This is a step by step guide on how to make your own potato cannon. This can be used for defense, hunting or just plain fun. Bombs are powerful, but potatoes go further with less power and more damage!
Potato cannons are made from a few basic PVC connections and lengths of pipe and can launch potatoes up to 300 yards. They’re easy to create and inexpensive, and they’re a terrific way to learn the fundamentals of cutting, priming, and gluing PVC together. Making a potato cannon is a low-risk introduction to DIY plumbing if you’ve been apprehensive.
A combustion chamber and a barrel make up a potato cannon/launcher/gun. The combustion chamber is built of 4″ PVC pipe, while the barrel is made of 2″ PVC pipe. An adapter is used to connect the parts. Filling the combustion chamber with fuel, such as hairspray, then igniting it with a spark will cause it to burn, launching whatever is in your barrel into the sky.
To get started, you’ll only need a few basic tools. This is how you do it.
While “spud guns” aren’t federally controlled and are lawful in practically every state, a few states/municipalities do have limitations on them, so check to see if yours does before making/using one.
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- 1.5 feet of 4″ PVC pipe
- 4 feet of 2″ PVC pipe
- 4″ threaded PVC coupler
- Cleanout cap made of PVC, 4 in.
- Adapter for 4″ to 2″ PVC
- Primer for PVC
- PVC cement is a kind of plastic.
- Using a 1/2″ drill bit, drill the hole.
- Measurement tape
- Use a lighter.
- Spray on hairspray (not pictured)
How to Make a Cannon of Potatoes
Step 1: Trim the PVC to the desired length.
Cut your 2″ PVC pipe to four feet and your 4″ PVC pipe to 18″ inches (foot and a half). Make sure your cuts are clean and square so the fittings can sit flush against the pipe’s end. If you have a lot of additional frayed PVC after your cut, smooth them out with sandpaper. Pre-cut pipes are often available at hardware shops.
Step 2: Glue one end of your 4″ PVC pipe to the adaptor.
Start by priming both sections with PVC primer (purple in the photographs), allowing 10 seconds for it to dry, and then applying PVC cement. Push the two pieces together once they’ve been primed and glued, give them a quarter turn, and hold for 30 seconds until they’ve set.
Step 3: Continue gluing the rest of your connections.
To finish your barrel, join the 4″ threaded coupler to the opposite end of the 4″ pipe and the 2″ PVC pipe to the adaptor.
Step 4: Attach the 4″ cleanout cover to the combustion chamber’s end.
Step 5: Drill a hole in your combustion chamber using a 12″ drill bit.
It makes no difference where the hole is drilled. It’s best to position yourself in the chamber’s center third or so.
How to Get It Started
Step 1: Stuff a potato into the cannon’s barrel.
Like a muzzleloader, use a broomstick or a smaller diameter piece of PVC to jam it down into the barrel. You want the potato to fit snugly; if it doesn’t, it’ll still launch, but with a lot less force.
Step 2: Remove cap and spray hairspray into combustion chamber.
A 5-7 second spray should enough.
Step 3: Replace the combustion chamber top quickly to keep the hairspray in.
Step 4: Aim, then ignite the lighter in the ignition hole.
Be ready, since the shot is almost immediate.
Step 5: Keep an eye on your potato, reload, and try again!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal to make a potato cannon?
A: Potatoes are a food item and not a weapon. Therefore, it is legal to make one for personal use. However, potato cannons made for commercial purposes would be considered illegal weapons by the law of your region or country.
What is the best fuel for a potato cannon?
How much does it cost to build a potato cannon?
A: The cost of a potato cannon depends on what you want to make. I recommend using a large canister and in order to launch the missile, the more air you put into it, the less force will be needed so this should reduce costs immensely.