Introduction: Q-Tip Launcher

The launcher is loosely based on the "Scorpion" from Age of Empires II.

Some important instructions will be in the picture so don't forget to hover over the boxes in the pictures.

Before you begin to build your q-tip launcher, be sure to follow these precaution for your own safety:

Be careful when using scissors or cutting the Popsicle sticks, they could potentially splinter and harm you.

When boiling water, please take care with the stove and the water.

Hot glue guns will be used for this Instructable, so take caution when using it so you do not burn yourself avoiding the tip of the glue gun and recently placed glue. You can cut off any excess glue later with the X-Acto knife.

Work gloves are recommended when using the X-Acto knife. Avoid cutting towards yourself for any reason.

Wear safety glasses when operating the launcher! Avoid pointing at towards the head or in the direction of people.

What you will need for this Instructable:

Jumbo Popsicle sticks (at least 5)

Regular Popsicle sticks ( at least 40)

Clothespins (1)

Wooden wheels (3)

Small wooden dowels (to fit the opening of the wheel smoothly)

Hot glue


Rubber bands (#64 *the thick ones)

Shears (quality scissors will do)

X-Acto knife (Sharp!)

Water pot


Sewing thread

Step 1: Boiling the Bow

This step will take the longest amount of time. First we bring a pot of water large enough to fit our small Popsicle sticks to a boil. The Popsicles are boiled for about 10 minutes. We only need two but its good to have extra in case they break. Then we wrap them around any circular object with a diameter of 3-6 inches. A mason jar or roll of tape will do just fine. They will be rubber banded around so they bend flat around the object then left overnight to dry. You could use a hairdryer to speed up the process if you'd like.

Step 2: Main Base and Trigger Area

Glue two of the jumbo popsicle sticks together to make one double thick base. This will be the base of the whole launcher. Apply hot glue to the bottom of a clothes pin. Place this at the end of the giant popsicle stick. Cut two popsicle sticks in half and glue two of them together to make two double thick halves. Glue them in line with the spring arm of the trigger. Do this on both sides keeping them flush to the edge of the main base. Then glue another two popsicle sticks together to make a full length double thick stick. Glue this one forward the previous stick keeping flush with the edge and do this for both sides so we begin to form the barrel of the launcher (shown in the last picture).

Step 3: Continuing the Barrel

Glue down one popsicle stick between the two double thick sides and up against the clothespin. Glue another popsicle down the length of the barrel and cut it to length matching the end of the jumbo stick. Then place another popsicle perpendicular to the length of the of the barrel and make it directly splitting the middle so we can mark and cut a middle section of it out that is the width of one popsicle stick (It should now look like picture one). The two "almost halves" should be the same length. Glue them down to the frame as shown in the second picture. You may want to use a square object to line this up like a tissue box. now glue two more sticks to the sides and cut them to length as shown in the third picture. Now make two more "double thick halves" and glue them to the end as shown in the fourth picture. Now create a popsicle that is half an inch long and glue it centered with the clothespin and down the length of the barrel. It should be touching the clothespin. This is shown in picture two.

Step 4: Sub-Base

Turn the whole thing over, we'll be working on the underside of the base now. Cut a popsicle that is the length from the side of the frame to the end of the perpendicular piece. Make 8 of these. Glue them to be double thick pieces and two of the double thick pieces will go in the same layer as the main base and in line with the perpendicular piece and the other two will go on top so the perpendicular piece is now five sticks thick. Now glue a full popsicle stick flat to the frame as shown in the first picture in line with the first pieces we made that are sticking out. Then glue three popsicles down roughly in the middle of the underside of the frame as shown in the second picture. (you can ignore the extra front part there and the extra jumbo stick, this picture is from a later step)

Step 5: Bow Frame and Arms

Now glue the bow arms to the perpendicular piece. Once it is dry, take your sewing thread and make ten or so wraps around the inside most part then start wrapping over to the outer side of the arm just before it starts bowing away from the frame and end with another ten wraps in the same place as shown in the last picture. When you're done wrapping, tie it to itself however you'd like and then glue all the wraps down so they don't move.

Step 6: Axle Assembly

Glue down another perpendicular piece about half an inch forward of the bow frame to the main base as shown in picture one. Then glue another full jumbo stick down only in the areas shown in picture one. Now cut a popsicle to the length from the jumbo stick to the end of the perpendicular axle piece. Now cut your axle rod (wooden dowel) so that it is about 3 inches longer than the popsicle stick. glue this down as shown in picture three. Now create small notches in the dowel by lightly using the X-Acto knife. This notch will keep the sewing thread in place for the wheels.

Step 7: Attaching the Wheels

Make ten or so wraps around the axle in the notch area as shown in picture one. Now use your wooden wheel to measure out about how much room you'll need to create the second notch (use the second picture for reference). Make sure to leave enough room so your wraps don't rub against the wheel when they're done. Now make the notch in the correct place (about a quarter inch from the end of the wheel) and then put the wheel on. Now make the closing wraps and apply some hot glue to keep them in place. Cut off any excess string and the wheels should spin freely. If not, either the dowel is too thick, the string is rubbing or you may have gotten hot glue in the wheel.

Step 8: Putting on the Rubber

The most exciting step. Cut one rubber band in half. Now tie a knot on each end as close to the end as possible. Now glue the rubber band to the end of the bow arm to temporarily hold it in place. Once dry, make about ten wraps to the inside of the knot. Tie the wraps and glue them down to make them secure. It should look like picture two. Do this for both sides, ensuring the rubber band isn't twisted before attaching it to the other side. Your launcher is now functional and you can test it out.

Step 9: Making the Third Wheel

Now as everyone knows, the third wheel tends to get left out of photos so we'll be building this with diagrams. At this point the launcher will look like photo one. Now take a jumbo stick and cut it about two inches long. Be careful because it may break in half. Now cut out four one inch pieces of jumbo sticks and glue them to the end of the two inch piece stacked on top of each other. Now cut a regular stick about three inches long and another two that are one inch long and attach them stacked on the end again. Do this twice, all as shown in picture two. Now cut some dowel for the rear wheel to about 3 inches (you can cut off extra at the end). Mark the wheel where it is centered and make two notches a quarter inch outside of where the wheel will sit. Make the ten wraps on one side, glue and then put the wheel on before putting the next ten wraps on as before with the first wheels. It should look like the bottom of picture two. Now glue the whole assembly together as shown in the top and middle of picture three. The whole assembly should fit into a slot in the back of the launcher between the main frame and the sub frame jumbo sticks. Put the glue on and insert it into the rear. The launcher is now complete. Don't shoot it at humans or animals.