Introduction: The Great Potato Cannon

Picture of The Great Potato Cannon
A homemade potato gun that is aerosol powered and easily constructed with parts from your local hardware store for under $50 !!

Step 1: Parts and Materials

Picture of Parts and Materials

It is a good idea to use schedule 80 PVC for your project.

For this project I used 4" PVC for the chamber and 2" PVC for the barrel. These pipe sizes can be changed based on availability.
Other important pieces are the :
4" cleanout with cap (Top right).
4" to 2" reducing coupling (Top Left).
4" x 4" x 2" coupling w/ sweep 90' (Middle)
2" cap (middle right)
PVC cleaner and cement

Not pictured : a BBQ grill igniter (pushbutton type)

Step 2: Chamber Assembly

Picture of Chamber Assembly

Using your 4x4x2 and cleanout test fit the parts together and prep the PVC cleaners and glue. Cleaning and gluing are important because the potato gun builds quite a bit of pressure when it fires. (Pictures 1 & 2)

The cleanout and cap will fit right into the 4x4x2 coupling.The 2" sweep should curve away from the cleanout when it is installed. glue these pieces together and you have created the handle and gas chamber. The cleanout will be where we fill the gun with hair spray. (picture 3)

Next step is to add a 2" piece about 5" long to the sweep. Picture 4 is an example of how not to cut PVC (Ha ha ha) Picture 5 shows the 2" piece being inserted into the sweep.

Picture 7 shows installing the 2" piece into the sweep and putting the 2" cap on the end. This 2" cap will serve as the trigger assembly.

Picture 8 & 9 illustrate cutting a 12" piece of 4" pipe and inserting it into the coupling. The chamber is almost complete.x

Step 3: Trigger Assembly

Picture of Trigger Assembly

Using a 3/4" paddle bit, drill a hole in the end of the cap. This hole will allow the BBQ igniter to fit perfectly into the cap.

Picture 4 & 5 show the right area for the ends of the igniter to be. It's a good idea to try and keep the sparking ends of the ignitor out of the chamber, Spraying these pieces with hairspray might affect the spark.

As an atempt at a better seal I wrapped all connections with duct tape!

Step 4: Barrel Assembly

Picture of Barrel Assembly

Attach the reducing coupling to the 4" chamber. This is where the barrel attaches to the chamber. Next cut the 2" at about 3' and secure it to the reducing coupling.

Step 5: Loading the TATER'

Picture of Loading the TATER'

With an item to use as a ramrod, measure the distance of your barrel and mark the rod so the potato remains in the barrel and does not fall into the chamber.

Select a potato that fill completely fill the barrel, use the ramrod to shove the potato down the barrel and you are ready for the fuel.

Step 6: FUEL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Picture of FUEL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Opening the cleanout spray the hairspray into the chamber for about 3 - 5 seconds, (Iwould start on the shorter side and work your way up.) cap the cleanout and BOOM !!!!!

Step 7: A Word of Caution!

Picture of A Word of Caution!

If you do not follow the PVC Glue manuf. directions about waiting the 24 hours for the glue to dry there is a possibility that the fumes from the glue would be enough to lob a potato through your soffit on your backporch. BE CAREFUL.


ajensen19 (author)2013-09-02

Don't you guys worry about the chamber exploding in these potato guns? I've had the cap go flying off my potato gun before.

EET1982 (author)2013-06-09

Making mine soon. Thanks for the instructable!!!

illdoyourdrugs (author)2010-01-21

@ The video posted: Your going to want to put a screw through your barrel at the neck so you CANT shove the potato into the chamber DUH. Don't use a BBQ lighter there garbage and don't always ensure a fire. Use a lantern igniter. They don't fail. Sand the tip of your barrel and make it sharper to allow for the potatoes to enter easier. I added a guitar like strap to support the weight of the gun and to make it easier when twisting the lantern igniter. The best spray fuel is Static Guard. It will make those potatoes scream. Ive made plenty of these and done my research. Trial and error. Hope i helped others.

