Thursday, April 1, 2010

Making a Toy Cannon (Part 1)

Part 1|Part 2

The toy soldiers of my youth were mostly the 1/72 scale tiny Airfix figures, but my family and friends also had a fair amount of 1/32 scale "Cowboys and Indians", some Vikings and the ever popular "Little Green Army Men." One Christmas I got a playset that had a cannon that used a pull back plunger to launch little shells across the rec room floor. Cool stuff. Even after the wheels broke, I continued to play with that cannon.

A few years ago I made this "pirate cannon" as a proof of concept toy. ("Proof of concept" is my way of say that I was just messing around with an idea so please don't look too closely at the quality.)

It has a 1/2" bore down the center of a 7/8" inch dowel. I have to tell you, I made this pre-drill press. It really helps if you have a drill guide... and a lot of extra dowels.

It can shoot a 3/8 wooden ball most of the way across our living room and continues to serve us well.

A few months ago I saw this kit for a dollar(!) at a local craft store. ZOINKS! A cheap wooden cannon for a buck. (Please take a moment to reflect on what a great country we live in... and the vast amount of wood and inexpensive labor available in China.) I snatched a couple up and got to work on turning them into something a little more realistic looking while still being a toy.

The kits come with "everything you need" (glue, pant, sandpaper, paint brush.) I put all those in the "I'll find a use for them someday" bin. The wood parts are good enough. I mean, what do you expect for a dollar? (Besides a new suit.) The carriage I pretty much used "as is" but the other two components were where some changes needed to be made. The wheels just don't cut it. Besides the axle holes not really being centered; they make the kit look a bit like something out of the Flintstones. Anyway, I'd already come up spoked wheels for just such a project.

The barrel isn't huge but it has a decent shape. At the mid-point is a 3/16" hole that holds a dowel to provide a pivot point for elevating the barrel (in case you are ever on Jeopardy, the technical term is the "trunnion" ) The barrel is just big enough that I can make a spring powered plunger that will allow it to actually shoot 1/4 balls and dowels pieces. The muzzle has a shallow hole and so does the breech. All I have to do is bore them to the correct diameter and depth.

The barrel that came with the kit is 3 7/8" long. It is tapered through the length of the barrel and is 1/2" at its narrowest and 13/16" at its widest. (I know, 13/16" ????? But hey, just keep telling yourself... I only paid a buck....)

Before we get drilling, let me show you what we are trying to do:

Next time - Drill press adventures.

Making a Toy Cannon
Part 1|Part 2

  1 comment:

  1. This site is really cool!...You're wife should be commended... --Susan, a regular housewife...

    Where's the cool soap and cd sparks show clips...? Or are you dazzling us a little at a time?


Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.