Powerful Air Cannon

Introduction: Powerful Air Cannon


This instructable will show you how to create an air cannon. Most of these supplies can be found at a home depot or other hardware store. The rest can be ordered off amazon. This is a moderately hard project.

I do not take any responsibility for injuries or damages done. Read and fully understand the document before proceeding. Follow all directions carefully for best results.

What did I make?

I made a powerful air powered cannon.I had all the tools I needed at home.A Hacksaw, a ruler/measuring tape, a drill/ drill bits, scissors, pliers, and an air pump with a meter. The rest of the supplies I had to buy from home depot and amazon.com. This cannon works by storing air in a chamber and pressuring the air. Then the air is released in an instant into the barrel of the gun. A projectile is stored in the barrel and this prevents the air from escaping the barrel. The air pushes out the projectile at high speeds. 

How did I make it?

I got this idea from the air soft gun I made a while ago.I wanted something larger, and more powerful. I made his gun by myself, consulting the internet for help, such as hoe to make something air tight, and how to glue PVC. The plans definitely changed as the project progressed. I figured the simpler the design, the easier and more efficient the machine would be. So, I changed the design as I went to benefit the cost and efficiency.  

Where did you make it?

I made the whole cannon at home in my back yard. I don't have a work shop so I used my concrete patio for all the cutting, gluing, and assembling. This was a fun project to build, as well as use after the construction was complete. 

What did you learn?

I learned that making something airtight is harder than it seems. I used epoxy and PVC cement to make sure absolutely no air escaped. Also, I learned that you always should give a sufficient amount of time for glue or other bonding materials to dry and set. If I did this project again, I would use a remote valve as a trigger instead of a ball valve. This would make the release of air faster, and therefore giving more power to the projectile.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

• Hacksaw
• Ruler/measuring tape
• Drill/ drill bits
• Scissors
• Pliers
• Air pump with meter

Building materials:
• Charlotte Pipe 2 in x 10 ft. PVC Schedule 40 DWV Pipe-   http://www.homedepot.com------$6.58
• Mueller Global 2 in. PVC Schedule 80 S x S Ball Valve with Quarter-Turn Operation-   http://www.homedepot.com----------$12.38
• Mueller Streamline 2 in. x 4 in. PVC DWV Hub x Hub Reducing Coupling-   http://www.homedepot.com--------------$6.06
• Charlotte Pipe 4 in. x 2 ft. PVC Sch. 40 DWV Foam Core Pipe-   http://www.homedepot.com-----------$7.18
• 4 in. PVC Slip Cap-   http://www.homedepot.com-------------$7.17
• PC-Products PC-Plumbing 2 oz. Putty Epoxy-   http://www.homedepot.com/--------------- $4.57
• Duck 1.88 in. x 20 yd Blue Duct Tape-   http://www.homedepot.com---------------$3.57
• Amflo 701-2 1/4 npt tank valve-   http://www.amazon.com----------------$2.95
• Oatey 8 oz. Handy Pack Purple Primer and Solvent Cement-   http://www.homedepot.com-----------$7.51

Total Building materials cost:    $57.97

Step 2: Building

1) Cut the 2” thick PVC pipe to a length of 2.5 feet. This will be the barrel of the cannon.

2) Cut another 2” thick PVC pipe to a length of 6 inches. This will be the extension from the ball valve to the air tank.

3) Gather the…..     4”PVC cap        4” thick 2 ft. PVC pipe             4”-2” PVC reducer           2” thick PVC 6 in. piece            
                                   2” Ball Valve               2” thick PVC 2.5 ft. piece.  

4) Fit all pieces together. Make sure they fit snugly. This will be the basic shape of the air cannon.

5) Disassemble. Get the 4” PVC cap. Drill a hole about ¼” in the center of the cap. Then slowly widen it so that you can screw in the air intake valve in extremely tightly. This part is very important because no air should be able to escape from the air tank (Later you will make it air tight with the epoxy). Once the valve is screwed in, tighten it with the pliers.    

