My cannon


April 8, 2012, 04:19 PM
Here's my cannon, I leant it to a friend and he gave it back yesterday after holding onto it for a long time. I missed being able to send miniature cannonballs across the yard with the strike of a match, but now that I've got it back I can shoot stuff with it! I usually load about 10 grains of Pyrodex P into it and stick a buckshot pellet in there as the cannonball. I've also loaded grapeshot, I used #3 shotgun pellets and managed to put most of them through a coca-cola can. No, it's not the most powerful gun in my collection but it is fun! Yesterday we had some friends over with their kid, I managed to get my brother and his friend off the computer games and outside shooting cannons! They both had a great time blowing stuff up with the little cannon.

I also have a mortar, it's .25 caliber just like this cannon. I can't find it anywhere but if I come across it I'll put a picture up! I have a bunch of these that I made with my lath, unfortunately I'm out of aluminum but if I come across a some I'll make some more! They are a lot of fun!


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April 8, 2012, 04:30 PM
Nice cannon, those mini's are a hoot to light off!!

April 8, 2012, 04:41 PM
Thanks! I just fired off a couple shots to celebrate Easter, Christ rose today so I'm firing a cannon as a bit of a salute! Sadly I don't have any cherry bombs left but this will do just fine! :)

April 8, 2012, 07:08 PM
Here's one my brother bought at an estate auction a few years ago. I cleaned all the dirt dauber mud out of it and made up some charges for it. It's .75 caliber so I wrapped some aluminum foil around a 5/8 dowel for cartridges. As you can see it works pretty good. We never tried it with projectiles, just blanks.

April 8, 2012, 07:47 PM
That is awesome! I recently made a .75 cannon from an old shotgun barrel, I'm turning an old shotgun into a .38 carbine. I can't really fire it in my backyard but as soon as I'm at the range I'll make a video and put it up for all to enjoy! I like the idea of having a .75 caliber cannon, nothing like a good boom and the smell of gunpowder!

At the little get together we had I was talking with my friend Brian about the armed forces, I'm thinking about joining the military and he used to be a recruiter. Well as we were talking he mentioned one of the reasons he joined was that he was really into artillery. Long story short he ended up going home with a .32 caliber cannon I made and a little oak carriage! :)


BE Wild Willy
April 8, 2012, 09:41 PM
If you are seriously thinking about joining up, consider signing up to be an armorer (gunsmith). Sure wish I had gone that route instead of the Infantry, too many John Wayne movies as a youth.

April 8, 2012, 09:55 PM
Armorer might be a good one! As long as I get to help my country I'm happy, but if I get to work on guns... best job ever.

April 8, 2012, 11:57 PM
I know someone who recently retired after a long career as an armorer. IIRC he was full time staff with the National Guard. He was sent to Iraq for a year just before he retired, but he wasn't gunsmithing while he was over there. He was a Sargeant doing security work in the green zone. He told me that he's still involved with doing veterans funerals where they fire a 3 volley salute using blanks and have a live bugler who plays TAPS.

BE Wild Willy
April 9, 2012, 12:11 AM
Not only do they get to fix guns, they get to shoot them all the time too. You have a better chance of getting onto a shooting team due to exposure to weapons, understanding how they work, and constant test firing.

Sorry if I've gone off the original topic...

April 9, 2012, 12:25 AM
Aluminum doesn't have any problems with pressure? I might just turn one of those myself, looks like an easy and fun project.

April 9, 2012, 12:38 AM
Well, that's one of the many reasons I want to join. I'd get to fix and shoot guns as well as help our heroes, the ones that make the American dream possible. That's by far the best career I could ask for. I am wondering if I could do the Sunday sermon as well for our armed forces in addition to being the armorer, It would be great to do both!

Turtlephish, no problems with my aluminum cannons so far! I have made plenty of cannons with aluminum of this same size and nature, they all hold up great with no signs of stress at all. I have used heavy loads in my cannons as well, the normal load is five grains and a patched ball. I sometimes shoot 15 grains and a .22 LR shell filled with lead, the bullet keyholes and the cannon flies back a couple feet but no problems at all. I'm thinking of building one that shoots spent 12 guage shotshells filled with concrete, now that would be incredibly fun! Or what about coca-cola cans filled with cement?


April 9, 2012, 11:01 AM
Think you could give me the measurements so I could make one for meself? :D

ID, OD, bore diameter, depth, fuse hole size, etc. And what size round bar did you start with? Right now I have about a foot of 3" aluminum.

Also, what kind of charge do you think one made of steel could handle?

April 9, 2012, 02:03 PM
It has a 1/4" bore and is about 3/4" on the outside at the breech, but near the muzzle is about 1/2" wide. The touch hole was drilled with a bit about the size of a toothpick, I don't quite remember what size bit I used to drill it but it works just fine. I am pretty sure you can't overload this little cannon with blackpowder or pyrodex, aluminum is strong enough. But with steel you could blue it or plate it, that would look pretty darn cool!


April 9, 2012, 05:14 PM
I'd be inclined to go with steel simply for the lack of bore wear over time shooting with lead out of aluminium.

The other trick is to figure out a good way to add the trunion pins without drilling in too far from the sides. My current favourite idea is to mill a shallow round recess with an end mill and then with the high temperature silver solder to add the trunion blocks to each side. The shallow seat would serve both to get a better solder joint, ensure alignment and to allow the joint to withstand the recoil forces from actual mechanical properties instead of trusting the solder for the whole deal.

April 9, 2012, 07:04 PM
So I made a REALLY tiny .177 caliber out of brass and polished it. Gotta get a stuck drill bit out of the fuse hole, but after that I just gotta make a base and pics will be on the way.

