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Straight grain for straight shooting

The crossbow was the weapon of choice for hundreds of years before gunpowder made it obsolete in the eyes of the military. But the archaic armament lives on today as a great piece of sporting gear. And it’s a lot of fun to make one of your own. The kind of bow used on a crossbow is called a flat bow and is different from a traditional bow that has a shaped cross-section. The style of the bow shown here is a mix of elements from crossbows of the dark, and middle ages.

Making a crossbow is a welcome diversion from the rigors of furniture making in that it doesn’t require precise joint fitting—much of the build is done by eye and by feel. What’s more, it’s an opportunity to strengthen your hand tool skill as you shape the stock and bow. And you’ll get practice reading and understanding grain. Choosing the right piece of wood for the bow is key to the success of the project. I suggest starting with a nice straight piece of ash, as it is naturally springy and displays prominent grain that is relatively easy to read. What follows is my plan for getting you armed and ready.

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