Build a Hover Craft in Less Than an Hour!

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This Instructable will show you how to build a hovor craft using any leaf blower (gas or electric) or shop vacuum. I built this with my kids in less than an hour using scrap wood and hardware I had on hand. My kids and I built this after creating small balloon hover crafts for their science fair. I wanted to show them the real thing...or I had always wanted to do this once my father-in-law gave us a leaf blower;) Thanks Joe!

Step 1: Gather the Materials

For this project you'll need the following:

  • Leaf blower: Any leaf blower will work, electric or gas. The exhaust on a shop-vac would probably work as well. But I used a Toro Leaf Blower like this: https://www.amazon.com/Toro-51619-Ultra-Blower-Cor... If you, use a Toro leaf blower you can use 3D print the adapter I designed and it will work great for you.

  • 3/4" plywood 34" x 34"
  • 3/4" plywood 34" x 34" cut into a pictire frame with a frame width of 3".
  • 3/4" plywood 5" x 5"
  • 1.25" screws (wood or drywall screws will be great)
  • Lots of hot-glue (or hot-melt whatever you call it) and a glue gun.
  • Small steel plate about 5" x 5"
  • Small tarp or shower curtain.
  • Staple gun
  • A 12 year old kid that you'll have to pry away from Fortnite for an hour (can be seen in the picture)

Step 2: Mount the Leaf Blower

  • If you're using the 3D printed leaf blower adapter that I'm providing with this write-up, trace in the inside with a marker at a location about 8" from the edge. Don't mount it in the center. Then cut out the marked location, I used a jigsaw and it took about 30 seconds.
  • If you don't have a 3D printer or are using a different leaf blower you can probably just use a ton of hot-glue to attache the leaf blower output to the plywood.

Step 3: Support the Handle of the Leaf Blower

  • I used a 2x4 to support the handle of the leaf blower.
  • I used 3" wood screws to screw through the plywood underneath and up into the 2x4.
  • I then Drilled a hole through the 2x4 and used several zip-ties to strap the handle of the leaf blower to the 2x4.
  • Once supported, use a liberal amount of hot-glue to seal around the leaf blower exhaust and the adapter part.
  • People who have worked beside me know that I'm a huge fan of:
    • Hot-glue
    • Zip ties
    • JB Weld
    • Buffalo Chicken wraps...because they're amazing!

Step 4: Attach the Skirt

  • Flip the plywood and leaf blower over so the underside is revealed to mount the tarp/plastic skirt.
  • Procure a thin piece of metal which can be the bottom of a coffee can or other scrap steel.
  • Drill 4-8 holes in the metal so a wood screw can fit through but the head of the screw can't. For typical screws, a 3/16" screw would be perfect.
  • Place the tarp over the plywood and center it the best you can.
  • Place the steel plate over the center of the board and screw through the metal plate, through the tarp and into the plywood platform.
  • Use the 5" x 5" piece of plywood and place that on the top side of the plywood so that when the screws break through the plywood, they go into the small plywood part so no screws are exposed.

Step 5: Cut Out the Skirt

  • Trace a line all the way around the plywood about 8" from the edge.
  • Cut out the tarp so it's 8" oversized around all the edges.
  • Note: The top plywood picture frame isn't attached right now, it's just sitting there in the picture.
  • Also Note: The 12 year old looks to be focused on this project, but if you stare at the picture for a while, you'll actually see his Fortnite day dreams appear.

Step 6: Clamping the Skirt

  • Draw a line around the top of the plywood, 3 inches in from the edge.
  • Fold over the tarp and use the staple gun to staple the skirt down at this line. This will make the skirt extra baggy since we cut it at a 8" distance but only fold it in at 3". the difference between these measurements will give us 3-4" of height once we turn on the hover craft.
  • Once the skirt is stapled all the way around, place the picture-frame plywood over the edge and using 20 or more 1.25" screws, screw down the picture frame to clamp the skirt tightly. This clamping will ensure a good air seal.

Step 7: Cut the Vent Holes

  • Flip over the hover craft and cut six, 2" diameter vent holes in the tarp around the steel plate.
  • The vent holes are how the air escapes from the skirt and ensures the air escapes in a way that keeps the craft hovering uniformly.

