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Building Air Cannons

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When you get that itch to start fabricating an air cannon there are several questions that need to be answered before you jump on a set of plans and start chopping up some pvc.

Air Cannon Plans That You Can Build

Building an air cannon requires a little research that can help you decide the type of air cannon you would like to build. To get a better understanding of the differences, visit our air cannon ebooks page for lots of free documentation on the different types of air cannons.

Air Cannons and What They Can Propel

The air cannon projectile happens to be a big factor that you need to consider when building your air cannon.

Schedule 40 PVC pipe is the minimum weight and strength  needed but you also need to consider the size of the barrel when mocking up your design plans. This in turn will govern what size (diameter) the projectiles must meet to be fired from your barrel.

All PVC sizes are recorded by their inside diameter. This means that you can shoot 1 1/2" diameter projectiles out of a 1 1/2" PVC barrel, and 3" diameter projectiles out of a 3" PVC barrel.

Projectile Size in Relation to Barrel Size

Building an Air Cannon, Potato Gun, tshirt Launcher etc. Requires the Proper Barrel Size for your Preferred Projectile to Operate Safely and Efficiently. Keeping the size of your projectile slightly snug to the inside diameter of your barrel will produce the best result.

WARNING: Nothing should be overly snug and forced down the barrel as this could result in failure to propel the projectile out of the barrel, and possible damage to the barrel, and even harm to the operator.

In particular, soft objects like potatoes are safer in a slightly snug fit than solid objects like beer bottles. Never force a solid object into any PVC barrel as this could result in damage or injury.

Here are Some Common Barrel Sizes and Projectiles that May Fit Properly in These Barrels

These sizes will include schedule 40 white PVC pipe as well as gray PVC electrical conduit pipe, CPVC Pipe, and ABS Pipe. Regardless of size, check to make sure you have an easy non-forced fit before firing any solid projectiles such as golf balls and bottles!!!

bullet 3/4" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet 1" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet 1 1/4" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet 1 1/2" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet 2" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet water balloons
bullet 2 1/2" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet tennis balls, beer cans and bottles,
bullet 3" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet rolled t-shirts,
bullet 3 1/2" Barrel: Available in - ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet 4" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet toilet paper rolls, stuffed animals,
bullet 5" Barrel: Available in - PVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)
bullet toilet paper rolls, stuffed animals,
bullet 6" Barrel: Available in - PVC CPVC ABS (Gray PVC Conduit)

PVC, CPVC, ABS, Gray PVC, Pipe Specifications

PVC and CPVC Pipes - Schedule 40

Nominal Pipe Size
(inches)
Outside Diameter
(inches)
Inside Diameter
(inches)
Minimum Wall Thickness
(inches)
Weight
(lb/ft)
PVC CPVC
1/2 0.840 0.622 0.109 0.16 0.17
3/4 1.050 0.824 0.113 0.21 0.23
1 1.315 1.049 0.133 0.32 0.34
1 1/4 1.660 1.380 0.140 0.43 0.46
1 1/2 1.900 1.610 0.145 0.51 0.55
2 2.375 2.067 0.154 0.68 0.74
2 1/2 2.875 2.469 0.203 1.07 1.18
3 3.500 3.068 0.216 1.41 1.54
4 4.500 4.026 0.237 2.01 2.20
5 5.563 5.047 0.258 2.73  
6 6.625 6.065 0.280 3.53 3.86

ABS Pipes - Schedule 40

Nominal Pipe Size
(inches)
Outside Diameter
(inches)
Inside Diameter
(inches)
Minimum Wall Thickness
(inches)
Weight
(lb/ft)
Black ABS
1/2 0.840 0.602 0.109 0.170
3/4 1.050 0.804 0.113 0.226
1 1.315 1.029 0.133 0.333
1 1/4 1.660 1.360 0.140 0.450
1 1/2 1.900 1.590 0.145 0.537
2 2.375 2.047 0.154 0.720
2 1/2 2.875 2.445 0.203 1.136
3 3.500 3.042 0.216 1.488
3 1/2 4.000 3.521 0.226 1.789
4 4.500 3.998 0.237 2.118
5 5.563 5.016 0.258 2.874
6 6.625 6.031 0.280 3.733

Gray PVC Conduit - Schedule 40

Nominal Pipe Size
(inches)
Outside Diameter
(inches)
Inside Diameter
(inches)
Minimum Wall Thickness
(inches)
Weight
(lb/ft)
Gray PVC
         
1/2 .840 0.578 0.109 0.164
3/4 1.050 .780 0.113 0.218
1 1.315 1.004 0.133 0.321
1 1/4 1.660 1.335 0.140 0.434
1 1/2 1.900 1.564 0.145 0.518
2 2.375 2.021 0.154 0.695
2 1/2 2.875 2.414 0.203 1.096
3 3.500 3.008 0.216 1.435
3 1/2 4.000 3.486 0.226 1.729
4 4.500 3.961 0.237 2.043
5 5.563 4.975 0.258 2.776
6 6.625 5.986 0.280 3.600

Potato Cannons, Spud Guns, Tater Launchers

When it comes to potatoes there are many designs for your spud gun. Fact is, since you shave down a potato to fit in the barrel, any size barrel will work once the potato is sized properly.

 
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