Introduction: Mighty Tiny Slingshot

Picture of Mighty Tiny Slingshot

This is a fun little toy slingshot you can make in just a few minutes.

When I was a kid, we made these out of used 35mm photo film canisters. Since film canisters have become quite scarce these days, this is an updated version that uses a piece of PVC instead.

You can discreetly turn many small items into high-velocity projectiles with this thing, like pencil erasers, airsoft BBs, and spit-soaked wads of paper.

Go ahead and make a few, and let me know what you think!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
All you need are three things:
  • 1 inch of either 1" or 1 1/4" diameter PVC (I used 1 1/4")
  • A party balloon
  • Some tape (I used electrical tape)
If you have a film canister, you can use it instead of the PVC. Simply cut the bottom off with a utility knife.

Step 2: Sand the Edges of the PVC

Picture of Sand the Edges of the PVC

I used a sanding attachment on my rotary tool to quickly knock down the sharp edges on the piece of PVC. This is not necessary, but it makes holding the PVC ring in your hand a bit more comfortable.

Step 3: Cut Balloon in Half

Picture of Cut Balloon in Half

Cut the balloon in half, like in the photo. You could use scissors, of course--I just used my rotary cutter because it was handy and quick.

Step 4: Position Balloon in PVC

Picture of Position Balloon in PVC

Set the PVC down and tuck the balloon piece into it so the balloon hangs out over the edge about half way down the PVC pipe.

Step 5: Tape Balloon in Place

Picture of Tape Balloon in Place

Wrap a piece of tape around the PVC to hold the balloon in place. That's it!

Just drop a projectile into the bottom of the balloon through the PVC, pinch the item with your fingers, pull it back, aim, and let it go.

Just don't shoot anybody's eye out, okay?


fraser02 (author)2016-10-15

For best quality I use the finger of a rubber glove, and pipes, like you used, the front end of a bottle or a toilet roll all work.

fraser02 (author)2016-10-14

Widely known as "Pea Shooters"... not entirely uncommon:)

Battlespeed (author)2016-04-12

They make these commercially now - called the "Pocket Shot" - $25.

chrisperez (author)2015-07-21

Man this brings me way back to elementary school. We used juice container that we bought for $0.25 and a balloon.

jamesadmiraal (author)2015-07-06

I used a scotch tape canister instead of a pvc pipe

kmonroe6 (author)2015-04-08


danielthomas72 (author)2011-10-21

I hate to be the party pooper but 'friends' in high school in 1987 made something similar to this with pvc pipe and a finger from washing-up glove (quite thick rubber glove).
They shot small plastic pellets. similar to beans from a bean-bag in size only hard.
Whilst on school camp in Kings Creek, Central Australia (basically the middle of nowhere) I was accidentally shot in the eye and had to flown to the nearest hospital (some 200kms away) on the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The pellet missed my pupil by mere millimetres and I narrowly missed being blinded. Whilst I know that anything on Instructables comes with an unspoken 'at your own risk' policy, I am wondering if there need be a parental style warning with many of the projects herein.....?

seamster (author)danielthomas722011-10-22

I agree with you. This is not a thing you should shoot at peoples' faces. It should be handled just like BB and airsoft guns, as it is equally dangerous.


bike19 (author)danielthomas722011-10-22

sorry to be an even bigger party pooper, but back in the 80's we were using condoms and film canisters to shoot things at relief teachers, schoolyard bullies and bus drivers ;D

barkingdogbraclets (author)2015-03-31


o o


wizard124 (author)2015-02-01

HAHA......this is awesome. I need to build a few and test the destructiveness of different projectiles.

Emperor Towhid (author)2014-11-12

nice work

seamster (author)2013-07-19

Anything tubular would work. You could try a piece of stiff cardboard tubing (like from an aluminum foil roll), a 35mm film canister (with the bottom cut off), a metal pipe, or any number of other things. Good luck!

guffe jensen (author)2013-05-29

I have one:)

camping crazy (author)2012-09-11

This is awesome I never woulda thought of it.

person% (author)2012-05-24

i cant believe i didn't think of that! what a great idea!

i used to make very powerful and small slingshots but they are all so hard to load, because they use those thick red rubber bands and it shoots sticks and pencils.

RadioactiveBees (author)2012-05-06

Perhaps a miniscule Laser Pointer on the side for aim, a small bag on the opposite side for ammo, and something to clip it to your belt with in the middle? Hmmmm...

hjennings23 (author)2011-10-22

This looks like a great time! I wonder what would happen if you used bigger diameter pipe and bigger balloons... Tennis ball cannon methinks.

codongolev (author)hjennings232011-10-22

sewage pipe and a weather balloon...

Jarheadicus (author)codongolev2012-03-22

ummm...Ouch? are you gonna use a baseball, or a cannonball

codongolev (author)Jarheadicus2012-03-24

well, I'm not shooting it at anyone....

Jarheadicus (author)codongolev2012-04-16

save the idea for WW3

hjennings23 (author)codongolev2011-10-22

I like the way you think.

