Introduction: How to Make a Ping Pong Ball Gun

Picture of How to Make a Ping Pong Ball Gun

Are you tired of office/classroom/backyard wars without any stylish or efficient weapons?

Tired of getting shot with a cheap plastic bb gun that hurts like hell and breaks after 5 shots?

Do you want to shoot your colleagues/friends without having to worry about the danger off hurting them? Do you want to have a gun that will never break and requires extremely little maintenance?

Well then congratulations this instructable is perfect for you. Because today you will learn how to make a ping pong ball gun out of wood!

Allright so as I told you I will show you how to make a ping pong ball gun. I made this gun for classroom- and office-wars but as these guns will last a long while I can imagine that if I get kids even they can still enjoy these great toys :) I must say that I have had alot of fun with this gun and alot of people have already asked me to build them one to. I figure it's mostly because they are tired of getting shot with no means of returning fire but alot of people also admire the simplicity of the gun but at the same time the enormous amounts of fun you can have with it.

As you can hear I'm pretty proud about this gun. It has many advantages to it and almost no disadvantages. It's a great father son project or if your kids are to young to help just to make something  fun and cheap for them to play with. It's also the perfect weapon for any office- or classroom-war. As the name of the gun says it's a gun that shoots ping pong balls. So you really don't have to worry about any danger as a ping pong ball has never hurt anyone. So it's alot safer then a bb gun and is also alot sturdier. Where bb guns are mostly made from little plastic pieces which break easily and render the gun useless my gun is made from a solid piece of wood and all parts are found around the house making it easy to replace something in the (very) unlikely event something should get broken.

It's therefore my believe that this is the perfect gun for any child, teenager or adult who wants to have some harmless fun in the classroom, office or backyard.

This instructable is entered in the "DadCanDo Family Fun" contest so when the time comes for voting and you find this ible to be a winner please vote for me :)

If this instructable was of interest to you it may also interest you that I made a second ible about how to make a clothespin luger rubberband gun. So if you're interested in wooden guns be sure to check that one out to and let me know what you think :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

For this project you will need

  • Sander
  • Jigsaw (powertool)
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Clamps
  • An adjustable workbench (or something else  you can clamp your  wood on and easily saw it)
  • Wood 10cm / 3.9inch * 13.8 inch cm atleast and 2 cm / 0.8 inch thick (any wood will do, I actually used a pallet my dad brought home to use as firewood.
  • a Rectangular piece of wood. 15 cm / 5.9 inch * 2 cm / 0.8 inch and 1 cm / 0.4 inch thick
  • two eye-bolts
  • 4 nuts that fit on the bolts
  • 4 small nails or screws
  • A clothespin

Step 2: Making a Sketch and Drawing It on the Wood

Picture of Making a Sketch and Drawing It on the Wood

I had heard about ping pong ball guns before but I never saw one. So I decided to do a little research and then come up with my own design.

I quickly learned that a PPBG (ping pong ball gun) works like a crossbow. Using tension to drive an object forward (in this case the PPB). During my research I also found that many people drilled holes in their guns so they could stock extra ammunition. During my research I found no plans on the internet that where free of charge so I decided to come up with my own design. I took a piece of cardboard and started drawing away (pic 1).

As soon as I had something that looked okay and the shapes where conform with eachother I decided to give them distances. The way I did this was making my sketch conform. So the ping pong ball hole would be in the correct size toward for example the handle. I started from something I knew. I knew that the ping pong ball holes would need to be 3,5 cm wide as my ping pong ball was 3,5 cm wide. From there it was just measuring and check with your hand on the wood if it would fit right. (put your hand on the handle and see if you can hold it comfortably)

After that I decided to draw it on my wood. I started by drawing 2 straight lines from top to bottom I could use to make sure all the lines I would draw where straight. The first straight line would also act as the tip of the gun. I started drawing the lines from there using my ruler and the measurements from the sketch. (pic 2)

After a while I had my gun complete (pic 3). As you can see I made quite alot of mistakes while making my gun. I also changed some things like making the front piece wider so the ping pong balls would have more room and I could use part as a handle for my other hand.

