Monday, December 11, 2006

How to Build a Catapult

[Looking for more catapult building info? There is much information in this blog on how to build a catapult. Type "catapult" into the search bar above for more catapult building posts]

<--My catapult, Ludgar the Warwolf, hurling a flaming projectile. (And yes, my neighbors are somewhat scared of me.)

So you want to learn how to build a catapult?

Well, I can't say I blame you. I got the catapult bug about 20 years ago and have been building them ever since. I've written a book with instructions, history, and theory behind catapults. If you're interested, go take a look. You can get at any Barnes and Nobles store, Amazon, etc and quite a few public libraries keep copies as well.

Besides my book, there are number of websites on the Internet with catapult building information. Google them up and take your pick. Obviously, some are better than others.

I suggest a visit my site It shows the steps I went through to build my big catapult called Ludgar . It's not step by step instructions (Ludgar is a very complicated beast) but it does give some basic ideas.

If you want to build your own from scratch, here's a few quick tips:
  1. Start small. Big catapults need big structural parts to handle the counterweights and the spring tensions. The big parts are hard to deal with.
  2. Big catapults require STRONG structural members, and typically, softwoods like pine are not good catapult building materials for any catapult sized to hurl projectiles larger than a tennis ball. I feel it is best to use steel or hardwood for those bigger chuckers.
  3. For gravity machines (or trebuchets) make the pivot on which the counterweight swings as large in diameter as possible. I've seen thick steel rod bend and warp and become worthless on a single hurl. Make your pivot rod big, big, big.
  4. Catapults can be dangerous. I've seen people get knocked on the head by swinging counterweight. Ouch! Tension and torsion springs are dangerous as well. They pack a lot of energy and can be dangerous.
  5. For larger models, human powered catapults are a good place to start. They are easier to build and a lot of fun to operate.
Sorry, but I am not able to answer individual catapult questions. But you can get most of what you need from The Art of the Catapult, which does have a lot of good information.

Cave ne ante ullas catapultas ambules!
(If I were you, I'd not walk in front of the catapult!)


Anonymous said...

I like your website, it's pretty cool. Your really good at builing catapults. Keep up the good work!

sheds said...

Wow, i love the night time shot of the catapult in action....

Anonymous said...

this does not tell me HOW to build a catapult

Anonymous said...

what materials do i need to build one?