Omikron1 (author)2012-02-23

Is there a way to make it more silenced?

seamster (author)Omikron12012-02-23

I don't think so. It's pretty quiet as is.

sherms667 (author)2012-02-12

Oh wow! I love it! Does it make me a bad parent if I showed my daughter how to make this?

seamster (author)sherms6672012-02-12

I don' t think so... unless she does something dumb with it, like trying to rob a bank!

Llama Nerds (author)2011-11-09

I had so much fun with this! I posted a video on Google+ of me shooting mini marshmallows at a video camera with mine. I also had fun shooting snappers/poppers (the little, paper-wrapped, tadpole-shaped things that explode on impact) at a wall after dark!

seamster (author)Llama Nerds2011-11-09

Glad to hear it! Thanks for the comment, I'll check out your video.

chaitanyak (author)2011-11-02

this is awesome

builderkidj (author)2011-10-31

Thats sooooo cool!

mrmerino (author)2011-10-18

What's a film canister?

martzsam (author)mrmerino2011-10-18

Oh no... We have entered the digital age... That's like asking "What's a VHS?" or "What's a floppy disk?"

A film canister is a small cylindrical container used to store 24 (usually) shot film for film cameras.

mrmerino (author)martzsam2011-10-18

Huh? I'm sorry, I was being sarcastic... I was mocking the perception of our Digital Age youth.

I'm nearly sixteen, I remember VHS, I remember Pokémon cereal, I remember film cameras (my mom held on to that stuff a little longer than most people, that's probably an indirect reason I don't play video games).

I don't so much remember floppies. All we had was CD's and VHS.

I also just realized how needy I am. Huh.

Tom Hargrave (author)mrmerino2011-10-20

I still shoot with film today. Why? Because even the highest resolution digital camera made today still does not contain as much information as one frame of 35mm film. Digital still does not have the granularity, contrast or the depth of field of good film.

Avatar_I_Am (author)Tom Hargrave2011-10-29

Biggest difference is film has a wider latitude than most digital cameras, about 7 stops for neg film vs about 3.5 for digital. Contrast can be set, DoF is up to te lens focal length...

But, on topic, ths sounds like a real danger, and therefor lots of fun. I have several balloons and several film canisters...

weybourne (author)Tom Hargrave2011-10-28

You would need a much larger format than 35mm to outperform the resolution of a modern digital 'full-frame' (i.e. same size as 35mm film) SLR. Digital formats generally outperform film in noise/grain levels - especially at comparable format sizes. Depth of field is nothing to do with the medium and everything to do with the optics (for a given format size). Contrast is debatable - and inasmuch as it is debatable - it is therefore not obvious one way or the other. There's plenty of research, evidence and 'pudding-proof' out there.

All that aside, I reckon that a 35mm canister will make a much better Mighty Tiny Slingshot barrel than a CF or SD memory card case :-)

I have an old Topcon D-1 and a 135mm lens that the aperture failed and stuck in the 'just barely open enough to let light in'. Set up at night with a half (or bigger) moon and left open for 6 hours i get near 3D slides.
Digital can't do that.

Grumpy, that sounds amazing ! I know pinhole cameras are still made and sold. Can you do an instructable, and/or post some slides ?

Anybody can do it with a simple lens and an SLR that has a strictly manual mode and plenty of patience. Set it up on a tripod, aimed at a canyon mouth, into a canyon or someplace that moonlight does not get a lot of reflection. Lakes and other bodies of water will over expose the film.
As the moon arcs across the sky, the shadows move giving an equal amount of light where the shadows were, and shading the earlier well lit areas.
The amount of light hitting the film will determine the amount of time you need to leave the shutter open.
I used a locking cable shutter release and mostly went by sheer guess. Try several different shutter times.
Try to find a one hour photo lab that will clip the exposed film and reload it into a spare film cartridge so you don't waste a whole roll of film for a few shots.
From the way back machine, Kodak did make a 25ISO film called Ektar that was nearly as good as Kodachrome or Ektachrome for this, but the prints didn't seem to have the same 3-D effect. Still pretty awesome, but not "perfect".
At 65 years, when it gets dark... I tend to go to sleep unless I'm driving, and even then it's tempting....

vincent7520 (author)mrmerino2011-10-21

Oh ! … you don't remember 33 and 45 rpm ?… pinball machines ? … dial phones with long cords ?… steam locomotives ?… car brakes operated by cables ?… cigarettes holders ?…
we still have a lot to pass them on to you : we, 60's +, are obviously a lazy bunch when it comes to common heritage.


my bad !!!…

martzsam (author)mrmerino2011-10-20

Lol good. I was being sarcastic as well... VHS is the best :O go buy some right now.

CraftBear (author)martzsam2011-10-18

I may be a 90's kid but I know what all those things are! Have used and owned them all! Film Canisters are AMAZING!!! And polaroid Cameras ;D

vincent7520 (author)CraftBear2011-10-24

I kept aluminium and plastic film canisters from these days, and my faithful POlaroid broke beyond repair when I moved a few years ago and I feel bad about it ! …

Dr.Bill (author)martzsam2011-10-21

Floppy Disk ?

ablasi (author)mrmerino2011-10-20

I did NOT just read that.

agis68 (author)mrmerino2011-10-20

omg am i so old?

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: