Building a pirate cannon for fun and plunder


Our days by the pool are behind us for the year. But playing pirate ship with a 2-year-old does sound like quite a bit of fun. That’s why [The Stone Donkey] built this pirate cannon prop complete with firing sounds.

The simplicity of the design is pretty brilliant. Three segments of PVC and five fittings make for a realistic looking barrel that won’t throw your back out when you pull this one out for playtime. After some cutting and gluing the entire thing was sprayed with matte black paint. The bit of rope wrapped around the barrel is a nice touch. The base was made with some scrap pine, but it’s that little wooden box on top that makes it really special. It is the fuse box, and a tap of the finger gives a burning fuse sound and video followed by an earth-shattering kaboom. [The Stone Donkey] used his old Droid X Android phone and wrote an app for it that puts on the sound and light show. Take a look in the clip after the break.

[via Reddit]


  1. aztraph says:

    why not turn it into something that actually fires, like a potato gun.

    • Brooks says:

      “Playing … with a 2-year-old”.

      • Rob says:

        Hey, once the little buggers realize they have opposable thumbs, they ought to learn how to use them constructively, amiright? Heck, I was (with supervision) firing a .22 and blowing up sandcastles with legit M-80’s (before the ban) by the time I was five. Had we known of potato cannons back then, I’m sure there would have been one.

        There’s no reason not to train kids about “dangerous things” at a young age (so long as you’re capable of actually training them, that is)… makes for much more capable, responsible kids as they grow up. If they grow up scared of shit that goes boom then they’re going to have to play a lot of catch up later (if they ever do). Explosives, weapons, sharp things, pokey sticks, and anything else that can be used with lethal intent should be respected, not feared, and that only comes with responsible education.

        Touched a nerve there you did. :-) No reason a two year old can’t be safely exposed to noisy things as part of the prep for the stuff I mentioned above. If they’re of above-average intelligence then an earlier start will only benefit them! Of course the first time you see the kitten getting loaded into the potato gun, that kind of puts the brakes on everything… so ymmv.

    • auntieneo says:
      • Literate says:

        No. Clearly you have not read it.

        “…maiming explosion, which also shot a piece of metal shrapnel…”

        Metal and explosives are not PVC and compressed air. Obfuscating the point through disinformation is deception at it’s worst. You are a liar.

      • M4CGYV3R says:

        Blew off two fingers and metal shrapnel…through his leg?

        You’re doing it (way) wrong.

  2. Adric says:

    If they just used ABS sewer pipe they would not have to paint it. I have built a bunch of large carbide cannons using abs, it holds up just fine!

  3. Alex Rossie says:

    Wont set you back? It’s has a friggin Droid X in it!

    I like the idea of a potato cannon though!

    • aztraph says:

      Thank you, I sympathize with the link auntieneo put out there, but I fire my 9 foot potato gun off every 4th of july, My 2 daughters (16 and 13) are right there with me taking turns, we fire it off using propane but leave the potatoes out, just boom, no projectile. of course Derek Schaible’s first mistake was playing at being a scientist and not really being one, his second mistake was shooting it off INDOORS! Really? of course I suppose there is a class at Idaho State U on how to make a POTATO gun, hell, it’s probably a requirement, so I would suppose that someone in idaho would know the proper safety measures for handling one, on THAT score I would be wrong.

      And here’s another link that lets us know that he was using BLACK POWDER!!!! instead of hair spray, BRILLIANT!!!!

  4. Mr Name Required says:

    Building weapons. With a 2-year old. Is it in the American DNA?

  5. some old bollocks says:

    PVC isn’t a suitable medium for piratical ordinance (health and safety etc. ad nauseam)

    • Adobe/Flash hater says:

      Arh matey, but when…
      it explodes in your face (etc)
      and puts an eye out…
      You can wear a pirate style eye patch !

