Build a Paper Rocket and Paper Launcher




About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
I was looking for a demonstration on air pressure for the Webelos Scientist Activity Badge when I came across this.  Not easy enough for 10 year old boys, so when I had an hour the other day, I brought it out and gave it a try.  The master for the rocket and launch pad are found here:, by a brillant guy called Groeg.  The hardest part was getting the accordion fold right for the billows of the launcher.  Once I figured it out it wasn’t so hard the second time.  So here is how to build a paper rocket and launcher.

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Step 1:

Copy of master on regular copy paper,
Craft knife
Self-healing mat or glass mat to cut the paper on
Paper glue (I used YES paper glue, it dries flat)
Small paint brush (to spread the paper glue)
Paper clips (you will need them unless you have more than 3 hands to hold things while they dry)
Bone folder (for creasing and folding paper)
Ruler or other straight edge
Clear tape (not shown)

Step 2:

On the master you will find this piece of writing here:

Step 3:

I was a little confused until I figured out that the outside folds were hills, and the inside folds are valleys.  I know about hills and valleys, I live at the foot of Rocky Mountains.

Step 4:

I cut out the top of the billows for the launcher.  I placed the ruler along the lone line that indicated that the fold was a valley, then, I folded it to be a valley.  I also cut out the hole where the launch tube will go.

Step 5:

Then I cut out the bottom of the billows for the launcher.  I placed the ruler along the lines that indicated that the folds were valleys,

Step 6:

and then I folded them to be valleys.

Step 7:

Next I cut the billows out.  This next part wasn’t so easy.  Part of each line was hill folds while the rest of the same line, are valley folds, and all these folds will make 90° corners made of more hill folds. 

Step 8:

So I carefully, creased the lines on front or back as needed to be able to create the right hills and valleys.

Step 9:

The best way to make the next step happen is to fold in the valleys and hills on each end, I used paper clips to hold the folds together.  Since the folds in the middle were the in the opposite direction of the ones on the ends, I carefully folded them in the opposite directions and made the 90° corners happen in the process.  Yes! It worked.

Step 10:

Next I glued where it says “glue this side to the top of the base plate” to the billows base, using the paint brush to spread a goodly amount of glue in the lightly shaded area, and stuck the pieces together. 

Step 11:

I then used paper clips to hold the parts together while they dried.

Step 12:

Next, I cut out the launch tube. 

Step 13:

I rolled the tube around the handle of the craft knife to that is was inclined to be round and then I used tape to make the tube.

Step 14:

I folded all the little triangles into valleys, and spread glue on the valley side tips and pushed it up through the hole in the top

Step 15:

and glued the little triangles to the bottom side of the top of the billows.

Step 16:

I then glued 3 of the 4 sides of the top of the billows to the accordion sides, right where it said to glue.  I used paper clips to hold the papers together while they dried.

Step 17:

Next I folded the valley fold on the bottom up and over the white triangles that were all together on each end of the billows.

Step 18:

Then I glued down the rest of the top to the bottom part.  More paper clips were put in use.  Set it aside to let it dry.

Step 19:

Next I cut out the rocket cap, and then I put some glue on the white area.

Step 20:

Then I over lapped the black area so that no white shows and paper clip them together until dry.

Step 21:

I then cut out the rocket, even the little white triangles.

Step 22:

I rolled the tube around the handle of the craft knife to that is was inclined to be round and then I used tape to make the tube.  This tube need to be a larger circumference, because it need go over the top of the launch tube.

Step 23:

Cut out the fins.  They come in sets of two pieces per fin. 

Step 24:

Fold the valleys and glue the main parts together.

Step 25:

Glue the tabs of the fins to the rocket.  The white area tells you where to glue.  This time the little triangles were folded into hills.  I put glue on the little triangles and, after removing the paper clip, stuck the cap on them.  Now let that dry.

Step 26:

Once everything is dry, I blew some air into the launch tube.  There was a leak and I used some tape to seal it off.  Next I pulled the billows out as much as it would go and still have hills and valleys, and I put the rocket on the launch tube.

Step 27:

Count from 3 to 1 back ward… 3..2..1.. and pushed down on the billows making the rocket blasted off.  That was pretty far considering the first one I made never left the launch pad.  Enjoy!
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    15 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Lets see if I can revive a 6 year old post. The original PDF is no longer available. Could you possibly attatch the PDF to this instructable?

    1 reply

    The original creator said if you did everything perfectly it could go more than 5 meters. Mine made it about 2.2 meters. Not bad, because I know mine wasn't put together perfectly. Here are his directions to how to make it and at the bottom is a list of people who created one and how many meter/feet their rockets went.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    My only thought would be that the billows would be too powerful, for a paper rocket. When you try it, let me know about the results. Thanks for looking.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It won't be too powerful, I can overbuild the bellows. I might actually just expand your bellows template and make it out of heavy paper, the cover it in duct tape to make it super strong.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I made it out of card stock and it don't work so well for me. I would love to see your results.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being one of the winners in Scoochmaroo Papercraft Challenge!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    OK this is just plain wicked cool! Part of my duties at the camp I work for is overseeing Model rocketry. sometimes the kids how down time while they are waiting on glue to dry. Not anymore!! They are going to make this! Thanks for the great 'able!

    4 replies

    You're welcome. Here is another rocket Instructable:, which I have done with Cub Scout age kids and then there are the Alka Seltzer Rockets which I haven't written up yet, but it uses generic Alka Seltzer, water and film canisters that have the lid fit inside the canister, (I think Fugi film. Problem is they are getting harder to find.) 1/4 of a tablet, 1/3 of the canister full of water. Put tablet in the water, put the lid on the canister, put the canister (now a rocket) lid down on a hard surface and step back and wait until the gases that are released by the Alka Seltzer tables build up and boy can that thing fly up into the air. Just ideas.

    I love this too, I'll have to write up some safety things for the ACA or there is no way my boss would let me do it! I know it's relatively safe. You aren't kidding finding photo canisters are hard anymore! I did notice when I was making my camp order this year, that Nasco sells them now as an art supply, go figure. Any safety thoughts off the top of your head with the Alka Seltzer rocket?

    I would do the match rocket as a demo. Then for the Alka Seltzer rocket,1) Give them time to personalize their rocket with stickers, etc. 2) Have a designated launch pad (a toilet paper tube works) and launch area. 3) You are the fuel dispenser. They come to you or one of your helpers for the water and the 1/4 of a tablet (keep fingers and tablets dry). 4) The take the rocket unassembled to the launch area, add the tablet to the water, put on the lid, put the rocket, lid down, on the launch area/launch pad, 5) and then step 4 steps back and watch.

    I remember the first time I did this with Cub Scouts, I kept calling the canister a rocket, and they called it a canister, until the first time it flew. When Cubs was over that day, one had been left behind. About an hour later a Cub came looking for his "Rocket". It's been a success ever since.

    Does this help?