Medieval Trebuchet

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Project by JeffL115 posted 10-29-2012 02:59 PM 2409 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my very first wood project and led me into the world of fine woodworking! I had to make a catapult for a HS science class, and my friends and I decided to make a much larger version for fun.

The Trebuchet is constructed of mostly scrap pine except for the two large main boards that are perpendicular to the base which are oak. It is attached together mostly with large screws. The siege weapon stands about 20 feet tall when the arm is at rest. The main axle is an Olympic barbel and is quite heavy. The counterweight was filled with cinder blocks and solid steel plates, totaling over 300 lbs. The sling was constructed of twine and the sling pouch was made out of cow leather. I installed a winch system that would lower the arm and slide along a steel wire for added leverage as the arm was brought down. The machine is a bit dangerous as I never could figure out a good release system. To fire you have to hold the arm down by hand then jump out of the way to release & fire the siege weapon.

This project was a lot of fun. It can fire bricks and bocce balls over 150 yards and pretty much anything else that will fit into the sling about 100 yards. However, it is not accurate at all and the projectile can land anywhere within a huge radius of the target. I think this is a rather unique project and thought that I would share it with you all. Enjoy!

15 comments so far

View ratchet's profile


1389 posts in 3421 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 03:13 PM

Dude….you must be fun at parties. Excellent build!!!

View a1Jim's profile


115740 posts in 3211 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 03:39 PM

Looks like fun. I saw one on TV they were throwing pianos and small cars with, what a kick.

-- Custom furniture

View Dale 's profile


415 posts in 2815 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 03:55 PM

That is way to cool.

-- Dale West Central Pa. Do it all, before last call.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 2871 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 07:06 PM

Last night the Discovery channel had a special about the “Punkin Chunkin” contest… Your machine would fit right in. The projectile is an 8lb pumpkin. I bet a quick google search would turn up photos and even diagrams showing release systems. Good luck with your machine and be careful! A brick thrown 150 yards hits like a brick shot out of a trebuchet!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Ben's profile


273 posts in 3348 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 08:26 PM

Its always nice to build something which has no purpose other than fun.

-- Do something nice for somebody

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 1810 days

#6 posted 10-29-2012 09:34 PM

This is really fun to look at! We made a catapult fo r a high school project, too. But we never made it this far! Great work!

View whitewulf's profile


451 posts in 2571 days

#7 posted 10-29-2012 11:03 PM

Fun project, is the rope around the pivot under tension, or jus for looks?

-- "ButI'mMuchBetterNow"

View NormG's profile


5731 posts in 2638 days

#8 posted 10-29-2012 11:56 PM

What a fun project. I have seen the shows on TV as A1Jim has. I have the plans for a smaller version to build with my kids

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View rance's profile


4252 posts in 2795 days

#9 posted 10-30-2012 12:47 AM


And welcome to LumberJocks.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

24256 posts in 1972 days

#10 posted 10-30-2012 01:03 AM

I assume you’re taking this to college. It’s just meant to be at a frat house somewhere.

Good job

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View plantek's profile


312 posts in 2433 days

#11 posted 10-30-2012 11:50 AM

Very cool!

-- If you want it and it's within reason... It's on it's way!

View solardave's profile


75 posts in 1678 days

#12 posted 10-30-2012 12:36 PM

Awesome. Time to collect some old bowling balls…

View JeffL115's profile


10 posts in 1673 days

#13 posted 10-30-2012 04:13 PM

The rope around the pivot point is just for looks.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7447 posts in 2548 days

#14 posted 10-31-2012 01:31 AM

Now THAT would be fun! Very cool!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3195 days

#15 posted 10-31-2012 09:31 AM

Regarding accuracy: I built a desk top trebuchet and found that accuracy is proportional to uniform projectile weight. Shape is also important due to aerodynamics. It’s been a long time, but I think the math shows that the maximum range is achieved with a projectile weight that is 1/100 of the counterweight.

-- Joe

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