How to build model rockets from scratch

Written by joan collins
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How to build model rockets from scratch
Model rockets resemble the real thing. (rocket image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from

Homemade rockets can be used to teach; they can also be used for hours of fun. It isn't necessary to spend a lot of money to buy a rocket kit to create a rocket that will fly up into the sky. With a few items that might be considered trash and a model rocket engine, you can create a model rocket from scratch that you will be able to build, decorate and launch. Gather the supplies and make one today.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paper towel roll
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Stickers
  • Marker
  • Plastic straw
  • Small paper cup
  • Knife
  • Plastic Easter egg, large
  • Hot glue gun
  • Model rocket engine
  • Balsa wood or heavy cardboard scraps
  • 12 inch long metal rod, 1/4-inch circumference

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  1. 1

    Paint and decorate the paper towel roll with tempera paints. Add designs with paint or stickers to your rocket body.

  2. 2

    Cut an "X" in the bottom of the small paper cup. The "X" should be large enough for the model rocket engine to fit in, but it should be small enough to hold the engine tightly in place.

  3. 3

    Press the model rocket engine into the "X." Hot glue the engine to the cup with the glue gun.

  4. 4

    Fit the cup and engine, cup bottom first, into one end of the paper towel roll. Push the cup in until the entire engine is inside and snug inside the paper towel roll. Trim the edges of the cup so the bottom of the cup is even with the end of the paper towel roll. The paper towel roll should be able to sit on the tabletop.

  5. 5

    Separate the two sides of the plastic Easter egg. Glue one end, and you can use either end, to the side of the paper towel roll without the motor with the hot glue gun. Use enough hot glue to seal around the egg so it is airtight.

  6. 6

    Draw four lines on the bottom of the rocket end by the engine. They should be evenly spaced around the rocket. This is where the rocket fins will go. The fins will give stability to the rocket when it takes flight.

  7. 7

    Make a pattern for the four fins. The fins should be flat across the bottom and about 2 1/2 inches wide and taper to one inch towards the top. Use the pattern to draw four fins on the balsa wood or heavy cardboard. Draw a straight line 1/2 inch from the straight edge that follows down the fin from top to bottom. Fold along the line to form a flap that can be attached to the rocket body. Place the fins on the rocket, fitting them along the lines you drew on the paper towel roll. Hot glue them into place.

  8. 8

    Cut a 2-inch section from the straw to form a launch lug. Glue it horizontally to the side of the rocket. This is for the lift-off guide wire to keep it upright and heading in the right direction during lift-off.

  9. 9

    Dig a 3-inch hole in the ground and place a metal rod that is small enough to fit through the straw upright in the hole. Place the rod in the hole and push down on it to secure it in the ground. Bury the bottom portion of the rod leaving about eight inches above ground. Place the rocket on the post, and it is ready to launch.

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