6) Take the epoxy putty and read the instructions. Make sure you follow all the directions. Put on a pair of gloves. Take about half the putty stick and mix it in your hands. After mixing well you have about 1 minute to place it. Place it at the base of the air valve and wrap it all the way around so no air can escape. Apply pressure on the putty and compress it. Then take about ¼ of the putty stick and apply it to the part of the valve protruding out of inside of the cap. Make sure the putty is not blocking the air valve’s holes. The Epoxy putty should start to get warm after about 2 minutes. This means it is curing. Let it set for at least 3 hours.             

7) Clean all the parts with water and a cloth. Take out the PVC primer and cement. Read all directions. A brush should come with the cement and primer. You are now going to assemble everything together, but this time with a bonding agent.  Put on gloves and apply the primer first, then the cement over it. This should be done on both pieces you are joining. When you are finished, slide both pieces together, twisting about 45 degrees simultaneously. (This part is extremely important because everything needs to be able to hold a certain pressure. Make sure you glue thoroughly.) Let it dry for 6-7 hours.

8) Your basic cannon is done. But for safety, wrap the duct tape around the air tank and the valve. Make sure you cover every part tightly. This is in case in case the Pipe bursts. (Very, Very unlikely if you follow the instructions).

Step 3: Silencer

       Creating a silencer. This gun will be loud. This silencer will reduce this. With your drill, make holes at the end of the barrel. Use a sharpie and a ruler to make these holes in a pattern. Make the wholes clean cut so it doesn't interfere with the projectile. Look inside the barrel and make sure the inside is smooth.

        Then, to create the external silencer, use something that fits over the barrel. Use a 2 liter soda bottle, ice-cream container, or a larger pipe. Wrap cloth or a soft material over the end of the barrel then cover it with the bottle, container or pipe. Tape each edge of the silencer to the barrel itself. Then wrap silencer in tape. Finally drill small holes on the silencer.

Step 4: How to Fire

1) Load the cannon with projectile.
2) Remove cap off air intake valve and attach pump. Make sure ball valve is closed. Pump air, then remove pump. 
3) Start low and experiment with different psi. DO NOT EXEED 100 PSI. This is for your own safety. NEVER aim at a person. NEVER look down a loaded barrel.

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    8 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Never use foam core pipe or hub-hub DWV reducers. All pipe and fittings must say NSF-pw or NSF-61. Valves are always safe and you do not have to worry. Instead of reducers, use couplers and bushing reducers. You should still never use PVC. Just order plastic air compressor pipe online. Steel, black iron or copper pipe are also great choices.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Use a gas ball valve. It is brass and threaded. Mine is rated to 200 psi, some are rated to 600. I built a steel mini air cannon with a 1 foot 1 1/2 inch tank and a pressure gauge. It is light, easy to pump up, easy to load and easy to fire. The reason is gas ball valves are made very accurately made so they stop gas completely to prevent an explosion.

    "NEVER look down the barrel."
    It's sad that some people need to be told these things.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You are right. Even if it looks depressurized, the gauge could be stuck, Even without ammo, the burst of air can rupture the lungs!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the criticism! However, I have a couple reasons for using a ball valve. First, I was having a hard time finding any other 2" diameter valves(this is a CANNON). Also, ball valves are rated for very high pressures. They are very hardy and can take a beating. Finally, they are very cheap and can be picked up at any hardware store. These plans are for a pneumatic air cannon.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    For qev valves. You can buy 2 inch versions but they are expensive so you would have to end up making one. Also you can improve the ball valve by making it spring loaded so it opens faster


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's a great idea! I will definitely look into making it easier to open the valve.


    this one is powered by a ball valve, not a very efficient system, actually one of the most inefficient, research QEV Valves, they give the most power, or research "coaxial air cannon" which is also more efficient and powerful.