Picture of Compressed Air Cannon
This Instructable will guide you through the steps to build a basic air powered cannon to launch things such as water balloons or t-shirts. Measurements for the air tank and barrel lengths, found in steps 2 and 3, are the dimensions that we found to work well, but are meant only as guidelines. 

Notice: Please be safe when following this Instructable. Use tools safely; do not to over-pressurize the air tank and never aim or fire projectiles at anyone or anything. We are not responsible for any injury or damages you cause as a result of using or building this air cannon.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Picture of Materials & Tools
Materials Needed:
5’ section of 3” PVC schedule 40 pipe----$5.93
1 3” PVC End Cap----$3.63
2 3”-1.5” PVC Reducers----$2.64 each
2 1.5” PVC-DWV Trap Adapter – Spigot Connection----$0.83
1 1.5” Ball Valve – Threaded----$9.71
1 Metal Tire Fill Valve (Bolt-in Type) ----$2.99

Materials You Might Have:
PVC Cleaner----$2.58
PVC Glue----$2.44
Teflon Tape (Seal Tape) ----$.058

Tools Needed:
Drill Bit to Fit Tire Fill Valve----$2.38
Tape Measure----$4.77
Bicycle Pump or Air Compressor
Electrical Tape (optional)
Clamps (optional)

* Note: Prices listed were found at our local Menards and are listed to be used as an estimate only.
Masher0071 year ago

Danger: See link: This is not spam, but a warning. PVC will fail suddenly after a while. This was band member that hurt badly by a T-Shirt launcher explosion.

See the pictures and never use PVC to hold air, Please.



I'm sorry you felt my comment was spam. They have been discussing this at the both the vocational schools and tech colleges. Eventually every Instructable dealing with compressed air and PVC will be taken down. We hoped you would change it while you can.

As for Arcainium, you can visit their site, and facebook.
I am not affiliated with them at all.

The Arkansas Razorbacks also had an exploding T-shirt cannon.
The Cell core pipe is negligence. Use metal tank, steel pipe, fire extinguishers, HDPE, anything buy Cell Core pvc.

There is not ONE manufacturer of PVC pipe that doesn't state it is unsafe for use with Compressed gas
OSHA states PVC is "banned" for use with compressed gas since 1970.
In 2005 all major PB insurers banned the use of "homemade" launchers do to 5 recorded cases of them (PVC air chambers) exploding on the fields in 2004

Arkansas Razorback's intern injured by exploding PVC TShirt Cannon.https://www.google.com/url?sa=...

There have been several band members hurt by 'properly used' air chambers. The band Arcainium was the most recent.https://www.google.com/url?sa=...

I know. On my air gun I have a 1/2 inch barrel and QEV, relief valve but most important, STEEL PIPE

I know. On my air gun I have a 1/2 inch barrel and QEV, relief valve but most important, STEEL PIPE

I know. On my air gun I have a 1/2 inch barrel and QEV, relief valve but most important, STEEL PIPE

SeamusDubh4 years ago
while a ball valve gives you a greater pressure seal. it is better to use a butterfly valve. they open quicker with a higher initial flow bast the valve.

Get one here:


Makler 472 years ago
Would you get more distance if you had a smaller (say 2.5'' or 2'' inch) barrel?
ramicaza3 years ago
holy... please tell me you don't pressurize this to more than 10 psi lol. That cellular core is extremely dangerous along with you're dwv reducers but those are the least of your worries.
igotair4 years ago
please, please, please, dont use foam core for applications that will be under pressure. never, never, never under ANY circumstances. Doing so is just asking for a visit to the emergency room. i know large diameters of schedule 40 labled for pressure are hard to find, but it is safer to use a smaller diameter pipe and use it in multiples than using foam core.
uhhh... dude. please tell me that the pictures of the air chamber are a mistake and not what you actually used. cellcore pipe WILL explode and is a VERY bad idea. the cannon is a good one ACCEPT for that. please clarify in your instructable that cellcore pipe is not what is to be used. this is VERY dangerous.