Introduction: Giant Flying Discs
First Prize in the
I ended up making two versions--both of which did indeed fly, although with varying levels of success.
The smaller of the two versions is 4 feet in diameter and weights 3 pounds, 7 ounces. This version has proven to be extremely durable and it flies perfectly. Plus it was relatively easy to make, as well as to throw.
The second version is 8 feet in diameter, and weighs a whopping 15 pounds. This beast will actually fly, but it is terribly tricky to throw. To get any substantial flight distance out of it, it has to be launched from either the top of a cliff, or from a long, steep hill. It's not the most practical thing, but I had fun making it and figuring out how to fly it.
I highly recommend making the 4-foot version, and have included full instructions on how to make one. I have included some basic information on how the 8-foot version was made as well, if anyone is so inclined to make their own super-jumbo frisbee.
Here are videos of both versions of my homemade giant flying discs in action.
Step 1: The 4-foot Flying Disc
- One half-sheet of 1-inch thick pink insulation foam
- A couple rolls of duct tape
- About 10 feet of 1-inch wide nylon webbing
- About 15 feet of 3/4-inch polypropylene rope
- Lightweight nylon fabric (enough to make a 40" diameter circle)
- Hot glue gun (preferably the larger type that takes the fatter sticks of glue)
- Jig saw
- Utility knife with extendable snap-style blade
- A really big compass
I have a large homemade compass that I use when I need to draw really big circles. It was easy to make and comes in very handy. See the photos for details on how to make your own large compass. You will either need to make a large compass to use, buy one similar, or use the string and nail method. The string and nail method works, although it is not as precise as a compass.
Also, the style of utility knife shown in the last photo is very useful. I use it all the time in situations where I need a sharp, disposable blade that is bigger than what comes on a standard utility knife.
Step 2: Lay Out and Cut Pink Foam
However for this flying disc, we only are going to cut off and re-attach two rings, which will create a Frisbee-like lip.
I have included a PDF with a diagram of the exact marking layout you will need to draw onto your 1-inch sheet of insulation foam. Please refer to this diagram rather than any of the markings you may see in the photos. (I was making this up as I went along, so some photos may show additional markings that were not actually used.)
Instructions for laying out and cutting the pink foam:
- Make all the required markings on your foam sheet as indicated in the diagram
- Cut out the entire 48" disc using a jig saw with the blade at 90 degrees
- Cut off the two outer rings according to the instructions noted in photos 2 and 3
- With your jig saw blade set back at 90 degrees, cut out the entire 34-inch center circle
- Cut out the four pie-shaped wedges from the 34" circle and either discard them or keep them for some other project
Step 3: Re-stack Rings and Glue in Place
The easiest way to do this is to place the main disc piece upside down and glue the rings to it. The first ring to be glued back down is the second one cut off from the main portion (the one with 45-degree angles inside and out).
Use plenty of hot glue and work your way around gluing down one ring at a time. The rings are a little flimsy by themselves, so if you accidentally break one don't worry--just hot glue it back together. I tried using spray adhesive (3M77) for this part but ended up re-gluing all the rings with hot glue because the spray adhesive gave way with the slightest impact. Hot glue has held mine together very well, plus the weight of the glue is beneficial to the proper balance of the disc. Don't worry about being stingy with it.
I used my utility knife to shave down the top angle of the disc once I had my rings in place. This is optional, but I think it looks nice and it makes it easier to cover the disc with duct tape later on.
Step 4: Add Nylon Webbing
The inner wall of the disc is reinforced with 1-inch wide nylon webbing. This is simply hot glued in place, but it adds an incredible amount of strength to the disc.
Use enough glue to bond it completely and entirely to the foam, and overlap the ends by about 6 inches or so. In addition, I placed small pieces of duct tape over this entire piece of webbing all the way around as an extra layer of security.
For all duct taping, I recommend cutting the pieces from the roll rather than tearing them. Cleanly cut and applied pieces of tape are less prone to snagging and pulling up, and the finished disc is much better looking.
