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.

步骤1: Watch the Video!

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

步骤2: 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!

步骤3: 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

步骤4: 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.
Post a comment
Be nice!


gemoney 天数: 六月 23, 2014. 12:05 PM
Can I make the gun fire over 50+ feet
mimijojo747 天数: 六月 9, 2014. 5:11 PM

I made this thing

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

craftboyandhisprojects 天数: 六月 3, 2014. 3:49 PM

I made this

cedrock 天数: 五月 30, 2014. 6:27 AM

pretty nice

siegeking 天数: 五月 12, 2014. 5:09 PM

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

Selfmademan 天数: 四月 28, 2014. 2:55 PM

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

yoyoyo9801 天数: 四月 23, 2014. 1:46 PM

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

Scamerman+Run 天数: 四月 22, 2014. 3:44 AM

I made a miniature :D

lantonelli 天数: 四月 20, 2014. 11:13 AM

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

swim11 天数: 四月 19, 2014. 5:31 PM
owen5702 天数: 四月 6, 2014. 5:26 PM

can u use super glue

owen5702 天数: 四月 6, 2014. 4:37 PM
Can u use super glue
owen5702 天数: 四月 6, 2014. 3:13 PM
Aziehr98 天数: 三月 28, 2014. 10:23 AM

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 天数: 三月 10, 2014. 7:45 PM
My knifes weren't sharp enough, so I used the nail file on my pocket knife, which worked great!
ljohann 天数: 三月 9, 2014. 11:16 PM

love it!

ydanay 天数: 三月 9, 2014. 4:15 PM
Then you can start shooting toothpicks at your apple swans. :)
Atmakuri+Koteswararao 天数: 三月 9, 2014. 8:51 AM

Great, what a Original Idea !!!

Chrizzle13 天数: 三月 3, 2014. 1:50 PM
ElCubano 天数: 三月 2, 2014. 1:35 PM
Is this... Legal?
stretch2545 天数: 二月 20, 2014. 8:09 PM
It was fun to make! I made one this evening
stretch2545 天数: 二月 20, 2014. 3:38 PM

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

happy_Psycho 天数: 二月 19, 2014. 8:26 PM

This is obviously a rip-off of the instructions for a "Matchstick shooter" from the book Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction. Please, don't rip things off of books or stuff like that because it is plagerism and I doubt the author of Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction gave you pemission to use his design.

hunter999 天数: 二月 20, 2014. 1:55 PM

He doesn't need permission. As long as he has modified and changed the design, it is enough to call it his own. Instructables is for improving upon others ideas. Most inspiration out here are not new original ideas, but improving on something that they have seen. Whether it is in an instructable or book.

happy_Psycho 天数: 二月 20, 2014. 3:23 PM

This is not improving, it is plagiarism. He copied it all down!

stretch2545 天数: 二月 26, 2014. 3:40 PM

Dude, chill

ElCubano 天数: 三月 2, 2014. 1:37 PM
Chill bro. He got his INSPIRATION from a guy who does instructables not the book so chill please
Fire+in+the+sky 天数: 四月 13, 2014. 5:20 PM

you are just ruining other peoples day. please stop

SH4D3SL4Y3R0202 天数: 三月 12, 2014. 8:47 AM


Fire+in+the+sky 天数: 四月 13, 2014. 5:19 PM

i do have experience with this kid of thing. it is true that without changing it, it is plagerism, but there is tons of people who complain about this, and most of the time, it is just by people who are just jealous, or just want to ruin other peoples day. also, how do you know it is the books design? my dad and grandfather made these in their day, so you have no proof that the book created them

Fred.Royal 天数: 七月 31, 2014. 6:41 PM

How can it be a rip off? I was making these 50 to 55 years ago.

CobyUnger 天数: 二月 13, 2014. 3:22 PM

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

ElCubano 天数: 二月 12, 2014. 5:52 PM
This is good, but you will need safety. But anyway, pretty good project!
Michael+Danzi 天数: 二月 11, 2014. 2:54 PM
This is awesome
irulelikecheese 天数: 二月 10, 2014. 7 PM
aebe 天数: 二月 9, 2014. 6:52 PM

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 ...... :)

brianpotter 天数: 二月 8, 2014. 5:51 PM
Geereeaaatttt!! Idea!!
zahrim 天数: 二月 4, 2014. 8:23 PM

That is so creative and cool...

dasheno 天数: 二月 4, 2014. 4:35 PM
tychobot 天数: 二月 4, 2014. 7:45 AM
wat a nice project I'm going to make also one
MaDeuce 天数: 二月 3, 2014. 11:31 AM

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...

