Catapults were created in the ancient world, considered heavy artillery during the middle ages, and used during World War I to fling grenades into trenches. Though a miniature catapult may not place world domination within your grasp, it's still an interesting play thing or conversation piece. You can make one from kits readily available online and in hobbyist stores, or you can Macgyver one from a few items lying around your desk or home office.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 11 #2 pencils, unsharpened
- #54 bag of rubber bands
- Hole punch
- Plastic bottle cap
- Packing tape
Make a right angle with two pencils, overlapping them where the metal eraser casing ends and the wood begins. Slip your thumb and forefinger into a rubber band, then join the pencils together by looping the rubber band around and through the ends of the pencils, making three figure-eights between them and then two full loops around both pencils. If your pencils slip out of their right angle as you wind the rubber band, don't worry. Repeat this process, making another joined pair of pencils.
Make a triangle by adding a third pencil. Connect the pencil, an inch below the metal eraser casing, to the loose arm of one of your V shapes. Connect the other loose arm an inch from the end of the new pencil. Repeat this process with the other V so that you have two triangles. Tug your triangles into right angles if they have slipped. Set them aside.
Make a capital T with two pencils, making sure that the pencil which forms the trunk of the T overlaps the middle of the other pencil just below the metal eraser casing. Loop the rubber band over the eraser end of that pencil, and then wrap both sides of the rubber band in a criss-cross motion around the pencil, ending by slipping the loop over the eraser. Repeat with another rubber band.
Pick up one of your triangle shapes (the point of the V is the top; the pencil you added is the bottom). Connect the two triangles together with another pencil, overlapping at the inch extra left on either side. Use the same method as before, except instead of making a figure-eight, make a clover. Loop the rubber band around one end, twist and loop around the next, repeat until there are two loops on each pencil, and then wrap the rubber band around all three pencils twice. Do the same with another rubber band and then connect the other triangle to the end of the same pencil. Repeat this process on the other side, using your T shaped pencil pair. Connect each point of your triangle with a pencil.
Take the last pencil and place it just above the trunk of your T base (about two inches below the points of your triangle sides). Connect it by looping the rubber band over the eraser and wrapping both sides of the rubber band in a criss-cross. Finish by placing the loop over the eraser. Repeat on the other side. Fish through your pile of rubber bands for a thick one, and loop it over each end of this pencil but under the trunk of your T base.
Use the hole punch to cut two holes in your bottle cap, directly across from each other. Slip a rubber band halfway through one hole and open the loop into an O. Thread the remaining length of the rubber band through the O and pull it until the rubber band has formed a loose knot around the rim of the bottle cap. Ease the other hole over the end of the T base trunk and use the packing tape to secure the bowl of your catapult in place. Shore up any loose joints with more rubber bands.
Tips and warnings
- Don't make your rubber bands too tight or they'll add strain to your catapult.
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