How To Build a Crossbow

I get a lot of questions from people who would like to know how to build their own crossbow (approximately 3-4 questions a week). Most of those people don’t have any advanced tools and would just like to build one using nothing more than common household items. Obviously if you have your own workshop filled with power tools and other hardware like miter/table saws, drill presses, electric wood carvers etc. you probably have more than enough knowledge to build a crossbow without much outside help. But for everyone else, I’ve decided to write this article outlining some of the better guides out there.

Guide #1:

First, and this is probably the easiest crossbow building plan, we have WikiHow’s tutorial. This one is pretty fun and quite easy, and most tools necessary will already be available at your home, and if not they should be cheap and easy to acquire (things like a bench clamp, wood rasp and a drill are as advanced as it gets). The main problem with this tutorial though is that it doesn’t give you fine control over the final result, and the crossbow will most likely turn out to be far from safe to shoot – unless you pick the materials properly and measure everything to the hundredth of an inch, you are likely to have the limbs explode on you, which could lead to disaster. As a result, I would strongly advise against using a crossbow built using this plan for any serious shooting; particularly make sure to avoid using any broad-heads or other sharp arrow points.

Next we have a pretty simpl

The Good: very easy an fun to build, doesn’t require any advanced carpentry skills, though a little woodworking experience doesn’t hurt.

The Bad: crossbow won’t be reliable or sturdy enough. Be highly cautious of accidents and wear protective goggles whenever shooting it. Absolutely never use this crossbow for hunting!

Guide #2:

For those looking for a bigger challenge, there’s an excellent crossbow building tutorial by This one gives you the most control over what the crossbow will look like and also makes for a fairly safe weapon, particularly given the design which makes it highly unlikely for the arrow to hit you even if the limbs were to break. Mind you, this project will require far more equipment than the previous one, and you’ll be needing a decent number of hand tools as well as some power tools such as a table saw, an orbital Sander and more. I’ve just recently had the pleasure of using a model from Dewalt (here’s a review of it), and would highly recommend it to anyone interested enough in executing their own woodworking projects, crossbows and related accessories included.

The Good: the quality of the built crossbow is excellent and very sturdy. Tons of fun to build if you’re an avid woodworker.

The Bad: definitely not a project for beginners and unless you have your on small woodshop, you won’t be able to follow the building process.

Guide #3:

Next, we have a simple tutorial made by Mike, which teaches you how to build a simple pistol crossbow. The tutorial is very solid and detailed, however it lacks images which can be a problem to those who prefer visuals to guide them in the building process (I’m like that) – there is however a decent video which alleviates this problem to a degree, though I still prefer images. If you can follow the step by step instructions though, you’ll get a pistol crossbow that can last you for years of fun target shooting.

The Good: No need for any power tools. Easy to follow and very fast to build. Required items are very easy to buy and include things like screws, bolts / nuts, and a few small aluminum plates – everything can be bought cheaply at any decent hardware store.

The Bad: it’s just a pistol crossbow so don’t expect much in terms of power (although this can be a good thing as far as shooting safety goes). You’ll also need to buy a 50-80 lbs. draw pistol crossbow prod to build this one, so unless you are building the crossbow just for the fun of it, it’ll be more cost-effective to buy a ready one. (This one is a good example.)


Hopefully the above will provide you with an idea of what the best plans for building a crossbow out there are. If you have any comments, or if you’ve built a crossbow following any of the plans above (or a different plan) and want to share your experiences, please leave a comment below. Thanks and have fun building your x-bow!


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