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Homemade pistol crossbow tutorial (made mostly with hand tools)

Let’s get started. Start by printing
the pattern in the description of the video 3 times and glue it onto some cardboard. The
piece on the bottom left is for carving the cavity for the nut and trigger.
Select a piece of wood of approximately 4×9.5 cm cut to the appropriate length. I used pine
wood, which is lightweight and easy to saw and carve. The downside is that it dents more
easily. You could use hardwood if you preferred. This top piece alone is too small to fit the
pattern, so we will attach a short piece to it. Instead of just gluing them together with
wood glue, we’ll insert 2 wooden dowels of 8 mm diameter into both pieces to make
the bond stronger. Mark the middle with a pencil, then mark the 2 drill holes and drill the holes with an 8 mm drill bit. Put some wood glue onto the dowels and hammer them in. Mark the middle on the small piece of wood and make sure you mark the same distance between
holes as with the bigger piece. Put some wood glue on one side and put the 2 pieces together.
Clamp them and let it dry for an hour. While you’re waiting, we can make the crossbow
limb, which is called the prod. I started with 2 pvc pipes, both 50 cm long,
that fit into each other. The wider pipe is 25 mm outside diameter and 2 mm thick. The
narrow pipe is 20 mm in diameter and 1 mm thick. If you could find a pipe that is 3
mm thick, this would be even better because it would make a more durable and possibly
even more powerful prod. If you live in the United States a ¾ inch schedule 40 pipe would
be ideal. Pvc can easily be shaped when heated. Look
up Backyardbowyer on youtube for more information on making stuff with pvc. I used a barbecue as
a heat source, but if you have a heat gun, use it. Hairdryers won’t work because they
don’t produce enough heat. Be safe and wear heat-resistant gloves. If you use a barbecue, keep
your pipe at a safe distance and rotate to avoid burning. Heat up half the pipe until
it’s very floppy. If you see yellow or brown spots, the pipe is damaged and won’t be
as strong anymore. If that’s the case, take a new pipe.
Once the pipe is bendable, quickly clamp it between 2 flat surfaces. Let it cool for about
10 minutes and do the same to the other side. I flattened the pipe completely, but you could
also taper the pipe, from thick in the middle to flat at the ends. This would give you more
power. Again, watch backyard bowyer’s videos for the technique.
Once both sides are flattened, heat up the very end of one side until it starts to open
up slightly. Then sandwich it between 2 thin pieces of wood to flatten it again and bend
it upwards. Do the same to the other side and you should
have something that looks like this. Don’t worry if you fail at the first try, because
this really is the hardest part. If the pipe isn’t burned,
you could retry by heating it again. A common mistake is to try and flatten the pipe as
soon as it starts to bend a little. At that point, you need to heat it at least another
5 to 10 minutes until you’re really sure it’s soft over the entire length. Now let’s go on to the woodworking part by making the stock. Start by tracing the pattern
onto the wood and cut it out with a jigsaw. Make sure your blade is long enough and is
mounted straight. If the blade is angled, your cuts will be angled too.
It should look something like this. I use a wood rasp to round off the bottom
side, and also to correct any cuts that were not straight.
In order to carve the cavity for the nut and trigger, we need to saw our piece in half.
But instead of sawing it in the middle, you should saw along the line that is exactly
half the thickness of the trigger away from center. Sounds complicated? Let me use an
example. My nut and trigger are 1 cm thick. So my cutting line is off center by half a
cm. Why do this you ask? This way, we only need
to carve one cavity that is 1 cm deep, instead of carving a 5 mm hole on both sides. My cut
is not exactly straight, but that’s okay because the 2 halfs will be joined together
later on. Obviously, if you have a table saw, you could do a much better job.
Take your thicker half and trace your nut and trigger cavity pattern onto it. I accidently
made the wrong half the thicker one, so I had to flip the pattern to the non-printed
side. So if you made the other half the thicker one, the orientation will be the same as in
the building plan, but mirror image of the upcoming photos.
For carving, I used 2 wood chisels, a flat one and a curved one.
The flat one can be used to cut along the pencil marks, and the curved one removes the
wood between the lines. Since it’s pine wood, you don’t need to tap the chisel with
a hammer. The force of your hand is enough. Gently take away more and more wood until
you get something like this. It should be as deep as the thickness of your nut and trigger.
Don’t rush this part, or you risk cracking the wood.
Now it’s time to cut out the nut, trigger and trigger guard. For this, I changed to
a finer blade to have cleaner cuts. The thinner your blade is, the sharper the turns you can
make with it. If some turns are too sharp for a jigsaw,
you can always use a coping saw for this. I used a special kind of super strong plywood
that has 2 layers of wood per mm, but regular high quality plywood without voids should
also work fine. Soft wood is not recommended for these parts, since they will wear too
quickly. If you have the skills, you could even make these parts out of metal.
Sand all these parts smooth, but make sure you don’t sand the edges too much were the
nut fits into the trigger. I always start with 80 grid, then go to 120 and finish with
400. You can roll the sandpaper up to sand curved parts.
