What’s the Best Wood to Use for a Homemade Bow?

August 26, 2020 9:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Whether you’re an archery hobbyist or a hunter, wooden bows are more popular than most people realize—and many people prefer to fashion their own bows if they can. It’s a fun opportunity to create a custom bow that will suit your personal preferences and needs.

After you’ve decided to make your own homemade bow in Utah, the most important question is what kind of wood you’ll use. You need wood that’s flexible enough to bend, but won’t snap; if it’s too soft, you won’t get enough tension, and if it’s too hard or brittle, it will break. You’ll also need to consider what kind of bow you’re making: is it for hunting, target practice or another use?

Here’s how to decide what wood to use for your bow in Utah.

Commonly-used wood

Here are some of the most popular wood choices for homemade bows:

  • Elm: Elm has strong tension and responds well to heat treatment. Opt for a white elm rather than a red elm variety.
  • Hard maple: Hard maple is usually easy to find at lumberyards and offers high tension. You can use it as a backing wood or on its own.
  • Hickory: Hickory is a good choice for beginners, thanks to its strong tension, wide availability and affordability. This type makes a great backing, but beware: it doesn’t tolerate moisture well.
  • Osage orange: Osage orange is a popular type across the board because it bends well with heat, has great tension and won’t rot. It’s harder to find and more expensive, so if you’re just starting out you may want to opt for a cheaper “practice” wood.
  • Red oak: Red oak is another cheaper type that’s widely available. It’s not the “best” choice, but it’s good for beginners and has moderate tension.
  • Yew: Yew is hard to find and expensive, but is an excellent choice for advanced bowmakers.

Even though they’re beautiful, avoid brittle exotic woods like teak and mahogany, and soft woods like pine, spruce, cedar and fir.

Selecting the right piece

Choose a piece of wood with a straight grain that is about the height of the archer—look for something about six feet tall and at least two inches wide. Avoid pieces with knots, branches and twists. (Note that if you cut your own wood, you’ll need to make sure it’s completely dry, with no signs of rot.)

Since the fibers have to be continuous, you can either opt for using the under-bark portion of a white wood tree, or remove the outer growth rings.

Once you’ve decided what wood to use for your homemade bow in Utah, you can follow one of the many online guides to making a bow. Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to start with a cheaper, widely-available wood for your first project.

Huberwoods is Utah’s premier logging contractor. We offer a variety of wood types, including lodge and teepee poles. Have questions about your next project and what we can offer? Call us today to learn more.

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