So I ended up changing things from my sketch as I was making it on wood. But i don't expect you to figure this out all by yourself. Just download and print out the template of your choice (3,5 cm ping pong ball or 4 cm ping pong ball) that is included with this step, then trace it on your wood. The above information is so you know how I designed it and you can do the same when you want to build your own design.

Note: Remember to check the diameter of your ping pong balls before making this gun. Mine where 3,5 cm or 35 mm but I also saw 4 cm or 40 mm ping pong balls in a store. These will ofcourse not fit in the 3,5 cm compartments of your gun so you should take the second plan with holes for the 4cm ping pong ball. I also made the holes in the word document adjustable so you can choose to have less holes or holes in a different place. Just drag the holes, you'll see they can be changed.

A note on the template: Remember that this template fits the hand of a 20 year old man of around 1m95 in length. So use common logic and scale this template down if you are making this for a 6 year old. You can check if it'll fit by just scaling it down cutting it out and seeing how it fits in your childs hand. Also note that when you scale it down you probably can't have that much ping pong ball storage. (your pingpong ball holes will scale down to)

Step 3: Cutting the Gun Out of the Wood

Picture of Cutting the Gun Out of the Wood

Okay so get your adjustable workbench out and make sure there is an open space where you can easily cut in. Then clamp your wood onto the table (pic 1 & 2).

I decided to start cutting out the bent shape on the handle of the gun because it's by far the hardest part of the gun (pic 2). Get your jigsaw (powertool) and slowly start following the line. The problem with this shape is that the blade of your saw is to thick to follow it in one time and not get stuck in other pieces of the wood. That's why you'll probably need to start cutting a new path once or twice so you can make bigger turns to match the line (pic 3) Don't worry if you can't get the shape completely right. Just leave some of the wood you can't get to on and then saw or file it down later.

Use this technique to cut out the rest of the gun. You'll want to often unclamp your wood and turn it to a better cutting direction. Do this but make sure the wood is secured at all times while cutting. Also don't stress if you can't cut on the line exactly. Just leave it and sand or file it down later like before. When you have completed this step you should have something like picture 6.

Now sand everything so it's nice and smooth. You'll probably want to spend some time on the curved shape we cutted out first. This will need the most sanding.

Note on the handle: As you can see on the pictures my handle is pretty long. This was something that was left from the sketch. As I didn't know what length would be good for my hand I decided to cut it out completely and then see how it felt in my hand. I ended up cutting off a part  since it was too long (pic 4 & 5) but if you are using the template this is of no concern to you as the handle is already changed there.

Step 4: Making the Gun Into a Ping Pong Ball Firing Gun

Picture of Making the Gun Into a Ping Pong Ball Firing Gun

After step 3 You should have something like pic 1.

Now it's time to attatch the rectangular piece of wood. But before we can attatch it we must cut a piece out of the gun so it will fit nicely.

So draw a piece of 2 cm / 0.8 inch length and 1 cm / 0.4 inch height as seen in picture 1 and cut it out with your electrical saw. (picture 2)

When you have done this take your rectangular piece of wood and cut it down to 15 cm / 5.9 inch in length.  You now have a piece of wood that is 15 x 2 x 1 cm or 5.9 x 0.8 x 0.1 inch. Then sand it smoothly and search for the middle. There you'll make a little hole using your nail so you can see where you must attatch it to the gun later on. (picture 3) You should now have something like picture 4.

Now make two holes as shown in pic 5 & 6 for the two eye-bolts to go through. Make sure they are in the middle and atleast 0,5 cm or 0.2 inch from the side. Then bolt them on the piece of wood by using one nut on the top and one on the bottom (pic 6). On the eyes of these bolts you will tie your elastic that will fire your ping pong balls.

