How to make a slingshot

Created on Thursday, January 1, 1970.
Filed under Life Skills.

Slingshots are a useful tool. You can, y'know, fire things at other… things. And that’s pretty much it. But they’re still fun to make and shoot, and you can’t beat punching holes in small stacks of paper.


Don't shoot any living thing. Slingshots are a useful tool. You can, y'know, fire things at other… things. And that’s pretty much it. But they’re still fun to make and shoot, and you can’t beat punching holes in small stacks of paper.

You won’t need ground-breaking tools or materials:

  • A forked branch, kinda Y-shaped, the arms and handle preferably the same thickness (3-5 centimetres or so). Saw it from the tree, don’t just break it off.
  • Cord and sticky tape if you want to Cordwrap the handle.
  • A sharp knife.
  • A cut-upable leather item like an out-of-fashion bag or a work glove. The tongue of an old shoe is fine as long as it is real leather.
  • A long, thick rubber band. Don’t use the black inner tubes — they don’t bloody stretch. The old red rubber inner tubes are the best to use, but good luck finding one that isn’t cracked. You can get thick rubber bands from your newsagent.
  • Smaller rubber bands for fastening.

Peel, trim, dry.

Peel and scrape all the bark away.

Firstly, peel and scrape all the bark from your fork. This will allow the wood to dry efficiently, and gets rid of any discomfort the bark might have caused. To dry it you can either chuck it in a cool, dry place or put it directly in the sun. The “cool, dry place” is the best way because the wood dries out evenly and has less chance of splitting. Wood that is dried in the sun or using an oven or kiln dries out faster and may crack, weakening the wood.

It’s smart to trim and cut your fork while it’s still green to remove any knots or funny bits. The optimum length of the arms is the length of the handle, so make all the pokey-out bits an equal length.

Cordwrap the handle

Cordwrap it if you wanna.

Once the wood is dry you can Cordwrap the handle if you want. Cordwrapping makes the slingshot comfier to hold and draw (use the highest ply of yarn you can find for a really soft grip), as well as making it look spiffier.

Halve the big rubber band

Make some strips out of a rubber band.

Now to make the firing assembly. Halve your big rubber band, or cut open two bands if you have them, to make two strips. Each strip must be a sensible size, around 15–20 centimetres long.

Cut a leather rectangle

Grab your leather item and cut a rectangle out of it, but not too small. A ratio of 1.5:2 should be good. A simpler way of measuring is 4cm x 5cm.

Cut a rectangle out of leather.

Slit the rectangle

Cut slits an equal distance from each short side. The slits should be big enough to thread one of your strips through without making the strip curl.

Band it all together

Assembling the firing assembly.

The final step in the firing assembly is to put the strips and leather together. Push a strip through one of the slits, then fold it over away from the square. Use a rubber band to lash the strip closed. It should be like a little loop at the end of your strip.

The finished firing assembly.

Do the same for the other strip. Make sure that the length of strip you fold over on both sides is equal. It should look something like the above.

Lash a strip onto an arm

Lash the strip to the top of the arm.

Final assembly. Grab your fork and your firing assembly. Use a strong rubber band to lash a strip onto the top of one of the arm. Lash it to the back of the slingshot — that is, the side facing you.

Equalise the lengths

Do the same for the other arm. Make sure the strips are the same length by pulling on the middle of the leather rectangle and seeing if it pulls more towards one side. If it does, that side’s strip is short and you’ll need to trim the other strip down to the same length.


Done! Troubles?

And that’s it! Just don’t break any windows and don’t ever shoot at any living thing. You’ll need to break in the firing assembly by flexing the strips a bit to loosen them up. If it is still too hard to pull, try using a thinner rubber band or consider weights training.


To keep your slingshot in good condition, never leave it outside (sun and rain weaken the rubber band), don’t throw it around (the rubber band might get nicked by something and start splitting) and love it. Awwww.

That's all there is; there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2016.