Selecting Grain for Bow Staves

by Cesar Perez



You are at the hardware store wondering whether or not you are able to find a suitable board to make a bow, but don't worry. Finding a board is easy. The hard part is finding a board with the proper grain. Identifying the proper grain is crucial in making board bows because it directly translates into a success or a failure. The good news of making a board bow is its cost. You may find a nice board for 5-10 dollars that will make a great bow. The bad news is the time you will spend looking. Sometimes you will find nice boards with no problems but more often you will stand at the lumberyard and get funny looks as you inspect the bow wood (happens to me all the time).

Ok, so first thing is first.

Reccomended wood:
Red oak
White Oak

These are some woods that are readily available at the lumberyard or at Lowe's and Homedepot. I would not recommend maple or black walnut to make a self bow. I would, however, recommend them for backings or if you will put a backing on them. Red oak boards make great bows in the 30-55 lb range. I've made ash board bows up to 85 lbs and they are still shooting strong.


So, after you have located your wood, you must now select the grain. In the illustration above, you can see the wood with two types of grain, straight grain and cathedral grain. What you want for a bow is STRAIGHT GRAIN. Avoid cathedral grain or any type of curly grain. The sides of the board must also have the grain straight running from end to end. if you have a runoff on the sides, it is possible the bow will break where the runoff is at. I've seen it happen and it has happened to me. Sometimes you will find that a board has straight grain when you look at the front, but it runs off on the sides. Avoid this.



E-mail your comments to "Cesar Perez" at
Visit the Legionnaire Archery website to see the various bows made by Cesar.

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