Gravity Catapult

I have long been enamored of catapults. Invented around 400 B.C., they were used until nearly A.D. 1300. So for 1,700 years, catapults were arguably the largest, most expensive, and most powerful machines on the planet. Today, people build catapults for fun: Scout troops, historical reenactors, fathers and daughters, beer-stoked... Read more »

Plant Light Stand

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a heated greenhouse but still want to start your own plants from seed in the winter, this inexpensive plant light stand will get your plants growing — even in a dark, dungeon-like basement. It’s made primarily from common 2×4 boards, 3/8″ plywood, and... Read more »

The Chinese Windlass

In the summer of 1860, the Second Opium War was reaching its climax. Three years earlier, Britain and France had invaded Canton, China, in order to expand their trade in such unsavory commodities as opium and indentured servants. Chinese Emperor Xianfeng had resisted the outsiders, and a low-intensity war continued... Read more »

The Flame Tube

Fiery devices have always fascinated me. From Jam Jar Jets (MAKE Volume 05) to Fire Pistons (Volume 19) to Faux Flames (Volume 25), I’ve built all sorts of fire-related projects. So when a friend told me about a device that lets you visualize sounds using fire, I knew I had... Read more »