I’ve been using professionally-designed crossbows for many years now and I know their immense power. I know the importance of having a well-designed piece of equipment that will operate exactly as you need it to, when you need it to and I know most of my readers will feel the same way. But I can’t help remembering back to my early days. The times when I would make bows and crossbows from everyday items found around my home. I even made one in school from a ruler, a biro, blue tack and elastic bands. Back then I didn’t have the same passion that I do now, or the money to buy the same kind of high tech equipment that I use today. All I had was a massive desire to own a crossbow. So I used to build them for myself.
I want to share this with you. Because I remember how much fun it was making this back in the day. But I also need to warn you of the dangers of doing this. Obviously you know that crossbows are potentially lethal. Make sure you follow the instructions exactly as they are laid out and use protective equipment while building and using this.
Feel free to watch this fun video, as it also gives a nice overview over how a crossbow actually works.
What You Are Going To Need
Here is a list of items that you are going to need. Feel free to substitute them if you have to, but make sure you have all the pieces necessary so that the crossbow will function properly and be safe to handle.
- A 2x2inch Piece of solid timber about 38 inches long
- An extra 8inch piece of timber (for the grip)
- A 1-inch thick piece of timber or pine, roughly 8inch x 4inch (used for the butt)
- A chisel
- A handsaw
- A drill
- A hammer
- A file
- V.C glue
- A 36inch piece of Plastic Pipe. 1-inch
- Two wheel-pulleys
- Small Screws
- A length of rubber rope
- Steel Wire
- Masking/Duct Tape
Now that you know everything you are going to need to build this weapon let’s get into the mechanics of the design.
ACTION 1 – Body
- Take the piece of solid timber and hold it into your arm like you would a large gun. Feel it so that it fits nicely and draw a line where it fits nicely into your grip, not too long so that your arms are stretched out, but not too short so that it won’t have enough power when completed. When you find the right length, mark a line with a pencil and cut the timber to the right length using the saw.
- Pick up the main body of timber again and hold it as before. Mark with a pencil the right place to put the trigger mechanism. It shouldn’t be too far away to reach, but not too close that you might bump it accidentally. Feel what is right for you and mark it out. Draw a one by four inch rectangle at the upper side of the body, in the center across the width. This is where your trigger-mechanism will be.
- Cut out the rectangle using your tools. File it back with the file and sand it down so that it’s nice and smooth.
- Using your tools, carve a slot across the width of the body, over the top of the newly carved trigger-mechanism hole. Place it about one-third towards the edge of your trigger hole that is furthest away from you. This is where the drawstring will rest once the crossbow has been cocked. Sand it down afterwards to smooth out any rough edges and remove splinters.
- Cut a one-quarter inch deep groove along the length of the entire body from the trigger-mechanism to the top edge, down the very center. This will hold the bolt in place nicely.
- Attach the extra timber, to be used for the butt at the edge closest to you. You can cut it to be the right fit for your body. Some people will suit a larger handle, some a smaller one, but around six inches will work fine. Glue can stick it in place or you can screw or nail it in.
ACTION 2 – Building The Bow
- Measure the plastic pipe to a length of thirty-six inches.
- Mark a slot into each end on one side of the pipe using a saw. Make sure the slots are the same length, around one inch.
- Screw a small screw into each slot and attach a wheel-pulley to each one using the steel wire.
- Cut a two-meter length of the rubber rope and secure it to the left-hand screw. Pull it across the length of the bow and thread it through the right wheel-pulley. Bring it across to the other end and thread it through the left wheel-pulley. Then pull it across to the other side and secure it to the other screw. Don’t pull the thread too tight when threading it through the pulleys and tying it to the wood screws. You need it to be loose enough to pull it back up the length of the stock to fire the crossbow. If it is too loose just cut off any excess thread before you tie it in place.
ACTION 3 – Attaching Bow and Stock
- Cut a horizontal slot at the top edge in the body away from the trigger-mechanism end. The slot must be circular and should suit the Plastic Pipe securely. Use your tools and sand it down afterwards, checking regularly against the Plastic Pipe to ensure the right fit.
- Place the Pipe into the slot with the tape. Make sure the pipe is lined up at the central position so that each end protrudes at an equal length.
- Make sure that only the top piece of rubber rope is along the upper side of the body. The other pieces should be left underneath so as not to interrupt the bolt when you fire it.
- Check the crossbow by pulling back the rubber rope all the way to the slot that you cut on top of the body by the trigger-mechanism hole. The rope should sit in place without you holding it. If it doesn’t just cut the slot thicker.
ACTION 4 – Building The Trigger-Mechanism
- Sketch an L-shape onto the thinner 1-inch thick piece of rectangular wood.
- Make sure the bottom flat line is slightly less in length than the length of the box.
- Cut out the L-shape.
- Cut a one-eighth inch slot across the width of the bottom part. Looking at this letter L the slot would be in the middle, on the underside of the shortest length, across the width.
- Insert a one-eighth hole in the corner of the L-shape, at the right angle.
- Use a nail to hammer the L-shape into the cut-out trigger-mechanism box of the body. Make sure the slot is facing up and the longest length is facing down. The L-shape will be pointing towards you if you are holding the crossbow to fire it.
- Take the eight inch piece of timber for the grip and cut/sand it to the right shape to fit snugly into your grip. This will sit underneath the body to give you a secure enough grip to hold the weapon. Take the glue or a hammer and nails and secure it in place behind the trigger-mechanism.
STEP 5 – Securing Crossbow-Bolts
- Your options are to buy professionally made crossbow bolts or build them yourself. You need pencil shaped pieces of timber that are pointed at one end. Cut them to the right width for the slot along the length of body and cut a slot in the butt-end for the string to sit against.
STEP 6 – The Fun Part, Testing Your New Crossbow
- A hay bale will work best if you have access to one. Set up your target about twenty meters away from you and go for your life!
Remember to wear protective equipment when using this crossbow or any crossbow for that matter and never, ever point it directly at anyone. If done right, you’ve now got hours and hours of fun target practice ahead of you. You can read much more about crossbows here.