After sanding, confirm that nut and trigger fit nicely into each other. The bigger the
contact surface between the two, the harder it is to pull the trigger. So later on, when
you feel your trigger is too stiff, you could remove some material here, but beware that
removing too much wood can cause accidental firing of the crossbow.
Let’s put these 3 parts onto your stock. Place the trigger guard onto the stock, trace
it with a pencil and use a chisel to cut 2 grooves. Put some wood glue on it, and hammer
in place with 2 nails. Drill holes into your trigger and nut. They
should be the same diameter as your bolts. To prevent the plywood from chipping when
the drill bit comes out the other side, put a piece of wood underneath it. Fit nut and
trigger into the cavity and mark where you need to drill the stock. I used a tool with
a sharp metal point called an awl. Make sure all your holes are drilled straight. If your
nut and trigger do not rotate freely, remove some more wood from the edges of the cavity.
The trigger needs to return to the original position after firing, so we will attach a
spring to it. A simple spring from a pen should do. I attached it to the trigger with a small
screw after predrilling a hole with a diameter less than the screw. If you don’t predrill,
you might split the wood. Take a chisel again and make a groove for
the spring. Make sure it’s deep enough so that when you put the other half of the stock
back on, it doesn’t crush the spring. Secure the spring with a drop of hot glue
or any other glue. Test it by pulling the trigger back while putting your other hand
on top of it, so it doesn’t spring upward instead of being compressed. You might have
to round the edges where the groove meets the cavity, so that the spring doesn’t get
stuck on them. After drilling 2 holes into the other half
of the stock, you can put the 2 halves together with bolts and nuts. My bolts were slightly
longer than the width of the stock, making them ideal for this. If yours are too long,
you can cut them off with a hack saw. Now it’s time to test the trigger mechanism.
Put a loop around the nut and pull it tight, holding it in place with one hand. Pull the
trigger with the other, and the rope should be released smoothly.
You may have noticed the stock is not very comfortable to hold. We’ll fix this by removing
some wood with a chisel on both sides of the handle. This makes the handle thinner and easier to grip. Before we permanently put the 2 halves together, now would be a good time to paint the visible
portion of nut, trigger and cavity because later on, you won’t be able to access them
easily. Once you’re confident that everything works
as it should, you can close everything up. Use wood glue to put the 2 halves together
and insert 4 pieces of wooden dowel for extra strength. The dowels can be slightly longer
than the stock is wide because you can cut them off once the glue is dry. Once again,
clamp everything together and leave it to dry for an hour.
Let’s put the prod into the stock. You could saw out the slot, but I just drilled some
holes. Just move your drill up and down until the
holes are connected Test if your prod fits into it using a little
bit of force. If not, move your drill around a bit from side to side to make the slot slightly
bigger. Once the prod is centered, I secure it with a wooden dowel. You could also screw
it in place. With the dowel, however, you don’t see any
screw heads sticking out. You might notice that there is still a tiny gap between prod
and stock. We’ll fill this up. I used an epoxy putty where you have to mix
2 components together. Don’t add more hardener than necessary. This stuff is harder than
wood when dry. It dries in a matter of minutes, so don’t make too much at once.
Now would also be a good time to fill any gaps and cracks along the rest of the stock,
especially along the line where we cut the stock in half. Make sure to wear a dust mask
when sanding everything, because the dust from this epoxy filler is not healthy. Mark a straight line in the center from nut
to end, take a chisel and make a groove for the bolt, which is a crossbow arrow. Don’t make it
too deep, otherwise the string will just fly over the bolt instead of catching it.
Take a hacksaw and cut 2 string grooves on each side of the prod.
Push the tiny pieces of PVC outwards with a flat screwdriver and break them off with
pliers It should look something like this on both
sides Now let’s string the crossbow. I use a 3
mm thick polypropylene rope. Any type of strong rope would work, as long as it doesn’t stretch.
I use a special knot called a bowline knot. It goes like this: make a loop where the end
piece comes out on top. Put the end piece back through the loop from
underneath. Now you’ve created a second loop that will eventually become the loop
we attach to the prod. This same end now goes underneath the rope.
Finally the end goes through the first loop again, and the knot is done. If you didn’t
understand the instructions, watch the video that is linked on the bottom.
Put the loop on the prod on one side, and then tie a second bowline knot that is slightly
shorter than the prod. Pull both limbs towards you until you can
attach the second loop. Congratulations, you now have a functional pistol crossbow, but
no bolts to shoot it with (hahaha). Don’t worry, I’ll explain how to make
them. Start by clamping an 8 mm dowel and put a hole in the center with an awl. Take
a tent peg and find the drill bit with the same diameter, in my case 5 mm. A thick nail
would also work. Now drill an 5 mm hole about 2 cm deep, paying special attention not to
go sideways. I taped my drill bit so that I know when my hole is deep enough. Don’t
worry if you fail and the wood splinters. Just cut off a small bit and start again.
