My First Catapult


A catapult is any mechanical device used to throw a projectile a great distance; particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. Construction of a catapult will familiarize students with mechanical machines and how they work.

This project is called My First Catapult because often students use it as the first step toward developing more advanced and more creative models.

The catapult appears to have been invented in 399 BC in the city of Syracuse during the reign of the tyrant Dionysios I. Originally, "catapult" referred to a dart-thrower, while "ballista" referred to a stone-thrower, but the two terms swapped meaning sometime in the fourth century AD.

Wood parts needed to construct this catapult are pre-cut and ready to use in a kit. Pre-cut parts can save you time and eliminate problems associated with cutting wood.

Additional Items needed:

  • White glue or ca glues
  • 1 sheet of “fine” sandpaper
  • sanding sealer (Optional)
  • paint (Optional)
  • paintbrush (Optional)

Assemble Instructions:

Before you begin to assemble your Catapult, punch out all of the parts and sand the edges to remove any burrs or rough corners. This is always a good way to become familiar with the parts that you will be assembling.

1. Glue the two catapult arms together. Insert a ¼ ” dowel through the assembled arms to the center of the dowel. Slide a retainer ring on each slide of the arm and glue in place. Make sure that you leave space between the rings and the arm to insure free movement of the arm. DO NOT glue the arm assembly to the dowel or the retaining rings.

2. Glue one of the squares to the back of the arm “V” notch and the remaining squares to the front as shown.

3. Glue the two bottom supports into the slots on one of the sides. Glue the two dowels into the same side that you glued the supports into. Make sure that the catapult arm faces forward. Glue the remaining side to the two supports and dowels. Glue the four discs onto the sides using the bottom edge to locate the disc. If you are going to paint your model, this is the time to do so. ( See the “Finishing” section for more information.)

4. Loop the rubber band around the front bottom support as shown.

5. Pull the top loop of the rubber band up and over the top of the catapult arm into the curved notch. It is recommended that you only use one rubber band to charge the catapult arm.


Lightly sand all of the wood surface paying close attention to any rough edges. When you are satisfied with your effort, apply two coats of sanding sealer to the entire model. When it is completely dry, very lightly sand any rough areas until they are smooth. You are now ready to paint your model. Use your imagination to make your model reflect your personality and have fun!


We recommend that you only launch soft objects from the catapult. Load a soft object into the projectile cradle; we suggest a small marshmallow. You can experiment by raising the front of the catapult. When you adjust the elevation of the front or back of the catapult, you will see how it affects the distance that the launched object travels.

If you don't have this kit, you can order it now! It is available both as a single pack and class pack.

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