Introduction: Christmas Cannon

Picture of Christmas Cannon

Decorating stuff for the holidays takes way too much time. You have to string stuff up and attach this shiny thing to that thing and it blows. That's why the best way to get into the Christmas spirit as fast as possible is with a Christmas Cannon.

The Christmas Cannon is a pneumatic cannon that is loaded with the spirit of Christmas. It is then aimed at something horribly devoid of Christmas-ness and then blasts it with goodness. If even just some of the Christmas-ness is imbued into the target it's a success.

Now, let's get Christmas-y!

Song: "Jingle Bells" by Gary Hoey.
WARNING: The people that are shot in the video were shot at very low pressures. Each of the projectiles shot were tested against other objects several times before these shots were done. In normal circumstances, do NOT shoot or aim at people or animals even if you are wearing safety glasses. Be safe.

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools
WARNING: Be sure to do your research before building a pneumatic gun. This cannon is more of a prototype since it was never meant to go to high pressures. Be careful and be safe. Before starting such a project be sure you know exactly what you're going to be doing and not making it up as you go along.


  • 1" Modified sprinkler valve
  • Schrader valve - can get from dead bike tube
  • 2" PVC cap
  • 18" 2" PVC pipe
  • 2" coupling
  • 2" to 1" bushing
  • 2x 1" male threaded adapter
  • 2' 1" PVC

  • Drill (preferably a drill press)
  • PVC Primer & cement
  • saw
  • Teflon tape

Step 2: Chamber

Picture of Chamber

Cut the 2" PVC to the size you want for your chamber. We cut ours to 18", but this has been more powerful than we needed. 12" would have been better.

Use the PVC primer and cement to weld together these pieces:
2" cap
2" PVC pipe
2" coupler
2" to 1" bushing

That is the main chamber. Then you will be adding these two pieces in order to be able to connect to the modified sprinkler valve:
4" piece of 1" PVC pipe
1" threaded male adapter

Step 3: Barrel

Picture of Barrel

This part is simply a 1" threaded male adapter and a length of 1" PVC pipe. We cemented a 12" piece of 1" PVC pipe onto the adapter.

Step 4: Wait 24 Hours

Picture of Wait 24 Hours

To be sure that all of your pieces are secure and safe as can be, wait for 24 hours before moving on. You'll be impatient. You'll think that the 24 hours includes a huge safety margin.

Wait 24 hours anyway.

cc-licensed picture from Eva the Weaver

Step 5: Add the Schrader Valve

Picture of Add the Schrader Valve

You'll need to get air into the chamber and we used a schrader valve so that we could pressurize it with a bike pump.

We did this by drilling a hole through the connection of the 2" cap and 2" PVC at the end of the chamber. We tapped the hole for the valve, wrapped some Teflon tape around the threads and screwed it in.

Step 6: Connect All the Pieces

Picture of Connect All the Pieces

More Teflon tape was wrapped around the threading on the 1" male adapter and it was then screwed into the modified sprinkler valve.

The barrel is then screwed in to the other end and you're ready to go.

Step 7: Load, Pressurize, and Shoot

Picture of Load, Pressurize, and Shoot
We loaded all sorts of Christmas goodness into the cannon. This included:
  • red and green glitter
  • tinsel
  • red and green tissue paper
  • red and green ribbon
  • plastic snow

Everything fit in just fine and could be prodded in a little farther with the help of a stick.

We pumped up the chamber to 20 psi and started shooting. Thus, the spirit of Christmas was spread all around our office and we are so ready for the holidays it isn't funny.

Big thanks to Brian at for the excellent sprinkler valve and the quick shipping.

WARNING: The people that are shot in the video were shot at very low pressures. Each of the projectiles shot were tested against other objects several times before these shots were done. In normal circumstances, do NOT shoot or aim at people or animals even if you are wearing safety glasses. Be safe.

Once again, be extraordinarily careful if you decide to make one of these. I personally recommend that you don't. If you still want to try it, view this Instructable as a brief overview and do more research first.