DPeleg 天数: 二月 14, 2014. 8:41 AM


Fire+in+the+sky 天数: 四月 13, 2014. 5:23 PM

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

mpoole4 天数: 二月 1, 2014. 7:37 AM
andrea+biffi 天数: 一月 28, 2014. 12:22 PM

genius! :-)

inf3ct3d+R3x 天数: 一月 28, 2014. 8:48 AM

I tried to make one of these. It did not work... I needed a sharper knife so I don't split it in half.

DM5k 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 3:09 PM
You are a genius
Edgar 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 1:29 PM

You keep making these cool Instructables, and Videos , I keep posting a note about them on my Blog! :)

Edgar 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 1:29 PM

You keep making these cool Instructables, and Videos , I keep posting a note about them on my Blog! :)

seedee 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 1:27 PM


we know it since 1970's!

seedee 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 12:43 PM


we know it from 1970's!

trollgaden 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 9:16 AM

dude, just YES!!!!!!!!!!!

i must make one or 20 lol

and i read some things below about safety concerns I agree but this is to fun not to do it, and i will ware goggles when i do it

thank you for sharing this I am very pleased and will deafinatly check out more of your stuff :)

dorybob 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 5:51 AM


he+who+crashes+often 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 12:11 AM

having made a few of these I have one suggestion: use strike-anywhere matches, and place them in the shooter with the phosphorus tip at the back. the impact from the spring is enough to ignite the match, so it eliminates the need to light it before firing. However, as many have mentioned, this can be extremely dangerous. it's one thing to use it for a bit of fun, maybe shoot some fireballs towards non-flammable things (like an empty road or swimming pool for example) or show some apples who's boss but just remember, shooting this at people will get you charged with armed assault, and starting a fire with it will be arson. don't be a douche =)

goaskal 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 6:27 PM

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.

Snidely70448 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 1:37 AM

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.

aebe 天数: 二月 9, 2014. 6:57 PM

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

Yet , I left California , unburntdown .

nancyjohns 天数: 二月 14, 2014. 7:36 AM

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.

MSHAG 天数: 五月 29, 2014. 1:32 PM

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

mimijojo747 天数: 六月 9, 2014. 5:12 PM


RetiredLE 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 4:08 PM

Man oh man, that brought back memories. Used to make those when I was a kid. Only difference we used friction to hold the match stick in between the two halves of the clothespin. When the spring struck the head, it was hard enough to light the match as well as send it down range.

Laral 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 3:23 PM

Heh-heh, I see someone has finally done an Instructable on a version of the classic match shooter. I wouldn't do this for fear it would be abused by kids and they'd blind someone. However, as a kid, I made my share of these bad boys. I never aimed them at anyone or at anything flammable. A few things I will mention though. The version we made was much simpler, requiring only one small cut into one of the notches to accommodate the spring. We just taped the two halves together with hockey or electrician's tape. The clothespins we had were much larger and made of hardwood, not pine like the cheap Chinese ones, and the spring was much more powerful. We cocked the spring with the half of another clothespin. We used strike-anywhere matches (SAMs) and placed the tip inward so the spring would ignite it as it fired. I recently found some SAMs at a dollar store but they are rare and usually expensive. The ones they make nowadays are really weak compared to the Ohio Blue Tips we had. They had huge heads and would light if you tossed one onto the sidewalk. Very dangerous. This type of shooter did not shoot that far, maybe ten to fifteen feet, and the match would spin around a bit. There was also another type of match shooter we'd make from a wooden thread spool and a rubber band with a piece of sandpaper over one end to automatically ignite the match. These shot really far and straight and true. Another dangerous toy we made was a spring-loaded flicker from a bobby pin. It triggered on just a light touch. It had literally a 'hairpin trigger'. I imagine that's where that expression came from. It would inflict pain if it was flicked against someone's thigh or butt but left no scar or anything. It would also bounce really high if released from shoulder height against the pavement. I used to make giant versions of this with the 12" spring tines that the street sweepers left behind on the street. I never used them on anybody but they bounded easily 20 feet in the air when dropped. Really cool. Please don't ask me how to make any of these dangerous things. I wouldn't want to be responsible for any misuse resulting in an injury.

RetiredLE 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 4:11 PM

You're right. The clothespins and matches we used back in the day were much better quality. I remember making the hair pin style snappers out of discarded street sweeper tines. Darn those things stung!

