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Make a Bamboo Bundle Bow

May 3, 2012

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.

  1. james permalink

    thanks for this, going out into my yard and going to play with some bamboo tonight and see how it goes. nice blog 😉

  2. Rose permalink

    Thank you. This was a great project for my son and I to work on together. We had old bamboo slats from a shanai from Kendo and so we soaked them really well and then followed your instructions to build a bow. We will be back for other projects!

  3. rubyrue permalink

    could u use river cane on this?it is really hard to find bamboo in Tennessee

  4. its more fun and have iducation with this,,,grandpa,,,,i well make this and share to other people,,,not for fun but for your selfdefense,,,,,,,

  5. Jimmy permalink

    How can I size this down for someone about four feet tall?

    • make it with 6 canes (3 on each side) about as big around as your little finger on the big end. make overall length 3 to 3 1/2 feet.

      • Jimmy permalink

        Thanks! Is there anyway to make jute strong enough for a bowstring?

  6. Unlikely. Jute small enough for a bowstring is too weak. A good quality hemp might work. Linen would be very good. Waxed Dacron (often called artificial sinew) makes a very strong bowstring. You would need to twist about 6 strings together to make a good bowstring. You can find artificial sinew at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

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