How to Finish a Longbow


A longbow is a very tall bow often equal to or exceeding the height of the user. The longbow's height allows for longer draws, which creates more force and longer output distances. Because longbows are typically made from hardwoods which have tight grains, they fail to absorb ordinary liquid stains evenly. To ensure a beautiful, even finish, use a thick stain that works well with dense surfaces. Seal the longbow with a compatible polyurethane, or the stain may wear prematurely.

Things You'll Need

  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Rags
  • Mineral spirits solvent
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Canvas drop cloths
  • Gel oil stain
  • Shop rags
  • 2-inch natural-bristled paintbrush
  • Solvent-based polyurethane

Prep Work

  • Sand your longbow to smooth the wood and encourage absorption. Inappropriate sanding methods can cause splintering. Eliminate the risk of damage by sanding toward the longbow's wood grain.

  • Clean sawdust from the bow by wiping it with a rag dampened with solvent. Don't use a rag dampened with water, or the wood may become too wet to stain; instead, use mineral spirits, which will evaporate from the longbow within 20 minutes.

  • Detach the string or shield it from over-spray by covering it with a low-tack tape. Set the longbow on a canvas drop cloth.


  • Add gel stain to the longbow, using a clean shop rag. Massage the stain into the wood. Wait at least 60 seconds; then wipe down the longbow, using a fresh shop rag. Let the longbow dry for three hours.

  • Apply a coat of polyurethane sealer to the stained longbow, using a 2-inch natural paintbrush. For slick, flawless results, brush toward the wood grain applying only a thin coating. Let the longbow dry for an hour.

  • Add a second thin coat of polyurethane. Remove the tape after an hour. Don't use the longbow for another two hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Runny liquid stains may not provide a uniform finish to a longbow.

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