Thursday, May 3, 2012

Make a Bamboo Bundle Bow

A bundle bow is a bow that is made by bundling several sticks together. The great thing about a bundle bow is that it requires absolutely no bow making experience to build one. There is no shaping, worrying about wood grain, or trying to balance the pull of the limbs. All you need are the sticks and about twenty or thirty feet of cordage. I like to make bundle bows from bamboo because it is light, strong, flexible, and easy to find. Once you've located a bamboo grove it only takes a few minutes to harvest enough canes for a bundle bow. You will need six to eight canes to make a bow. Select canes that are about the size of your little finger at the base and that don't taper down too quickly. Pictured below: A nice grove of bamboo
Once you've collected your canes you will need to cut them to length. We are going to make about a five foot long bow, so you will need to cut your canes about three feet long. Pictured below: Bamboo canes and cordage that we will use to make the bow
To make this bow I am using six canes, so I turn three of them one direction and three the opposite direction, and overlap the big ends about a foot.
Here are the canes temporarily tied together with twine so that you can see how they overlap.
Temporary ties are good to use because they will hold the canes in place while you put on your permanent wrappings. If you don't use the temporary ties the canes will move around a lot and make your job harder. Take your cordage, for this bow I am using some light-weight jute twine, and tie the canes together at the handle. Some people wrap the entire handle with cordage, but I just put about a two inch wrap at each end of the handle. This saves a lot of cordage which can be very important if you are twisting up the cordage from yucca or some other natural fiber. The photos below illustrate how I tie the canes together and what the finished handle looks like.
When you have the handle lashed together, move out about half way to the tips and make another good, tight wrapping. These wrappings only need to be about an inch long.
Finally, go all the way out to the tips and lash them together. Make these lashings kind of bulky so that they will keep the loops on the bowstring from sliding down. The lashings will try to slide a little, no matter how tight you make them.
That's all there is to it. Just fit on a bowstring and you are ready to shoot.
In this instance I twisted together three pieces of my jute twine to make the bowstring. I tied a slip loop in one end of the string and tied the other end onto the bow permanently. If the bow is not powerful enough to suit you, all you have to do is add more canes to make it stronger.


jenny miller said...

Thanks so much! I need to make me one of these and I know my boys will want ones too. By the way, I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I really appreciate all the knowledge you share. My boys love reading along, too.

Sensible Survival said...

Glad you're enjoying it jenny. I put the same posts on my web-site at The web-site is basically the same as this blog except that it has a categorized index of posts. If you go there and look under primitive archery I have about 15 or 20 posts about bow making, arrow making, etc.
Take care,

bigcountry said...

It would have been a great help to show how you make your notches for the bow string.

Sensible Survival said...

there are no nocks on this bow. The wraps on the end of the bow act as a built-up nock. These keep the string from sliding down.

Devon Buecher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sensible Survival said...

Devon, if you want to make a bow that will last,yes let the bamboo dry thoroughly before making the bow. In a survival situation you can make a bow like this from green bamboo but it will be considerably weaker in poundage, and the limbs will follow the string badly. This means that the limbs will stay bent after you unstring the bow. Hank

M Burnett said...

How long would you say it needs to dry? Just cut me a 6 stick bundle. If its a long process should I cut more to make arrows from?

Sensible Survival said...

The conditions that you dry bamboo in will effect the rate of drying. I stick my sections of bamboo up in the rafters in my shop and use them as needed. I would say that the bamboo would be usable after about a mounts drying under these circumstances. The same for arrow canes. Winter cut canes will dry faster. Hank

Richard said...

Night simple article. Going to try this out after work.

Can you explain how you made the bowstring too?

Pepo said...

Damn! This is very interesting, and seems easy to make! Thanks!

Nicholas Nelson said...

Hey Hank
Great looking bamboo bundle bow I was just curious though if you dry the bamboo does it still act as a survival bow or will it last practically a lifetime?
Also I seen a blue glass arrowhead on google images today and it looked really good but also looked really thick
Did you mean to leave it thick for decoration? The flakes didn't look like they traveled very far
If you interested primitivepathways on YouTube has some really good instructional flint knapping and glass knapping videos

Sandro falchi said...

very good job, very usefull , i will try soon

Sandro falchi said...

good good job

Frank Fanelli said...

I love it. I'm definitely interested but bamboo is hard to come by in southern Ontario. What other type of wood would you recommend and would you oil these shafts?

Sensible Survival said...

Try looking at your local garden center. They sometimes sell bamboo stakes that are used to support tall plants. If you want to use other wild woods, basically any small saplings that will bend and spring back, and that are not to brittle will probably work. They may break when they dry out, but these type bows are just temporary anyway. I don't oil the bamboo because it's not expected to last more than a week or so. Purely a short term survival bow until you can make a better one.