Monday, 3 February 2014

Toy Cannon

Toy Cannon

Most little boys play war, but you can’t get your hand on the cool toys until you’re an adult. So I want to bridge that gap a little by making a toy cannon. This was a quick model made with very little planning, but by taking your time on the details I imagine you could easily make a better version. I'll try to include some pointers that may help you out.

WARNING! If you attempt to make this yourself then take all necessary precautions and wear any necessary safety equipment. Be careful when handling Party Poppers as they do contain explosives and NEVER fire at anyone.

Material Needed:

  • Wood ( I used reclaimed pieces, the body was cut from a 77mm x 43mm piece and the wheels cut from a board 20mm thick)
  • 15mm Copper pipe (You only need a short piece mine was 110mm long)
  • Wooden Dowel* (Mine were 6mm diameter x 300mm long)
  • Screws 
  • 15mm Copper Saddle Clips
  • Cotton Balls*
  • Party Poppers* (Used to propel the ammo)
  • 15mm Compression Cap
  • Sand paper*

Tools Needed:


  • Wood Glue

Reuse Wood

We’re going to start by making the cart the cannon is going to sit on. I’m going to be using wood reclaimed from this device I made many many years ago to screen print t-shirts. But now I use a company to make our t-shirts so it’s no longer required.

Chop woodCut wood

First I'm going to clean up the piece by chopping off the bottom of this wood as it has screw holes through it, then I’m going to chop the top at a 15 degree angle.

Make wheelsMake wheels

Cannon wheels

For the wheels I’m just using a hole cutter drill bit to cut out a section of wood, then when I’ve pulled out the core I cut it into four pieces.

Sand wood

Sand wheels

Now give everything a sanding before we put it together. I would take your time here and make sure you get all the wheels the same diameter and thickness. You can also workout any splinters you have and even any cuts that are slightly off.

Wooden Dowls

For the wheel axles I’m using some wooden dowels I have left over from our PVC pipe gun and just cut them to length. Then I’ll drill a hole through the cart and attach the wheels, if you want to fix your wheels permanently I would use a blob of wood glue. It's advisable you check your happy with the wheels before you glue them into place. Make sure you drill the axle holes straight, if you don't want wonky wheels, also check your dowel is straight too.

Compression fitting

File Copper Pipe

For the cannon itself I’ll be using a small piece of copper pipe and a compression cap. I cut my pipe about 11cm long, long enough to slightly overhang both sides of the cart. When you cut the pipe make sure you remove any burred edges both inside and out.

Add compression cap
Drill through cap

Then tighten on your compression fitting so the olive binds, but loosen it again afterwards as this only needs to be hand tight. Now remove the cap and drill a small hole to allow us to feed through the firing mechanism.
Party Popper ExplosivesThread explosive

Bundle explosives

To fire our cannon I’m going to be using the mini explosives found in a party popper - fed through in this way. As one isn’t really strong enough, you may have to use a few attached together.

Assemble Cannon

Now we can attach the cannon to the cart we’ve assembled with these copper saddle clips, then add our firing mechanism.

Add Cotton wool for wadding

Push Wadding Down

Add Ammo

Push ammo down cannon
Next your going to need some wadding, I’m using some cotton wool balls and I ram them down with a wooden dowel so they sit over the explosives. Lastly I add the ammo which is the lid from a soy sauce bottle and we’re ready to fire.

Mini Cannon

You could easily make your own adjustments to this design to make all different types and styles. But if you do make a toy cannon then don’t forget to share a picture of it with me.


  • Use a mitre saw or a chop saw to easily cut the angle you want.

  • Make sure your saw blade has a high number of teeth (depends on what saw your using to what is applicable to you) to give a cleaner cut.

  • If you can get access to a bench drill press then I would use this to cut out the wheels and drill the cart body for the wheel axles.

  • If your wheels are a bit wonky then you may have not drilled straight or your dowel was not straight. Don't worry, you could start again or you could sand down the wheels until the cart is level.

  • If your cannon isn't firing very far or at all, then you've either jammed too much cotton wadding in or your not using enough party poppers. Make sure your projectile is light and free to move up and down the pipe too.

  • Some party poppers use a lot of paper around their popper, which can prevent them from setting each other off when you attach them together. To over come this I removed some of the outer paper and it worked fine.

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