Introduction: Giant Flying Discs

Picture of Giant Flying Discs
This was an experiment to see if I could make an enormous Frisbee-style flying disc. The goal was to make one that was as massive as possible, but still actually flyable. 

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

Picture of The 4-foot Flying Disc
To make the 4-foot flying disc, you will need the following supplies and tools:
  • 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
The insulation foam and the rope should be available at most home improvement stores. Nylon fabric and webbing can be found at most fabric stores. Most of the other stuff is pretty common.

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

Picture of Lay Out and Cut Pink Foam
The outer edge of the disc is layered up using the same method used in this instructable for making layered bowls from a wooden board. (Basically, you cut off rings from the outer edge of a circular board at a 45-degree angle that are the same width as the base material is thick, and then re-stack and glue together the angled rings to create a cone-shaped bowl. It's a pretty slick process.)

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
Note: Use a fine-toothed blade for a cleaner cut. If your jig saw blade does not reach all the way through the foam, as mine didn't, use a knife or blade of some kind (I used my fancy utility knife) to complete the cuts. Just make sure to finish the cuts as close to 45 degrees as possible.
  • 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
The large cross or "plus sign" that is remaining will be re-glued back into the center of the disc later on, after reinforcing the inner walls of the disc cut-out.

Step 3: Re-stack Rings and Glue in Place

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.

That's it.

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!


bravoechonovember1 (author)2015-08-31

so this is where those ufo stories come from!

NathanSellers (author)2015-03-21

Yea! Rock Canyon Park! Such a prefect place for throwing giant Frisbees.

seamster (author)NathanSellers2015-03-21

Ha, yes indeed! I didn't even know the guys in the video. I just walked up and asked if they want to throw this around while I recorded it "for the internet." They were happy to oblige!

Kysmach (author)2014-10-03

These look great ! I wanna make one :D Thanks for sharing !

Teisha (author)2014-08-15

Very cool and creative! Thanks for sharing!

seamster (author)Teisha2014-08-15

Thanks! The smaller one was a lot of fun. It was eventually given to a neighbor kid and we moved away. I've wondered how it held up over time..

Teisha (author)seamster2014-08-15

Yeah, the smaller one looks like a lot of fun! The larger one almost looks like a parachute -- I wonder if the design could be modified to support a person, or at least a heavy weight. I'd want somebody else to test it first though! So neat.

pddonovan2011 (author)2014-06-17

what we need are some 20' tall players, then we could really see some distance!

pddonovan2011 (author)2014-06-17

what we need are some 20' tall players, then we could really see some distance!

craftclarity (author)2014-06-16

Holy cow, that looks cool! I bet the catch-and-throw learning curve is bit steep, project!!

TheMrCOOLguy2 (author)2013-08-15


sunshiine (author)2012-08-09

I'll bet it gave you a great work out! Thnaks for sharing.

RSV26 (author)2012-05-03

whats with the colours?

seamster (author)RSV262012-05-03

what do you mean?

RSV26 (author)seamster2012-05-03

why the blue and green comdo?

seamster (author)RSV262012-05-04

I think it looks nice. Do you not like it?

RSV26 (author)seamster2012-05-04

no i just thought it looks like ben 10

seamster (author)RSV262012-05-05

Ah, okay. I had to google that, but it does indeed have a resemblance to the Ben 10 logo.

makendo (author)2012-03-28

Awesome. Having made one of your Captain America shields, and having had it beaten upon, left out in the rain, and generally abused by two small boys, I can attest to the robustness of your construction methods!
Excellent twirling launch of the 8-footer... almost like a slow-motion shot put...

seamster (author)makendo2012-03-28

Thanks! I wish I would have recorded my initial attempts to throw it because I tried to toss it like a regular frisbee a few times before giving up and trying other methods. The thing is so cumbersome and awkward, and I'm sure I must have looked like a real doofus...

makendo (author)seamster2012-04-20

Congratulations, well-deserved win - looking forward to lots of high quality video in your new projects!

seamster (author)makendo2012-04-20

Thank you! I'm pretty excited about winning the Hero camera. I've wanted one for a while, but it's just something I never would have purchased. Happy day! (Except once I get, I'll most likely play with it for a while, then sell it and buy some paint, maybe some lumber, or some fabric.... it really is a vicious cycle.)

static (author)2012-04-03

Far extreme. Jolly the Jolly Green Giant can play Frisbee with his dog.

silver912targa (author)2012-04-01

The discs lack speed and rotation in order to stay longer in the air. When I throw a flying disc and I want it to fly as far as possible and as stable as possible. I give it as much spin as I can by flipping my wrist very hard and fast. This way the disc spins very fast so it doesn't go left nor right and stays in the air much longer because it acts like a wing of an airplane.
I think this is what you should do with this big a disc as yours. Put the disc on a motor which you can hold in your hands and run from the hill while letting the motor spin the disc. And when you're running at a good pace release the disc from the motor. This way you have your rotating disc flying at a speed you ran.
The disc will stay stable (because of the rotations) and stay in the air because of its velocity.
I love this ible and would love the see some progress :-) Would be nice to see a huge disc fly for minutes. Reminds me a bit of the movie " Close encounters of the third kind"

Fik (author)silver912targa2012-04-02

NEXT: Giant flying disk motorized launcher.
Something like the ramp from wich Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum lift off in Independence day, but with a rotating platform. 