Step 5: Drilling the Ammunition Holes

Picture of Drilling the Ammunition Holes
So I saw that alot of people had made holes in their gun to store ping pong balls. This is a great idea since you'll probably be on the move the whole time trying to avoid other peoples projectiles and keeping them in your pocket is not very handy for fast reloading.

Normally you should have already drawn out the holes on the wood in step 2 so now we need to cut those out. I suggest using a holesaw as shown on picture 1. I had one that was exactly 3,5 cm so I just needed to attach it and drill away.

Some handy tips and tricks you might want to use are:
  • To avoid having your drill slip and make the hole in the wrong place, premake holes with a nail so your drill can fit nicely in to it. This will avoid that your holes are not properly alligned.
  • Don't forget to clamp down your wood! Otherwise it will shift and your holes will not come out nice.
  • Don't drill from one side only. When you drill through the wood from one side only this will make the bottom of the  wood crack and ruin one side of your gun. Instead drill from one side t'ill the pointy drill part is trough the wood then unclamp and continue from the otherside (clamping the wood again ofcourse)
You'll know have something like picture 2. Sand the inside of the holes (use hand sandpaper) so the ping pong balls will fit in nice and smooth.

Note: My ping pong balls fit in the holes very thightly so they don't slip away during combat. However if your ping pong balls slip out of the holes you may want to consider nailing two nails on each side and putting a rubberband on them. These rubberbands will then keep the balls in place.

Step 6: Putting Everything Together

Picture of Putting Everything Together

Okay so now use 2 small nails or screws to attatch the rectangular piece of wood to your gun. Make sure you nail it nicely in the middle. Make sure your nails/screws are not to long or they'll come out from the other side. You may want to think about adding woodglue on the bottom for extra support. I didn't do that and my gun works fine but on my second build I'll probably do it since it will be extra strong then.

When you are ready with that take your clothespin and dissasemble like shown in picture 3 & 4. then take the piece with the spring still attached to and nail it with two small nails to the gun as shown in picture 5. Then take the left over clothespin and attatch it back to the already nailed piece of clothespin like in picture 6.

Now you simply need to tie a rubberband on each of the bolteyes and you are ready to go shoot someone!

Step 7: Afterthoughts and Creative Possibilities

Picture of Afterthoughts and Creative Possibilities
Creative possibilities
  • If your ping pong balls should fall out of the extra ammo holes, consider nailing two small nails on each side and placing a rubber band between them. The rubberbands will stop the balls from falling out. (explained in step 5)
  • it is possible to turn this handgun into a rifle or shotgun. Just lengthen the so called "barrel" making the rectangular piece longer and get a stronger rubber band. If you want to go for a rifle design you should also lengthen the stock. For a shotgun design don't lengthen the stock.
  • if your clothespin is not strong enough it may happen that the rubberband will slip out by accident. You can avoid this by putting a rubberband on the clothespin and gun so the clothespin is always pressed down.
  • you can paint your gun but I really like mine as it is so I won't. Also note that if you paint the gun your pingpong balls may not fit in the extra ammo holes anymore

Okay so this definitly was an interesting build for me and I hope it was for you to. For once I had very little problems during construction and I don't think you'll be faced with any problems either. But if you should have a question, comment, remark anything at all... Please leave a reply. I'm partly fuelled to make new great ibles by the response and views I get on already published ibles :)

The total cost of this gun is exactly zero dollars for me as everything that was used in this ible  was laying around my house. I think this will be the same for many people but if you should buy everything new, including quality wood (unlike my pallet wood) I guess you would be around 10-15 dollars or so. Note however that you can get the price down to 2 dollars if you use some cheap wood like I did. I recommend pallet wood because it is usually made out of strong wood as it has to carry alot of weight.

