How to Make a Spud Cannon

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Image by Scott VanPala

Building a spud cannon can be exciting and fun, giving you hours of enjoyment both in the process of creating it and when using it. These cannons can, however, be dangerous to operate. You are firing potatoes out of a pipe using combustion, which can make for a volatile situation.

Make sure you take great care in making your spud cannon so it doesn't malfunction, and also be careful when firing it.

  • Building a spud cannon can be exciting and fun, giving you hours of enjoyment both in the process of creating it and when using it.

Using the hacksaw, cut the 3-inch diameter ABS pipe to approximately 14 inches in length, creating the combustion chamber. Quickly check to see if the reducer fits over the cut end of the pipe, making adjustments where you need to ensure a snug, overlapping fit. Use the file to sharpen the firing end of the barrel, which will allow for easier loading by slicing through the excess parts of the potato.

Spread a generous amount of cement along the interior of the reducer and slather it over the exterior of the cut end of the pipe. Place the reducer on the pipe, pushing it into place and securing it snugly. Repeat the cementing with the threaded adaptor on the opposite end of the pipe from where you put the reducer. Again, repeat the cementing step, generously applying it to the open end of the reducer and along the exterior of the 1 1/2-inch diameter pipe, creating the long barrel of the cannon. Allow the cement to cure before proceeding.

  • Spread a generous amount of cement along the interior of the reducer and slather it over the exterior of the cut end of the pipe.
  • Repeat the cementing with the threaded adaptor on the opposite end of the pipe from where you put the reducer.

Drill a hole midway down the combustion chamber and fit the flint igniter in place using the materials that came with it. Use cement to secure the flint in place, covering any open area to completely seal the combustion chamber. Allow the cement to cure before proceeding.

Inspect the finished product, ensuring all sections are properly cemented and completely dried. Secure the cap on the back end of the cannon to make sure it threads cleanly onto the end of the combustion chamber.

  • Inspect the finished product, ensuring all sections are properly cemented and completely dried.
  • Secure the cap on the back end of the cannon to make sure it threads cleanly onto the end of the combustion chamber.

Firing the cannon is simple but requires excessive amounts of caution and should never be done without having others around in case of an accident. To load and fire the cannon, unscrew the cap end and leave it open. On the other end of the cannon, force a potato into the barrel and shove it into place with the handle of a shovel or similar device. Make sure the potato is secure in the barrel and isn't exiting into the combustion chamber. Using hairspray (you should verify it's combustible before applying it), spray into the combustion chamber for approximately 3 seconds. Quickly replace the cap end and secure tightly. Lift the cannon to your side, resting it on your hip or similar fashion, and click the igniter. The fuel inside will ignite, firing the potato out the end of the barrel.

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