Best Wood To Make A Bow

It can take a while for you to find the best wood to make a recurve bow as you are trying to learn the skills of archery you need for handling a recurve bow, thus to make your recurve bow experience the best.

Osage orange, bamboo, red oak, hickory, ipe, eastern red cedar, dogwood, and most hardwoods like oak and maple all produce excellent recurve bows. However, if you are after your first bow, you want to choose the best wood for making a bow, so you can focus on your skills rather than if your bow is made from a good material or not.

In our guide, you can learn about wood bow making, why traditional bows were such good bows, and ultimately, which good wood you should choose for your wooden bow. (Read Compound Bow Storage Guide)

Best Wood for Making a Bow

Best Wood for Bows

Strength and flexibility are two crucial properties of any chosen bow wood for own bow making. The wood must bend without snapping.

Pacific yew and Osage orange (termed the ideal bow wood) are the two most common bow woods.

Both kinds of wood are pricey and hard to find, although common hardwoods like oak and hickory make excellent bows.

Best Wood for Arrows

When choosing wood for arrows, weight, and grain straightness are essential factors. The grain should be straight with no twisting or knots.

Weight is a matter of personal preference; however, hefty arrows work well with heavy bows.

Port Orford cedar is the best arrow wood, with a light to medium weight and straight grain. The drawback of Port Orford cedar is the fragility, which leads to broken arrows. It is more durable but difficult to find in straight grain Douglas fir.

Best Recurve Bow Woods


Maple is a common type of wood from the genus Acer that has been used for a long time in various settings to make great bows. This type of tree can be found all over the northern hemisphere, with around 130 species.

Because maple is a hardwood, it has a good “snap”; it is the most usually used to make wood bows. In addition, hardwoods are recognized for storing potential energy when flexed and offering high compression, allowing the arrow to be released with additional force.

Recurve bows are still constructed with maple laminates, despite the invention of contemporary materials like fiberglass.

A recurve bow, which uses a combination of maple wood and modern materials like fiberglass laminations in the limbs, has long been a favorite of traditional archers.

Although most species are found in Asia, the tree can also be found in Europe and North America. With a Bow Index of 10.4, the wood is good bow wood. Maple was traditionally used to make the Asiatic recurve bow. (Read Do You Need A License To Own A Crossbow)


The ideal novice wood, hickory, is used to make a bow. It is super cheap and simple to find.

Hickory can withstand more wood run than any other wood and has a strong tension, making it the right wood perfect for backing.

Hickory disappoints with its high moisture absorption rate, making wood unsuitable for a damp environment.

It has a strong bending resistance, making it ideal for backing and the ability to tolerate more wood run than most woods.

Because it, like bamboo, is strong in resisting bending, it must be relatively thin when used to make a Hickory bow.

Ideal Wood for Bows

Osage Orange

Anyone who has had an Osage Orange bow made would most likely rate it as one of their favorites. It has good tensile and super-compressed strength to aid the bow’s balance.

One disadvantage of this wood when making bows is that it bends easily when heated. However, because it is flexible, it can be made into various bow designs and is an outstanding performer even for beginners.


Compared to Osage orange wood, this wood is less expensive and easier to find, but it requires more work. Bamboo is a long-lasting time that is susceptible to heat. It will become more supple because of the heat.

It snaps back quickly, which will aid in more force for the arrow’s strength.

Make the outer surface of the bamboo be the belly while making the bow. This will help in the restoration of balance. (Read The Benefits of Using a Scope When Crossbow Hunting)

Red Oak

Red Oak is quite easy to find by and inexpensive to purchase. When buying this wood, though, make sure it doesn’t contain any earlier growth rings.

Because red oak is porous, you’ll want to look for a piece with thick late growth rings. There will be less bristle in this. As a result, choosing a piece with thick late growth rings that are less bristly is critical.

Although this sort of wood is heavier, you will still need to back it like any other wood to ensure that your bow is well supported.

Because red oak planks are heavier, you don’t need to back them if you find one with thick boards. You may still back it since a good bow, no matter what wood it’s made of, needs to be backed.


This wood is called “EE-pay” because of how it is spoken. Because it is such a strong wood, you can make thinner limbs that are also lighter. A lot of archers use this wood with bamboo as a backer.

Because of its high resistance to deterioration, Ipe is often used
in deck construction.

Because it is such a very strong wood, you can make thinner, lighter limbs, making a faster bow. When backed with bamboo, it looks great.

