UPDATE: My working model Trebuchet was recently featured on a Television Episode on The History Channel, sadly I did not see the episode yet but many friends did and told me about it. You might still see it on the re-run circuit.
Model making, or more specifically, building small versions - to scale - is an important part of woodworking. All of the renowned woodworkers that I have studied, did some forms of building scale models of their ideas and designs ... or at least had one of their workers do it for them.
There is something fascinating about scale models of real objects whether it is scale model airplanes, cars or logging and trucking equipment like Serge Roberge does in his Replicas in Wood scale model heavy equipment pieces.
I have always been intrigued by ancient machinery and tools and so decided to embark on making a Trebuchet. Some of you will call this a catapult, but that is actually a different machine, you can check this out on the Internet. I wanted to make as realistic looking as possible, at least to what I had seen in replica pictures and drawings.
I decided to use Garry Oak, and dye it to look more like a weather European woods that might have been used hundreds of years ago.
Since I wasn't really concerned if it worked or not because it was only to be a display or conversation piece, I could build this according to what I thought looked accurate. I started off by cutting some 3/4" x 3/4" square sticks that would form most of the machine, with the small exception of some thin planks that would be use on base where the rocks would have been loaded into the sling.
** UPDATE ... for everyone who wanted to see the Trebuchet working, here is the video of shooting the Trebuchet ...
Remember ... this was built just as a decorative piece, but it actually works ....... and ......
I decided it would be best to pre finish the color of the wood before I glued it together. This way if some glue seeped out of a joint it will not affect the look or the color and I could finish right over top of a bit of glue without it even showing.
I call all the 3/4" square pieces to size with the 4 base pieces being 16" and 20" to accommodate for the front wheels, which I wanted to be able to turn ... this just makes the model more realistic looking. The center upright pieces were cut to 4" and the throwing arm at 29".
Assembly is pretty straight forward, except for the fact that the 4 braces are being glued short grain to long grain. Since normal yellow carpenters glue does not do a good job of this, felt 5 minute epoxy would be much better, and would help speed up waiting for glue to dry. I also liked the idea of using 1/16" dowel, not only to hold the uprights by also to act as visible dowels that also would have been used to old ancient machinery together.
The last decision I had to make during assembly was what to use for the weight at the back of the throwing arm. As I scoured the Internet looking for box designs for this, I also notices in a few instances that some Trebuchets used one or two large rocks. That gave me the idea that I could probably find a suitable size rock in my pail of petrified wood that I collect. Sure enough, when I dug it out there were several that were big enough and interesting looking that would work fine.
The finished model looks amazing. It's one of those pieces that you can never seem to take a good enough picture of, it always looks so much better in person, I think it's because of the three dimensional aspect to it, and the fact that you can look through it. This was a very interesting project to make. Working in small scale helps to give insights in how things are constructed, and gives us the ability to have many things we like ... but just in a smaller version.
Copyright - Colin Knecht