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How to Make a Drawbridge

Updated July 20, 2017

Drawbridges were invented in ancient times as a way to keep invaders from entering a city, fortress or castle. In times of trouble, the occupants would simply pull up the bridge, leaving a moat for invaders to cross while they remained safely behind the heavy wooden bridge. You can re-create a drawbridge by making a model using wood and some other basic supplies.

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  1. Cut out an arch with the scroll saw from the 5-by-7-by-2-inch block of pine wood. Make the arch about 3 inches wide and 4 inches high. Be sure to cut in the longest direction, so that the bottom of the arch becomes the bottom of the tower, and there is 3 inches left above the top of the arch.

  2. Measure and mark with the pencil every 1/2 inch across the top of the tower, above the arch. At every other mark, cut a notch 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch wide with the scroll saw. These are the tower battlements.

  3. Center the tower on the 5-by-10-by-1/2-inch block and nail the two pieces together through the bottom to form the tower base.

  4. Lay down the two 4-by-1/2-by-1/2-inch blocks parallel to each other 3 inches apart on your work surface.

  5. Lay the eight 4-by-1/2-by-1/8-inch strips across the two blocks. Attach the strips to the blocks with finishing nails. This is your drawbridge.

  6. Turn over the drawbridge and tap in two finishing nails, one into each block, as close to the ends as you can without splitting the wood. Leave the nails sticking out past the edges of the drawbridge, about 1/4 inch. This will be the pivot end of your gate.

  7. Tap in two more finishing nails, one into each block, about 1/2 inch from the end opposite the pivot end of the drawbridge. Leave the nails sticking past the edges about 1/4 inch.

  8. Lay the drawbridge, block side down, on the tower base in front of the tower. Place an upholstery staple over the protruding nails on the pivot end and gently tap the staples into the tower base. This should hold the drawbridge in place while allowing it to rotate freely into open and shut positions. Adjust the staples and nails if needed.

  9. Tap two finishing nails into the tower, one on either side at the top of the arch. Make sure they are spaced 4 inches apart, as wide as the drawbridge. Angle the nails at about 45 degrees, and leave half of each nail sticking up.

  10. Attach one end of each chain to the nails at the top of the arch. Attach the other ends to the drawbridge.

  11. Stain the wood with the paintbrush, then allow to dry.

  12. Tip

    The drawbridge model is designed so it can be displayed or used as a bookend. Just tuck the unused side of the tower base under your books, and the tower will hold them straight. If you have a talent for woodcarving, you can add brick outlines, scroll work, family crests, arrow slits and other details to your tower. Pine wood is soft and easy to work with.


    Be sure you have adequate ventilation when staining your project.

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Things You'll Need

  • 5-by-7-by-2-inch block of pine wood
  • 5-by-10-by-1/2-inch pine block
  • 4-by-1/2-by-1/2-inch pine blocks, 2
  • 4-by-1/2-by-1/8-inch pine strips, 8
  • Scroll saw
  • Hammer
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Finishing nails
  • Upholstery staples
  • 6-inch chains, 2
  • Wood stain
  • Paint brush

About the Author

Tad Cronn is a professional journalist living in Los Angeles. His columns have appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," the "Orange County Register" and other publications. He is an award-winning illustrator, author of "The Lynx," and an experienced handyman, model builder and gamer.

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