Aluminium Aeroplane




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A simple paper aeroplane became the most dangerous Instructable I've published for some time.


Step 1: Requirements & Part 1 of Safety

I made this plane from an aluminium drinks can, using a heavy craft knife, scissors, a piece of scrap timber and a mallet.

There are serious risks during this Make, because the cut edges are very sharp.  You may want to consider wearing gardening gloves to protect your hands, and make sure you know where your first aid kit is, because cuts from jagged metal can bleed quite profusely.

Step 2: Cutting

With the sharp knife (in the UK we'd call it a "Stanley" knife, in the US I think it's a carpet knife), cut the top and bottom off the can, then cut vertically with scissors.

Open out the can and press flat with the scrap timber.

I wanted to make a "standard" aeroplane, so I trimmed the can to the same proportions as A-series paper  - since the metal was 9cm wide, I trimmed it to about 13cm long.

Step 3: Folding

I folded the plane in the same manner as making a simple paper dart, but it takes a bit of extra effort to make the important sharp creases.

That is, I laid the scrap timber on the bends and smacked it with a mallet.

As you go through the Make, the bends get harder to do neatly.  This is mainly because you're folding more metal, but also because the aluminium "work hardens".  If you fold and unfold at the same point too often, the metal may split.

A pair of narrow-nosed pliers is useful in folding at the pointed end.

Step 4: Flying and Part 2 of Safety

The plane does fly, and just as successfully as the same shape of dart made from paper.

However, this thing has a wicked point on it, which does not crumple on impact.

Do not throw it at or near friends, children or pets.  Do not throw it indoors. If somebody throws one towards you, do not try and catch it with bare hands.  It only weighs a few grammes, but look how deeply it embedded itself in the lawn when I threw it down the garden.

But, having said that, it would be cool to take this into an open field to see how far it will really go...



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    43 Discussions

    i have a feeling that at some point, someone will make one of these out of titanium...


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I just made two, the first, smaller out of a Sierra Mist can, the second out of a Red Bull. They fly just like a paper airplane, but you have to throw them harder. The reason why the tips are broken is because they hit the concrete more than a few tines :)...

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Seriously, though, be careful - this is a genuine "it'll put your eye out" toy.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Cool - post a picture when you do.

    (These can also be made from steel drinks cans, possibly with more successful results.)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    To anneal the aluminium, rub a piece of it with a bit of soap. Heat in a gas flame until the soap turns black - its now annealed again.