Step 8: Try It Out!

  • IMPORTANT!!! If you are using a leaf blower, make sure any plastic guards that are intended to protect people from contacting the impeller are in place! Don't test it out with any part of the impeller exposed!
  • Plug in the leaf blower, turn it on and try it out!
  • Have fun! Experiment! Try it on different surfaces!
  • Note: The 12 year old is missing from the experimental pictures....he was back playing Fortnite.

Step 9: Show It to Your Wife

  • You'll be super impressed with the ease and success of this project. You'll want to immediately show your wife, so she can reply with the same "This!?!....This is how you spent your night!?" enthusiasm I got from my wife.
  • I turned to my 12 year old (Aidan) and said "what do you think? Was this a waste of time and money?" Aidan said "No, because me, Kaleb and Camden will always remember this".
  • You know what my kids won't remember? Me doing dishes, laundry and cleaning the house...which is what my wife spent her evening doing!...please don't show this to Lissa...please

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    25 Discussions

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    Woodclaver

    5 months ago on Step 9

    About 15 years ago a neighbor kid asked me to hep her build
    this same thing for her school science project. The thing moved 300
    pounds easily.
    We did use a plastic coffie can lid instead of the
    square of metal, with a quarter inch bolt and a fender washer to prevent
    pulling through.We made a 36" Circle of Plywood, and cut the Friction
    fit hole for the Shop Vac hose with an adjustable Flycutter.
    So
    I built one more size specific, to move a large SubZero freezer.that
    was full of frozen food. We figured about 600 pounds. It screamed like a
    whipped puppy, but moved the Freezer effortlessly!

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    cfleis1jeffsgames

    Reply 6 months ago

    Added a video in the title slide. Just a short video clip.

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    Tom-Saine

    6 months ago

    Good father son/daughter project. I would agree with the 12 year old, they'll remember it for a lifetime.

    Although, I'd have to suggest using an old paint can lid in place of the square metal plate on the botton. No corners, less likely to tear the tarp.

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    cfleis1Tom-Saine

    Reply 6 months ago

    Geat tip! I agree that eliminating the corners could help with the longevity!

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    GabrielK32

    6 months ago

    A video of the working product would be really great! :)

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    cfleis1GabrielK32

    Reply 6 months ago

    Here's a short clip of it in action! Don't forget to vote for this in the "make it move contest"!

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    pierrecarles

    6 months ago

    Excellent project with a hilarious tutorial. You have my vote !
    Mind the ears of the kids, though: no hovercrafting without earplugs !

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    charlessenf-gm

    6 months ago

    "Aidan said will always remember this."

    Poor grammar - "Kaleb, Camden and I will always remember this."

    Because one would not say "me will always remember this."

    Neat project.

    Not sure you needed to cut that 'ring out of another 34" square sheet of plywood, however. Why not use simple strips?

    Also, why no sealant between the tarp and the top of the plywood it was folded onto?

    I've got an old leaf blower and some plywood . . . hmmm

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    perrybcharlessenf-gm

    Reply 6 months ago

    Me can't tell if you're kidding or not about the grammar criticism, or if you truly are that kind of a person.

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    TheComputerGuy132

    6 months ago

    Great instructable! I will definitely build one!

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    Eh Lie Us!

    6 months ago on Step 9

    man, this was a great Instructable to read. Your poor wife. She puts up with you!

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    sheripres

    6 months ago on Step 9

    ohhhh...you better hope Lissa doesn't see this! ha ha ha

    I am sure Aidan will remember when his mom cooked him breakfast, lunch and dinner, put clean clothes in his closet, made his bed, kissed his boo-boo's, etc. :)

    I know you were joking (I hope!) about Lissa keeping the house in order and that is NOT a waste of time. Now, your next project can be a massage chair for her. ha ha ha

    FYI - no, I do not know her; I just had to stand up for us women of the house! :)

    Nice project though!

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    dick55

    Question 6 months ago

    What was the maximum weight successfully tested?

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    kitchenrat

    6 months ago

    I love it! Some serious old school "don't tell mom" fun!

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    cfleis1

    6 months ago on Step 9

    Thanks for checking out my Instructable! If you like this project, please vote for us in the "Make it Move" contest.

    -Corey