That’s why we don’t cut the dowel into pieces yet. Once the hole is drilled, insert
the tent peg with some construction adhesive on it to glue it in place.
Once the glue is dry, cut the tent peg so that is sticks out 2 cm. Cut the dowel to
18 cm, so that the bolts will be 20 cm with tip included.
Use epoxy filler to cover the metal. Hold the stick in a slight angle while sanding
the tip to a point If you did it right, it should look like this.
For the fletching, we’ll use duct tape. Mark 1 cm from the end of the shaft, and tape
a piece to it that runs along the shaft for 5 cm. Tape another piece unto it. Trim both sides so that they stick out 1 cm.
Take a third piece of tape, also 5 cm long, tape it on both sides of the shaft and fold
it back on itself. Also trim this piece to 1 cm.
Mark the 3 wings, putting a 2 cm mark starting from the left, and a 1 cm mark starting from
the right. Now trim the fletchings until they look like the picture.
Cut out 2 narrow strips of tape, and use them to reinforce top and bottom of the fletching.
The strips overlap only slightly with the wings. This will also give the wings a bit
of twist, which helps the bolt rotate while flying.
Your bolts should look like this now. As far as decorations go, you can go nuts.
I didn’t include everything in this tutorial, but feel free to ask me about any of the added
extras. For the green power source of the steampunk crossbow, or the cylinder on the
military crossbow, I just drew 2 half circles on a piece of wood and rounded it with a wood
rasp and then cut them off and glued them onto the crossbow with wood glue.
For the scope, I used the same pipes as for the prod. The smaller pipe is 10 cm long and
I glued a 5 cm piece of bigger pipe over it using construction adhesive. The scope is
glued on a square block of wood that has been sanded in a curve so that the round pipe fits
into it. I did promise in the description to make some
suggestions for more power. First of all, if you use a more powerful prod, you’ll
want to adjust the trigger mechanism. Shown here is the mechanism I used for the bigger
brother of the pistol crossbow. It’s a 3 piece trigger, and the middle piece acts like
a lever, so that the trigger pulls very smoothly, even with high draw weight. If you don’t
adjust the trigger mechanism, it might be almost impossible to pull the trigger with
1 finger. For a more powerful prod, you could try to
use a bigger diameter pipe of the same 3 mm thickness. If you live in the United States,
a 1 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe would work. If you live elsewhere, a 3 mm thick PVC pipe
with an outside diameter of 32 mm would do. Make sure you taper the prod, going from thick
in the middle to thin at the ends. Check out some of the videos from backyardbowyer for
the technique. Another option is to make the prod out of
fiberglass, which is strong and flexible. I loosely based my method on the video of
Yusuf in the link. Unlike him, always use gloves and a dust mask
when working with this stuff, because small fragments of glass fiber could be breathed
in and cause health problems. So you need gloves, a dust mask, a fiberglass mat, fiberglass
resin, a brush and a mold. I made a mold out of wood, and covered it with transparent tape
so that the fiberglass doesn’t stick to the wood. For the resin, you can choose between
polyester, which is cheap and easily available, and epoxy, which is 3 times stronger but also
3 times more expensive. With scissors, I cut 10 strips out of the fiberglass mat that go
from broad in the middle to narrow at the tips. Brush some resin onto the mold, put
your first strip of fiberglass on it, brush some more resin on it, put another strip and
so on. Make sure the entire fiberglass mat is saturated with resin. You can easily recognize
dry spots. Every 3 layers or so, you have to push out any air bubbles by rolling a stick
back and forth. At the end, I put 4 more layers in the middle to reinforce it. Then I cured
it for an hour in an improvised oven made from a box coated with aluminum foil and a
heat gun. When it was completely dry, I reinforced the
tips with 2 pieces of wood, using the same epoxy resin. This time, I just let it dry
at room temperature for a day. This is how it looks so far. I still need to cut the nocks
and mount it to a crossbow stock. I’ll let you know how it performs when it’s done. Well, this concludes the tutorial. I hope you found it useful. Let me know if you successfully made a pistol crossbow. As a bonus, this is me throwing a boomerang I made myself. If you’re interested in boomerangs, check out my facebook page.

17 thoughts on “Homemade pistol crossbow tutorial (made mostly with hand tools)

  1. Dude, this video is amazing. I really like crossbows, and sometime ago i decided to try to make one. I've been looking for it on youtube, but I think I finally found the perfect one(yours). I just have some questions: how you did the arrow retention spring and the crossbow quiver in the military one?What materials did you used for them? and what is that metallic thing in the front of the military one? how did you made it? I know I made a lot of questions but I want to be sure i've made the crossbow in the right way, and i'll be very grateful if you answer me.

  2. This is very good…. just one detail; the low volume stress me out x.x it seems like you were at night and didn't want to wake up your mom, almost without any energy on your voice

  3. Nice tutorial, cool crossbow pistol. I really like your trigger mechanism for this, very impressive. Thanks for posting this, and more, including a pattern. 🙂

  4. mount some rotating gears on it with a tiny motor just for looks and it will look like it's right out of hell😎😈👿

  5. Arbalète fait maison pour une porté de 650m

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