Because of its resistance to decay, ipe is used for making decks. This is an excellent trait to have while making bows. If you sneeze when using this wood, be cautious because some people have allergic reactions to it. (Find the Best Shooting Glasses For Sporting Clays)

Eastern Red Cedar

This wood isn’t a cedar type. Juniperus Virginiana is its Latin name, indicating that it is a Juniper type.

This brittle, light bow is ideal for creating recurve bows with high compression and low tension.

Because it is brittle and light, this is the best wood for making a longbow. In addition, it’s ideal for making English longbow designs with a D-shaped cross-section because of its strong compression and weak tension.

It can make flat bows, but you will need to add sinew to the back to aid with the tension issue.


Because it can be discovered in regions where no other bow wood can be found so, if you come across it, you could be lucky.
According to most bow makers who have dealt with it, it is weaker
than most whitewoods. It comes in various species, with yellow birch being the most powerful of all the other species.


This can be many archers’ favorite sapling bow wood. The common one is the prunus Americana species, which offers strong tension and compression, making it ideal for handling high crown saplings.

Suitable Woods for making a bow.

Technical Considerations for Best Wood

You should also evaluate what elements of the wood make it suitable for making a bow.

Here are some basic features a bowyer seeks in wood or any other material used to make a bow:

Elasticity: A material’s ability to resist material and return to its natural, unstressed form is called elasticity in physics and materials science. The suppleness of wood allows it to store energy, which is what a bow is: an energy storage device.

Strength: The best wood for bows is strong enough to withstand severe force without breaking. A weak wood could burst as its fibers rip. Of course, this is not desirable. Besides, if the tree faced stress, it could create knots and be weak in these areas.

Stability: Some wood is very tough. Thus, the two traits listed above change little with changes in the environment. However, temperature and humidity changes can substantially influence the behavior of certain woods.

Calculations To Make Best Wood for Bows:

Bow woods should bend without breaking and return to their original shape or position quickly. This should be true in all environmental circumstances.

A ratio of two factors can determine a wood’s suitability for making a reliable bow.

The first of these is the modulus of elasticity (MOE). MOE determines a bow’s bendability. The stiffer the wood, the higher the number.

With particular stress, a bow’s length will bend or distort.

MOE is measured in lbf/in2 or gigapascals (GPa)

The MOE value of different woods can be used to estimate their elasticity.

The Modulus of Rupture (MOR) is the second value to evaluate. In other words, it gauges how strong a length of wood is. MOR stands for megapascals or pounds per square inch (MPa).

The ideal bow wood would have a low MOE and high MOR value. The wood’s Bow Index is the ratio of MOE to MOR. (MOR/MOE) * 1000.

Some of the best woods include:

Pacific Yew with an average Bow Index (BI) value: 11.26

Osage Orange – BI: 11.5

Among the worst bow woods:

  • Balsa: BI – 5.73
  • Pacific Silver Fir: BI – 5.7

Hickory MOR & MOE

Hickory is a strong wood from the genus Carya.

Hickory has a high MOR but a low MOE, yet its attractiveness is in its richness and strength, not efficiency.

The Eastern Woodlands tribes of North America used hickory to make tough flatbows and longbows.

This is among the best wood for bows for newcomers to the field of bow making.

Traditionally, bow staves were made from Yew’s natural growing structure. A traditional English longbow uses the heartwood and sapwood of the Yew wood.

A bow’s belly side is made of inner heartwood, which resists compression and is used for the outer.

European and Pacific Yew

The demand for Yew wood for bows in England during the Middle Ages was so high that the English imported it from Europe. The tree had practically died out. Long after local trees had been devastated, vast trade networks and government interest in the wood permitted the production of Yew bows

Due to its scarcity, this European Yew (Taxus baccata) is no longer used for bow making. However, the Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) is more widely available. Technically, European and Pacific Yew both have a Bow Index of 11, making them good bow woods.

Try to avoid inhaling fine wood particles, as all parts of the Yew are hazardous.

Ash (Fraxinus)

The genus has around 50 deciduous tree species. Ash is a plentiful wood throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, where the thick hardwood has elastic characteristics that make good bow wood.

The wooden staves are often used to make self bows, handles, rigid siyahs, and modern Asiatic recurve bow ends.


Elm (genus Ulmus) bows date back thousands of years. The Holmegaard bows discovered and preserved in Denmark are made of elm. Ancient bows are usually Elm. If Yew were unavailable, Elm would have been used to make longbows.

Best Wood for Longbows

As stated above, Yew is the traditional longbow wood. Other excellent hardwoods include elm, hickory, and Osage Orange.

Best Wood for Composite Bows

The following bow woods were known to have been used historically:

  • Bamboo
  • Maple
  • Mulberry
  • Ash

Best Wood To Make A Bow

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