How to Make a Model Rocket Nose Cone

Written by larry simmons
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Model rocketry is a hobby that uses the same methods as those used in actual rockets to propel a scale-sized model high into the air. Most model rockets are little more than a tube with fins, containing a model rocket engine. To top these models and aid them in achieving smooth predictable flight, model builders add on a model rocket nose cone. Making your own nose cone for a model rocket can cut down on the costs of your hobby as well as allowing you to experiment with nontraditional rocket sizes. The process for building a nose cone to fit a 3/4 --inch rocket body only requires a few basic materials and an afternoon's build time.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 3x5 index card
  • T-square
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • ¼-inch dowel
  • Masking tape
  • Multipurpose spray adhesive
  • 150-grit Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • ¾-inch wooden dowel
  • Saw
  • 5-minute epoxy glue

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  1. 1

    Draw a line bisecting the centre of the 5-inch edge of a 3x5 index card using a t-square and a pencil. This line represents the apex of the cone, the centre point. Place a mark one-inch from the edge of the card at the bottom, along the 5-inch length. Use the straight edge of the T-square to draw a diagonal line from the one-inch mark to the top of the centerline on the opposite edge of the card.

  2. 2

    Take a ¼-inch diameter dowel and place on the edge of the card. Roll the card along the 5-inch edge lightly to pre-curl the card so that it rolls naturally into the cone shape. Remove the dowel and pre-roll the cone by bending the smaller section of the marked card marked with the so that the 3-inch edge of the card touches the drawn diagonal line. Place your finger lightly inside the cone area and then roll the remainder of the card into a cone shape. Remove your finger and allow the paper to fall back into a slightly flat shape.

  3. 3

    Cover the smaller section of the card with masking tape. Spray the uncovered section with a light covering of spray adhesive, taking care not to wet the card through.

  4. 4

    Remove the masking tape and then roll the paper back into a cone shape, with the point located at the apex. Press your finger along the inside edge of the paper within the cone to flatten it against the surface.

  5. 5

    Sand the end of the rocket tube where you will place the nose cone to create a tapered angle that fits within the cone.

  6. 6

    Slide the nose cone onto the end of the rocket tube and mark the point on the cone where the end of the tube reaches. Use the scissors to cut a point about ¼-inch beneath the mark, creating a flat edge for the bottom of the nose cone.

  7. 7

    Place a line of white glue along the sanded edge of the rocket body. Slide the nose cone onto the rocket body, centred onto the tube. Test that it's centred by spinning the rocket gently through your fingers by the cone and watching as the body moves. If the rocket body angles in any direction, adjust the cone slightly in the opposite direction. Allow the cone to dry to the body for an hour.

  8. 8

    Sand the side of the nose cone where it overlaps the rocket body with 150-grit sandpaper to even the overlap. Switch to 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper and sand the seam along the top of the nose cone left over from the fold smooth.

  9. 9

    Spread a layer of white glue over the nose cone to seal and smooth the card. Allow it to dry for 15 minutes.

  10. 10

    Place a 3/4 inch dowel inside the rocket body to the base of the cone. Cut the body with a utility knife at a point ½-inch from the base of the cone. The cut cone portion will become the ejectable rocket nose cone.

  11. 11

    Cut a 2-inch section from a wooden ¾ -inch dowel using a saw. Coat the entire interior of the nose cone with epoxy glue, as well as the end of the dowel. Slide the dowel into the nose cone until it can go no further. Stand the nose cone upright on a flat surface and allow the epoxy to cure for five minutes.

  12. 12

    Screw a screw-eye to the bottom of the dowel in the centre to serve as an anchor for a parachute. Use the nose cone by placing it back onto the end of the rocket tube before launching.

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