Laral 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 4:18 PM

Really? I thought I was the only one who tried making them with the tines. But I wouldn't snap them on anybody. Too dangerous.

Laral 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 1:24 PM

I can't believe it, Mother Earth News published an article on how to make the original match shooter that I described above:

tweaq 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 1:20 PM
Works even better if you use strike anywhere matches and push the end into the clothespin. Then when you fire' it strikes and match and spins around to auto launch a fireball.
BurgersBytes 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 1:02 PM

I guess now we can just throw away those nasty guns. We don't need them anymore. We can just blind people...

Sabata 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 12:17 PM

Very cool, King. I have heard about these since I was a kid but never actually saw one before now.

The new clothespins from China you get at Wally World and Dollar General are pretty flimsy with comparatively weak springs. Luckily I have a handful of the good old fashioned clothespins with really strong springs laying around. They should make nice shooters.

benoand19 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 11:22 AM
It's cool but when I made it it didn't shoot anything even close to 20ft
tpisano 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 9:27 AM

thanks for posting this one. We used to make these when we were kids. We'd buy the wooden matches that didn't need a striking strip and shoot them on the sidewalk or other objects to make them light. It was great, inexpensive fun.

tagyerit 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 7:22 AM

I always wondered about this - my Dad described a toy that he had as a kid (approx. 1928) that sounds similar, though I had the impression it somehow lit the match. Wonder if there's a way to add something to do this?

lknowles 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 8:12 AM

Turn the match around and it will strike and shoot at the same time. As a kid (1960's) we wrecked havoc with these. I still have the scars!

grubbyjeans 天数: 一月 26, 2014. 12:31 PM

Yep, been making these since 1954. I shot one into the night air once to see the trail. The burned out tip came down and went into my buddies shirt collar. He didn't think it was as funny as I. Use the match to set the trigger then reverse the match so it is struck on the head.

Don't do it in an are that has dry grass. Ask me how I know.

CobyUnger 天数: 一月 25, 2014. 8:48 PM
So great. Really fun to make and to use. Flaming projectiles!!!
fmoliveira 天数: 一月 25, 2014. 3:54 PM

Awesome toy! I loved it. I've made a few today and it shoots beautifully. Great instructable, congratulations and thanks for sharing! :)

macncheeseguy 天数: 一月 24, 2014. 10:17 PM
zaphodd42 天数: 一月 24, 2014. 8:18 PM

A great take on an old toy. My grandpa taught me to make this years ago. Thanx for the great 'ible. Fantastic videos too!

zikzak1 天数: 一月 24, 2014. 6:22 PM
Oh NOoooooo... Toys like we used to have when we were kids! Between this, the bic pen spitball shooter, the helicopter sling, mini dart shooters, matchstick dart games, tennis ball cannons, homemade kites, wooden whistles, etc... We had lots of fun!! All without a nintendo, ps3, or xbox! Cool instructable! A+
Eruman 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 11:32 PM

Hello everyone! It's an old cool toy. Was very common in the Soviet Union, at least 30 years ago. Clothespins halves not stick to each other, but were stranded threads.

Dawson.J 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 6:56 PM

you stole dis from mini weapons of mass destruction!!!

(its a book look it up)

he+who+crashes+often 天数: 一月 27, 2014. 12:49 AM

no, it's a design that has been around for decades. I have the book, nearly everything in it has been around for generations. Nothing against the book, but people have to learn that just because they saw something in one place first that doesn't mean everyone else stole it from that one place.

usatiago 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 6:46 PM

some liberal idiot will definetely get bothered by a "gun" project... wait for it to be asked to be removed from instructables!

thessejway 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 5:11 PM

I just made one.

I found using a file very helpful in shaping all the grooves.

Great idea by the way

titchtheclown 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 3:42 PM





Just like me really - except for the elegant effective and dangerous bits.

wyatt8 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 3:39 PM
That's awesome!!!
mazzinga 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 3:36 PM
Not having one of these as a kid saved a lot of eyes!
titchtheclown 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 3:42 PM


eng_Andy 天数: 一月 25, 2014. 1:18 AM

It could be worse. Looking at the side view of that thing reminded me of this:

Oh no, what have I done?? Please forgive me, internet.

johnnybro512 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 2:55 PM
"...deeper it penetrates." That's what she said!!!!!!!
goingforthewin 天数: 一月 23, 2014. 2:20 PM
I'm going to make one of these things