Saturday, May 11, 2013

Homemade PVC Pipe Canons - Tutorial

My six year old wanted a pirate party for his birthday this year, and I decided I wanted to make canons so they could have a real pirate “battle”. I looked around online and couldn’t find a tutorial for anything that was really functional. I found a lot of tutorials for how to make something look like a canon, but nothing that would actually shoot anything.

After scouring the web, I decided to simply make my own. With the help of my lovely sister, Christy (who has an awesome blog over at My Homemaking Experiment), and my physics minor (I knew going to college would come in handy some day!) we figured out the mechanics of the canon we wanted to make, as well as the materials we needed.

With our planning completed I took off to Lowe’s to pick up the PVC pipe. We ended up making five canons, so I bought a 5’ section of 2” PVC pipe and had the guy at Lowe’s cut it into 12” sections for me. Then I bought 1” PVC couplers to use for the inside of the canon (to eject the canon balls from the canon).

Material List: (this is for one canon)
  • 1 ft long 2” PVC pipe
  • 1 1” PVC coupler
  • 2 7” x 1/8” 1/4 lb rubber bands (or any other long, strong rubber band)
  • 2 screw in eyelets
  • 1 6” piece of wood – dowel, tongue depressor, etc
  • string
Tool List:
  • drill (you’ll need a bit the size of your eyelets, and another bigger bit for the holes for the rubberband and string)
  • pliers
  • scissors
  • hacksaw (if you are using a dowel)
Step One
Drill holes with your small bit (the one the size of your eyelets) approximately 1 1/2” from one end of your PVC pipe tube. The holes should be directly on opposite sides of the tube.
Step Two
Screw the eyelets into the holes.
Step Three
Using your larger drill bit, drill four(4) holes in the 1” coupler piece. The holes should be toward the ends of the coupler, and the holes on each end should be directly opposite each other on either side of the coupler.
Step Four
String the rubber bands through the holes on one side of the coupler. To “tie” the rubber bands, simply loop them through the hole, then put one end of the rubber band through itself.
Step Five
Prepare your piece of wood. If you are using a piece of dowel, you will probably need to use a saw to cut notches in the wood at either end of the dowel. If you are using tongue depressors (what we used) then you can probably just cut the notch with scissors. We ended up also hot gluing the string to the sticks, which was kind of a pain, and they keep coming apart. I will be replacing them with dowels.
Step Six
Thread the piece of string through the end of the coupler opposite the rubber bands.
Step Seven
Tie the ends of the string to the ends of the dowel/stick. Your “inside piece” of the canon should look like the photo on the right below.
Step Eight
Use the pliers to open the eyelets slightly. Thread the loose ends of the rubber bands through the eyelets on each side of your PVC tube. Using your pliers, close the eyelets so the rubber bands don’t fall off.
Step Nine
Drop the stick attached to the string through the PVC tube, then follow it with the coupler piece, and then the rubber bands. Follow the photos below:
Then pull the stick out the bottom as shown below. Position the stick perpendicular to the PVC tube.
That’s it! You now have made a PVC pipe canon!
We used plastic golf balls (which I eventually spray painted black) as the canon balls. I also spray painted the canons black as well.

Here is a video demonstrating our finished canon! The kids had a blast with them, and they were pretty cheap to make. Probably a few bucks per canon.

And here is the video of what we actually used the canons for. (the video is double time, they weren't actually shooting the canons that fast - ha!)

If you make this canon, I’d love to see photos or videos of how it worked for you! If you have questions, feel free to ask.