Spokehedz (author)silver912targa2012-04-01

You are partially correct, and wrong in others.

Discs stay in the air because of LIFT. This is generated by the rounded edge pushing air up and over the top which causes a low pressure area to form on the underside. The air flows over the top, and since it is curved it is longer meaning this is where the lift is generated.

What keeps it flying straight and level is the rotation of the disc. This is a centripetal force and what keeps it straight. The speed at which you spin the disk makes no difference to how far it flies--if you spin your disk at 500RPM and drop it it will fall straight down--but it does contribute to keeping it in the air longer as it will want to stay level longer. It is like a gyroscope.

So here it is broken down:

Fast Spin = Stable flight.
Powerful Throw = Longer flight.

silver912targa (author)Spokehedz2012-04-01

Exactly what I meant! But because of my poor English not correct written, sorry.
Thank you for correcting me :-)

Alphageek63 (author)2012-04-02

Cool design. For the larger one, I wonder if you could put a couple of small, raised finger holds on the underside, opposite each other for balance. I'm thinking something like the handholds you see on kids climbing walls. You could probably make them out of that very light modeling compound, let them dry and glue them on about a foot from the center. I'm thinking that you position the finger holds front and back, hold this thing overhead with your hands at the finger holds. Start running, and right before you release it, you send the finger holds in opposite directions for a counterclockwise rotation. I've tried this with nothing in my hands, and it might work.

It might be a little awkward, especially the rear hand, but it's hard to imagine throwing an 8' frisbee without being at least a LITTLE awkward!

seamster (author)Alphageek632012-04-02

That's a pretty good idea. I may have to give that a try next time.

natospec (author)2012-04-01

could always use a beam compass.

randumbum (author)2012-04-01

Hella sick disks!

Silvester10528 (author)2012-04-01

I think the problem with the 8' disk is that the curvature is too sharp. If you could get the same diameter by only making the disk half as tall, I think it would fly better...
Instead of rope at the edge, maybe try flexible black plastic water pipe. That would give you a stable circle to tape the cardboard to that would still be flexible enough to survive (crash) landing.

seamster (author)Silvester105282012-04-01

I think you are exactly right.

It ended up being much more bowl-shaped than I had intended, and I wasn't very happy with it. (The flights showing in the video are the best I got out of at least 20 throws!)

Green Silver (author)2012-04-01

Use some rocket motors and short wings to add spin and lift.

builderv (author)2012-03-30

cool very cool nice job

NightHawkInLight (author)2012-03-29

I like it, very cool. I might have to create a design of my own.

jdlbb (author)2012-03-29

The foam insulation is expensive. Couldnt this be done with a hula hoop and the same nylon fabric?

seamster (author)jdlbb2012-03-29

I don't know if a hula hoop would produce the same results, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

I bought a 4' by 8' sheet of 1-inch foam for $15. My total cost for the 4-foot version would have been about $40, but I had a lot of the materials already on hand.

chrwei (author)2012-03-28

construction adhesive or an adhesive caulk would probably be easier and last longer.

seamster (author)chrwei2012-03-28

That may be true, but I used hot glue because I had some on hand.

Is construction adhesive flexible at all, or would it tend to crack? I've never really worked with it.

chrwei (author)seamster2012-03-29

some is, some isn't, and I hadn't considered that much flex would be important Wouldn't some extra rigidity help a bit? Also, some adhesives will eat foam, PL Premium won't, but also dries hard as a rock, and almost as brittle as one too.
adhesive caulk usually is flexible, and safe.

piggleliggle (author)2012-03-29

Woah, that looks so incredibly fun :D
Now if only I could get my hands on enough time to do this...

mikeasaurus (author)2012-03-28

I love this!
Another fun disc to add to your collection.

seamster (author)mikeasaurus2012-03-28

Thanks. What can I say, I like things that fly!

javierpop (author)2012-03-28

Hey where do you get the pink insulation.

seamster (author)javierpop2012-03-28

I got mine at Home Depot.

Dsanders2014 (author)2012-03-28

Where exactly would you buy this heavy rope?

seamster (author)Dsanders20142012-03-28

I got mine at Home Depot.

monsterlego (author)2012-03-28

Have you seen Captain America? (hint hint hint)

freeza36 (author)2012-03-28

these are really cool. Nice work.

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
More by seamster:Making Quick & Easy Work Tables12 Do-It-Yourself Diversion Safes Spray Paint Secret Safe
Add instructable to: