Picture of Mini Matchstick Gun - The Clothespin Pocket Pistol
In this project we're taking boring old clothespins, and up-cycling them into powerful matchstick & toothpick shooters, that will stick into apples, and lob firey darts over 20 feet.
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Step 1: Watch the Video!

This project was inspired by instructables author "Samarai" and his awesome tutorial on making a Clothespin Gun

Step 2: What Is a Mini Matchstick Gun?

Picture of What Is a Mini Matchstick Gun?
A Matchstick Gun is essential to your collection of desktop weaponry.  

This little pocket pistol will shoot a matchstick with power, blast toothpicks into fruit, and lob fiery darts. 

The best parts is, it can be made fairly easily and for almost nothing!

Step 3: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
All we need for this project is;
  • Some wood glue
  • A utility knife
  • A simple clothespin (Just make sure it's the wooden kind with the metal spring.)
Some additional items that might make your experience better will be;
  • Some scrap paper
  • Wooden matches
  • Wooden toothpicks

Step 4: Making The Mini Peg Gun

Picture of Making The Mini Peg Gun
To make the peg gun, you'll first need to remove the spring, and place the two wooden pieces, back to back, so the notches line up near the center.

Next, make a marking on the top piece about half an inch from the hole, and an angled marking on the bottom.  (see the picture for reference)

Just for convenience, I went ahead and filled in all the areas that need to be chiseled out with blue pen.  So grab your utility knife and carefully carve out all the areas marked in blue. 

The long channels made in the center of the pieces are going to act as our gun barrel, so play with them until a wooden matchstick can slide in and out loosely when the two pieces are pressed together.

The angled marking, marks the place where you'll need to cut a small notch.  This notch needs to angle back to hold the spring in place when you replace it.

When your pieces are carved and placed back to back, they should look like what you see in the picture.
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Scamerman Run made it!1 year ago

I made a miniature :D


Ooooh! Aaaah!

Jared1016 months ago
This is great but it is impossible to make for me I can't cut it without it breaking and the spring isn't strong enough to put it in the notches wear can you get quality clothespins?
Squarcio made it!6 months ago

Cutted a little bad; but first instructables!!

ElCubano1 year ago
Is this... Legal?

why would it not be?

daniellong29 months ago

if the part of the spring that is not suposed to move (the one that is in the ")" shape hole) jumps out, just use a file and turn the ")" into "]" like this

gemoney1 year ago
Can I make the gun fire over 50+ feet
goaskal1 year ago

Forgive me for being an old fogey but all I see is a dangerous weapon that could easily cause injury or property damage, even under 'normal' use. Pointed projectiles that can blast into fruit can as easily blind a person or animal. Flaming matches can easily cause a fire when they land, especially if they go off target. Publishing plans like this where ANYONE of any age can see them is asking for trouble.

MSHAG goaskal1 year ago

someone, quick! contact the army so we can get one of these into every soldier's hands.


You could use it in the snow and when they fall into the snow they would be easily distinguished. And, if you don't have snow, fire onto a concrete surface away from flammable objects.

aebe goaskal1 year ago

" Old and in the way , that's what I heard them say " ............. :)

Yet , I left California , unburntdown .

You can't have a BB gun. You will put your eye out. Yawn. I'm 69, have heard variations of that stuff since about 1950, when I got my first Red Rider. Think of it as a Darwin moment. The weak perish, the strong survive, and good riddance to the weak.

I made this thing

it shoots really well I even made a metal shot out of a used rivet!

craftboyandhisprojects made it!1 year ago

I made this

cedrock made it!1 year ago

pretty nice

siegeking made it!1 year ago

it shoots epically !!!! Thanks for the ible !!!!!

Selfmademan made it!1 year ago

a bit tricky to cut the parts out of the clip. mine doesn't really shoot far, maybe round about 2 metres. and it doesn't hit hard, I don't got one of my ammo in a apple. but all in all a nice toy or evening-project

yoyoyo98011 year ago

Late comment, again, can I make it shoot something else

lantonelli made it!1 year ago

Nice instructable.....but I used more then a knife :-P

swim111 year ago
MaDeuce1 year ago

Use a white-tipped strike-anywhere kitchen match for ammo. Load the match so that the tip is inside of the pistol. This is the opposite of the orientation shown in the photos. When the pistol is fired, the spring strikes the tip, both lighting the match and launching it at the same time. Used to make these as a kid 40+ years ago...

i heard a story that some kids made a shooter like how you described it and started a fire and burned down a house, no offence, but this is an original idea

DPeleg MaDeuce1 year ago


owen57021 year ago

can u use super glue

owen57021 year ago
Can u use super glue
owen57021 year ago
Aziehr981 year ago

This sounds like a fun project. I am gonna make two of them when I get home from school today. Thanks for the fun idea.

ydanay made it!1 year ago
My knifes weren't sharp enough, so I used the nail file on my pocket knife, which worked great!
14, 7:45 PM.jpg
ljohann made it!1 year ago

love it!

ydanay1 year ago
Then you can start shooting toothpicks at your apple swans. :)

Great, what a Original Idea !!!

Chrizzle131 year ago
It was fun to make! I made one this evening

very impressive and intuitive Grant! this is a "Have to do"!

CobyUnger made it!1 year ago

Awesome project. Made a few and had a fun and safe fire fight.

ElCubano1 year ago
This is good, but you will need safety. But anyway, pretty good project!
This is awesome
aebe1 year ago

Uncle Ray showed my brother and I how to make these , right around 1960 . 9 and 10 years old , we were . Great fun , shooting matches every which way on a summer evening . Pure dumb luck we never set anything more important than each other on fire , we could have burned down all of south California . Make one ! ( Or two , they're small ) . Just don't let the kids play with them , without suitable body armor , and only in the swimming pool ...... :)

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