How to Build a Ballista

Although it was a powerful weapon, you can actually build a ballista without too much difficulty. First off you should look for a clear working area.

Required Tools and Materials

  • Several 2 x 4 wood stock
  • Wheeled cart
  • A rope
  • Hook
  • Saw
  • Nails
  • Winch
  • Hammer
  • Brace

Create the Base

Put the cart wheel before you. Take a couple of 2 x 4s and cut them. It can be any height you like but they need to be the same. Place them on a vertical position on the edge of the base. Hammer the nails so the wood beams are secured. Cut another wood beam. Set it horizontally atop the two vertical beams. Nail it.

Make the Bow

To build a ballista you must have a bow. Saw a wood board or plank. Make it slim enough it becomes bendable. Bend it to form a bow shape. The length must be equal to the vertical wood sticks you constructed. Secure it in position. The angle needs to be 45 degrees and midway up the two beams. Lift the bow so it gazes up.

Prepare the Chute

Cut three 2 x 4s. These need to be longer than the ones you just made. It should be long enough to rest on the floor. Take one of these 2 x 4s and set it against the cart. After verifying the height, set it on the floor. Continue to build a ballista by inserting two other 2 x 4 wood boards on the side of the vertical beams. Fuse the wood. Now put this chute or container on the foundation corners. You can set a brace on the rear if you like.

Attach the Winch and Spool

Get the winch and insert it in the chute. Optionally you can set a spool in the chute as well. Just place it at the top and make sure it will be able to turn without difficulty.

Next, fasten the rope along the bow. Fasten another one on the winch. Take the hook and secure it with this rope. Set the hook in the midst of the bowstring. Now to build a ballista, crank the winch and it will be ready for use.


Here are some things that can help you build a ballista more effectively. Set a cup or container on the bowstring. Let this serve as a container for your “weapons”.

Make sure to check the nails and the hook. These need to be in place for the object to work properly.

These structures were not painted, so you can leave it as it is. If you want to add some luster, staining will do the trick.

Like a catapult, this can be potentially dangerous. Do not hurl objects at windows or buildings. Never aim at people or wildlife. This is for fun and experimental purposes, so choose the objects you will hurl carefully. Always monitor where the object you fling will land.

There is something about ancient warfare that fascinates people. As you build a ballista, you’ll get more insights into the ways that battles were once fought.