Trebuchet Home Page

How To Build A Trebuchet

Here are plans and pictures on how to build this medieval trebuchet. It is a siege engine that wreaked havoc in the middle ages and you can make this small 12 inch table top version with materials from around the house. Building this catapult-like weapon is easy and you can do it in a couple of hours. Without any tweaking or modifications this trebuchet launches a clay ball thirty feet. It is adjustable in several ways and you can build it to launch projectiles even further. Here is a quicktime movie of this Trebuchet firing off  Trebuchet Movie



The Little Dragon Trebuchet

Medieval shield on trebuchet

The Little Dragon Trebuchet - This Trebuchet Build Plan will take you about two hours to complete. Here is a parts list for easy printing



What You Need

The Recommended Tools for this project

Trebuchet building tools
  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers (needlenose)
  • Wood Glue
  • File
  • Scissors
  • Drill and Bits
  • Sandpaper
  • Cutters for metal

Most of these tools are just recommended and you can vary the tools depending on what types of materials you use for this project. Here are some tips: Needle nose pliers are best for manipulating small parts but if you don't have any then any other type of pliers will be fine. The metal file shown in the center of the picture is recommended any time you work with metal - you should always file down cut metal so there are no sharp edges. The sandpaper shown is attached to a block; this makes sanding small parts easy and you should always sand every piece of wood you cut so there are no splinters.

Miscellaneous items needed to Make the Trebuchet

Trebuchet materials
  • Heavy object (three different ones are shown on the far left) only 1 needed
  • Small screws
  • Small Nails
  • 2 eyehooks
  • wire or bread ties
  • Electrical tape (or masking)
  • 3 feet of string
  • piece of cloth - 6 inches.
  • Paints (optional)
  • 1 sheet of cardpaper -similar to cereal box (shown under the paints)

About the miscellaneous materials: The counterweight is very important and you should find something as heavy as possible. I used a chinese healing ball for my trebuchet but you can use items found around the house like batteries taped together, penny rolls taped together, a lump of heavy clay or even a rock. Special Note: You will also need a metal bar for the cross piece. I will talk more about this a bit later.

Wood Needed for the Project

Trebuchet wood required
  • 1 16 inch piece
  • 2 12 inch pieces
  • 2 10 inch pieces
  • 3 5 inch pieces
  • 1 square piece of flat wood about 5-6 inches


About the wood: The wood I used is about one inch by one half inch thick. You can be very flexible with this and use almost anything similar. You can cut strips of wood if you need to. The sheet of wood shown is important for strength and it is about one quarter inch thick but thinner would be ok.

Okay! This is everything you need to make this table top Medieval Siege Weapon. Let's start with the building instructions.

I lot of people are building this Trebuchet and I get a lot of email about it. One of the common questions is about my counterweight. Seeing as I use a solid metal Chinese Healing Ball it makes quite a difference and not everybody has these. So to get an idea of how much one of these balls weighs I made up a little scale and weighed the ball with pennies. It comes out to 147 pennies. This gives you a good idea of what to shoot for with your counter weight. If you use three rolls of pennies your weight is about the same as mine.

It was a kooky contraption I built but a nice little project: see the scale I made to weigh my counterweight

Lets continue on and start building this Trebuchet

A New Article about the Trebuchet Arm: I have received lots of email from people who have built trebuchets and the most common question they have is about how to make the arm better. I have put together a few tips to help you make the arm of your treb the best you can: About the Trebuchet Arm

Want to build a bigger trebuchet? Try this project:

A Tennis Ball TrebuchetMake a Tennis Ball Trebuchet - (Fast and easy)

A fast and easy trebuchet project with lots of power. How to make a tennis ball trebuchet I keep it simple and use common stuff so you don't have to spend any money.



Trebuchets Built By Web Visitors

popsicle stick trebuchet

Here is a great little trebuchet made out of popsicle sticks. This project was built and submitted by Tom Wilson. My thanks to Tom for this project. How to make a popsicle stick trebuchet





A PVC TrebuchetA look at a pvc Trebuchet

PVC is a type of plastic pipe that is readily available in any home improvement or hardware store. Here is a trebuchet that a web visitor made as a school project. You can see more pics and learn more about it here: The PVC Treb uchet





Some Trebuchet Building Tips from a Cub Scout Den Leader - Six of these trebuchets were built by a Den Leader and the scouts had a blast flinging grapes out of the school yard. He has some great tips on making this trebuchet and he also made a larger one by multiplying the dimensions by three. And he recommends using a lag bolt instead of the axle from a toy car, which is perfect because its strong and easy to find at any hardware store. Learn more and read his tips on making this treb successful

PhotobucketIs it possible to build this trebuchet successfully? It sure is! A web visitor has built one, and taken pictures. He has also made a nice little design improvement to it. His treb has a neat little locking bar so you can lock it in the ready position then pull the pin to fire it off. You can see pictures of his Trebuchet and his design improvement here.


John H. Trebuchet

Another great trebuchet project submitted by a web visitor. This treb is a big success and the builder has done some great research that will help you build an even better trebuchet! He also carefully explains the optimal weight ratio between the counterweight and the projectile Check it out here for some great tips and information



Adil's TrebuchetHere is a neat little project that somebody made (Adil). He made his trebuchet at half the size of the project here. And he did a little modification. Instead of using the long string and pouch he used a spoon to hold the projectile -- this is similar to how an Onager works. Nice work on this little trebuchet project -- it shows some good improvisation. He also made a little castle to assault with his siege engine and he created two videos that you can watch here Mini Trebuchet Project If you are having trouble with your trebuchet string and pouch these videos show a nice alternative. If you want to make a smaller one you should check this one out.


