draw the bow back in a mirror, and you can look to see if
the limbs are bending evenly. It does help though to have some tools like a tillering tree. It just has a notch in
the top of the board and then notches throughout. So you can draw your bow down and you can step back
and look at the bend. The only negative to this is that you don't wanna leave the bow bending a heavy distance down
for a long period of time. That's just gonna give
the bow undue stress. And if you want, what I think is the best way, you can use a tillering board, and I'm gonna make one of those here soon, but basically it's the same
thing as a tillering tree, except you have some pulleys and a longer rope attached to it, so you can stand back
and pull the bow down and just watch it as it bends.

It's much better for exercising the limps, and it gives you a better perspective to see how the limbs are bending. But for today, we're gonna
use the tillering tree and my favorite method to see
where we need to take off wood is to just grab any straight edge. It could be even a small block of wood, but I like to rub it on
the belly of the bow, when you want your gap on
the straight edge to be even all the way down the limb. This makes it easy to see where you need to take off of wood. And wherever the gap is not even, I'll just take a pencil, mark it right there, and then I know I need
to take off the wood right where my pencil lines are.

This is a sure way to make sure your limbs are bending evenly. So that's what I'm gonna do right now. I'm gonna use a scraper
and a pencil, mark it, and then just take a
little bit of wood off and continue doing that until we can put an actual string on it. The string we have on it right now is called a tillering string. If you want a proper tillering string, I've got these up for sale on the website.

It's looped on one end and there's just a knot on the other end. It allows you to tie a bow. You just knot on this side at whatever distance you need, so that you can use the
same tillering string for every single bow you make. We're only gonna have the
tillering string on it until we get the limbs
bending about six inches only. Once it's a bending about six inches, then we wanna put a real string on it as soon as possible. The limbs will bend a little differently once we move from a tillering
string to a real string, so we wanna get to that real
string as soon as possible. (clock ticking) (upbeat music) (sander whirs) ♪ A storm is coming but I'm prepared ♪ ♪ I've been gone for a
while but don't be scared ♪ ♪ Right now, I don't know
if I'll ever arrive ♪ ♪ Where the grass is green
and was still alive ♪ ♪ Hope I'll see you on the other side ♪ ♪ I know that I'll be
paying for the ride ♪ ♪ Into the black hole ♪ ♪ Sing from my soul ♪ ♪ Through the black hole ♪ ♪ To make myself whole again ♪ ♪ You want the truth and
you're having doubts ♪ ♪ But if I tell you
now, the sun dies out ♪ ♪ 'Cause I can only give you my heart ♪ ♪ When the darkest clouds begin to part ♪ ♪ Hope I'll see you on the other side ♪ ♪ I know that I'll be
paying for the ride ♪ ♪ Into the black hole ♪ ♪ Sing from my soul ♪ ♪ Through the black hole ♪ ♪ To make myself whole again ♪ I'm a pretty down to earth person.

But I start to get giddy when I make bows. We're gonna string this
up for the first time. Full brace height. And this is always nerve-wracking. ♪ Into the black hole ♪ Yes. ♪ Sing from my soul ♪ We've got a bow. Once you get a string on it, you've got a bow officially. That's gonna be about full
brace height right there. It's probably like 50 pounds
at a 15-inch draw length. But once you get it to brace height, it moves so fast, it'll slow down when taking off the wood, just slow way down. This is the time, if there's any time in this
process to take your time.

Most people, when they make
a bow for the first time, end up with a way lower draw weight than they actually wanted to end up with. To check at the limbs
or even to each other, you can grab a tape measure and measure from the inside of the belly to the deepest point. You've got seven and a
1/4 inches on that side, this one, seven and 3/8. So we can tell this limb, which is the bottom limb, is bending more. You're gonna wanna get
both limbs bending the same before you continue taking
wood off on both limbs. Whenever I'm at this point in a bow build, I always move down just to a scraper. I have a little cabinet scraper here. And beside that I'm going
to just use sandpaper.

Removing a little bit of wood
will change the bend a lot, but something you need to watch out for, after you remove wood, wood has a memory, and this can be
problematic for us bowyers, because once we remove wood, it doesn't realize necessarily that that was removed immediately. So as bowyers, we do something that we call
exercising the bow limbs.

And you can do that by
just drawing the bow and moving the limbs. And this is something you wanna do in between every single
time you remove some wood, because you may remove wood in one spot, put it on your tilling tree, draw it down, and it doesn't show any corrections. So you do it again, draw it down, no correction. And then all of a sudden you
have a big hinge right there, because the wood finally caught up. Then you have to try to catch
it back up everywhere else. And you're just like
balancing back and forth. But if you exercise the limbs,
you'll avoid that problem. It's a time-consuming process, but if you don't take the time to do it, you will regret it. You also wanna keep in mind
the positioning of your handle, 'cause if I put the handle
right in the middle, that's not like we're gonna draw it.

So I'm gonna put the tillering tree, right where my hand would go, and then draw there. And that's gonna make the
tiller as realistic as possible. We positioned the handle in the center where my hand's actually not gonna be, the limbs will bend a little differently. And we want it to bend the exact same way as it's gonna be when
we're shooting the bow, so we can have, boom, really
good high performance. When you're exercising the limbs, there's a point where you can feel it just like kind of hits a wall. Do not draw past that wall, 'cause that's where it wants to break. 20 to 30 draws is normally
sufficient to get the wood to forget the old memory and remember now the new memory, which is the most recent
wood you took off the limb. (fingers snaps) Let's keep on tillering. The last little while of
tillering will take a while, so I'll show you about two hours of work in about 20 seconds. (upbeat music) (file scratches) I've got the tiller to where I like it.

I think it's looking really good. Our next step is to shape the
handle and our nocking points. Both of these are pretty much
100% personal preference. One thing to watch out for is if you decide to actually
cut an arrow rest in, don't cut it in very far, and never cut it in past center when you're using a wood bow. One option is to just shoot
it right off your hand. I like an arrow rest, if I can put it in there, if I feel like I have enough wood. Since we added another piece
of what to make it thicker, and this handle is not bending, we should be good to go ahead and cut a small arrow rest in.

And then the nocking points, I tend to like to round
my bottom nock over. On the top, I like to make it pointy. That just makes it really
quick and easy to identify what's the top of the bone, what's the bottom of the bow. So I'm getting so excited, 'cause we're so close
to shooting this bow. The last thing after that I'm gonna do is I'm gonna paint it and stain it. Again, personal preference for
all of that from here on out, but it is definitely
time to finish this up. I can't wait to see how it
shoots and how fast it goes. So without further ado, let's do this.

(upbeat music) (filer scratches) (soft uplifting music) (spray paint hissing) 158 feet per second. Now, that kind of even impressed me. If you saw any of my hunting
videos earlier this year, all of that was with
150-feet-per-second bow. Eight feet per second faster, off-the-shelf board bow, that's pretty crazy. I'm telling you, this
fiberglass tape backing is like the biggest secret in bow making. And if you guys need a bowstring
head over to the website, pick one up. That's a good way to support
me in this YouTube channel, as well as supporting you, giving you guys a very
high quality bowstring. Go out, make a bow, have
some fun, stay positive. We'll see you guys on the
next one.

Thanks for watching..

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