How to Make Rubber Band-Powered Airplanes

Written by jennifer young
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How to Make Rubber Band-Powered Airplanes
Rubber band aeroplanes are a good alternative to paper aeroplanes. (NA/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Rubber band aeroplanes are constructed from lightweight materials including balsa wood, foam, tissue paper, paper plates and thin sheets of plastic. The common characteristic of the planes is a propeller attached to a rubber band. The dimensions of the plane are altered to represent real air crafts. The planes are disassembled for easy storage, reused and repaired if damage is caused from landing impacts, handling or dry rotting of the rubber bands.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Balsa wood
  • X-acto knife
  • Paper clip
  • Lighter
  • Glue stick
  • Tacky glue
  • Toothpicks
  • 10-inch rubber band
  • 1-inch rubber band

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure, mark and cut, with the scissors, two pieces of tissue paper 18-inches long and 3-inches wide to serve as the wing and tail material.

  2. 2

    Measure, mark and cut, with the X-acto knife, three pieces of balsa wood 1/2-inch wide and 12-inches long to serve as your wing edges and motor stick.

  3. 3

    Measure, mark and cut five pieces of balsa wood 1/2-inch wide and 2-inches long to serve as wing tips, wing centre, fin support and winglets.

  4. 4

    Measure, mark and cut three pieces of balsa wood measuring 1/2-inch wide and 1/2-inch long to serve as winglet supports and wing shim.

  5. 5

    Measure, mark and cut two pieces of balsa wood measuring 1/2-inch wide and 6-inches long to serve as the motor stick support and tail support.

  6. 6

    Measure, mark and cut one piece of balsa wood measuring 1/2-inch wide and 4-inches long for the wing handle.

  7. 7

    Measure, mark and cut one piece of balsa wood 1/2-inch wide and 6-inches long for the propeller. Heat the tip of a straightened paper clip with a lighter and burn a hole through the vertical and horizontal centre of the propeller with the tip of the paper clip. Fold 1/4 inch of the paper clip at a 90-degree angle and push it against the front edge of the propeller. Form a square shape with the paper clip on the other side of the propeller.

  8. 8

    Place the wing in a horizontal position on a flat surface. Center one wing edge at the top of the wing. Glue the wing edge down.

  9. 9

    Spread a thin layer of tacky glue on the one end of the wing tips. Spread a thin layer of glue stick on the edge of one wing tip. Position the wing tips vertically so the tip of each wing tip connects with the ends of the wing edge. Push the wing tips down to secure the wing tips to the paper and the wing edge. Allow the glue to dry.

  10. 10

    Spread a thin layer of tacky glue on the wing centre. Position the wing centre vertically in the middle of the wing edge. Push the centre down to secure it to the paper. Allow the glue to dry.

  11. 11

    Glue the winglet supports to the bottom of the winglets with tacky glue. Allow the glue to dry. Stand one winglet on top of each wing tip so the winglet support faces the inside of the wing and the outer edge of the winglet is aligned with the outer edge of the wing tip. The winglet and support should be centred along the length of the wing tip. Glue the winglet and support to the wing tip with tacky glue. Allow the glue to dry.

  12. 12

    Apply glue to the bottom three inches of the motor stick. Glue the right side of the tail to the motor stick. Apply glue to the fin support and position the support at the top of the tail so the edge is against the motor stick. Cut the tissue from the corner of the fin support to the corner of the motor stick.

  13. 13

    Cut a toothpick in half and lay it at the top of the fin support. The top of the fin support is the edge on the longest side of the motor stick. Center the toothpick over the outer intersection of the motor stick and fin support. Glue the toothpick into place.

  14. 14

    Measure 1/2 inch from the end of the motor stick opposite the fin. Attach the motor stick support to the motor stick at the measurement. The top of the support should be on the same edge as the fin support.

  15. 15

    Spread a thin layer of tacky glue on the tail support. Glue the tail support to the top edge of the tail tissue so that the edge of the support is aligned with the edge of the tail. The top edge is the shortest edge of the tail. Cut off the excess material on the nonangled end.

  16. 16

    Pick up the motor stick and face the fin down towards the ground and away from you. Put tacky glue on the toothpick and along the motor stick in the fin area. Center the tail on top of the motor stick so the free edge of the tail is aligned with the end of the motor stick. Press down to adhere the surfaces together. Allow the glue to dry.

  17. 17

    Spread glue stick on the remaining wing edge. Position the wing edge at the bottom of the wing to form a rectangle with the winglets. Press down and allow the glue to dry. Make sure all the wood joints are glued together. Cut off the excess material on the bottom of the wing.

  18. 18

    Apply glue to the wing centre. Center the wing handle on top of the centre and push down to secure the pieces together. Allow the glue to dry.

  19. 19

    Glue one wing shim to the bottom wing edge underneath the tissue paper. The shim should be centred over the wing handle.

  20. 20

    Apply glue to the outside of the winglets. Fold the tissue up and trim the excess tissue on top of the winglets. Cut the tissue on both ends from the corner of the winglet to the corner of the wing tips.

  21. 21

    Attach one end of the rubber band to the square on the propeller. Hold the motor stick with the fin upwards. Slide the small rubber band over the motor stick. Place the wing on top of the motor stick in front of the rubber band. The shim should be at the front of the motor stick and the wing wooden support should be on top of the plane. Pull the end of the small rubber band down along the bottom of the wing and hook it on the wing handle.

  22. 22

    Cut a notch in the middle of the motor stick and slide the square of the propeller into the notch.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a toothpick to apply the tacky glue to the wood to control the amount of glue added and decrease the required drying time. Twist the 10-inch rubber band while holding the plane by the motor stick. Release the motor stick and rubber band at the same time. The unwinding of the band will cause the propeller to spin and the plane to fly.

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