EET1982 (author)illdoyourdrugs2013-06-09

Great advice. I'm about to make my own as well and from your suggestion going to go with the lantern ligniter and the strap. Going to be epic if it all works. Thanks again!

Wow, Thanks for the advice. I can't wait to give these suggestions a try!

You reply nearly a year later hahaha.Oh well you know what they say.... better late then never! No problem.

polabearboi (author)2008-05-17

how far will this gun shoot???

rayman546 (author)polabearboi2009-02-12

Using a gun I had built previously with close to the same specifications, and ether as the fuel, we shot a potato 2700ft roughly. Measured it with a wheel tape. I live in a very small town and only about ten people total live here so we just shot down the old highway.

frankinator (author)rayman5462009-03-23

i am sorry for calling you out on that but that is almost impossible unless you were using highly combustible fuels such as acetylene. and if you were trying to use a fuel that powerful with a pvc cannon you are not the brightest individual. you must be mistaken trust me i know

mneuls (author)frankinator2011-07-14

I was getting around 800m using propane as fuel. the gun was at least double the size of the one in this build. gas chamber was 5ft x 6" and the barrell was around 9ft long made from stainless steel. I also had an oxygen tank to provide the proper fuel air ratio as well. I think it's easily possible to get well over a km with a well designed potato gun with the right wind and angle.

A minimum of at least a hundred yards, I have not yet tried to acurately measure the total distance. I know that the distance varies by the amount of fuel used, BUT IF YOU TRY BE CAREFUL !!!!

mneuls (author)2011-07-14

I found propane to be by far the best fuel, it doesn't leave stick residue on the sides of the chamber, I tubed a small home kit with oxygen and propane bottles, to eliminate the need to air out the chamber. I also find that if you gas up the chamber before pushing the potato down it compresses the gas inside and makes for a bigger bang. Ether or "liquid fire" works awesome as well.

Cobalt59 (author)2011-01-23

I like your evil laughs. :)

tictaclad (author)2010-02-10

 i couldnt find 4" pvc so i had to use abs and i still only went 3 inches....i think 4 inches is to big

tictaclad (author)2010-02-09

 just made one cant wait 4 it 2 dry.

Verbinguden (author)2009-12-23

I like those laughs in the demonstration video, lol. Great instructable.

 Thank you very much.......... This was messing around on our lunchbreak at work (hence the evil laughs)

karatedude43 (author)2009-12-06

Hey is there anyway to make a thinner barrel and still have it work? if there is, is it possible to make a homeade rpg projectile to shoot out of it?

 A thinner barrel should not be a problem........based on the availability of your parts........  You would just need a different sized reducing coupling..

I was just discussing the idea of different ammo the other day at work with my buddy......
He told me that he always uses shop rags to form a "wad" similar to muzzleloading rifle. This enables you to use anything smaller than your barrel for a projectile. (ie; golf balls)

GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!

furby1994 (author)2009-10-12

where did you get schedule 80 pvc pipe from i have only ever heard of schedule 40 and thats the thickest i have seen and will schedule 40 work

bigtimmi2010 (author)2009-03-28

i think he ment on the wire leads, at the ends. my friend and i just built a spudzooka, and we did this, and it turned out very well

bakedjuggernaut (author)2008-03-04

I like the look of it man. I just went to the store bought the stuff and just put all the parts together, just waiting till tomorrow to start lighting some potatoes across town! I'm using WD-40 though, not hairspray. you use less spray, and WD is pushed out of the can with propane, so its nice. Can't wait to use it. -Home Depot, was a lil more pricey than i though it would be, but i bought a few extra stuff. but was around 60 for me..

i dont care cuz where i live there's a lowes and home depot across the street from each other

Awesome. I am glad to inspire others to build potato guns. I know that there are alot on this site.... make another instructable with your project. I like to see other peoples projects and videos.

