The Trebuchet Project #1: The Frame

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Blog entry by William posted 10-16-2010 05:28 AM 2475 reads 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of The Trebuchet Project series Part 2: Bucket And Swing Arm »

I am a gun collector, but have been fascinated by medieval weapons for years. Ever since I first built anything out of wood, I’ve thought about building a trebuchet. I have several times even started making drawings and doing some figuring for measurements and weight distribution. I searched for a long time for some plans for one, but all I seen have either been way too high or looked too flimsy to withstand any kind of real fun without having to add so much extra bracing as to effect the functionality.
Then a short while back, while looking in pattern catalogs for ideas for Christmas gifts, I run across a plan for a trebuchet that was affordable and looked like it was well built. So I ordered it. You can see the plans I ordered here.
So, I started on it today. Actually, today was the official start I guess you’d say. I spent yesterday figuring out a material list and then a much too lengthy trip to Home Depot to pick up the material.

This is the completed frame. It is made from 1 1/2×1 1/2” material with a lot of gussets made out of 1/2” plywood. I hope to start on the lauching arm tomorrow if I can find some 1/2” steel shaft here locally. Home Depot didn’t have it. If I don’t find it I may have to drive to Jackson, MS or get it online.
This is designed to launch tennis balls. The plans say it’ll launch them 200 feet. However, I may wind up building a second one for testing. I think by playing with the weight distribution, I can get more distance out of it. The counterweight as per the plans is supposed to be four one liter coke bottles filled with wet sand. I’m playing with the numbers. The written instructions say that it’ll handle more weight but that to get maximum efficiency, the projectile should weigh 1/100 the weight of the counterweight.
The reason I have to make a second one to play with the weight is that the first one is actually going to be a Christmas present for my sons. It’s going to be something that I can have fun with them with. I want a second one for the testing just in case, by chance, I destroy it with said testing.
When all is said and done, I hope to add to this blog series in progress photos of the build as I can. Then, hopefully, in the end, a video of it in action.


7 comments so far

View KTMM (Krunkthemadman)'s profile

KTMM (Krunkthemadman)

1055 posts in 3215 days

#1 posted 10-16-2010 05:36 AM

Man, I gotta finish the saw so I can start working on more stuff…... like a chicken launcher.

-- Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3137 days

#2 posted 10-16-2010 06:13 AM

now this will bee funny for big boys
there is some vidioclip of thoose things on you-tube
in real size throwing big rocks
but this wuold be scary for the neighbors if its lauched with waterballons ….LOL

good luck and have fun

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3081 days

#3 posted 10-16-2010 06:15 AM

Cool. That sounds like something that would be fun for me and my two teenage boys to build. I look forward to following the progress. I might have to make a potato cannon too.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2820 days

#4 posted 10-16-2010 06:54 AM

My wife and I saw a full size one demonstrated at Warwick Castle in Merry Olde England and they are truly one impressive machine. Our demo involved hurling “Greek Fire” but in their day the projectiles might have been rotting carcases to cause disease or the heads / bodies of the vanquished. Yeah, I know, Gruesome.

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2905 days

#5 posted 10-16-2010 07:46 AM

Nice; I built a trebuchet around this size a few years ago, didn’t throw a tennis ball 200ft, but was still fun to build and use.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2945 days

#6 posted 10-16-2010 01:09 PM

Looks like a fun project to me. Keep the postings coming.

-- Life is good.

View Jason's profile


659 posts in 3530 days

#7 posted 10-16-2010 04:07 PM

I’ve been wanting to build one for some time myself. Until I can get to it I will live vicariously through you. Thanks!

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

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