Picture of Paper Stomp Rockets
four rockets.jpg

I run a free summertime activity program for kids as part of my job in the city where I live. So I've got a lot of fun little projects up my sleeves, and I'm always on the lookout for more. One of the more popular summertime activities in my repertoire is homemade stomp rockets. Stomp rockets are great because they are both creative and physical.

There are many versions of paper stomp rockets and launchers out there. They all work essentially the same way: air is forced through a PVC contraption which launches a lightweight paper rocket up into the air. This particular launcher design is a combination of a handful of ideas I've seen, along with a few of my own additions.

I have a basic rocket design that I drew up that uses a single sheet of paper, which I've included in step 6 as a PDF.

Read on, and then go have some fun. (And hey, if you like this you should try out my Paper Stomp Jets!)

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
This launcher design produces no waste, and should cost around $10.

For one launcher, you will need:
  • One 10-foot length of 1/2-inch PVC
  • One 1/2" 90-degree elbow (all fittings are of the slip variety)
  • One 1/2" four-way fitting
  • Two 1/2" end caps
  • One 1" coupling
  • One 1" by 1/2" bushing
  • One 2-liter soda bottle cap
  • Lots of 2-liter soda bottles
Other supplies you will need for this project:
  • PVC cement
  • Hot glue
  • White glue
  • Cotton balls
  • Tape
  • Sheets of 8 1/2" by 11" paper
  • Lots of copies of the attached PDF rocket template
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RafayJ12 days ago

ia am making this

I modified the bottle attachment end. I used what I had on hand already, plus a couple pieces that I got from Lowe's. The Transition Adapter fits snugly inside the neck of the 2-Liter bottle and you don't have to worry about any hot glue or bottle caps. (I did have to cement the Couplings so they wouldn't come apart.)

2.... 3/4" X 1/2" PVC Bushings
1.... 3/4" PVC Coupling
1... 1/2" CPVC Transition Adapter w/ male threads
1... 1/2" CPVC Transition Adapter w/ female threads

(I think I could've just used a 1/2" PVC Coupling in place of the first two items, though. I'll try that on my second one and see how it goes.)
seamster (author)  mydoggylives3 years ago
Ooh, nice!

Looks like a good way to do this. Thank you for sharing this.
I made another one today using just a 1/2" PVC Coupling in place of the two bushings and the 3/4" Coupling. It worked just as good as the previous one! :-)

If I am following correctly, you would not need to use any connectors. Just use the main 1/2" pvc pipe into the pop bottle should be a fairly tight fit. Just add some duct or electrical tape at connection point for a good seal. Great project!!

mtairymd6 months ago

I used your glued bottle cap on my project...thanks for the idea.

Step 14


This was a very easy project to do. My kids had a friend over not to long ago, but couldn't decide on a game to play. So in true Phineas and Ferb fashion, I said, "I know what we are gonna do today!"... went to the store and got the supplies for a pair of launchers... and spent the late afternoon shooting off rockets.

I liked it so much, I made some lessons out of this for my students!

Plus we made one small addition to the rockets to make them last longer: we taped down the paper on the inside of the tube so that it wouldn't crumple when we slide it onto the launchers. The rockets we did this to last three times as long as the ones without tape.

Thanks for sharing this idea with us!
seamster (author)  JimTiffinJr1 year ago
Nice! I'm glad you had success with this little project. It's a fun one. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
rhr12 years ago
i have a question, i make my rocket with paper but i do't know if it's gonna work, can someone tell me, where i put the cotton balls inside the PVC or what?
seamster (author)  rhr12 years ago
The pvc used as a form to roll the paper into the proper size tube, and then the paper tube is removed from the pvc. (The rocket itself is not made of pvc.) Steps 5 and 6 cover this in more detail. Hope that helps!
rhr12 years ago
i have a question, Can i make my rocket with paper??
nec922 years ago
How high do they usually go?
seamster (author)  nec922 years ago
I'd say about 40 to 60 feet, realistically. We made conical nose cones for some of them, and those seemed to go a little higher.
snoo3 years ago
thats cool it might it might do a little damage if not centered properly
cvilchis3 years ago
I had some pvc pipes in the garage but was missing the 1" fitting... I was about to head out to the local hardware store when i tripped on my bike. which tripped this idea...
I used an inner tube to connect the bottle to the pipe.
The inner tube for a racing bike can fit perfectly around a 1/2" pipe.
I used a small piece of pipe duct tape made the connection even better.

see the picture. no bottle the last bottle i was using was destroyed after a ton of launches...
seamster (author)  cvilchis3 years ago
Nice! Use what you have, I say. Thanks for the idea and the photo, I'm sure someone will use it.
knexboy5863 years ago
lol first pic kid has crocs
IITO3 years ago
to easy...
mikeasaurus5 years ago
I think the angled launchers in the final picture look great. simple fun for summer, great idea!
seamster (author)  mikeasaurus5 years ago
Thanks! Yep, the angled ones are fun. I like to wait to bring those out until the kids start to get bored. I just set them out and suddenly all the kids are lined up to have distance contests against each other.
swake seamster5 years ago

You could place an L on the end of the straight tube, but turning to the side rather than up. Connect that to a union (available for about $2.50 at Home Depot), then to another L, then the launch tube. The union will allow adjustment of the launch angle. It would also allow the launch tube to fold down for storage.

to Stomp Bottle                     |
=================|        |
                                        |        |
                                     | union  | 
                                      |           | ==================
                                      |                to launch tube
dsekules swake4 years ago
We built our own version of this this weekend; used 22mm overflow pipe and push-fit right-angles. Three lengths and two right angles were all we needed; one right angle parallel to the ground for stability, and the next pointing straight up for the launch.

