Posted By on July 14, 2009

T-Shirt Cannons

nike t-shirt gunThere are many commercially available t-shirt cannons on the market and information on these can be found with a Google search on the topic of T-Shirt Cannons. They range in price from several hundred dollars to those costing several thousand dollars. One of note is Nike’s new hand held gun. You can see this cool gadget in use by watching this video. Click here to view

If you can’t afford one of the commercial models,the¬†information below will provide you with everything you need to know to build your own cannon using materials that you can find at your local big hardware retailer for less than a hundred bucks.


T-Shirt Cannon Construction Notes:

  • While many pneumatic cannons have been made from PVC piping to launch such items as t-shirts, potatoes, golf balls, tennis balls and more. The manufacturers of PVC pipe and fittings as well as OHSA warn against using PVC piping to convey compressed air as it can explode, causing serious injury or death. If you choose to ignore these warnings, be sure to use PVC pipe and fittings that are pressure rated. Pressure rated sch 40 pvc pipe and fittings have been tested to at least 160psi and you could upgrade the above components to sch 80 which has been tested to 360psi. In any case, you will never want to charge your air chamber to more than 80psi and by all means, DO NOT use DWV or foamcore PVC as they are not rated for any pressure.
  • The Orbit control valve will require modifications in order for the air gun trigger assembly to function correctly. Start by unscrewing the black solenoid and discard it. Next, remove the 8 phillips head screws that secure the head to the valve body. Then pull the head off. Be careful not to lose the diaphram spring as this will have to be reinstalled. You will need to drill a 1/2″ hole in the center of the head to attach a 1/4″ brass nipple as shown below. If possible use a drill press to bore this hole and firmly secure the head with a clamp while drilling to get an accurate bore that will not leak air. If a drill press is not available, you can secure the head to a board using wood screws and use a hand drill held perpendicular to the top of the head to make the bore. You will then need to run a 7/16″ pipe tap into the hole to thread it.

T-Shirt Cannon Control Valve Mods

  • Once the glue has dried, reinstall the head and spring being sure there is no debris inside the valve that could foul the diaphram causing the cannon to prematurely fire. This applies to the construction of the air chamber as well, keep the inside or the air chamber clean and free of debris.
  • Holes will have to be bored into the air chamber also. One 1/2″ bore into the side of the 4″ coupling and through the pipe to attach the pressure gauge. Do this after the coupling has been glued to the pipe and before the reducing bushings have been glued into the coupling. This will allow you to clean out any debris left in the air chamber from the boring operations. The pressure gauge should sef tap into this hole.
  • A 1/4″ hole will have to be bored into the center of the 4″ air chamber cap prior to gluing it to the pipe. It is very important to clamp this cap securely so it does not move while you are boring this hole and should be done with a drill press. If it is not an accurate bore, the air chamber will leak. The schrader valve will self tap into this hole.
  • The majority of construction will be glue joint using PVC primer and PVC solvent cement. Follow the directions on the primer and cement cans to obtain the best possible glue joints.
  • The length of 3/4″ pipe between the two 90 degree elbows is labeled as 6″ but the actual length will be determined during construction so that the barrel and air chamber are parallel and touching. You don’t want any undue stress on the interconnecting piping.
  • Once all the piping has been assembled, you will want to secure the barrel to the air chamber using duct tape, bailing wire or large hose clamps.

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