Step 5: Add Rope
Rope is added to provide some needed weight to the disc as well as to add structural strength, and is in the perfect place to grip the disc for throwing.
Hot glue this in place to the underside of the disc along the outer edge. With the disc upside down, the rope should sit higher than the edge of foam by about half of the rope's width, but still be completely within the circumference of the disc.
I used masking tape to bind the rope ends to keep them from fraying, and then taped the two ends together to create a solid rope ring. You can kind of see the tape at the bottom of this photo.
Step 6: Begin Duct Taping
Use duct tape to tape over the rope and edge of the disc. Tuck the tape up as tightly under the rope as possible along the inner edge, and make sure it is completely covered and held in place securely.
Add more duct tape to the underside of the lip, covering all of the exposed seams where the stacked rings are glued together.
Step 7: Add Center Support, Plus More Tape
Glue the center support cross piece back in place with hot glue. It should fit snugly inside the center cut-out without needing any trimming.
Add a layer of tape to cover the outer angled portion of lip on the disc.
Step 8: Add Nylon Top, and a Little More Tape
Cut a 40-inch diameter circle of nylon fabric and hot glue it down to the top of the disc. I glued mine down to each cross section underneath with a single bead of hot glue, and then around the perimeter in the same manner. I pieced my fabric together with a sewing machine to make it look fancy-schmancy, but this is optional of course.
Add more duct tape around the edge of the fabric overlapping it about 1/2 inch to securely hold it down. Cover any areas on the top of the disc where the foam is still showing with more tape.
I added a second layer of tape over the outer edge of my disc (the green taped part). I'd recommend at least a couple layers of tape on this part, as this is the area under the most stress in a crash or a sideways landing resulting from a bad throw.
Step 9: Go Try It Out!
My finished 4-foot disc is balanced well and flies very nicely, just like its smaller-sized store-bought counterparts. However, the amount of tape and glue you use on yours will affect the final weight and balance.
When you throw the disc, use two hands spread about a quarter-circle distance or more apart. Keep the disc level and step into the throw. As you swing the disc forward, release the rear hand first, and with the lead hand give the disc plenty wrist (spin) as you pull through and release.
If on a nice, level throw it tends to slide off or tilt too quickly to the left or right, you may need to add some weight to it. However, it may be that you're just not throwing right, so practice for a while and let other people throw it before you conclude that it is not weighted correctly.
If you decide to add some weight, I'd recommend embedding small lead fishing weights spaced evenly around the perimeter, and continue testing it and adding more until it provides a nice, balanced flight. To place the weights, simply make small slices in the foam through the tape, poke the weight in and tape over the hole.
I've been quite surprised with how durable this is. Although I did have to glue the cross section back together after one of my kids stepped on it, it hasn't broken at all as a result crashing into things (like the ground, trees, or buildings). If it ever does receive a more serious break, I can just glue it back together. Plus if I think the duct tape is starting to look too ratty, I can always just pull it off and add more.
Now if you've made this and want another challenge, read on for the 8-foot version!
Step 10: The 8-foot Flying Disc
Here's a quick look at how I made the 8-foot flying disc.
I began with a 48" disc cut from 1" pink insulation foam, just like the smaller disc.
46 wedge-shaped pieces of cardboard were used to create the outside portion of the disc. Each of these cardboard pieces were tediously cut out, dragged over the edge of a table to curl them slightly, and then glued in place along the top edge of the foam disc.
With the disc upside down, a cardboard band was glued in place along the inside edge of the outer perimeter of the cardboard wedges, binding them together and pulling everything into a Frisbee-like shape.
About 24 feet of 1-inch polyester rope was hot glued in place along the cardboard band. I also added some cardboard pieces to the underside of the foam disc to provide additional support to the cardboard wedge pieces.
I had a small stockpile of various colors and types of duct tape which I used to cover the rope-edge of the disc, along with all of the cardboard seams.
Thanks for taking a look at this. If you make a giant flying disc for yourself, please post a photo of it in the comments!
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