Hard Maple American Flat Bow (Long Bow)

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Forum topic by JohnAjluni posted 03-18-2011 08:39 AM 20423 views 3 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JohnAjluni's profile


102 posts in 2906 days

03-18-2011 08:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: maple pine blade sander traditional

So I decided I am gonna make an American Flat Bow for my next youtube video(s). It is going to be a series of videos.

So the Bow I am making was brought to america by the Europeans. The Americans used it to show up the Indian’s and take away there land. The Flat Bow was most powerful for its time capable of a 200 yd shot with a full 28in draw.

I decided to make my bow out of Maple it is going to be 68 inches long with a 6 inch handle in the center i hope for it to be a 50lbs bow maybe 45 if i have to. I need this to be a very nice Bow because I am in contest with a teacher of mine for lots of extra credit. He is to build a bow and I am to build a bow and we are going to test them and see who’s shoots better stronger and farther. Here is the link to the designs I am gonna use.

So you guys got any tips on bow buildin?!

^^^Not my bow^^^

Materials I have purchased:

6ft board of maple 3/4 in thick and 4in wide

6ft board of pine for handle 3/4 in thick 2 in wide

wipe on poly

Tightbond II

Tools going to be used: Jig Saw

Belt sander

detail sander



*and feel free to give me some tips if you know how to build a bow correctly

-- John

14 replies so far

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3312 days

#1 posted 03-18-2011 09:13 AM

Never built a bow before but looks like a fun project. Looking forward to seeing it finished and the video.

View JohnAjluni's profile


102 posts in 2906 days

#2 posted 03-18-2011 09:18 AM


-- John

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18468 posts in 3946 days

#3 posted 03-18-2011 09:46 AM

I haven’t built a bow since I was a kid and they weren’t much ;-)) I have read a lot about it. A straight grained wood will most likely be beter than maple. Unless you are going to reinforce the back, it needs to be what is called a self-bow where the wood itself makes up the bow’s strength. Unless the back side follows the grain perfectly, it will break unless it is reinforced with seniew or fiberglass. Hopefully a real bow maker will show up on here. I just wanted to warn you about the maple.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3231 days

#4 posted 03-18-2011 02:08 PM

will you need to make the arrows aswell?
thos actually look more complicated to make than the bow!

View AUBrian's profile


86 posts in 2942 days

#5 posted 03-18-2011 02:29 PM

I’ll second what Topomax said.

I’ve built several bows, and to get the power you’re talking about with just wood, it will have to be exceptionally straight grained, and you’re going to have to be very careful about leaving any sort of nicks, especially on the underside (Inner part of the curve). The most important thing, especially if you’re trying to get your draw weight that high, is the wood grain, and how it runs. If you have access to straight grained hickory, I’d choose that over maple.

If you want real strength, go for fiberglass on the outside of the curve, and make sure you get a very good lamination. Sinew will also work, but I didn’t have access to much of that at the time.

Also, make sure you have/make a decent tiller, because nothing is more dissapointing that taking a couple of scraping and finding out you just dropped your new bow 5lbs, and it’s no longer legal to hunt with. It’s also really frustrating to find out that the whole reason you can’t shoot straight is that the two halves of your bow are bending completely differently.

For a good reference, I’d recommend “The Traditional Bowyers Bible” or a site like Stickbows ( ) This explains in a bit more detail making a self bow.

Also, if you have access to a shaving horse, it’s a great asset when doing a lot of your shaping. If not, a vise will work, a shaving horse just allows a lot of quick adjustments.

Hope this helps!

View JohnAjluni's profile


102 posts in 2906 days

#6 posted 03-18-2011 07:19 PM

I chose maple because of my last experience of bow building. The last Bow i made was made of maple and i had great results. I got a board with a fairly straight grain purposefuly and I never backed it. It shot at around 40lbs and shot with great accuracy. So was I just lucky with the board I purchased? haha

This time I was planning on backing it with fiberglass and I have mad my own tillering rod and mounted it on my wall. I will plane the bow with a hand planner to the correct thickness. anything else i am missing?

-- John

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3361 days

#7 posted 03-18-2011 09:47 PM

Good luck John. I hope you post it here when you are finished with it.

View AUBrian's profile


86 posts in 2942 days

#8 posted 03-19-2011 12:07 AM

Sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place. Remember fine tuning can be done well with a card scraper..or sandpaper.

I usually do a leather wrap on the hand grip, but that’s just personal preference. And I find a flemish string feels better on my fingers. I get mine from . I tried to get a local bow shop to make one, and they tend to wrap the middle of the string, which makes it hard and painful.

As long as you do a good job balancing the limbs, and getting a nice smooth curve, you should be able to shoot quite accurately, as the Native americans proved for years :o)

If you’re happy with Maple, go for it. Backing it will help with not having perfect grain, although it can also fix so much. work up to a full tension draw. Speaking as someone who has nailed his head when the upper limb snapped at full draw, it’s better to go slow than go to the hospital.

And lastly, possibly most importantly…post pictures! We’d all like to see your progress :o)

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2691 posts in 3193 days

#9 posted 03-19-2011 12:49 AM

about 8 years ago I found a forum similar to this one to get advice on bow making. I made a couple of them of streight grained Oak. Fun project for sure.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View JohnAjluni's profile


102 posts in 2906 days

#10 posted 03-19-2011 07:33 AM

Notches made with a small round wood file.

Handle is made of pine glued on with tightbond II and clamped.

side view

So far I have cut the bow out of my maple with my Jig Saw then I planed it down with my 61/2in planer to the correct mesurments and then glued on the handle with tightbond II. My next step is to shape the handle and tiller my bow.

I will keep updating this project.Also as you can see I got alot of work to do!
Any ideas of what else I may do to my bow?

-- John

View Richard's profile


11077 posts in 3303 days

#11 posted 03-19-2011 12:06 PM

I’ve never made a Bow, but if I was to do so, I’d Certainly do what AUBrian Said in his 2 Posts. Did you Read the 2 Links he gave you? I did. There is MORE than enough Info there.

Seems like you have a LOT of info to comlete your Bow. What other info would you like? Is there a Specific Question you have that requires an answer.

Is that a misprint in your lead In, or did you actually buy a 6 Foot length of Pine for the 6 Inch Handle? It’s also “TiteBond”.

Look forward to seing your Finished Bow.

-- Richard (Aurora, Ontario, CANADA)

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3386 days

#12 posted 03-19-2011 01:40 PM

I havn´t made one
but I have read you shuold do a brake in on the bow when its finished so it want crack
at the first full try
so you have to make a stand where you can pull 1/4 , ½ , 3/4 and 4/4 to let the bow
acumolate to be used with a full pull and gain the best strength
I can´t remember if its on L J I have seen it or on a site for longbow building
its isn´t as easy as it looks like to build a longbow

good luck

View mcshaker's profile


29 posts in 3810 days

#13 posted 03-19-2011 03:24 PM

I made a Maple flat bow several years ago. The project worked out great. You will probably want to add a backing to increase the pull strength, mine is to weak for hunting. I guess my advice is not to remove to much material in order to maintain the strength. Also, very very thin coats of shellac in order to prevent the finish cracking. Here’s a link to the free plans I used. Pop Mech Flatbow plans

View JohnAjluni's profile


102 posts in 2906 days

#14 posted 03-20-2011 09:14 PM

Ive backed my bow with one sheet of fiberglass

-- John

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