Saturday, July 30, 2011

Slingshot design part 2, finishing

After putting away my advanced design tools, I went out to the garage and cut out the template.  I used a jigsaw, and contrary to my warning in my last post, I really didn't have the right blade for the material I was cutting, so it ended up splintering quite a bit.  No worries though, I just got my trusty Dremel tool out with a sanding wheel and touched it up.

I sanded the surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper, trying to smooth out any of the rough spots.  I don't put a final finish on these yet.  Once I get a final design that I want to replicate, then I think I'll just sand them to 600 grit and then put a clear poly coat on them.  I am not sure I like the bottom of this slingshot that much, but that is a topic for another post on another day.

Using a chainsaw file I cut a notch around the tops of both forks about 1/4 of an inch down.  For some reason I don't have a good picture of this step, but you will see the notches later on in the pictures below.  After getting it sanded and the notches cut out, I was able to shake some saw dust off my clothes and come inside where it was much cooler and finish the process.  You can see the notches in this picture, they are there to help hold the bands in place.

Okay, we now have a slingshot frame, what about bands?  Here is what I use to make my bands and pouches.

 As you can see here, I have some scrap upholstery grade leather, a 6 foot length of Black Thera-Band material, a safety ruler, a circular cutter, and a self-healing cutting mat.

You can buy ready-made band sets online, some that even come with pouches that are already attached.  I find it is cheaper and just as easy to make your own.  I'm by far not an expert at the process, but when attached to my slingshots, they seem capable of flinging my projectiles down range with a satisfactory velocity, so I guess they work.  I like tapered bands, so I usually make them wider at the fork end than at the pouch end.  For this particular sling shot, the bands I made are 1 and 3/4 inches wide at the fork end and 1 1/4 inches wide at the pouch end.  I folded them before attaching them and they have a nice firm pull weight.

After marking the lines I cut them out using the ruler as a straight edge. 

Now the attachment of these bands is not something that I can photograph with any real success.  This is also the part where I tend to get frustrated and grumpy.  After a few deep calming breaths though, we are left with a set of bands that are now attached to our slingshot forks.  There are videos online that you can look at to see the process.  Trust me, they do it a lot faster and better than I ever do.  Notice the way these bands are attached, they are placed so that when the slingshot is drawn, the bands extend up and over the forks.  This produces a natural whipping action that sends the pouch and the projectile up and over the forks, preventing fork hits, but also allowing you to make a slingshot with a much lower fork profile.

Now, we need a pouch.  I just cut mine out of a small scrap of buffalo upholstery leather that I had here at the house.  It is 3 ounce leather, making it about 3/16 of an inch thick.  It is perfect for pouch material, very durable, very flexible and easy to cut.  I just cut out a square of leather, this particular pouch measured 4 inches long and 1 and 1/4 inch wide.  I folded it in half and punched two holes in it using a leather punch.  I also took a pair of scissors and rounded the corners.  This was more of an aesthetic modification than something that is done to make it perform better. 

From here, you just need to attach the bands to the pouch, making sure that they are tight and straight.  Again, I would suggest looking online for a video of pouch attachment.  I wound a bit of paracord around the handle for this last picture.  I didn't have a chance to shoot it, the day ended up being busier than I expected.  I'll take it out in the backyard and see how it shoots hopefully tomorrow.

This has been a long post, filled with a ton of pictures.  But before you click away and look for something else to read, here is a picture taken from my back deck facing down into my back yard.  We have a family of white tailed deer that come through almost every night.  I was finally able to get a nice picture of one of the bucks that came through a week or so ago, notice he still has velvet on his horns.  Truly a beautiful animal.

Thanks for reading, happy carving, or slingshooting, or doing whatever it is that makes you happy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Slingshot design part 1, template design.

I read a post by Kepis Bushcraft earlier tonight about a slingshot that he had made and it got me thinking about the basics of designing a slingshot.  I had taken a few pictures of my most recent slingshot, designed a week or so ago.  I have spent quite a bit of time over at the Slingshot Forum reading posts and looking at custom designs.  The most important thing that I have learned about slingshot design is that a slingshot is a simple thing.  It's not much more than a forked piece of wood with some elastic bands and a leather pouch.
 Please take a look at my advanced tool set for my slingshot design.  It is a piece of white paper, a pencil, and a large plastic cup.
There isn't much more to it than that.  I just used the rim of the cup to draw circles on the paper.  I folded it in half and just worried about designing one side.  After cutting it out I simply unfolded it and had a completed slingshot pattern.
I traced the template onto a piece of 1/2 inch laminated plywood.  I'll cut it out with a coping saw or a jigsaw, following the lines as closely as possible.
One suggestion if you are using a jig saw or other power tool to cut out your design, make sure you have a blade that is specifically designed for cutting plywood.  Using a normal blade results in a lot of splintering.  I'll show you the rest of the process in part two of this post in a few days.

I took a few pictures of some mushrooms that popped up in the front yard.  After doing some research I found that they were not edible, not that I was planning on eating them anyway.  I can identify a grand total of two edible mushroom species.  Anything else I wouldn't risk eating.  Mushrooms are certainly something you do not want to take chances with.

I hope you all have a great weekend and are finding ways to stay cool on these hot summer days.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The wonders of nature

It's late, I've been driving for the last two days, but finally made it home to VA this afternoon.  We spent the last two weeks in Missouri visiting family and friends and although it was a wonderful trip there is something to be said about making that final turn into your driveway and being home. While I was gone, I bought a new camera and had an opportunity to take a few pictures with it.  Here are two of them.  Click on them to see a larger picture.

Columbia, MO.

St Louis, MO

I'm pretty happy with the new camera for sure.  I need to get out and take a lot more pictures.  I have a lot of things on my mind this week, lots of things that I need to post about.  Watch this space!