Popsicle Stick Ballista

Popsicle sticks are a versatile building material. They can be used to make things like bridges, lamp shades, and most importantly siege engines. I have built multiple miniature weapons with these sticks before, such as catapults, trebuchets, and siege towers. However, only recently did it occur to me to try a ballista.

A ballista is a stationary ranged weapon that is in many respects similar to a crossbow. They were made in all sizes and forms, but they all share the same function: launch bolts at the enemy. They get their power from torsion coils, which the arms of the bow are attached to, and most often they have a winch for winding up the weapon.
Sketch of an ancient ballista
I cannot take all of the credit for this project myself. I made several of my own adaptations, but I got the basic plans from Storm The Castle, an excellent site for all your medieval-warfare-related needs. The instructions for this project can be found here. Meanwhile, this is how mine turned out. (This pictures do not show the base for the machine). It works very well, successfully shooting its makeshift bolt several feet, with a surprising amount of force for such a small construction.
Isometric view, with the string drawn

Rear view
If you are going to attempt this project, I recommend letting the glue dry for several hours or overnight before stringing it up. Also, USE STRONG STRING. I ended up snapping a few torsion coils before it finally worked. Enjoy!


  1. Awesome. I still remember when you put a hole through the mini blind with another projectile weapon you built. I think that's a story for another post (hint).

  2. This is amazing! I love that you have fun learning how things work.