We often get a lot of questions here from newcomers to the sport regarding what they need to get started. I thought I'd put together a quick post for all to see showing just how little an investment is really needed to start making your own quality shooters.
By no way will this be a definitive solution as people have created some awesome shooters with nothing but a small folding pocket knife but I hope some people will find this useful.
They way I see it, the most minimal amount of kit you would need for making board cuts and naturals is as follows:
- Coping Saw
- Finish (Optional)
Coping saws are a great option for slingshot making. They are cheap. They can get into the tightest of curves and cut through the hardest of woods (with a bit of patience and elbow grease). The blade can be removed and inserted in a hole for cutting out shapes inside the frame. The blade can also be turned to face any direction for detailed work and ease of cutting. They are available just about anywhere for a small investment. They offer a large enough throat for the biggest of frames yet are capable of turning out even the smallest sized pocket shooter.
Coping Saw @ Harbour Freight $5.99
This particular one comes with a few different blades included, from rough cutting to extremely fine detailed work. I agree that a pruning saw or other hand saw would be better for cutting a natural fork from a tree, this particular saw is more than capable of doing the job.
Similar in design to a metal file however the teeth are optimised for wood shaping and removal. There are literally hundreds of sizes, styles and tooth patterns available but don't confuse yourself with all the specifics. Your main concern right now is being able to shape the wood to your desired style. Rasps provide a very aggressive cutting action, getting your work done very quickly.
3 Piece Rasp Set @ Harbour Freight $2.99
This great set of rasps is ideal for putting final touches on your projects. The 3/4” flat rasp is designed for general purpose sanding and shaping on flat surfaces. The 7/8” half round rasp is built for flat, concave and convex surfaces. Finally, the 3/8” diameter round rasp is designed for shaving and forming tightly curved wood sections such as finger grooves, pinkie holes and even band grooves..
I have heard it said time and time again that 90% of any form of woodwork is sanding and yup, it's pretty true. Having used the rasps to cut and mould your wood to shape, you will find the current surface of your project looks a bit ragged and for lack of a better word, crap. This where the sanding begins. Sandpaper is available in different grits, from very coarse to smooth as glass. The lower the grit number, the more aggressive it is at removing material. You will start with a lower grit and progressively move up to achieve the desired finish. After using the rasps you would probably go for a 40 or 80 grit paper, moving on to 120, 240, 360 and sometimes even higher. You will probably find that going to 220/240 is more than satisfactory for a good finish. If you want glassy smoothness, keep sanding You want to spend time and make sure that your fork tips are as smooth as possible as this will contribute to band life. Rough forks will wear your bands very quickly. Smooth is good.
Sandpaper is cheap. If you are starting out, grab yourself a couple of sheets of 80, 120 & 220 grit paper.
Sandpaper pack @ Harbour Freight $2.99
This assortment of sandpaper comes with a variety of grits. The assortment includes two sheets of 60 grit, three sheets of 100 grit, three sheets of 150 grit and two sheets of 220 grit aluminum oxide sanding sheets to help you accommodate a variety of jobs! This sandpaper assortment is a great set for any do-it-yourselfer or professional craftsman to smooth metal, finish wood pieces and sand paint away for a clear, clean surface.
Finishing, oh wow, where do I start. As I mentioned above this can be an optional step in the build however most people like to bring out the best in their choice of wood and give it that bit of extra bling. The options for finishing are endless and mostly come down to personal preference. Here I will list two options that are cheap and easy to do.
The first I will mention is Linseed oil, a personal favourite of mine. Like all the above tools, Linseed oil can be purchased just about anywhere. It is available as a raw or boiled product. Boiled is the preferred option of most as it has a considerably shorted curing (drying) time. Linseed oil can be purchased for only a few dollars. It can be wiped on with a rag/cloth, or your project can be soaked in it for a few hours to a few days. It does take time though, as curing times can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to achieve optimum results. It does however do an awesome job of bringing out the beautiful grain and colour in most woods. Linseed oil finish is usually further enhanced by a wax polish to bring out a nice lustre and shine. Expect to pay around $5 for a half litre bottle of boiled Linseed Oil.
Another option is aerosol based finishes. Once again you have a huge range of options here so I wont go into them all. Probably the most common of these finishes is spray on Polyurethane. Comes in a can just like spray paint and is very easy to apply. Usually you would hang your slingshot up and apply several THIN coats, emphasis on thin. It is very important to ensure that each coat has completely dried before applying the next. For best results it is also best to sand between coats for that super smooth glassy look. Common options here are to use 800 grit sandpaper or even steel wool. Whatever you do, don't try to do it all in one go as you will end up with a thick tacky coat and possibly drip marks. Multiple thin coats is the trick to a great finish. Myself I like to use a spray on marine varnish as this also offers great UV protection against fading. These products also offer the option of a satin, semi gloss or gloss finish. Expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a good spray on finish. One can is usually enough for 2 to 5 frames, depending on number of coats you use.
Well there you have it. Ignoring the finish for the moment, for an initial outlay of approximately $12 dollars, you are well on your way to building your very own slingshot.
Check out the Templates tab at the top of this forum for some great designs to get you started. Just print them out, glue them to your wood and get started !
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Edited by Hrawk, 28 October 2012 - 10:47 PM.