    • Ren says:

      It doesn’t propel anything out of the barrel! It is a toy, it makes a sound and looks like a cannon, If the PVC or ABS or whatever shatter it will be because it got brittle sitting in the Sun too long and was hit by something.

  6. andar_b says:

    An elastic or air-pressure launcher for foam/playground balls would be fun. Perhaps a bit like those bean bag launchers at Chuck’s and other kids’ arcades.

  7. Funkdat says:

    Maybe , since you have a pool. make it fling small buckets of water? or wet nerf balls.

  8. Frank Reich says:

    Wouldn’t the recoil of the barrel throw itself out of the base box if this were a real cannon? I’d turn the barrel around. Just sayin’…

  9. Hirudinea says:

    That’s so cool, great Dad! But just one quibble (beside it not firing IRBMs as everyone thinks it should do) is that real cannons on pirate ships were fired with a linstock ( so why not whip one up with a stick and a capactive stylus?

  10. ino says:

    It’s a nice built, but I think the huge muzzle hole makes me think more of a telescope than a cannon. He should make a plug from say .. polystyrene with a quite smaller hole in it. Like a real cannon is made for a really thick piece of metal.

  11. Galane says:

    When I was a young boy I built a firecracker cannon from a piece of externally threaded lamp pipe. I ran a nut on each end, secured with glue to keep it from rolling. I found an open ended finial nut for the breech end, then epoxied on a washer to make the hole smaller.

    Unscrew the breech, slide in projectile then a firecracker. Slip the wick through the breech cap hole and screw that on.

    Light wick then run behind the big tree. After the BANG, walk over to survey the damage to the target.

    My favorite projectiles were the long inner piece of the mechanism from non-working clicky pens. Those would punch straight through a 1″ thick slab of modeling clay, without using any wadding to reduce blow-by.

    From reading my grandfather’s gun magazines I knew that clay was denser than human flesh, so no way was I going to get any part of my body in front of the muzzle! It’d put one of those pen parts right through a hand.

    I never launched anything from it using wadding, didn’t want to risk what might happen with higher pressures. One nifty trick was clipping the wick short on a second firecracker and using it as a projectile. The cracker would shoot out then explode a few feet from the muzzle. Exploding artillery “shells”! ;)

    That cannon destroyed many a thing, including a few broken old 1/64 scale die-cast military vehicles.

    I still have the cannon. :-) If I lived out of town like I did 30-some years ago, I’d get some firecrackers, some dead old pens, some modeling clay and shoot some videos of it.

    • Whatnot says:

      Many other kids no doubt did that too, some died, some were just maimed..

      I was just talking about how national health care in the US has to content with the pill popping and mad things americans tend to do, which makes it a bit different from other regions in the world. (I don’t mean this to be some political discussion, this is not the place, it’s meant to be a (semi-)humorous observation).

      • Dave says:

        Not sure why this is a particularly American trait. I vividly recall an afternoon in 1978 when six seven year old boys put a full propane cylinder on a fire, inside a tunnel in South Australia. I was one of them – we were all blown about twenty meters, luckily into a creek as most of us were on fire. One lost several fingers, one an ear. We all still carry scars. A miraculously light injury toll from the barrage of white hot shrapnel in an enclosed space. Not sure I will be encouraging the Little Guy to experiment with home made explosives when his time comes.

  12. Whatnot says:

    Needs an amplifier and an old boom box hidden inside it.

  13. vonskippy says:

    The kid’s 2, the empty box the smartphone came in would have kept him amused and busy just as well.

  14. Mojo says:

    “earth-shattering kaboom”
    Say what?

    • n0lkk says:

      That’s as Earth shattering as Earth shattering is going to get when, when a mobile phone is being used to create earth shattering. As it is the adults will be welcoming the time when the battery dies. Sorry my child the charger is broken. At which time the child will recreate the sound as children have done since child first heard a fire arm. No keeping a good ,but ornery kid down for long.

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