The push-fit fittings are airtight, but can be twisted to adjust the angle (yay ballistics!) and the whole thing can be disassembled for storage.

Only thing I'm having trouble with is a good, reliable way of marrying up the whole thing to the bottle cap; there isn't much to grip on to, and nothing seems to stick all that well. Swathes of gaffer tape, with ends tucked in, seem to work reasonably well, but it's hardly elegant...

Fantastic post, Seamster! Thanks for the fun this weekend, and next...
swake dsekules4 years ago

This fellow is using a smaller diameter pipe and has instructions on his web site for using a melted bottle cap to provide a tighter fit to the pipe. I've used this method for a while and it seems to work well. Just be sure to do the cap melting and fitting outdoors just in case the plastic catches fire.

dsekules swake4 years ago
Nice link, Swake! Much additional fun...

On trying to apply the suggested technique, I made the unexpected (and delightful) discovery that the 22mm PVC Overflow pipe we used for our launcher actually fits very snugly into the open neck of pretty much every 2L drinks bottle I've tried, so I can abandon all fiddling about with lids, candles, gaffer tape and suchlike nonsense. Just chamfer the end of the pipe and push it home. Result... :)
seamster (author)  swake5 years ago
That's a pretty good idea. I especially like the drawing! thanks!
GaryB1014 years ago
My 41/2 year old son is home all month - camp ended and school doesn't start for till Sept. That means I'm alone with him and his 2-year old sister all month. This was a GREAT project to do with them - and it took up several days. (Day 1-buy the stuff. Day 2-Put it together. Day 3-paint it...and so on.) Thanks for helping me keep sane this month!
seamster (author)  GaryB1014 years ago
Thanks! I'm glad you did this project with your kids. Always makes my day to know I helped somebody have some good old fashioned fun with their kids.
chrispix4 years ago
We've been playing with this a ton the last few weeks. One thing I did that I'd recommend is attach the vertical tube using an elbow with threaded ends. You can then tilt it to any angle (see attached pics).

Another tip: Nerf darts stuff nicely down a 1/2" PVC tube, and they shoot as far as a paper rocket. You just have to stuff them all the way into the tube.
lumsmore4 years ago
A couple details that helped my launchers...
>> I had issues of the bottle cap disconnecting from the 1" coupling. So I went to eBay and got a high temp glue gun and surebonder "best stik" glue sticks. (cost all of about $20) Next I loaded up the inside edge of the 1" coupling with glue and then seated the cap in past the edge. It sat in within the coupling by about 1/4" of an inch. I then ran another bead of glue around that.

I used a 3/8" drill bit for the cap.

I attached a simple template I used for fins and nose cone.
seamster (author)  lumsmore4 years ago
I had the same issues, with the caps coming out after plenty of stomps . . . but I just kept gluing them back in the with the same glue. High temp glue makes sense to really get them to stay in place.

Did you make these to play with your own kids, or for something else?
Today we test the high temp glue. (I guess I should have tested before posting)

I "teach" an after school club at my daughter's school called "Geek Projects". I've got 5 sixth graders this session. Today we will build the stomp rockets! I'll post the results.
Instead of trying to glue the bottle cap in, look for a garden hose adapter to use. The threads on the bottle fits the garden hose fittings perfectly.
These three parts cost about $3 bringing the parts costs to less than $9, they are a 1/2 - 3/4 adapter, 3/4 pipe adapter and a pipe - hose connector that fits on the bottle perfectly
Reporting back.... They LOVED them and worked AWESOME!! These kids were a little older (6th graders) than my last batch of "geeks" and could make them fly! One boy added 2 "tail fins" to the sides and his rocket not only took off vertically, but on the way down it started flying and landed on the roof of the school, 4 stories high!

The high-temp glue worked like a champ. I gave one launcher a jump to show the kids how high I could get it to go and the cap did pop out.

I started to wonder if it would work better if drilled out the bottle cap almost completely or is there something about having a smaller diameter hold for the air to go through that gives it so much power. I'm still quite amazed.

>> TIP: Another tip I'll add is that we used 60lb weight paper for constructing our rockets. The nose cones take a beating on landing, especially since we were launching in a paved part of the playground for hard surface sports. I had on hand lots of tape and extra paper for repairs.

>> TIP: try to have at least 2 bottles per kid

>> TIP: make a couple spare "bottle-cap-coupler" parts to have on hand as that is the vulnerable component to this design

A HUGE thanks to Seamster and commentators who made this such a fun Instructable! I'll try and post a link to a video.
chrispix4 years ago
If you get "Super Jumbo" cotton balls, only one will fit in each rocket.
kylekosan234 years ago
super creative
zurichko5 years ago
This made our pack meeting extra awesome! We had our cubs mark their distance with flags, they were so competitive. Thanks again for this safe rocket launcher!
seamster (author)  zurichko5 years ago
This makes my day! And it totally beats not winning a new camera in the recent contest... I swear these things are rigged...

Alright, seriously, this is great. I love to see other people try out the things I put on here. It sounds like the kids got a real kick out of it. I've actually seen adults get pretty competitive with these things... I guess they just bring out the kid in us!

knex_mepalm5 years ago
How can I get the parts in australia without online? I have been planning to make a pneumatic pvc rocket launcher like yours and I would like to know if it is possible to get the pieces yet, I might go to bunnings a warehouse for making "stuff"
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