The Astounding Homemade Blowgun

It's not a toy, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun with this homemade blowgun.

| September/October 1984

Here's a riddle for you: What's black and white and blew all over? You'll never guess in a million years, so we'll tell you: the darts from an honest-to-gosh homemade blowgun — one that even a big spender would have trouble sinking more than two or three dollars into!

Yep, that's right, no longer is the blowgun the bane of Amazon explorers. It's now graduated to the other extreme, the realm of high-tech-with coated, thin-walled alloy barrels, modern plastic-and-steel darts, and even specially designed mouthpieces. And make no mistake: This new breed of diaphragm-powered dart launchers has evolved beyond the casual toy stage and into the bailiwick of the serious enthusiast.

The trouble is, fancy blowguns sell for $25 or $30, which might be fine for a serious fan, but it's a bit steep for the uninitiated. That's precisely why we developed this kitchen-table-tech version.

Our blowgun's barrel is made from a length of 1/2" electrical conduit, and the mouthpiece is the dust boot from a Volkswagen "beetle" ball joint. The darts are simply drywall nails or stubs of spring wire, fastened to polyethylene cones fashioned out of discarded plastic milk jugs. Yet, elementary as it is, our cheapo homemade model can hold a 6" pattern at 20 yards and come close to penetrating 1/2" plywood!

If you're game for giving it a try, get yourself a 6' length of 1/2" electrical metallic tubing; a worm-drive, fuel-line-size hose clamp; a tricycle handgrip; some friction or handle-bar tape; a VW ball-joint dust boot (any rubber boot of a similar size and shape would work); an assortment of grooved-shank and box nails or stiff wire rods (half the fun is experimenting to see which dart points suit your needs best); several plastic milk jugs; and a tube of silicone sealant or some modeling clay.

In the way of tools, you'll need a hacksaw, a plumb bob, a file, a propane torch, scissors or a knife, wire cutters, a hammer, a miniature screwdriver, and a block of soft wood.

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