Use hair spray, Lysol, or spray on deodorant. they stay spray longer and probably more potent with less smell. burning WD-40 smells so... try those listed.

dude WD-40 doesnt ignite once it settles. it has to stay in spray form to light and since its thick oil it settles quik. use hair spray or lysol. the original spray cans work great. also for torching = )

Glad to hear you are using my instructable as a model for your project!!!! You are the second person who has mentioned wd-40, I think I'll give it a try. !!!!!

yeah, watch the hell out though, holy crap. it didn't work the first time i took it out to use. and sprayed to much, and mixed wd40 w/ hairspray cause i was wtf this thing needs to blow. then i just left it there for a weekend. came back shot it off, and damn. I had duck tape around the trigger and it flew right off nearly hit myself and burnt the hell outa my thumb, but it was awesome.

was the barrel shooting fire?

Yes it's awesome !!!!! When we shoot at night there is a good 2 foot flame that shoots out of the barrel!!! It Rocks!

chewit (author)2008-09-16

this is great and i want to build one but i`m having trouble finding the parts in the UK can anyone help???

harry_osullivan (author)chewit2008-11-30

builders merchants/ plumbing supplies should have the PVC parts needed

harry_osullivan (author)2008-11-30

Wrap it in a sheet of Chicken wire/ hexagonal wire fencing and then coat that in Duct tape or even dip it in liquid epoxy resin or something for extra stength this thing shoots ice quite well too

tylerolso (author)2008-10-27

this works super duper and if you live in a urban area i wouldnt shoot it very loud and attract the police

jasonckoval (author)2008-08-28

Hey folks, really be careful. One thing I have seen is to wrap the combustion chamber with wire and then duct tape. The wire adds alot of strength to resist the "hoop" stress of firing. Just wrap it tightly. You can also use duct sheet metal bent into a cylinder shape. you just want to reinforce the chamber because if you use this thing it is just a matter of time before it fails. Good luck!!

Junk Mail (author)2008-03-20

If you sharpen the edges around the end of the barrel it makes loading much easier.

Matthew Chinn (author)Junk Mail2008-08-26

I made an air cannon today and sharpend the edges and ended up with a big cut. if u sharpen the edges, USE UTILITY GLOVES TO LOAD or u will be like me. lol. =P

Great tip, I have had others suggest that but have not tried it yet! Thank you

twenglish1 (author)2008-07-19

awesome , i built one of these that was about 12 Feet long this inspired me to get it working again

Glad to be of inspiration to your project!!! This is a great site with a ton of great ideas!

yah it is this is where i got most of my ideas

mokano667 (author)twenglish12008-07-26

its cheaper at lowes i got evrythiong excludeing the primer and cement and the ignitor for only 15 bucks

twenglish1 (author)mokano6672008-08-08

my ignitor was on $12

That is awesome! My project cost a little more, I bought ten foot sticks of pipe to allow for usable scrap to produce more cannons!!!!

twenglish1 (author)mokano6672008-07-26

yah all i need is a new ignitor

firefighter6222 (author)2008-08-07

just wondering if you have to attach the ignitor to some screws or something or do you just drop it into the whole. because ive seen a couple that have it attached to screws on the sides?

No, I did not use any screws. The use of the 3/4" drill bit made a perfect hole. The grill ignitor has prongs on the side that allow it to "snap" into place and hold very tight. Hope this answers your question!!!! Thanks...

codongolev (author)2008-07-09

i've got a teeny tiny one (and by teeny I mean 3 feet long) that shoots 2 yards away.... which isn't impressive until you realize I mean real lawns and everyone on my street has 2 acre lots.

codongolev (author)codongolev2008-07-09

I also just have a lantern sparker.... I couldn't find a bbq one and the lighter one didn't have enough "oomph".

Nunavutnewsrules (author)2008-06-09

Hey I really want to make one of these but i don't know where to get a sparker? Help please.

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