How to Build a Ballista

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How to Build a Ballista

A ballista is an ancient type of crossbow which was used by the Greeks and Romans to fire heavy darts or stones.

Materials Needed

If you are planning to construct your very own ballista, you initially need the following materials:

  • A block of wood around 12 inches by 24 inches by 12 inches. This would serve as the stand of your ballista (the size may depend on how big you want it to be)
  • 1 piece of wood about 12 inches by 3 inches 3 inches
  • 1 piece of wood about 24 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches
  • 2 pieces of wood about 12 inches by 2 inches (a bit thicker than a ruler)
  • 2 small blocks of wood about 2 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches
  • 2 pieces of pencil-like wood
  • 2 wooden cylindrical pieces of wood or 2 cut pieces of PVC pipesabout 2 inches
  • 2 washers
  • 2 metal poles of about 2 inches in length
  • 2 hoop hooks
  • thin rope
  • strong nylon or rubber
  • nails

Building the Ballista

Now, you can start assembling the base. First, you would need to nail the second piece of wood (12″x 3″x 3″) to the edge of the block of wood (align it to the 12″ side). Now turn it so that the block of wood would be on top of the smaller wood. This would create a raised position for one side of the block of wood.

At this point, nail the third piece of wood (24″x 2″x 2″) to the center of the top portion of the big block of wood.

Then, nail one of the ruler-like pieces of wood to the wood in the center of the block. This would now make it look like a letter “T”.

Now, put the two small blocks in between the horizontal part of the “T” (these should be placed about three inches from where you have nailed it a while ago). Then, place the other ruler-like wood on top of these blocks. Now connect these pieces of wood by driving a nail through the first ruler like wood, then through the blocks, then to the other ruler like wood. (Note: from the top view, this should also still look like a “T”

After this, attach the two cylindrical pieces of wood (two inches) in between the horizontal part of the “T”, on both ends.

Then, place the two washers on the top portion of the horizontal part of the “T” (about three inches from both ends). Drill two holes through the washers straight down through the wood. (Drill a hole on both sides of the horizontal part of the “T”.) Secure the washers by screwing or nailing them.

Inside the horizontal part of the “T”, attach the hoop hooks (between the block of wood and the cylindrical wood, one on each side). From each hoop hook, insert the rope, and then start twisting the said rope. Halfway through, insert the pencil-like piece of wood (through the twist, make sure you secure the pencil like wood). Continue twisting until you reach the washer portion.

At this point, insert the rope through the wood and into the washer. Next, place the metal pole on top of the washer holes in a horizontal position. The ropes should now be tied and secured to the poles. Cut the excess of the rope.

Take the nylon or rubber strings and tie each of its ends to the pencil like wood. You may tape it to make it more secure.

Now you have your own home-made ballista!

Ballista Videos

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Ballista Image Gallery

 

Comments

  1. fatman said,

    on May 11th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    These instructions are ridiculous i cant understand them neither can my dad please show pictures!!!!

  2. Smiley said,

    on October 11th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    …..in response to the metric system question…..
    1 inch = 2.54 cm

  3. Vishal Agarwal said,

    on June 10th, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Hello,
    I want to organize workshops on “Catapult making and Ballista making”.So can you help me on this.Also let me know whether as a college student what will be easier for me catapult or ballista.

    Please Reply.
    Thanks.

  4. Vishal Agarwal said,

    on June 10th, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Hello,
    I want to organize workshops on “Catapult making and Ballista making”.So can you help me on this.Also let me know wether as a college student what will be easier for me catapult or ballista.

    Please Reply.
    Thanks.

  5. chipguy123 said,

    on November 25th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Great images. I’ve built my own ballista, but it didn’t work that great. Still it was fun!

  6. Hikaru said,

    on October 10th, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Hi,
    I am interested in building the ballista, but the one I am interested in building would ideally be a lot bigger, easy to assemble/disassemble and used on stage. Hope you can help me with this.

    Thanks,
    Hikaru

    PS. I speak very fluent English even though I am Japanese so don’t worry about it.

  7. Mikaela said,

    on September 25th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hi, I’m planning on making a tabletop sized ballista for some extra credit in my world history class. Are the measurements you posted for a ballista the size I’m wanting to make? and could you show some pictures of it, for reference?

  8. Roukyou said,

    on May 30th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    We are also trying to follow the directions provided. We think we have all the materials cut to the right sizes, but are having some difficulty putting it together. Could you please provide us with a picture. Not sure if what we are doing looks quite right.

    Thanks

  9. 123 said,

    on May 17th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Metric Meauresments???

  10. Clement said,

    on April 15th, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    May I have a picture of the ballista you are building so I can make sure the wood pieces are in the right position. The instructions are a bit complicated…
    Thank you.

  11. admin said,

    on April 9th, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Hi Ajay – if you go to your local building center/store, they should be able to help you out. You may need to trim some pieces to size, too. Let us know how to project turns out!

  12. Ajay said,

    on April 9th, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Hi,

    I am interested in building the ballista, but have a hard time finding the wood sizes mentioned in your ‘materials needed’ section — any pointers on where and how to get the required materials will be very helpful for me.

    Thanks
    Ajay