The funny thing is that by making this gun I shot so many ping pong balls all over the place I almost completely ran out of them. The fact that it uses PPB's for ammo and those are not always widely available is the only downside I can think off. Although If you are prepared with a few boxes of PPB you'll never even notice this :)

Also note that English is not my first language, it's my fourth... So if you should come across any spellingmistakes or weird sentences leave a reply and I will correct it as soon as possible.

This is an entry for the "DadCanDo Family Fun"contest so if you think this ible is a winner please rate and vote for me :)

Special thanks to Kiteman for checking my ible for spelling mistakes and giving helpfull suggestions :)


blblbl (author)2012-12-31

It's like a little crossbow, except with ping pong balls and without the bow part.
You should make an instructable with this stock, but with a bow and chopstick arrows.

RitaM75 (author)blblbl2017-03-23

nice picture

Maeglethion (author)2015-05-13

Some slight modifications as I like to make thing using only wood. Thanks for the idea it made great Xmas gifts

gwfong made it! (author)2014-11-02

Thanks for the Instructable. We had just visited a salvage yard and my daughter said "let's build something when we get home". We searched Instructables and found your build. She immediately said "that one!". A few hours later it was done and she was target practicing with plastic cups. Thanks again.

TacticalTrumpet (author)2013-12-01

Sounds like fun! I'll have to try this sometime, great idea!!!

hkortus (author)2013-06-02

That is great Dude!!

Delaney (author)2012-03-09

My fiance's uncle brought 4 of those to christmas dinner... we had so much fun harassing all the kids with those.

Very Interesting (author)2011-12-22

My husband made these for our grown kids, and they LOVE them! They shoot really far, and were cost effective to make. Great instructions - Thank You!

ilpug (author)2010-12-10

this is cool, but i would base it off a scrossbow rather than a slingshot

Left4Greatness (author)2010-09-26

Really cool but when i make mine i will make a shotgun model and i will make it so you actually have to load the balls into the side and it will have a barrel i appreciate the idea thanks

Neovenetar (author)2010-08-19

well, it is a crossbow, so the limb is what takes the pressure, rather than the line itself.

Neovenetar (author)2010-08-17

well, my crossbow uses fishing line, and it can fire a shortsword.

Neovenetar (author)2010-08-06

if you used fishing line rather than a rubberband, would it be able to fire rocks like a slingshot?

Baddi (author)2010-07-23

now if you want smoke just replace the ping pong ball with a ping pong smoke bomb. BINGO!!! you can prob find how to make a ping pong smoke bomb somvere on this site

An Villain (author)2010-07-23

Extend the "magazine" to 5 or 6 capacity so it is a Blunderbuss esque weapon.

DJ TaiKao (author)2010-07-17

it would be cool if you made different kinds of ping pong ammunitions, such as one of those glow in the darks, or flour grenades made out of ping pongs. just suggestions...anyways nice tutorial!

MichelMoermans (author)DJ TaiKao2010-07-18

Interesting suggestion, perhaps for the future it would make a cool extra minitutorial within my instructable. For now however I really don't have the time. I'm busy developing new guns and my vacation to Austria comes up in three days. But thank you for the suggestion :)

meismeems (author)2010-07-16

Great instructable!!! One heavy did your gun turn out to be??? Is it something a 5 year old could handle???

MichelMoermans (author)meismeems2010-07-16

thank you, I don't think so but to be sure I would print out the template (the word document in step 2) cut it out and put it in your sons/daughters hands. If he/she can wrap her hand around it and reach to the top with her thumb it's good. It'll only cost 5 minutes and then you can be sure. If it is not the case you can always adjust the template by right clicking, then selecting size and adjusting the length. You'll have to change the holes ofcourse but those are changeable in the document themselfs (they are dragable seperatly). I hope this helped you, any more questions please ask :)

macrumpton (author)2010-07-15

Nice project! It looks like it could be simplified (like the eyebolts seem superfluous), and it looks like with a little tweaking you could add the ability to give the ball a backspin or topspin to shoot under obstacles and around corners.