CreativeBlossom (author)2016-12-13

I saw the video and please don't shoot Jesus that offended me.

CoolRextreme (author)2015-09-14

I saw this, and the first thing that came to mind was:

Pinkie's Party Cannon.


stevenpossett (author)2012-12-28

Haha reminds me of a snow cannon me and a friend built for a stage production, ours fired directly off of a 120 psi compressor! Maybe wise we didn't shoot each others faces!!

justindouthat (author)2012-03-20

cool this made me go out and make one myself :)

abisabel (author)2012-02-24

hey you shouldn't aim jesus!!!

apender (author)2011-12-09

I love the warning of the typical impatient rationale to rush out of waiting the full prescription.

salishsilver (author)2011-11-27

I agree, how is the valve modified? I have used ball check valves from the hardware store on similar projects. They are pricey but effective. I make a rocket launcher but this might be good to launch smaller rockets indoors.

Like this

Haven't looked at this in a while and the links to the store where I bought my supplies have gone dead. Now it's an even more DIY project.

Alternatively, you can use a battery, wires, and a switch like this

heathbar64 (author)2011-11-27

You are painfully negligent in telling us what the sprinkler valve is all about. I assume it is the trigger mechanism, but your details need some explanation.

Ouch! Painfully negligent. That sounds bad!

The link used to go to where you could buy one, but it looks like that store is now gone. Replaced with link to instructions.

salishsilver (author)2011-11-27

This is critical, if you over pressure this without letting it cure it can allow the glued joints to divide rapidly and forcefully. I have had it happen at a workshop where we were in a hurry.

heathbar64 (author)2011-11-27

And did I see an air blow gun? Please explain! I need a confetti cannon!

TampaGeek (author)2011-11-27

I had to do a double-take while watching the video, to be sure that actually was a Katamari Damacy game case you were shooting (0:21 seconds in). I'm making this instructable a favorite just for that. I'm sure the King of All Cosmos would be highly pleased...

duck_tape_ (author)2009-12-17

Where did you get a schrader valve like that? I have only been able to salvage them from bikes, and epoxy them into the tank.

It's actually not hard to find. When my brother made his I got him some valves form the 99 cent store.

gruffy (author)masterochicken2011-04-26

so duck tape, where did you end up purchasing your valves from?

mstryker (author)gruffy2011-05-19

i got mine from ace hardware.

duck_tape_ (author)gruffy2011-04-27

I didn't, I just salvaged one from an old inner tube. cut off all the exsess rubber from the tube, except for about a 1in diameter circle. then you put in the valve from the inside, with some superglue on the top part of the rubber, so it glues to the inside of the tank. I think I may have also used some epoxy putty on the outside to seal it a bit more. if you do it this way I would recomend you put it on the end of the cap, not the side of it....I hope that made sense.

MadScott (author)2009-12-21

Weirdly broken page for the sprinkler valve/trigger - could we get more info here?

BuffaloNickel (author)MadScott2011-01-29

if you go t othe main page of the site it reads "be back soon" but i doubt that.

danbaha (author)2010-11-06

Does it have to have a modified sprinkler valve?

Ranie-K (author)2010-03-31

Do you think this balloon based thing would work?

How about two PVC tubes (the biggest one capped, and the smaller one with a choke/small hole and a tack glued to the inside), one sliding inside the other; put a balloon (sausage shaped) inside the bottom of the bigger one, and a paper wad and confetti in the smaller one.

Put the smaller on top, compress the air in the balloon by pressing down the smaller tube (don't cover the muzzle), and as the balloon eventually protrudes into the smaller one, it will make it to a tack that will burst it, throwing confetti safely out the end of of the smaller tube.

imthatguy1125 (author)Ranie-K2010-08-26

Sounds like it would work but its more trouble than its worth. The reload times would be long and a pain. If you don't have a sprinkler valve you can pick up a ball valve at your local home improvement store for about 6 bucks.

edrainkona (author)2008-12-20

I made one of these, essentially a potato cannon, and it exploded. One of my friends got hit with shrapnel, in the neck. Two inches up and he would be out of commission. I would recommend using pressure rated ABS pipe if possible, but if that is not available, use regular ABS pipe since it doesn't shrapnel as much as PVC.

