The Original Potato Cannon

How to build the original hairspray powered potato cannon. Takes about an hour and $30. Shoots potatoes over 100 yards!!!

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Step 1: The Materials

Building Materials
-5 feet of 1.5" ABS (DWV) pipe
-2 feet of 3" ABS pipe
-A 3" to 1.5" reducer
-A 3" threaded adapter
-A 3" end cap
-A BBQ ignitor (+1 Screw)
-ABS cement

-Cheap aerosol hairspray
-Potatoes or similar legumes


Step 2: Assembly

-Cut the 3" pipe to about 13" or a size you prefer (the larger the combustion chamber; the more gas; the more boom)
-Make sure the reducer fits over the pipe
-Spread some ABS cement on the inside of the reducer and outside of one end of the pipe, slide the reducer onto the pipe with a twisting method
-Repeat this for the threaded adapter
-Repeat this for the barrel (5' of 1.5" pipe)

Make sure your gluing is done properly, you dont want it to explode.

Step 3: Install the ignitor

You probably saw in the last step a silver BBQ lighter attached to the side of the pipe, I tried using this, but it wasnt working, so I bought an $8 ignitor.

Drill a hole in the 3" pipe for the metal lead from the ignitor to fit, mount the ignitor using screws provided, you can slop some glue around the hole to make sure there wont be a gap where the flames will shoot out and burn your arm......

In order to create the arc (spark) to ignite the gas, there needs to be a metal contact between the lead from the ignitor and the metal chasis of the ignitor.

If you mounted the ignitor with bolts into the pipe, bend the metal lead to be within 1/4" of the bolt to make a spark,
I however put another screw in from the other side, but had to run a piece of wire from it to the metal chasis.
Both methods will work.
Jwr70788 days ago

I saw on a show that they used duck tape and it worked. Should I do that to save time or stick with the glue stuff?

federaljack2 months ago

what can you shoot out of it?

it's called a potato shoots potatoes

katherley5 months ago
awesome must try with my kid
ng_235 months ago
Also what will any type if BBQ igniter work
ng_235 months ago
I'm not to sure about the igniter part, could someone clarify
Kitboga8 months ago
Pretty cool! I've been getting into building fireworks myself. Wrote some articles about it. Do you like fireworks or cannons better ?
Garrigus9 months ago
Use starter fluid. Unlike hairspray, which is sticky, starter fluid burns clean. The hairspray will gum up the threads on the end cap. Make sure you seal all the screw holes with jb weld.
ebaneser11 months ago
Hacksaws are used for metal pipes but work just as well on ABS
cbadger1 year ago
Super easy to make, loads of fun, quick construction. Great Instructable. I modified your instructions slightly. Instead of a grill spark igniter, I used a gas lamp spark spin wheel. A lot more low tech, but works like a charm. The advantage to your igniter, looks awesome when you shoot it! The advantage to mine, low cost.
jarredondo1 year ago
Sorry, but a potatoe is a Tuber not a legume. Beans and the like are legumes. Thanks,
taudet1 year ago
If i do this with a blow torch lighter do you still think it will work?
yeh, probaly melt the pipe though
Does any sort of aerosol work or just hairspray?
yeh use any flammable liqiud< e.g. petrol,haha, deodrant
harry4561 year ago
my end cap blows off, what can i do?
this is great for making a m18 recoilles rifle replica that even shoots! :D potatoes!
bcrylonitrile butadiene styrene. it is sold in hardware stores, and looks like black pvc
log632 years ago
Hey, great instructable. I can't figure out why mine isn't igniting, though. I can see a spark, too.
Rehon log631 year ago
Spark gap is too big. Decrease the distance between the two.
log63 log632 years ago
nerd971 year ago
ABS is PVC! ABS is just another name for it!!!
Actually, ABS stands for Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene whereas PVC stands for Poly-Vinyl-Chloride. Two completely different materials.
ABS is similar to PVC. The main difference is ABS has a higher shock resistance and less likely to break from repeated use. It also bonds better than PVC. You can tell the difference by the color. ABS is black while PVC is white and only costs a trivial amount more than traditional PVC. #IUsedToWorkInAHardwareStore
mrmerino1 year ago
Sorry, but potatoes aren't legumes. Great instructable though.
it didnt shoot a baseball but it worked axactly as advertized thanks
it didnt shoot a baseball but it worked axactly as advertized thanks
could it shoot a baseball with these measurements??
extreamly simple im doing this for a school contest nice ible
Cost?? total
skyhawk1271 year ago
whats the best size for the combustion chamber coz i want a big boom and i want the potato to absolutely fly
naruto5531 year ago
theoretically, you could do something similar to this with the ignitor from an extension lighter.

simply split the lighter, remove the ignitor, drill a hole in the pipe, put the ignitor in, test the ignitor, and seal the hole with epoxy. its cheaper and its easier for those of you out there who dont know how to modify an electrical circuit
DRH14692 years ago
It seems like my local hardware store is trying to make it impossible to make one.
But i found a way around it: Female screw on end cap, 50 mm tube, 50 to 110mm reducer glued together with the bbq lighter at the end

Well Done
vbennett22 years ago
We made our conbustion chamber longer and narrower than the plans The chamber is about 40" long. About how far along should we put the ignitor??? 1/2 way or more toward the front. Thanks
bmaher62 years ago
I found that 'less is more' when it comes to propellant in spud cannons, the oxygen level must be greater than the propellant, I literally give mine a short blast of lighter fluid (the aerosol type with the different sized end bits in the cap for refilling gas lighters) then leave the end cap off for a few seconds, you get a bigger bang with more oxygen, don't be tempted to spray loads in thinking it will be more powerfull, I found it just floods the gun and you have to either leave it open overnight, or get the end of the dyson vacum on it to force fresh oxygen in, I'm going to upload some pics of mine, it's an old fire extinguisher body with 40mm tube welded on the top, on the side there is a BBQ igniter for the bang, and at the back end it's got a big nut welded on the base with a bolt and wing nut to make filling easy, very powerfully as the metal doesn't expand or warp as much as plastic ones, the other thing to watch out for guys is plastic ones can blow your face across the garden if they splinter, make sure you wrap the entire thing with loads of ducktape to absorb and deflect any hot splinters of blown PVC pipe! Happy spud gunning guys!!!
Cool reads2 years ago
I think everyone one should add some paint to their potato cannon because it makes them look so cool. I like to camo paint mine. I have painted many spud guns and its simple but just to make sure everyone knows…do not paint your gun with the combustion chamber open if you are using nodes for the igniter spark because you may get paint on the nodes and will not be able to get a spark on your spud gun potato cannon
Rocket Rons2 years ago
Hello everyone, I have never made a potato gun using air, I have only used combustion. Can people tell me how they find air guns compared to combustion?
imsohappy2 years ago
potatos are tubers not a legume

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