If you read MAKE or visit Makezine regularly, you likely know William Gurstelle. He is our resident trebuchet enthusiast and the author of several high-octane how-to books, including Backyard Ballistics, Whoosh Boom Splat, The Art of the Catapult, Absinthe and Flamethrowers, and The Practical Pyromaniac. In MAKE Volume 28, Bill wrote an article on making a Gravity Catapult (shown in photo below). Here’s a brief interview with one of my favorite broad-spectrum makers.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I live in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It gets cold here in winter, so I have plenty of inclination to work on projects indoors where it’s warm. Although I do other things like give talks, mainly, I write for a living; writing books is the biggest part of what I do. I write a whole lot for MAKE and Popular Mechanics.
I am interested in making things, but more than that, I like to show other people how to make things.
Why do you like making things?
The subject I write about is DIY technology and science history. And all my projects tend to have a little bit of an edge to them, because I find that sort of technology the most interesting. I would not call any of my projects out-and-out dangerous but they do give people credit for being able to follow directions. Edgy, DIY hands-on science, things that go whoosh boom or splat, have interested me ever since I can remember.
Tell me about the trebuchet you made for MAKE
I like siege weapons: trebuchets, ballistae, catapults, and so on. In fact, my book The Art of the Catapult is one of my favorites. These machines are deceptively difficult to build, especially if they are fairly large. The project in the current issue of Make uses steel rigging parts to add strength, and it’s unique in that it folds up for storage to save space.
What kind of thing do you dream of making?
Some day, I’d like to build a customized motorcycle – a chopper maybe. But I don’t think my wife would let me ride it. A rail gun would be an interesting project as well. But working near that much energy gives me a pause. We’ll see.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite tools?
I have a lot of favorite tools. I can’t live without my table saw and drill press. There’s a lot of utility in a rotary tool like a Dremel. It’s so versatile, especially when working with smaller parts.
MAKE Volume 28, Toys & Games!
MAKE Volume 28 hits makers’ passion for play head-on with a 28-page special section devoted to Toys and Games, including a toy “pop-pop” steamboat made from a mint tin, an R/C helicopter eye-in-the-sky, and a classic video game console. You’ll also build a gravity-powered catapult, a plush toy that interacts with objects around it, and a machine that blows giant soap bubbles. Play time is a hallmark of more intelligent species– so go have some fun!