Anyway, my last night at work was pretty slow and I was feeling a bit bored. Everyone knows what it feels like as you edge closer and closer to your last day at work. You just stop focusing and you look for anything to grab your attention. For whatever reason, I got it in my head that I was going to try and make a crossbow out of the office supplies I had handy. I blame Instructables - I had been browsing through various little office weapon guides to waste time and I got into my head that I wanted to try and make something super simple that anyone could make because I was using supplies that everyone should have handy.
Thus, after about forty five minutes of abject boredom and some awful 90s movie on the television in the lobby, the paperclip crossbow was born.
Step 1: The Supplies
You will need the following:
- one rubber band
- four paperclips
- thumb tacks
Additionally, you may choose to have scotch tape or duct tape on hand or an optional step later.
On paperclips, I like to use two long and two short but you can use four paperclips of the same length as well. I've done that as well. Either way it will work just as well.
Step 2: Step One
Step 3: Step Two
Step 4: Step Three
You will need all three of the paperclips we have used so far. You're going to take the longer paperclips and place the end that does not have a hook up against the front-piece paperclip. See the pictures for a better illustration. You will then wrap both of them very tightly around that front piece.
You want to leave a little gap between the two paperclips to create a little cradle or groove for the paperclip you will launch. It needs to be fairly small, just big enough to keep the paperclip vaguely in place.
Step 5: Step Four
The pictures show you how I managed to get them together.
The key here is to make the twists tight so the grip is solid and does not move, twist, or slide around.
Step 6: Step Five
You'll need the rubber band now. The length doesn't particularly matter. Smaller is better and obviously you can't use a big one like I used in my desktop catapult. Play around with the rubber bands you have handy and you'll find one that works best for you. I used rubber bands of various types. You'll want it to be a thin one, though. I doubt the thicker ones would work. (I can't say for certain because I never tried them but I highly doubt it.)
So, take the rubber band and place it in the hooked ends of the front piece. Twist the paperclip ends around the rubber band to keep it in place as seen in the pictures.
Step 7: Step Six (Optional)
This is the first optional part of the crossbow design. You might have noticed it back in Step Five. I chose to take part of one of the longer paperclips making up the shaft and bend it upward so I could rest the paperclip on it and keep it permanently primed to fire. It's a fairly simple adjustment to make even if you've already twisted your paperclips together. It just needs to be a little piece to hook the rubber band on to keep it primed.
Step 8: Step Seven (Optional)
Step 9: Ready, Aim, Fire!
Step 10: Variations
In my trails I found that different materials used to make the crossbow do sort of matter. The more traditional, silver paperclips are a bit stronger than the prettier, colored, plastic-covered paperclips were a bit more sturdy. The plastic-covered ones tended to bend a bit easier. That was the only real difference. Well, that and the fact that the traditional silver ones were also a bit harder to bend and tended to hurt you a bit more when you fingers slipped and snagged on the edges.
Best of luck in creating your own crossbows and variations of the design!