somerockenguy (author)edrainkona2008-12-20

i have been hit and severely cut by a exploding air cannon and i feel your recommendations are a little off. I would recommend using pressure rated ABS pipe if possible, but if that is not available, DO NOT USE ANY THING AT ALL! If you want to be super safe use a metal pipe because your average air compressor wont be able to over pressure that. always look to see what the pressure rating is for the pipe you use and never over pressure. remember 100 psi in a 10 sq/i pipe is not as much pressure as 100 psi in a 100 sq/i pipe.

moriarti (author)somerockenguy2008-12-21

wrap the chamber in duct tape, so when it explodes, there won`t be shrpenal, the chamber wioll only fracture.

blugyblug (author)moriarti2008-12-21

This guy put duct tape around a PVC chamber, 1 pair of jeans, another layer of duct tape, some chicken wire, fiberglass (molded around the chamber) And guess what? It ALL exploded. All of them! all at once!. The chicken wire made it worse because there were little pieces of metal flying around.

jjam100 (author)blugyblug2010-01-03

Hi i am going to try making this cannon and i was wondering if i put hot glue on the chamber or some kind of gap filler would that work better?   

keefurxxcore (author)blugyblug2008-12-22


I don't know in the U.S. but in Canada ABS pipes don't have any pressure rating.

That's because Canadians aren't as crazy as Americans.

this explains why the US is still the leader in tuber-gun technology metal pipe is a "safer" route....although more expensive.....its highly dangorous...
example...metal conduit has a welded seam and if that seam is the slightest bit off safe measuresu might be screwed...but i do agree with the ABS because it "peels" and stays in tact other than pvc...

Probably because its too cold for pvc. It will become brittle and become a danger. Think of it as a PVC grenade, not fun.

blugyblug (author)edrainkona2008-12-21

Uhh. If youre safe then PVC wont explode.
I like Copper =D

merseyless (author)edrainkona2008-12-20

just curious, how many psi did you have it pressurized to?

BPearson (author)2009-12-19

 Looks like fun, but could you elaborate on the valve a little? 

daniel! (author)2009-12-18

schrader valves are weak sauce. if you wanna be cool, and like bikes, use a presta valve! hahahaha

jsummerlin (author)2009-12-17

One of these may be a little safer and it's always nice to know what the pressure is up to.

duck_tape_ (author)jsummerlin2009-12-17

I've made a few cannons like this, and i typically fill them to a higher pressure than 15 psi, which is what the gauge went up to.

kidproquo (author)2009-12-17

five stars just for the video

gk1651 (author)2009-12-17

So Ho Ho Ho Funny!   Made my mornin!  LOL.  I could use this at work. I'd sniper x-mas at the cars drivin by. Probly wouldn't go on for long.  It's Holiday Madness I got! Christmas'd it what I needs! 

sharkstun97 (author)2009-03-08

in the video did he just shoot jesus christ?

he needed christmasing.

Was that Jesus or Buddy? Couldn't tell. Either way, he's much more Christmas-y now, so there ya go.

iminthebathroom (author)2009-12-16

It is probally wise to add a touch more "danger" notes on this project.  This is based on one of my very foolish past experiences.  We thought it would be fun to load a small air powered potatoe gun like this with candy, glitter and streamers.  We pressurized it by using a bike pump to 10 psi thinking that wouldn't be too much... Suffice to say when we shot it off in the general direction of the people at a Christmas party, we were lucky to aim it a 45 degrees, instead of directly at the people.  There are 3 holes still in my ceiling from the candy schrapnel.  Whoops.

mynameisjonas (author)2008-12-31

you christmas'd katamari damacy?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? how dare you!

I thought it would be fun to hit a DVD case and I only keep the games I love. It didn't suffer any permanent damage.

other than the post traumatic stress disorder :-)

Yeah, it still isn't forming complete sentences yet, but I'm willing to give it time.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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