Red Target Crossbow

This is one of my most ambitious projects, but damn did it turn out pretty. Approximately 140 lb draw, claplock mechanism crossbow to be used for target shooting and not legal for SCA combat. Made of red oak with a blood red stain.

I could not have completed this project with the aid and guidance of Sir Jonathas Reinisch, as well as access to his shop. Carlyle also helped immensely.

I began with two planks of red oak wood, and drew out the body shape of the crossbow. I also planned space for the internal components of the claplock mechanism to fit and milled the interior sides of both planks with a router. Then I did the first of many, many tasks of sanding. While the planks are separate, I used a planer to create a shallow 45 degree angle on the arrow table.

When smooth, I used pipe clamps and wood glue to seal the two planks together. I had to wait overnight for them to dry and seal. I then used a bandsaw to cut out the stock of the crossbow. This gave me a flat piece of wood in the shape of a crossbow body; next was to use a belt sander to begin some basic shaping of the stock.

I continued working on the stock; using a drill press to drill out the hole that will be used to tie on the prod, and drilling to reduce stress on the bandsaw when I cut out the "D-hole" for securing the prod to the front of the crossbow. Hours of sanding, using a belt sander, an orbiting hand sander, files, sandpaper, and good old elbow grease went into shaping and smoothing the crossbow body. The smoother the wood stock is, the better any kind of wood stain or seal applied will take. In addition, I wanted this to be a prized target bow I would be proud to show off at the range. So I took extra time and went to ever finer grits (~150 to 2000) in order to get the stock exactly how I wanted it.

I then worked on fitting the internal components and preparing my hardware. I had to sand down the metal fittings to ensure that they were smooth when they interacted. I had a distinct look in mind with this build: I wanted a super red crossbow with black hardware. So I blackened the hardware using metal blackener; a fairly noxious process if you've never done it in your own oven before. Finally, another trip to Sir Jonathas' shop with a finely sanded crossbow and ready to go fittings. There I sanded and prepared my string notch, creating a more U-shaped design in to to lessen tension on the string when cocked. I also made sure to fit my prod to the D-hole I had cut out, and checked the angles on my arrow groove.

Next, fitting of internal components, always finicky. When adjusted, taken out so that the crossbow can be fully stained and sealed before final assembly.

And finally, staining. Again, I had an image. Blood red. Not light pink. Not light red. Blood red.

So in addition to much sanding, there were multiple, multiple layers of a thick wood stain entitled "Barn Red" that seemed to have a high amount of paint pigment in it, making it easily smear, glob, and take forever to dry. The in-progress crossbow stock took up residence on a good portion of the kitchen counter for a week or two in this process.

Still, I think the final product was worth it. When finished staining and sealing the wood body, I was aided by Sir Jonathas in final assembly and fitting of the crossbow. He also is a highly skilled archer, and no novice to tying on prods to crossbows. He laced up my prod by affixing the prod in the D-hole, using a small piece of sanded and shaped wood I had created for the purpose of fixing the prod, and then tying a strong fake-sinew through the farther back hole to hold tight.

After a little last-minute sanding and tweaking to adjust the action and the trigger weight, it seemed like we had a happy medium. I'm pretty pleased with the final result.