Making a bow

Splitting the Osage orange (Bois d’Arc) stave.

This is a tough process. As can be seen in the photo above, I use an axe, froe, and hammer.

Not visible here are short hickory limbs that are jammed into the growing crack to keep the stave from snapping shut.

Some species of white woods debark quite easily and the bow can be made from the outer growth rings.

Not so with Osage Orange. The white new wood is visible in the stave above.

This process is easiest with a sharp draw knife working downward. Your weight can be used to pull through the bark.

Working down to a single growth ring. With Osage, there is a vesicular layer between hard wood rings. This is just visible here as the white wood.

Sighting down the clean stave. Not perfectly straight, but then it wouldn’t be Osage otherwise.

The growth rings are visible in the low raking light. The smooth area nearest the viewer is down to the desired ring.

Working the bow to its final shape. This is a different stave from the one shown above.

I don’t generally stop long enough to take photos but please admire the fine Ozark barn decor.





3 thoughts on “Making a bow

  1. This is fascinating! I’m currently in the process of creating my own archery bow from an osage orange wood stave. This is an excellent guide for me. If you’d like to follow my journey, I’m at Thanks again for posting this guide!

  2. You Should really be using a wooden mallet with your froe otherwise it will over time the blunt side will flatten out and make it harder to split your wood.

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