I disagree, the eyebolts make the project easier then it normally would. If I didn't use the eyebolts I had to go with a piece of wood and that would mean I needed to attatch that to the gun using glue or nails. And believe it or not but this gun deals with alot of force when the rubberband is tied back so I don't think it would hold very well with glue. Nails could work but I find it easier to drill a hole and putting an eye-bolt through it then having to nail something stuck from the other side.

Other then that yes it's perfectly possible to tweak this to shoot under obstacles or around corners. I never hada war though where I had the time to aim in such a way that I could make it fly around a corner though. But yes it's possible :)

I was just visualizing making the crosspiece taller and making one of those large holes in it so the ball fires through the center of the crosspiece. As far as the flying around corners is concerned I was thinking for games other than battles, like frisbee golf or obstacle target practice.

nieks (author)2010-07-14

This brings up good memories, Nice project :) I myself have made some detailed plans for making a pingpongball/marbel shooting crowwbow-like gun sometime ago, maybe I'll even start buidlidng it after reading this instructions :p

MichelMoermans (author)nieks2010-07-14

It'd be happy to see what you come up with based on my instructions :) If you finish it comment on this ible and attatch a picture of the result with it, I'd be happy to see it. Note that marbles hurt like hell though and aren't really safe projectiles ;)

nieks (author)MichelMoermans2010-07-15

Oh, it isn't really based on your instructable, I made some sketches quite a while ago but I never actually build it, your instructable just reminded me of them. But i'll be happy to post a link/picture/etc if I actually get to building it (maybe make an instruction out of it :p ) And yes: Marbles can hurt, but you can use those if you want to use it for things like target shooting, cause they get a lot further then pingpong balls. I indeed wouldn't recommend using them for ofice fights and such :)

99wolfvt (author)2010-07-14

I might modify it to shoot Nerf darts. I'm not going to post it on Instructables though.

w1l50n1404 (author)2010-07-13

Cool! I like the mechanism, though you must pull the rubber to do another shot. I was thinking to make it pulled automatically. Maybe with a spring? But it'll slow down the rubber though.

Interesting although you should elaborate further. And yes I think the spring will slow down the rubberband. But how do you think the sping will pull it back completely?

I would say that the easiestway to accomplish pulling the rubber back would be to attatch it to a string and put the string on a device like with a fishpole so you can wheel the rubber band back in. ofcourse then you will have to operate that :p

But it's really not such an effort to pull it back in anyway so perhaps those mechanisms are to complicated for what they are worth...

I'm interested though what you have in mind, so if you could attatch a sketch in your next comment explaining how it works I'd be happy to look at it for you and give you tips how to build it :)

Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'm a bit busy so I don't have time to find the materials. Because it's really hard to find specific materials in my city. My other idea is to make flamethrower from a water gun, though it failed and too risky. because if I change the water into oil and put a fire in front of it, there's a possibility the flame will get into the water gun and explodes. My newest project, is to make a switch-blade claw like Freddy Krueger's, well if you can help I really really appreciate it. Lol

nightninja87 (author)2010-07-13

would it be possible to make a modified version similar to a rubber band gun with the wheel but a trigger also?

Uncle Kudzu (author)2010-07-13

a fun and reasonably easy 'ible. excellent job on the English, too!

seamster (author)2010-07-12

Very cool! I like the compact design.

MichelMoermans (author)seamster2010-07-13

Thanks :)

The compact design is especially handy when teachers or bosses enter the room ;)

"Michel did you just fire that ping pong ball?"

"No sir how could I have done that? I don't have anything I could use to fire those with..."

"Hmm yes that's true.."

dsman195276 (author)2010-07-12

Pretty cool, but doesn't the rubberband just slip over the ping-pong ball and shoot it into the ground?

