Build a sled for slinging snowballs

Winter warfare will never be the same.

DIY snowball slingshot

Snowball slingshot

To steady your snowball slingshot, you can either make your own base or attach the apparatus to a sled.Ralph Smith

You don’t need an army to wage an epic snow battle. With this sled-mounted slingshot, you can fire a fusillade of snowballs with an accuracy and speed that would impress a general—and completely intimidate lesser winter warriors.

Flexible rubber tubing acts as a powerful tension spring for flinging ammo, while a mid-weight sled forms a steady base to stabilize the contraption. Don’t want to turn a perfectly good sled into a weapon? You can easily construct your own base from standard dimensional lumber using simple hand tools.

WARNING: Don't overextend the tubing or fire a projectile at close range. It will hurt.

Stats

  • Time: 4 hours
  • Cost: $40
  • Difficulty: Medium

Tools

  • Saw (optional)
  • Hammer
  • Grommet kit
  • Scissors

Materials

  • Wooden sled
  • Pieces of pine: 2 runners (optional, 1" x 4" x 36"), 2 posts (1" x 4" x 24"), 2 braces (1" x 4" x 30"), 2 pads (1" x 4" x 4"), 1 cross support (1" x 4" x 24")
  • Pieces of pine for the base: 4 deck pieces (1" x 4" x 24"), 2 additional cross supports (1" x 4" x 24"), 2 deck-to-runner attachments (2" x 2" x 15")
  • 2-inch nails or deck screws
  • 7" x 4" piece of leather or other sturdy material
  • 10 feet of latex rubber surgical tubing (1/4" ID, 5/16" OD, 1/32" Wall)
  • 4 large screw eyes
  • 1¼-inch nails
  • 5 medium-size metal grommets
  • 4 feet of rope

Instructions

1. There are two main parts to the project, the deck assembly and the runner/launcher assembly. It’s easiest to build the deck and the runner/launcher separately and connect the pieces together at the end. Or you can use a store-bought sled as the base. In that case, skip steps 2 and 3 and start with step 4.

2. Drawing 1 shows how the pieces of the deck assembly are arranged. Use 2-inch nails or deck screws to attach the runners to the deck-to-runner attachments and to the brace pads. Use 1¼-inch nails everywhere else.

Drawing 1

Drawing 1

If you're making your own deck for the snowball slingshot, use this image to construct it.Popular Science

3. Use Drawing 2 to build two runner/launchers. Hold the runner/launchers in an upright position (having a friend help makes this easier) and nail them securely to the deck, following Drawing 3 to see how they fit together. Then skip to step 6.

Drawing 2

Drawing 2

Reference this image when you're building the runners and launchers.Popular Science
Drawing 3

Drawing 3

This image shows how the whole snowball slingshot fits together.Popular Science

4. If you’re attaching the launcher to a store-bought sled, you may be able to nail the posts and braces directly to its sides. If not, nail the runners 
to the sled's deck, one on each side and about 22 inches apart, to create a stable base.

5. Nail the posts and pads in parallel on each side of the base. The posts should be near the front of the sled, with the pads 18 inches behind. Then nail the braces in place so they connect the tops of the posts to the pads.

6. Hold the final cross support horizontally so it connects the 
two posts, about halfway up each one, and nail in place. At the top of each post, twist 2 screw eyes into the outside edge in a vertical line, 2 inches apart.

7. To make a launch pouch out of the sturdy fabric, puncture the four corners and the center with the grommet kit's hole punch. Insert the taller grommet half beneath each hole, facing up. Cover 
it with the other half, facing down. Position the kit's mandrel above the grommet with the anvil below. Then strike sharply with a hammer.

8. Insert the latex tube through
 one of the upper screw eyes, and thread through the grommets
 on the pouch’s upper edge. On the opposite
 side, run the tube through the upper screw eye, then the lower screw eye. Next, thread the tube through the grommets on the pouch’s lower edge and the final screw eye. Adjust the tubing so the tension on both sides is about equal. Tie securely and tape the ends so the knot doesn’t loosen.

9. For a pulling handle, insert about a foot of rope through the central grommet and secure with a knot. The rest of the rope, threaded through a screw eye at the front of the sled, can form a towline. Now you’re ready to do winter battle!

10. If you’ve built your own deck, it will slide easily on icy ground, but less so on powder snow. You can wax the runners to make them slide easier.

11. Once you're finished, take a video and send it to manual@popsci.com.

diagram of snowball slingshot

Diagram of snowball slingshot

When your project looks like this, you're ready to wage winter warfare.Ralph Smith

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of Popular Science.