Pipe Cannon




this instructable shows you how to make a small cannon out of a pipe and endcap.


to start, you need these things:

-3/8" galvanized steel pipe 6 to 12 inches long with threads on the outside of the tips
-3/8" endcap
-drill bits
-firecrackers, flash powder, or black powder (gunpowder)
-1/4" steel slingshot balls
-paper towel or napkin
-metal coathanger
-wire cutters
-masking tape
-X-acto knife

-drill press

Step 1: Fixing the Barrel

as you can see, it is slightly different from the pipe i told you to buy. i cut the end off because the threaded end was slightly smaller than the rest of the barrell. i hacksawed it off and filed the end so it looked neat. in some of my pics you see a little metal on the side of the pipe. i tried to weld a handle to it. i realized it was a bad idea and tore it off. you may also notice mine is shiny. i shined it using a drill press. i turned it on high speed, put the pipe in it, and turned it on. i then took sand paper and polished it down. i started with about 200 grain, or something like that, and slowly worked my way up to 1000 grain.

Step 2: Drilling the Endcap

now, we can start to drill a hole in the endcap where the fuses will be. when you pick a fuse, it doesn't have to be huge and thick. i use fuses from a firecracker called "little dynamite" and they are red and have fuses; they do fine. next, pick a small drill bit that is the same diameter as the fuse and put it aside. if you like, you can take a centerpunch and make a small dent in the center of the endcap so when you drill, you will have a centered hole. if you don't really care; don't do it. it doesn't effect performance. it really helps to have a drill press, but if you don't, put the cap in vise, oil your bit and endcap, and drill away.

Step 3: Obtaining and Using Powder

this one's a bit tricky. if you have no access to flash powder, gunpowder, or any type of firecracker you're kinda out of luck and won't be able to fire the cannon. if you have flash powder, don't use too much! only a little bit is required. flash powder is extremely powerful, and the reason they don't use it for guns is because it expands too quickly. black powder (gunpowder) is slower, and is better for pushing; you need more of it if you'd like to use it for this project.

in terms of quantity, you should never use more than about half a teaspoon of any powder. i have never tried any more, but if you think my rig is strong enough, use your best judgement, but remember: I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE. start out with a tiny amount and work your way up. if you load in way too much, the pipe will explode sending hot metal shrapnel in every direction, all before the ball even leaves the barrel. as for black powder, i have no experience with it. therefor i have no idea how much to use. as i said for flash powder, use a tiny amount the first time, and work your way up.

if you only have firecrackers, you have to spare a few. you can either put it directly into the chamber (be careful because the fuse to most firecrackers are very fast). to get a pack of firecrackers apart, untangle the threads or strips of paper that hold them together. take a razorblade and slice one of the firecrackers in half at the middle. hold the pieces above a sheet of paper and squeeze it while rolling it between your thumb and index finder. the dark grey stuff is flash powder. if you see reddish or light greyish stuff, that is not flash powder. don't let too much of it get into your flash powder. when you have enough powder, fold the paper in half and put it aside.

Step 4: Loading the Cannon

take your coathanger and cut the bottom part of the triangle out with your wire cutters. use your pliers to ball up one end of the wire. you have just made the ramrod.

take your cannon and insert the fuse about a half inch in the hole you made. tape it in place. grab your paper with the powder on it and slowly pour the powder into the top of the barrel. when you finish, put the slingshot ball in the top of the barrel. make sure it goes all the way down with the ramrod. then, rip off roughly 1"x1" inches of paper towel and fold it twice in half to make a 1/2"x1/2" square. jam that down the barrel with the ramrod until it hits the ball. now you can tilt the cannon down and the powder won't fall out. :)

Step 5: Firing

you are ready to fire!


put the cannon on the ground. you can put a rock or something under the front of the barrel so it tilts the cannon up so you can actually shoot at stuff. put something behind the cannon because it can fly back. make shure there isn't a pile of leaves behind it, otherwise you could lose it. remember: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. when you are ready, light the fuse and run away. think were it will ricochet, and don't go there. depending on the amount of powder you used, it is very loud (similar to a gunshot) and very powerful. i suggest to get out of the area you just shot at in case someone called the cops. i've shot through an old license plate and peice of a 2 by 4, so watch out, it has the potential to kill.

PLEASE use every precation you can think of. i don't want to get anyone hurt. if i do, i am not responsible.




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    128 Discussions


    10 months ago

    Illegal in the US? Not unless your state or community rules it so. Dangerous? Yes. Galvanized pipe is what is used in making highly illegal pipe bombs. I would definitely NOT make one and use it, not with galvanized pipe anyway. Best thing, if you really want one, make it entirely out of wood, then set it on a shelf as a display item.


    2 years ago

    It's legal. At least where I live.

    I used this idea but, i made a firecracker pistol and it shoots pretty good. completely safe.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    id imagine something like silver nitrate which is a primary explosive used for setting off bigger explosives (like a blasting cap)


    8 years ago on Step 5

    hey, do you have any videos were you show how this thing shoot? that would be cool.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 3

    I've never had any success with igniting the powder from firecrackers. I've tried black cat firecrackers and wolf pack, and neither worked. any help?

    7 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    what you want is the gray powder, not the red/rusty colored stuff. dont let them mix. the gray powder it should ignite, with a proper wick at least.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    I know. I've got that part. it just doesn't light. I tried using a sparkler. I should get some visco fuse... do you know if they have it on ebay, or is it illegal or something?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Several types of visco and other fuse is available from 'skylighter.com/'. They also carry all types of fireworks chemicals and have instructions for making black powder, rockets, etc.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    thats weird. sparklers burn at like 2000º F, so i dont think you'll have much better luck with real wick. what brand firecrackers are you using?


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    I just made a big explosive (17 firecrackers worth) and I tried to detonate it. I lit it, threw it, and the fuse didn't ignite the powder!! it stopped short of lighting it. I've seen it done before, and I can't understand why mine doesn't work.... maybe next time I'll add phosphorus powder (match heads) around the base of the fuse. that should ignite big enough to light the powder. and if not, I have to assume firecrackers are a giant pyramid scheme. and the end of the fuse is magical. or something. probably dinosaurs. who knows.