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Project by Paul posted 206 days ago 1569 views 24 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My parents were visiting over the Christmas break, and dad and I needed some shop time. So, we went to the shop and built a mini catapult from another one we had seen before. We actually made two of them for my boys, and they had a lot of fun launching back and forth at each other. Actually, they had more fun launching dog treats and watching them chase them all over.

The design is pretty simple, and only measures 10” long and 5 1/2” wide. All material was scrap pine.

It launches a clay ball (or a dog treat) about 25-30’.


I’ve added more pictures and measurements for the design. I didn’t have plans for one of these, but built it off of one I had seen before, so using the basic overall dimensions we were able to make a couple of them.

All material is 3/4” pine. The base is 10” long. The width is 5 1/2”. On the ends, you can see that I drilled slots in for the tension bars. the tension bars are just 3/4” by 1/8”. The dowel rod is 10” (1/4” diameter). The bucket at the end is 2 1/2” long and 1 1/4” wide. I just used a 3/4” forstner bit for the hole.

Everything was glued together with a brad nail at all joints. The diagonal supports were just cut at 45 degrees.

The middle rod is just a 1” dowel, with holes drilled in each end for 1/4” dowels (I did not drill all the way through, no need to). You’ll notice 2 – 1/8” dowels in the middle rod. That was done to hold the string.

The end piece (where the dowel swing arm hits) is 2 1/2 inches high with just a padded bumper on it (like you would use for a drawer).

The brace/release arm is 5” long and is 1/2” square, and is held on loosely with a bolt, as it needs to swing freely. It catches the teeth on the middle rod. Notice the teeth are cut at right angles, so it fits the release arm squarely. The tooth/catch wheel is 2 1/2” in diameter. There are 18 teeth. The teeth measure 1/2” x 1/4” each. This was just cut out on the band saw.

I hope that helps with the measurements.

-- Paul, Iowa

18 comments so far

View sras's profile


3782 posts in 1732 days

#1 posted 206 days ago

Looks like a fun project – I can imagine the fun with dog treats!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View skyboy_psu's profile


20 posts in 673 days

#2 posted 206 days ago

Can you post more pictures from the backside, or maybe a video? My kids want me to build one, but I can’t see how you attached the bucket and I’d like more details on the release mechanism.

View tomakazi's profile


644 posts in 1886 days

#3 posted 206 days ago

I would love to make one of these. did you have plans? more pics? could you post a video? thanks

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

View Woodendeavor's profile


211 posts in 1209 days

#4 posted 206 days ago

Cool project. I am sure you made the kids and dogs very happy

View NormG's profile


3999 posts in 1607 days

#5 posted 206 days ago

Awesome piece

-- Norman

View Francois Vigneron's profile

Francois Vigneron

263 posts in 922 days

#6 posted 206 days ago

Now that’s playing fetch at an all new level ! Happy kids and happy dog. Cool !

Skyboy, I think the release is visible : as he pulls the white string through the metal loop at the front, it makes the oblique wedge tip forward, which releases the gear. You can see that the wedge will spin around the bolt that goes through the frame. The eye-bolt ensures proper alignment of the string. The tension in the ropes make the axle spin and the bucket swing. It looks like the bucket is just stuck to a dowel through the axle and will hit a cushioned stop at the front. He will also use the bucket to crank the catapult because there doesn’t seem to be any other lever/handle to do the job. As the ropes are spun 3 times around the axle but the bucket can only travel 1/2 turn, this suggests that the bucket+dowel can be removed from the axle and will fit through a serie of holes around the axle, just behind the gear. The wedge blocks the gear and the axle while you put the bucket+dowel in another hole. This design allows for more than 1/2 turn of cranking before release and the impressive reach of 30’. I am surprised that the force of the impact on the stop doesn’t break the dowel+bucket or flings the dowel out of place.

But anyway, I agree with the others, we need more pictures ! Thanks for sharing this nice toy Paul.

-- Francois Vigneron, Gif-sur-Yvette, France & Altadena, CA

View OttoH's profile


858 posts in 1613 days

#7 posted 206 days ago

That is a great design, looks like it would be fun to make and play with!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View hoss12992's profile


2465 posts in 496 days

#8 posted 206 days ago

This is really cool. Glad you and your dad got some shop time together. Priceless. Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View wseand's profile


2116 posts in 1645 days

#9 posted 206 days ago

Very cool. Good times with Dad and the Kids, excellent.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

View RonGoldberg's profile


31 posts in 961 days

#10 posted 206 days ago

Oh my, what guy doesn’t want one of those? Can’t think of one. Please post plans ASAP. Even my two daughters ( 11 & 13) would love them. Make it happen. Thanks.

View Pieter's profile


28 posts in 496 days

#11 posted 206 days ago

I have to agree with wanting plans; have build two cheap toy ones (neither worked) so this would be great for the grandson.

View Gianni's profile


122 posts in 577 days

#12 posted 205 days ago

I like this. Did you drill the axle all the way through, or just into the center of each side? If through, congratulations, as I have recently realized how difficult it is to keep that straight.

Neat idea to use separate limbs for the tensioners. I always try to use the swing arm itself and it always gets broken due to handling.

View Paul's profile


27 posts in 888 days

#13 posted 205 days ago

All, I’ve added pictures and instructions/measurements for the catapult. I did not drill the axle all the way through the center rod, I only drilled holes for the 1/4” dowels.

Thanks for all the comments! I’ve also taken a video, but haven’t figured out how to upload the video yet.


-- Paul, Iowa

View bch's profile


217 posts in 1292 days

#14 posted 205 days ago

Completely awesome! Much cooler than the replica I built for my kids. I believe that is a Leonardo Divinci design if I recall correctly. Very nice! Thanks for sharing.

-- --bch

View Paul's profile


27 posts in 888 days

#15 posted 204 days ago

It is a Divinci design, yes.

-- Paul, Iowa

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