Best woods for bow making


Yew (Taxus Baccata) The "Longbows" used historically in Europe were made from the wood of this tree species. The wood of the Yew tree is both strong and flexible.

"Yew forests were once common in France and Germany. The wood of the English Yew was used for bows by Celtic and Teutonic warriors, a practice which eventually led to the demise of the great Yew forests of Western Europe. In Teutonic areas the Yew had important symbolic significance."

Pacific (Oregon) yew (Taxus brevifolia) Today the "Oregon Yew" is the Yew tree species of choice for bows made from Yew wood.

Osage orange, Hedge Apple or "Bodark" (Maclura pomifera) A highly prized wood for bow making although its high price might put it out of the price range of some.

Lemonwood also called Degame (Calycophyllum candidissimum) is a quality wood from South America that is used as an economic alternative to Osage or Yew.

Pignut Hickory or White wood - (species: Carya glabra)


Black locust - (Robinia pseudoacacia)
"Black locust is a good bow wood. It performs as good as any wood at smaller widths except for Osage. It also can have a tendency to crystallize on the belly where it is over worked. Any bow made from Black Locust will have to be tillered very well. Any faults in tillering could result in crystals forming."

Black walnut - (Juglans nigra L.)
Black Walnut is used for its beauty as a wood. The striking contrast between the heart wood and the sap wood makes for a great two toned effect.

Other trees used for bows include...
  • Southern red cedar, 
  • mulberry, ironwood, 
  • apple, 
  • sassafras,
  • slippery elm, 
  • white ash, 
  • juniper

46 comments:

  1. Thank you! I'm working on a Native American Project, and I finally have the info I was looking for.

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  2. this website sucks!!!! i want to know the steps to make a traditional bow!!!! not about trees for faggots!!!

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    1. You are a fool. You think that you can jump right to the building without learning a damn thing about what you want to do first. And if you don't like what this website is offering then keep your opinions to yourself, nobody cares.

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    2. What would you expect from a website about trees?

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    3. if you're planning to make a traditional bow, you may have noticed they're made of something called wood, which comes from trees, so you really should show a bit more interest. Also, not knowing anything about the tree or wood, and just making the bow would almost certainly end up with you choosing the wrong wood, and your bow snapping after one or two uses.

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    4. hey dude just go on youtube look up the video called primitive bow making part 1 there is 4 parts and it tells u how to make a bow the channel name is primitive pathways goodluck

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    5. I've been makeing bows for about 5 years now but I can't get the rite wood I want to make a hungarean bow but I don't now how can u pleas contact me on my email connerjewell@hotmail.com

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    6. Idiot think about what the site is named #bozo

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  3. Thanks, I now have the name of two local shrubs (Oregon Yew and Ocan Spray--BC) I can use to make a bow with. To the angry biggoted half wit commenting on January 7, 2010--there are lots of sources for bow making on the internet and elsewhere--but based on your comments you'd probably use the things backward and shoot yourself--no lose to humanity.

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  4. I agree I was actually hoping to find more about the characteristics of the different woods

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  5. i found this page very informing as i am a begining bowyer and i think the characteristics you mentioned for some of the woods is the basics and all you need to give you a fair idea about wood for making bows

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  6. Thank u so much. This Book has helped alot with my bow making.

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  7. is smoke tree a possible bow wood?

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  8. is hemlock a good wood for a bow ?

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    1. There are historical records that state the people of the north west used hemlock as a bow wood. No bows of hemlock from that time still around as far as i know, but then hemlock has low resistance to rot so they might not last. These people had yew, crabapple, hawthorn, cypress, willow, and other woods know for building bows with so if they used hemlock i would think it would be only for fun. I'm currently srying some staves of Hemlock just to give it a try... jusgt for fun

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  9. Western Hemlock is of moderate strength, moderate density and is NOT generally used for sports equipment much less for archery.

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  10. I have a sweet gum tree stave, and would like to know if this wood is worth my project. I live in south east Texas if that helps. I don't know much about wood, so any any help would be appreciated.

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    1. I don't think sweet gum is good wood.

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    2. Sweet gum is viable, but there are better woods. If you use it, I recommend a low poundage bow and a quality tiller to compensate.

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  11. I don´t think that the sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) would be much good as a bow making wood. From what I´ve read it´s wood is somewhat brittle which is the opposite of what you want for a bow stave.

