How to Build a Ballista

If you are fascinated with history, you can build a ballista to gain even more insights and appreciation into ancient warfare. To make one correctly, you should possess the following.

Required Tools and Materials

Wooden beams
Wood (2 x 4s)
Table (optionally with wheels)

Have Reference Pictures with You

This is essential to get the right look and feel. Get pictures, preferably from different angles. You can also make a drawing or notes. This will be helpful especially when you get to the part of aligning and making measurements.

Create the Base

The foundation is a good place to start. Choose between a table or a cart. You can use a table with wheels if you prefer. Saw a couple of 2 x 4s. Make them of equal length. The length will depend on how large you build a ballista. Assess the sizes beforehand.

When the woods have been cut, set them on the base vertically. Use nails to secure them. Cut another 2 x 4 approximately the same length as the other two. Place it atop the other two. This one should be set horizontally. Fasten it with nails or screws.

Make the Bow

Take the thin wood beam. Soak it in water for several days before this project begins. Or you can heat it with steam. Carefully shape it like a bow. Done properly, it should fit in between the two vertical wood posts you created.

Fasten both ends of the beam into the vertical wood posts. To build a ballista correctly the beam must be fastened inside the posts. Furthermore it needs to be set halfway up the two posts. The angle must be 45 degrees. Point the bow towards the sky.

Make a Chute

This is also called a sloping channel. To start, get three 2 x 4s. Cut them long enough so from the ground, it is taller than the bow. Set one of them on the base. Lay one of the 2 x 4s on the base. Place the other two on the beam sides. Link them up. Put it on the base’s boundary. Set a wedge for support. Anytime you build a ballista, support is important.

Finishing Touches

Put the winch in the chute. Get a wooden spool and set it inside the chute as well. Place it so it can move freely. Attach handles on both sides. Next use the rope to fasten the bow. Tie the winch also. Put a hook at the rope’s end. Set the hook on the bowstring. To launch an object, crank the device. Release the winch.


Insert a cup or other container to hold several objects. However, be careful of the objects you hurl. Never try this indoors. You should also avoid aiming at buildings, people or animals. The force of the release adds weight to the object.

If you want to build a ballista, measurements are key. Again, keep looking at references. The more you know the original design, the easier you’ll be able to make it.

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