Acrylic Jenga Pistol





Introduction: Acrylic Jenga Pistol

Bored of regular Jenga? This Jenga pistol brings back the excitement in Jenga by allowing you to pull off never before possible brick removals!

The original design is by Matthias Wandle which he wrote about on his woodworking site, The design uses a captive bolt, powered by an elastic band to blast the Jenga block out of its space before it knows what's hit it! I visit his site weekly so had read about his attempts at selling some of his Jenga pistols, which didn't go as well as he'd hoped because the interest had died down and they took too long to make in wood.

His efforts inspired me to make an acrylic one which I could laser cut, not to sell, but because I have a laser cutter and it was faster for me to do it this way than with wood, plus I've always wanted one after I saw his.

This Instructable shows how I designed my version and how it works, as well as some of the other fun I've had with it.

Step 1: Design

The pistol was laser cut from 5mm acrylic. Laser cutting it gives a beautifully polished edge so once cut, no finishing's required, just bolt it together.

Before laser cutting my prototype I drew it in the CAD package I use, Alibre Design. This let me throw together a full assembly to check all of the pieces would fit, then export them as a DXF for the laser cutter.

My design was based loosely on the one by Matthias Wandle, I changed the way I attached the rubber bands to suit laser cutting better and changed the stock. Since it didn't add any machine time I later added some flourishes to make it look fancier, like a pretend sight and some grips on the front of the stock.

Step 2: Prototype 1

My first mockup's design was thrown together in an hour, it took 15 minutes to laser cut.

Despite being rough around the edges since I'd just used machine screws straight through with some ugly nuts on the other side it was fine for checking it worked.

Fresh off the laser cutter I threw the bits in a bag with some nuts 'n' bolts and dashed off to my boss' house for dinner where I put it together with one of his sons, Jonny, and proceeded to test it with beer bottle caps and bits of onion, much to Steve's amusement then mild annoyance.

Step 3: Improvements

The first design was a lot of fun and I CADed it in a hurry in just over an hour. As such it had a few flaws I wanted to improve upon. The next version I wanted to fix these problems:

1) The hole the band for the trigger goes through was a bit small, a slot would be easier to pass an elastic band through.
2) The trigger band hole was too close to the trigger so it caught on it.
3) The trigger needed something to stop it inverting after the bolt had been flung forwards.
4) The bolt wasn't long enough, so it only protruded 5mm past the end of the gun.
5) The gun looked a bit plain, I fancied adding a fake sight and some finger impressions on the grip.
6) The bolt layer needed to be thinner so it didn't foul on the end, to fix this I wanted to make the gun out of 6mm acrylic and the bolt from 5mm.
7) Replace the machine screws and nuts with machine screws and domed nuts to give it a more finished look.
8) In the prototype the middle layer was three pieces, a small inner stock, the top bracket and the bottom bracket. This made it difficult to put together because you couldn't keep them square without tightening the bolts lots. In the next one this middle layer will be one piece, making it easier to put together and faster to laser cut since the path will be smaller.

Step 4: Final Design

One final adjustment to the design that I made was to remove the prongs on the slider that held the elastic band. I removed these and added a cut-out in the middle layer of the slider so that the band could hook around the screw. This meant there was no chance that the bands could come off when firing.

Once I'd tweaked the bits I wanted to, the final design was laser cut from 5mm acrylic.

The files in this step are provided for personal use on the condition that they or parts cut with them aren't sold.

The pistol's bolted together with M3 machine screws and nuts. The end plates and slider are spaced with washers so that the plunger doesn't get caught on the end plates, since it's the same width as them.

Step 5: Usage

Pull back the trigger and fire!

The bolt moves so fast that you can shoot out blocks that aren't normally removable by hand. But be careful, when especially wobbly it make knock the tower over when a gentle poke would be better.

Other uses:

- turning off light switches
- firing bits of food
- attach a magnet to hold and then fire bottle caps



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35 Discussions

you could print out the template on a piece of paper, then tape it or glue it to a sheet of plywood, then cut it out with a jigsaw, or band saw if possible.

It can`t be fun playing with someone with one of those, unless you also have one

Incredible! Amazing! Astonishing! First-class! The best! I'm running out of adjectives! 5/5!
Win Guy

it would be fun if you just hid this under the table at your house and played some jenga, and right whenever there are "no more moves" you just come and blast out a center piece, leaving THEM with no moves.

however, the surprise of the gun would be given away slightly by the fact that your friends would already know something was up by the way you were so intent on playing jenga....

Nice pistol.
I'm trying to load the autocad file and am getting the following error.
Unknown value "AC1021" encountered in drawing version.
Invalid or incomplete DXF input -- drawing discarded.
I have Autocad 2004. If you are using a newer version, could you back peddle it into 2004 format for me? Otherwise what's up?

3 replies

I'll have a look tonight. If you want to try the 3d files instead of the dxf they're on my website, here. I thought I'd already added them to the instructable, but apparently not.

Arghhh stupid site deleted what I wrote and pasted in a previous comment. What I meant to say was....

No, you don't need to take the front off, just the side panel of the slider. I played with having the bands held on with hooks but when the slider was forward they were too saggy and sometimes fell off. This way it's a little harder to change the bands, but impossible for them to fall off. I've not broken a band yet though so I don't think it's an issue.

actually, it seems to me that this comment was meant to go on the one below this one....

@Jayeffu; Hi! Coolness! The video demo rocks :) When I saw the title, Jenga Gun, not remembering what "Jenga" was, I kept thinking, SO... rubber band guns are called Jenga guns, aye?

It looks like the trigger band is threaded through one of the four slanted holes in the lower middle. Would it be easier to make them into notches, so that replacing bands is quicker? After peering mightily at your excellent pictures... is it the case you have to take off the front piece when replacing the main bands?

Cheers! :)

1 reply

I'll have a look tonight. If you want to try the 3d files instead of the dxf they're on my website, here. I thought I'd already added them to the instructable, but apparently not.