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  12. Thanks for the info on th sweet gum wood. I will look for something else in my neck of the woods.

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  13. I thought this website was very informing for future bow makers. But i belive this site left out one wood that is very common in Arkansas as that is were i live. The White Oak

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    1. That's because white Oak, like most Oak, is very tough and very dry, therefore it will break under the amount of force needed to bend it.

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  14. can you tell me if there are anygood bow woods in tasmania in australia. p.s. cheers if you could reply. =^v^=

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    1. I don't know of any outstanding bow making woods but you might try Tasmanian Myrtle or Tasmanian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon

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    2. If you have acess to Blue Gum it is a good longbow wood; different from sweet gum.

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  15. Great info for gaining knowledge on such a specialty item plus....helpful when doing crosswords. Thank you : )

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  16. Thank you for all your help! Let it begin!

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  17. now i know what to make my bow out of thanks

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  18. Thank u so much i am native so i want to get in touch with that side of me

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  19. can anyone tell me about good Indian woods for bows? i mean the "India" situated in "Asia". every time i searched net for "Indian bow", i got info about American Indian bows, which is very irritating. i know bamboo, which we have plenty, but i don't want to make a bamboo bow(don't know if i can shape it or curve it). i am a complete beginner. i only made bow out of bent wood and rubber band. i tried a few stringed bows with furniture wood, but they all broke after one or two tries.

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    1. I just bought a fiber-glass wood laminate bow from a local bow shop. They have several sample bows of Bamboo from a local bowyer that looked very tempting, but were more expensive that I wanted to pay for a starter bow. I am here because I would like to identify a good tree from my lot on the Gulf Coast of Texas and most are Chinese Tallow. I know this wood that breaks easily and rots fast is no good, so it is easy to eliminate. The bamboo bows that I saw were straight long bows, laminated to a white wood. This bowyer, who seems to know what he is doing prefers to use a bamboo slice for the back and a white wood for the belly. I am a beginner as well, but it seems that the bowyers use carving for shaping except for recurves. The Native American bows of Osage Orange (Bois 'Arc, bodark, Horse Apple, Hedge Apple)have lots of knots and look asymmetric and like they would not work, but they worked well enough to feed many a tribe and kill lots of enemies. For working bamboo, if you are an Indian (Asian) then you are in the right place to find experts. Native Americans did not have bamboo, but used River Cane for Arrows.

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  20. Is Guava Wood any good for bow making

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  21. I found this article to be very informative about selecting the ideal stock for bow making. Sadly, i live in the Caribbean and all the wood types listed above are improbable to find or cost a hefty sum. Is there any variety of local woods found in the Caribbean or South America that can be a decent substitute? Much appreciation for this topic.

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  22. So where can I acquire these woods out here in CO.? Furthermore... is redwood a decent application? I've heard mixed rumors and want them laid to rest.

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    1. You can order wood or kits from Pine Hollow Longbows of Van Buren, AR. Look at their web site to see what they have to offer. If you are looking for a cheap way to get a bow, look at U-tube for PVC bows. Carving a bow from a tree requires skill and patience. Look at several days worth of U-Tube before you decide it is for you!

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  23. Unfortunately this website didnt help me like i thought it would. Im trying to find a wood type native to Idaho that i can make a serviceable bow from. If you have any infromation that could help me or suggestions on a wood type i would appreciate it.

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    1. Try Douglas Maple, also known as Rocky Mtn. Maple. I live in N. Idaho and have made several good bows from it. You can find it growing along rivers. Chokecherry is very good too. Just finished a very nice Birch bow, all the wood I use I gather from the woods myself.

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  24. thanks alot, i wanted to make a bow for fun and all i knew was that yew worked the best but there was none of that where i live, now i know more trees to look for

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  25. Interesting information you have provided us. i like your way of thinking.
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  26. I am looking to start choppin good wood for a bow and want a different off the path kinda wood. Someone in an earlier thread mentioned Blue Gum? What's the difference between a Blue Gum and a Black Gum and which one would be better for making a bow? Would a Sweet Gum be an option?

    Thanks,
    Bracus Wobbleshed

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  28. I live in south texas corpus Christi. Any recommend wood for bows and arrows?

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  29. Hi everyone, I am in India and am very much interested in getting into bow making, but I don't know which is a good wood, can anyone help me please.

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