Remember the infamous mini cannon? It hit YouTube almost a year ago, posted by an anonymous craftsman of a mysterious numeric moniker. 43287633 niftily triggered his smaller-than-a-human-thumb mini cannon with a cigarette, and mayhem ensued: shattered light bulbs and glasses, pierced Coke cans, splattered eggs and fiery explosions.
43287633 received endless questions on YouTube about the How To behind his cannon, and to the delight of his fans, he just recently posted a new mini mediaeval weapon. His latest contraption is a tiny crossbow, which is curiously intended as a "high-quality jewelry piece".
Jewelry piece? I'd like to see somebody wear it as such, though 43287633 readily states that the object functions powerfully as a miniature weapon, capable of significant damage. In fact, the mini crossbow works exactly the same way a life-sized hunting crossbow does, except when it comes to the power to weight ratio, the mini crossbow is almost four times stronger.
Curious about the man behind the mini-weaponry, we contacted 43287633—whom we can now refer to as Tsachi—to learn more about his passion and his methods.
Q. WHAT IS THE SKILL SET FOR THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTHICAL MINI-WEAPONS?
A: My name is Tsachi Shamir. I live in the Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, about 20 km south of Tel Aviv. I have been a professional goldsmith for over 20 years, and I own and operate a school for metalsmithing and jewelry design. In my spare time I enjoy fishing, biking and watching nature and science programs on TV, but most of my time is devoted to designing and creating jewelry pieces, and teaching my skills to others.
My interests in hand-crafting and weaponry emerged at a very young age, and as a child I built all different types of weapons. However, I lacked the technical knowledge and metalworking skills needed to construct weapons at a professional level.
After I learned the craft of goldsmithing, I shifted my focus to designing and making gold jewelry. It is only about a year ago that I returned to my first love—crafting weapons. It was at that time that I designed and built my first working piece: the miniature cannon.
My interest in making a video and uploading it to YouTube stemmed from the realization that there are very few miniature weapons out there that function as well as their full-size counterparts. My feeling was that I had made something unique and virtually unprecedented.
Q. CAN YOU SHARE DETAILS ON HOW YOU MADE IT?
A. I constructed the miniature crossbow using only goldsmithing techniques, the same exact techniques that are used to create a piece of fine jewelry, including sawing, filing, and soldering small pieces of gold and silver. In fact, the crossbow is made almost entirely of these metals, except for the bow and string which are made of steel, and the arrows, which are a combination of steel and aluminum. Both the miniature crossbow and arrows are entirely handmade.
Before I began designing my crossbow, I conducted extensive research into how full-size crossbows are made and how they function, from the ancient past until today. Only then did I attempt to build the miniature crossbow.
Construction of the first prototype was relatively quick, taking only a few hours. Then I spent dozens of hours on improving its various components. Almost every small piece of the crossbow presented difficult problems, for example, the bow itself: first I tried to make it out of wood, but this was nowhere near strong enough; then I tried making it out of carbon, but it was not able to handle the extreme bending forces and broke. Finally, I tried three different types of spring steel until I discovered the optimal type for my purposes. But this was not the end of it. I then needed to decide, based on much experimentation, the optimal length, width and thickness of the steel bow. The same lengthy trial and error process was repeated for each of the crossbow's components—the string, the arrows and the sights, among other things.
Q. DO PEOPLE ACTUALLY WEAR THEM AS JEWELRY PIECES?
A. It is important to emphasize that the miniature crossbow is first and foremost a piece of jewelry. It has already been worn as a pendant, receiving many compliments. Because it is somewhat larger than the standard pendant, it is not meant for everyday wear, but rather for special occasions. It attaches to the necklace chain via a specially designed fastener that is connected to the tail end of the crossbow, the front of the crossbow facing downward.
Q. HOW MUCH DID IT COST TO MAKE? CAN WE BUY ONE?
A. Although the crossbow is built almost entirely of silver and gold, the cost of the materials is only approximately $250. However, if I were to sell this piece, taking into account the hours of work that went into its design and construction, I would estimate its worth at a minimum of $2,000. Note, however, that I am not interested in selling it!!!
Q. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE YOUR NEXT VIDEO?
A. If I decide to make another video, it will probably be devoted in its entirety to an additional type of arrow that is not seen in the current video: the most impressive and dangerous of them all—an arrow with an exploding head. Unfortunately, I could not include these in the present video because I felt that this would make the video too long for the average YouTube viewer.