April 9, 2012, 07:39 PM
I knew a machinest that was building "table top" black powder cannons like these that used lifters from a small block chevy as projectiles....

April 9, 2012, 08:43 PM
It didn't work too well; the fuse hole is too big and all the pressure escapes. The BB just sorta popped out and made a little dent in a piece of sheetmetal.

April 9, 2012, 09:22 PM
What were you using for fuse? I find visco fuse (the green, water resistant kind) works great and tends to seal the hole due to the burning powder going through the inside of the fuse and not burning the outside, it seals the hole better than regular firecracker fuse.

Keep in mind it's a small caliber cannon with a short barrel and a hole in the breech where a lot of gasses escape. Even a .32 caliber cannon isn't too powerful, they are more of a toy than something you'd kill stuff with. That being said, if you have one with a 1/4" bore you can shoot black cat firecrackers out of it! 5 grains of powder and a black cat loaded with the fuse against the powder will shoot it about 25 to 30 feet! Or, you can use the red ones they call "little dynamite" firecrackers. They have visco fuse and it burns about 7 seconds giving the firecracker plenty of time to travel, I like to shoot them at about a 45 degree angle out over a lake with ten grains of powder! They really travel a good distance with a heavier load. You can shoot just about anything out of these little cannons!


April 9, 2012, 09:45 PM
Figured out the problem- wasn't the fuse hole, I just used BP that was too coarse. I'm all out, though, gotta get more. :(

I pulled fuses out of Black Cats and used them, they work fine.

April 9, 2012, 11:37 PM
How's this, barrel purchased from DGW in the 60's.

April 9, 2012, 11:42 PM
Brings back memories. During my engineering apprenticeship we had to make a mini brass canon. My parents still have on their mantle. Fun times.

April 10, 2012, 12:21 AM
awesome cannon! What caliber is it?

hang fire
April 10, 2012, 02:56 AM
Little cannons are fun, here is pic of one I built from scatch around 50 years ago. It was .45 caliber and the barrel was made from a large taper pin, rest of it was brass.

April 10, 2012, 10:49 AM
Even with rather heavy barrel wall thickness I would be leery of using aluminum for the barrels. If it gets brittle due to work hardening, it becomes shrapnel.

I knew a gent that made a mortar of what he thought was good stainless. It was monell and blew up. Fortunately no one hurt.

April 10, 2012, 02:33 PM
Ordered a few 12" pieces of 1 1/2" 4140 round bar from Grainger.... Gonna make a couple .50s :evil:

April 10, 2012, 02:41 PM
Mine is .75 cal and cost $15 from DGW (in 1967), also paid $5 for .69 cal scissor ball mold, largest available at time. They work great in 12Ga shot cups, surprisingly accurate at 25yds.

April 10, 2012, 04:04 PM
I checked the Dixie Gun Works website, they still are selling cannons! I'm actually kinda tempted to get one of those brass cannon blanks they sell and bore it out to .50, that would be a lot of fun! $36 for a sweet little cannon kit sounds pretty good!

April 10, 2012, 05:08 PM

Here it is! Pic's too big for THR.

April 10, 2012, 05:20 PM
Excellent work! I like how well polished it is!

April 10, 2012, 05:22 PM
Thanks :D I put some 600 grit lapping compound on a piece of paper towel and gave it a good polish while it was chucked in the lathe. Now I just gotta get some powder and soda cans...

April 10, 2012, 07:23 PM
I don't know if you'd be open to this idea or think it's a bad idea, but I found that if you cut the little explosive dots off some paper caps (the kind you buy at a toy store) and put about 5-10 in there (put the fuse in the touch hole first) then carefully put your BB on top of the caps without ramming you will have a pretty good load for these little cannons. I recommend putting a little piece of a tissue between the caps and the BB to both cushion the caps during the loading process and to seal the hot expanding gasses behind the BB.

April 10, 2012, 07:37 PM
I actually saw a youtube video of some guy doing that, the power behind the BB was ridiculous. I might run out to Family Dollar and pick some up. Does the fuse ignite the caps directly?

Unrelated question: What would you feel comfortable with as a max bore diameter for 1.5" 4140 round bar? .50 is beefy, but if I can go bigger I'm gonna.

April 10, 2012, 07:39 PM
If you are seriously thinking about joining up, consider signing up to be an armorer (gunsmith). Sure wish I had gone that route instead of the Infantry, too many John Wayne movies as a youth. I was in the navy back in the mid 60's and was offered work as a gunners mate, my thought at the time was "what in civilian life could I do with knowledge of a 16" gun or even a 5". To young to realize that small arms was in the same category.

April 10, 2012, 10:49 PM
I dunno if anyone has posted this already but this website has some interesting little cannons.

April 11, 2012, 12:15 AM
I have that link bookmarked! There is quite a few neat designs I'm planning on building! I think I want to try and find a used welder and learn how to weld, that would be great for building cannons and other shootable items!

I think I'll post a picture of my 12 guage cannon once I get the carriage built, that would be fun to show you guys!

Here's another cannon link, this is what originally got me into building cannons. Not only did I want a cannon, I wanted a small one and saw these. Having no money I decided to build one and based the design off the cannons I saw here. :)

April 12, 2012, 11:00 PM
Just fired the little one with fffg, it works great!

April 12, 2012, 11:13 PM
Awesome! Did it penetrate the can?

April 12, 2012, 11:21 PM
Almost. Made a really big dent. Gonna carefully grind the powder finer and try again with a little more tomorrow. Getting a bit late to shoot off little cannons in the backyard...

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