Gregg C TrebuchetHere is another trebuchet that a web visitor built. It is by Gabe C. I call this one the Ferrari of Trebuchets because of the excellent custom paint job including flames! Gabe also made a couple of very nice improvements on my design that you might want to check out. Gabe C's Trebuchet



Want to build a bigger, better, more powerful or fancier siege engine? There are some great books available to you. These books, available at, will help take your trebuchet or catapult building to new heights! Pun intended!

Book: the Art of the catapult

The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery - Nice book that shows you how to build ten different catapult projects, moderate wood working and pvc piping kind of stuff. Good book with complete instructions and materials lists.

Buy from The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery

Book: Backyard Ballistics

Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices Want to get a little more creative? This book is off the hook!

Buy From Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices

Whoosh Boom Splat: The Garage Warrior's Guide to Building Projectile Shooters

These are the homemade machines that you've dreamed of building, from the high-voltage Night Lighter 36 spud gun to the Jam Jar Jet, the Marshmallow Shooter, and the Yagua Blowgun. Including detailed diagrams and supply lists, Gurstelle's simple, step-by-step instructions help workshop warriors at any skill level achieve impressively powerful results.


Adventures from the Technology Underground

Adventures from the Technology Underground: Catapults, Pulsejets, Rail Guns, Flamethrowers, Tesla Coils, Air Cannons, and the Garage Warriors Who Love Them




Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things

Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things: How to Turn a Penny into a Radio, Make a Flood Alarm with an Aspirin, Change Milk into Plastic, Extract Water and Electricity ... a TV with Your Ring, and Other Amazing Feats




Gonzo Gizmos

Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek - It's possible to use optics to roast a hot dog without electricity or a stove; to make a simple radio with just an iron, a few basic circuits and three shiny pennies; and to assemble a simple steam-powered boat with a plastic bottle, a candle, copper tubing and a nail. Of course, only die-hard science nerds would attempt these projects.


Siege Engine Kits and Projects


Catapults and Siege Engines

Desktop Trebuchet Desktop Trebuchet Defend your desktop! The mere presence of this striking machine on your desk will induce fear and respect among your peers. Take charge and besiege your opponents with a fully functional, genuine trebuchet for your desk! It really works! It takes about two to four hours to assemble, which is a joy in itself with the hand selected wood and computer-controlled, precision cut parts. The professionally designed kit and fully detailed instructions - 10 pages of descriptions and tips, with of photos of every step - makes assembly a breeze. All you really need is some glue and a pair of scissors. For a more refined look, a little sandpaper and a small, round file would be helpful, but are entirely optional. Performance! This mighty desktop artillery is capable of hurling the wooden ball projectiles (included) over twenty feet! Just load-up the counterweight bucket with about 150 pennies and you are ready to go!


Miniature Trebuchet

The Miniature Trebuchet - The trebuchet was the ultimate artillery weapon of the medieval period and early renaissance. A large and unwieldy weapon, it was typically built on-site during battle, and tuned to lob great weights - such as the carcasses of rotting horses and pots of burning pitch, over the castle walls and onto its inhabitants. This is our newest and smallest trebuchet design in a long line of catapult kits. Designed by master trebuchet expert Ron Toms, this machine is ideal for the student on a budget or as a wonderful display piece for any desktop or bookshelf of any history enthusiast. Precision carved by computer controlled machinery for guaranteed fit and accurate joinery. The detailed instructions include loads of photos of each step of the construction process, tuning tips and safety notes. Included in the kit are four wooden projectiles, all the necessary components for the sling, trigger, and counterweight bucket as well as all the parts for the kit. The only thing you'll need to supply are 64 pennies for counterweight and a few simple tools - Scissors, a ruler, a utility knife, wood glue and a few rubber bands to hold the pieces together while the glue dries. Tools required: Scissors, Glue, Ruler, rubber bands and a utility knife. Sandpaper is optional. Additional Counterweight Required: 64 pennies. Range: About 10 feet.


Desktop Onager

The Desktop Onager: An Awesome all Wood and Twine War Machine

This awesome little machine is the perfect desktop item to enforce the peace in your cubicle or dorm room. It really works!
This all wood and twine machine has no metal parts! Find out how the ancients were able to use nothing but wood and ropes to build machines that could hurl heavy stones great distances.
Simple and easy to build. This kit includes everything you need except for glue and a few simple tools like scissors, sandpaper, a file (a utility knife would be helpful too) and about two or three hours of your time from start to finish.
Designed and made in the USA for better quality, better performance!



What good is a catapult if you don't have a castle to attack!

Make a paper and cardboard castle

I have another project you might like. It is the Paper Castle and it has everything you could want in a castle making project including all the art work you can download. You just follow the instructions and make it yourself with some glue and cereal boxes. Build a Paper and Cardboard Castle It also has a learning sheet that helps to learn about castles when you are building it.




If you are looking for something easier to make you might want to try my project on making a popsicle stick catapult. Fast, easy and fun project! Goes great with the paper medieval castle. Make a popsicle stick catapult




Catapult Game

Storm The Castle Catapult Game - Build a Popsicle stick catapult and hurl paper balls at the castle. How to make the Game and the catapult are here banner
This is a Storm The Castle Project

Table of Contents for this tutorial

  1. Materials/Tools
  2. Assemble the sides
  3. Assemble the base
  4. Make and attach the swing arm and counterweight
  5. The stringpouch and the runway
  6. Finish and fire it!
  7. Trebuchet video (quicktime MOV)
  8. Books/Buy
  9. Free Trebuchet Plan
  10. Weighing the counterweights
  11. Johns Engineering info about Trebuchets
  12. Koji's Locking mechanism
  13. Adil's mini Trebuchet
  14. Gabe's Ferrari of Trebuchets
  15. Trebuchet Videos


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