Trebuchets for Everybody!

Occasional commenter Evan Murphy emailed to bring my attention to Siege Toys, a new venture that aims to make desktop snap-together wooden trebuchets. Why? Because medieval siege warfare engines are awesome.

They’re looking for funding via Kickstarter, so if you’ve ever wanted your very own trebuchet, go place a pre-order. And lest you think this is a complete lark, their web page includes this design note:

We spent a solid month and a half adjusting the prototype after figuring out the rough dimensions on a 4th-order runge-kutta simulator that I wrote a year and a half ago.

So, you know, these are scientifically designed trebuchets, too…


  1. #1 The Phytophactor
    March 27, 2011

    Very nice, but they need to be a bit bigger to really heave a pumpkin a decent distance.

  2. #2 Evan Murphy
    March 27, 2011

    Hi everyone!

    Mike Woods (my fellow siege engineer) and I are here and happy to answer any questions you might have about the trebuchets, either here or on the Kickstarter comments page.

    We’re also looking at getting these in the hands of physics teachers, and writing up a notes and sample calculations for doing experiments or demonstrations about projectile motion, energy, and work and force. We’d love to hear any feedback or ideas you all might have.

  3. #3 Cuttlefish
    March 27, 2011

    Heya, Evan! Quick question: It looks like there is an Achilles’ heel, at the notch where the washer attaches to the long arm of the treb. Is that somehow reinforced? Or am I wrong about the amount of force that the notch experiences?

    (Years ago, my son and I made a trebuchet that could chuck a tennis ball or snowball; yours looks like a great deal of fun, and considerably more appropriate for indoor use!)

  4. #4 Michael Woods
    March 27, 2011

    Hi Cuttlefish! I’m Mike Woods (the other guy involved in the trebuchets).

    You’re thinking of the notch where the string ties onto the main arm, right? We were careful with that and it’s actually surprisingly tough. This has to do with how plywood is made. Each layer of the plywood is arranged with the direction of its grain at a 90-degree angle to the two layers next to it. The result is that even thin sections of wood can handle much larger forces than you would expect a similar, but uniform, piece of wood to handle. So that notch has no trouble handling the forces from firing.

  5. #5 Edwin Kite
    March 27, 2011

    Trebuchets are awesome! I want one!

  6. #6 Ed S.
    March 28, 2011

    I’m looking for a trebrocher, to fling those spherical candies …or maybe a chocolatlatl.

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