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How to make a DaVinci Catapult

There is no denying that Leonardo DaVinci was a genius. He was literally a genius of geniuses. This is shown in very many ways. Well, among the many things he designed was a catapult. And it is in this design that we get a hint of his genius.

Everybody knows what a catapult looks like. Easy to recognize. But DaVinci didn't design his catapult like all the others. His was different. It shows his ability to see things in new and different ways. This is one of the tradmarks of a genius.

Anyhoo, This is a tutorial on how to make his catapult. We don't make it exactly like his. But we do use his brilliant way of looking at things.



Here is a look at the completed catapult.

The DaVinci Catapult


Davinci's Plans

The brilliance of this siege machine is the use of the curved pieces of wood to create the energy. Kind of a reconfiguration of a crossbow. And, something like this is very easy for us to get. It is simply an embroidery hoop. You can buy them in arts and crafts stores and stores that specialize in fabrics/knitting and stuff like that. The size I use is a 14 inch. You can use any size close to this. It doesn't matter too much.

A note from Will: The real secret to a catapult, a trebuchet or some other type of siege engine is to somehow store a lot of energy and then release it very quickly. There are common ways to do this and the beautiful thing about DaVinci is that he came up with a different way to do it. This catapult works on the same principle that a bow or a crossbow works on.

The sketch here is the Da Vinci Sketch.

Embroidery Hoop

Embroidery Hoop - 14 inch





Web visitor made this DaVinci Catapult

Can you make this catapult? You sure can! Here is one made by Richard. My thanks go to him for sharing the pic with us!!


Measure the hoop

Here is the embroidery hoop that I use. It is actually two hoops, an internal hoop and an external hoop. We will just use the internal one.


Cut the hoop

Cut that hoop right in half.


Measure the base

The base of the catapult is just a piece of wood that is ten inches by six inches. It can be any kind of wood like pine or even plywood. Half inch to one inch thick would be great.


Add plarts

The drive shaft of this catapult is simply a 7/8 inch diameter wooden dowel. It is 8 inches long. You can use a dowel anywhere from 3/4 inch to 1 full inch thick and you can even use a piece of a broomstick for this.

There are two upright blocks that support it. The size of them is not very important. Just make them strong enough to support the dowel strongly.

The holes are drilled in those uprights so that the center of the dowel is 2 1/2 inches above the base. This measurement is not critical either.


Add the hoops

Secure those two bows down with a screw in each. The picture shows about how they should be. Just put them up against the uprights and put a screw through each one and down into the base.

Cut slots

Now let's take a look at the handle. I cut a slot in one end of the drive shaft and cut a slot in a piece of wood for the handle. The handle isn't 100% necessary but it is a nice addition.


The handle

And I drilled a hole and inserted a peg as the grab handle.


Install handle

And here is the installed handle. Don't glue or pin the handle to the drive shaft so you can take it off as you need to. And when I fire the catapult I take the handle off first so it doesn't spin wildly and potentially fly off.


The lock

I also put a pin in the wooden drive shaft. It is a wooden pin sticking out of the shaft. This is part of the stopping mechanism. Drill a hole in the upright so you can place something in there to stop the winding. I use a coat hanger. But, do this later. Don't drill this hole right now. We need it to be in the right spot depending on the position of the throwing arm.


NextOkay, lets finish off this catapult!


I also have a video tutorial here:



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Da Vinci Catapult Kit, Wood

The Leonardo Da Vinci catapult model is scaled to size and fully functions to demonstrate the launching power of the catapult, a historical military device. The catapult flings soft clay balls (included) up to 15 feet to reproduce a realistic discharge, and is made of wood for durability. The model requires assembly. Mechanical models are typically built by hobbyists and model builders for personal use, or can be used as educational aids or projects in classroom settings.

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Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions: You Can Build Yourself

Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself introduces readers to the life, world, and incredible mind of Leonardo da Vinci through hands-on building projects that explore his invention ideas. Most of Leonardo's inventions were never made in his lifetime—they remained sketches in his famous notebooks. Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself shows you how to bring these ideas to life using common household supplies. Detailed step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and templates for creating each project combine with historical facts and anecdotes, biographies and trivia about the real-life models for each project. Together they give kids a first-hand look into
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