Have a model rocket you, or perhaps your child, is proud of but you don't have a way to display it? Is it propped up awkwardly in a corner, or wedged into an upright position with some stuffed animals? Not all rocket designs stand up well on their own, so here is a simple display stand you can quickly and easily build with basic tools.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
Model Rocket to Display
Expended Rocket Motor
1"x6" Pine Board
1/4" Drill Bit
Hot Glue Gun
Sandpaper (~150 grit)
Step 2: Clean the Expended Rocket Motor
Scrape out the inside of the rocket motor to clear any significant residue left over from the burned propellant. You don't have to make it perfectly clean, just remove any large debris stuck to the insides of the motor. Here I used one end of the dowel wrapped in a paper towel to keep the mess down a little bit. Carefully wipe up and dispose of the debris, making sure to wash your hands afterwards (you won't want to accidently get the residue in your eyes or mouth).
Step 3: Drill Out the Nozzle to Accept the Dowel
Enlarge the motor nozzle with the 1/4" drill bit. The nozzle is a hard clay plug with a small hole in it. Take your time so you don't fracture and break out the whole nozzle. If you do break out the nozzle, that's okay you can fill this end with hot glue in a later step. The nozzle simply helps center the dowel and looks a little better intact.
Step 4: Cut the Dowel to Length
Decide how high and at what angle you want to display the rocket. I did this by holding the rocket near the edge of the table at the height and angle that I liked. I then placed the dowel up into the engine tube of the rocket (with all of the extra length hanging past the table's edge). I marked that length and cut the dowel with a utility knife. The easiest way to do this is to "saw" back and forth with the knife, but allow the dowel to roll with the blade. For my rocket the dowel was approximately 8" long.
Step 5: Making the Masking Tape Plug
Start wrapping masking tape around one end of the dowel. Keep adding tape until it is about the same diameter as the inside of the rocket motor. A light friction fit is good enough, it doesn't need to be overly snug.
Step 6: Fastening the Motor to the Dowel Plug
Insert the unwrapped end of the dowel through the top of the motor (end opposite the nozzle) and pass it through the nozzle. Continue sliding the dowel in until the plug is recessed slightly into the motor body. Seal up the top end of the motor with hot glue. This not only holds the plug in, but also helps seal any remaining propellant residue in the motor.
Step 7: Cutting the Base
The size of the base will vary with the size of the model rocket. For most hobby rockets a six inch long board will provide enough weight and footprint to provide a stable base. Cut the 1"x6" board to length. If you place the board in a vise as shown here, put some form of padding (newspaper works fine) to keep the teeth of the vise from damaging the surface of the board. Sand the rough edges with the sandpaper (or sanding pad as shown here).
Step 8: Drill the Mounting Hole
Using the same 1/4" drill bit as earlier, drill a hole in the base for the dowel/motor assembly. You should match the angle you determined earlier when deciding how you wanted the rocket to look when mounted. Test fit the dowel in the hole. If it is too tight enlarge the hole or lightly sand down the dowel. If it is too loose you can add some hot glue when inserting the dowel.
Step 9: Putting It All Together
Insert the dowel/motor assembly into the hole in the base and you are done. To display your pride and joy simply slide the model rocket down over the motor and step back to enjoy your work!
Step 10: More...
There are lots of opportunities to improve upon this simple design. You could make a fancier base (curve the outside perimeter with a jigsaw, scrollsaw, or bandsaw; use a router to provide a decorative edge; actually stain and seal the wood; etc.). You could also add multiple dowel/motor assemblies and display multiple rockets from one base. Your imagination is the limit!
I made it at TechShop