TWD Daryl Dixon Crossbow Build (cardboard)


Active Member
I'm going to a Zombie themed party at the end of the week and I decided I would go as Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead c.season 5. In my opinion, the two things you absolutely gotta have if you are going to be Daryl Dixon is the leather vest with angel wings (thank you popular on line auction site), and a crossbow.

Going as a more up-to-date Daryl I decided on the Stryker Strykezone 380 over the Horton he has used in the past.

So here's the thing, I live in the UK and

1. I don't have £680 to spend on a Stryker Strykezone 380.

2. There's no way in hell I could carry it out and about without getting arrested.

My solution was to try and find a toy one that's about the right size but there's very little out there, and I'm broke until pay day at the end of the month, so I decided to make a crossbow out of some cardboard boxes I had at work.

I should probably point out that I've only ever bought props and costumes before. I used to visit the RPF loads as a guest and only just signed up as a member last year. I've never tried to make anything. I have absolutely zero experience with modelling etc. But what the hell, I thought I'd give it a go.

First off, reference material!


These are the two pictures I was working from to ascertain the shape and size of the thing.
I also went here: for sizing information.

I found that with the second picture I was able to use GIMP to resize the image so that when I viewed it on my 42 inch TV it was the actual size of the crossbow I wanted to make. This made things a lot easier.

Daryl doesn't have the sight on the top, which is a bonus, and I'm not making the funky quiver/bolt holder on the bottom either.

So I got me some corrugated card:
image.jpg image.jpg

Got me a Stanley knife with a fresh blade and a straight metal edge and started sketching out the basic shape:

I figured if I cut this out three times and glued all three layers of the card together it would be quite rigid.

My first noticeable mistake was the straight edge that I was using. It is a spirit level and is quite chunky so it stood up too high off the card which made me cut into the card at an angle with the blade. I rectified this later on with a flatter straight edge.

The next parts to cut were the arms of the crossbow and the plate that holds them to the rifle looking part (I know! I know! I can almost here crossbow enthusiasts shouting at me "Hey man, they're not called 'arms' they're limbs and that 'plate' is actually the riser, duh!" I'm sorry, I'm clearly no expert, I just googled that terminology just now)

The Stryker has two rows of bow arms called "split limbs" so I needed to add split limbs to my replica. A bit of hot glueing and things really started to come together.
image.jpg image.jpg
You'll notice the addition of the cams at the end of the split limbs. They are held in place by a piece of dowling rod that goes through the centre of them and is glued to the split limbs at the top and bottom.

Obviously I'm nowhere near finished. I still need to paint and string it and do some detailing.

I'm just wondering though, is there an easy way anyone can suggest just to make it more rigid and solid? At the minute I think I'd be pretty ginger with it at the party and it will probably break easily. A friend suggested paper mache, another suggested many coats of PVA. I figured if anyone is gonna have a definitive answer for me it'll be the good folks of the RPF.

Your advice would be much appreciated. And go easy on me, it's my first time


New Member
wow, that looks great! I wasn't sure what I expected out of cardboard crossbow, but I'm amazed.

is it going to get cables and string, or would that make it too realistic in the eyes of police?

how rigid do you want it? cheapest option would be a couple passes of clear coat paint, should hold up for a party, or at least most of the party. cyanoacrylate glue would really stiffen it up, but work outside to mind the fumes, and start with practice cardboard first it gets hot, tricky, and you're going to get the spreader stuck to it. fiberglass resin would be a bit stronger still


Active Member
Thanks man, it is absolutely going to get cables etc. I'm not too bothered if it looks realistic. I'm going to a house party so not a great deal of wandering round in public with it on my back. But should the police take an interest I'd rather be able to show them that it is made of cardboard than have the real thing on me.

Today I'm going to make a start on painting it. I was thinking about doing a whole load more stuff to it before painting but it has to be done and good-to-go in three days and I just don't have the time to do much else to it.

Originally I wanted to mainly strengthen the split limbs as they are just one sheet of corrugated cardboard. My worry was that when I string it up, even the lightest tension to keep the strings straight would eventually give and the strings and limbs would go a bit floppy.

On a real crossbow the two cams at either end of the split limbs are connected to each other by a kind of figure 8 stringing process that goes through the stock of the crossbow. A friend of mine suggested maybe using a metal coat hanger, bent into a figure 8, to simulate this part of the strings, thus adding rigidity. I should then be able to use elastic or string for the rest without it going floppy on me.

Depending on how well it holds up at the party I might look into your suggestions afterwards as I think I'd probably want to go to a ComiCon as Daryl at some point. Thanks for the advice!

I'll post some more progress photos after I'm painted it.


Active Member
Obviously I made significant progress on this for it to be "ready" for the party I went to.

Here's some updates on what I have done up to now (but I'm planning on doing more though).

My next step was to hit it with some paint:

It it really started to come together but man cardboard is thirsty! It took about 3 coats to get it to where it is currently at.

Next job is to string it and tidy it up a bit.


Active Member
So for the cables for the bow I opted to go for elastic from my local haberdashery, and here I hit upon a snag. The split limbs of my crossbow are just painted cardboard and aren't really up to taking on board much tension. Now the elastic doesn't have to be very tight but I wanted the lines to be taught to give the appearance of being under tension.

As a temporary measure I took a wire coat hanger and straightened it. I then passed it through from one side of the limbs, through the stock of the crossbow to the other side of the limb. Incidentally, this is how the actual crossbow is strung. At the moment there's just one wire holding it steady but I intend to add a second one and make them look like a figure 8 as with the real thing. They'll need to be painted black also but I reckon once I've done that they will just look like the cable of the crossbow.

I also cut a piece of dowling rod to size and ran the end through a pencil sharpener for the bolt. Everything then got hot glued in place and this is what I ended up taking to the party in the end:
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out for the party but I think I'll keep working on it for a con.

And for those of you who wondered how my costume turned out, here's the vest I bought:

And this is me before the party:
IMG_3014.JPG IMG_3015.JPG IMG_3016.JPG

I'm still looking for somewhere to get a resin cast of Daryl Dixon's knife (a Busse Team Gemini) as there's no way I'm paying the asking price for a real one. Also, same problem with being street legal here in the UK for the con.


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