KT Gadget (author)dsman1952762010-07-12

Depends how the rubber band is bending after it is released as well as how the ends are mounted.

dsman195276 (author)KT Gadget2010-07-12

I don't see how that matters at all. Since the ping-pong ball can just spin the rubberband will just glide over the top of it. Referring to this run, the rubberband is way to high to shoot the ping-pong ball effectively. A ram style shooting method would work much better.

If you position the rubberband correctly, it would hit the middle and it KAPOW, bye bye ball. Even if it were just above centre, it would still fire away.

As I said before, i'm referring to the pictured one, which has the rubberband positioned a ways above the center of the ping-pong ball.

To answer that question, yes it is centered above the middle of the ball. It's because the clothespin was thicker then I expected. But I must say it fires away very well. I never had a problem with a ping pong ball that stayed put while the rubberband had already fired.

If this however concerns you and you want to make sure it hits the ball midcenter, just use my template and then cut a little of the top. This way your problem is solved :)

But again I never had any problems while firing this at people in my yard. And it never just shot in the ground it always went straightforward very well.

Well ok then. I'll take your word for it. Thanks.

Your welcome, but if it bothers you you should just cut off a little piece of the top. I don't know if the PPB will go farther if it's fired mid centered but I can imagine it would.

It's something I'll consider for the next one I build (it's unbelievable how many requests I get from friends now to build them guns) but for the current one it's not worth the trouble of removing everything and cutting it off. It fires a solid 5 meters now and that's all I need :)

JaredsProjects (author)2010-07-12

I like how you made places for extra ping pong balls.When you said that english was your 4th language I was shocked, because It was perfect.


Why thank you :) I try really hard to get as many spelling errors out of the ibles I make as I can. Kiteman did a quick check for me and he found only 3 small errors so I was really happy with that :) Yeah if you're living in a multi-language mess of a land as our's (Belgium) You have to learn them from school, Dutch French and German because they are the official language's and English because it's the international language.

Well if you ever want I will look over one of your instructables for errors too.


Why thank you :) I'll definitly hold you to it :)

bustedit (author)2010-07-13

very nice, looks like a flintlock ping pong pistol! you mention "beer pong". you could combine the 2 and play Redneck Beer Pong, shooting the balls into the cups, or devise any variation of guns, beer & balls! Do you think waxing the runway on which the ball slides would make any difference? or perhaps a hard varnish? worth the effort for the tiniest increase in FPS, you think?

MichelMoermans (author)bustedit2010-07-13

Well I think that a redneck version of beer pong with this gun would definitly speak to the more grownup people who see this ible and I think I'll try it sometime :D it sounds fun!

And as far as waxing the runway, I think it will benifit the guns shooting-range as the friction would be much lower allowing the PPB to shoot away at a faster speed. I tried to get the friction down by just sanding the runway extensivly but waxing it or varnishing would definitly help more. I just don't know if it would be noticibly increase the guns range. But it's certainly worth a try :)

And in the event it doesn't,  nothing is lost since the PPB is hold in it's place by the rubberband in the first place so yeah in the end it can only improve the gun or change nothing. Definitly worth a shot. If you try it out tell me how it went :)

MichelMoermans (author)2010-07-13

Thanks :D

Perhaps I'll add a disclaimer that you can't shoot people directly in the mouth with this gun or play beerpong using it ;) :p

ChrysN (author)2010-07-12

I video of you shooting it would be cool. How far does it go?

MichelMoermans (author)ChrysN2010-07-13

A video is coming following the advice Kiteman gave me :)

As far as distance goes it all depends on which rubberband you utilize. I used one of those Knex rubberbands that was laying around in my desk from my knex days long ago.

It's not the best one I could use (still waiting for my dad to bring me some mailman rubberbands, those are good) but this one shoots 5 meters with ease, more is possible with compensating (pointing the gun slightly in the air)

About This Instructable




Bio: 25 year old social cultural worker making things that he finds cool! My interests are wide and vary, but usually if the voice in the ... More »
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