Whilst I don’t have fine skills. Certainly not in woodwork or metalwork, I think I’m pretty useful with my hands. Handy you might say. My father a mechanic and panel-beater taught me two important things in the realm of mending, fixing and creating.

Firstly get the right tool for the job. Otherwise you may spend a lot of time, energy and also patience trying to complete what could be a relatively easy task.

The other one was to think about what you are going to do before you do it and all the while that you are carrying out the operation/exercise. This trail of thought isn’t just about being systematic, but also creative. The methodical and the imaginative are not always found together, but if you can combine the two you can end up getting a good result.

All of which preamble – or should that be preramble? – bring me to this little project.


What is it?

Well it’s a kind of pistoley thing that fires elastic bands. But it is also a prototype trigger system for a crossbow that Little Boots asked me to make.

That request was no doubt fired by the rediscovery of his bow and arrows in the garden playhouse and the discussion it prompted about a crossbow we made together about five years ago. Made from a big T-shaped piece of wooden train track, three large elastic bands, a peg and a lot of masking tape it fired corks and LB used to regularly ambush me with it.

To be honest I agreed without really thinking through what it might entail. It’s proved to be far more complicated than I thought, but I know have a working system. As you can see it’s made from scraps of wood and MDF screwed together. But what isn’t so obvious is that the mechanism itself consists of:

  • a fishing line spool
  • a piece of thick u-shaped plastic from some packaging
  • a piece of elastic
  • a piece of plastic heating pipe
  • a drawing pin
  • a nail
  • the spring and plastic pipe from a bottle of anti-bac spray

Luckily I have a “Womble box” full of plastic oddments that I keep for things like this.