Picture of Paper Rocket
When I was a kid, I loved to build and fly model rockets (I still do), but the hobby can be costly as the solid propellant "engine" cartridges are fairly expensive. While it's possible to pack one's own engines; 1) I lack a place to safely do such a thing, 2) I lack the skills to safely do such a thing.

I found the solution to the expense in a makezine podcast. It features a compressed air rocket launcher, using PVC pipe with an electric irrigation valve, and a standard bike pump. The same assembly is featured in Make: Vol 15.

I recently put this launcher kit together. It was very easy and took me maybe 30 minutes. Assembling the launcher is very well documented in many places (including the kit instructions).

This instructable focusses on assembling the rockets. The kit has ok instructions but I found the templates, and techniques described produce a rocket that's good for maybe 6 launches before the rocket becomes so maimed that one has to build another.

My own template (developed based upon the original) improves upon the "design" and construction techniques to produce a rocket that can take 10 or 15 launches worth of punishment before becoming a crumpled wad of tape and paper.

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Step 1: Gather Your Materials.

Picture of Gather Your Materials.
 Materials you will need to produce a paper rocket:

1. 2" wide painter's tape.
2. flexible measuring tape.
3. untreated facial tissue (the rough, hurt your nose kind), or toilet tissue.
4. modeling knife.
5. straight edges.
6. Q-tip.
7. Launch Tube Blank.
8. paper template.

nice work

izzy darlow (author)  andrewthegreat981 year ago


owenbrau1 year ago

This is great! We did air rockets with our kids' maker group last year, and we're setting up to do them again. I have to admit, the kids had fun even though some of the first rockets failed catastrophically at launch (exploding into confetti!), more durable rockets will be a nice change. We also made a few foam rockets from pool noodles. They don't fly far, but look cool.

izzy darlow (author)  owenbrau1 year ago


Since posting this, I've found that spiral wrapping the blue tape produces even more durable rockets. If you're the least bit coordinated, it's easy to do.

Have fun!

brianfss2 years ago
Very well done and documented
BloomMaker3 years ago
BIG THANKS for posting this Izzy- great step-by-step & pictures
I really like your measured work surface; must be durable for one to cut on, eh?
It would be epic if you would advise of product name and/or source.
izzy darlow (author)  BloomMaker3 years ago
The cutting mat is a standard self-mending cutting mat with graduations on it for quick measuring. OLFA (and likely X-acto) make them in various sizes.
Thanks! I will try to get my hands on some 11x17 paper next time i stop by hobby lobby.
Do you know of an "ible" to make a launcher for this rocket? I printed the template on 8.5'x11' printer paper. so the design is too small for pvc pipe launchers.
izzy darlow (author)  Matrix-technician4 years ago
That's because the template is designed for an 11x17 sheet of paper. Printing it on 8.5x11 would make it half the size it's supposed to be.

The launcher is available at the Maker Shed Store. Follow the link I've placed in the intro step.
Nice rocket :D where can i find i copy of the template
izzy darlow (author)  disappearingshadow4 years ago

The rocket template that I use is attached. It is annotated and is pretty self explanatory when coupled with this instructable.

thank you so much I'm gonna make it now :p