How to Build a Rocket

••• Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images

Building a rocket at home can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially when doing it with your children. There are several methods to build a rocket, from buying a rocket kit to designing your own rocket from scratch. Before you begin building your rocket, you have to design the rocket. Remember that any rocket is basically a cylinder. Anything you add to it from that point is up to you.

    Draw out your design. If this is your first attempt at making a rocket, keep the design simple. A cylinder for the body, a nosecone, three fins, and an engine are really all you need. Don't forget the recovery method or you'll just have to build another rocket. Now you need to gather the materials and cut them to the size in your plans.

    Attach the nose cone to the body, with the parachute attached to the back of the nose cone. Plastic cement should be used; wood glue won't bond with plastic. Super glue can also be used, but it's easy to glue yourself to your rocket, so be careful.

    Sand the fins. The goal is to make the entire rocket as smooth as possible to aid in aerodynamics. Air will move more easily over smooth fins than rough, letting you avoid unwanted drag. Balsa wood is the most commonly used material for fins. If you're making your own fins you'll need to make a fin template. Place this template on a piece of balsa wood and trace the shape; use a craft knife to cut the shape out of the wood.

    Attach the fins after they have been sanded. Use plastic cement if you're using a plastic body, if you're using cardboard then wood glue will work fine.

    Attach the engine mount. This will slide into the bottom of the rocket, just under the fins. Use a cotton swab to apply glue to outside of the engine mount. This will hold it securely in the body of the rocket.

    Paint the rocket. A good paint job will consist of several light coats, and will make the entire rocket move through the air more smoothly. If you want different colors on your rocket the easiest method is masking. Paint the entire rocket in one of your colors. Mask of the areas you want to stay that color, then pain the rocket again. Once the paint is dry, peel the tape off and you're done.

    Go fire your rocket.

    Things You'll Need

    • Cylinder of some type
    • Nose cone
    • Fins
    • Engine
    • Parachute
    • Wood glue
    • Plastic cement
    • Launch pad
    • Engine mount
    • Ignition system


    • Draw out your design from scratch, including measurements of cylinder, fin size and any other design specifications before you build. Decide what materials you want to use. Cardboard is commonly used for the body of the rocket, though plastic can be used as well. Plastic is the best choice for nose cone material; it is tough and resilient. You will need to attach the parachute to the back of your nose cone. This will deploy when your engine fires its ejection charge. You will need an ignition system to fire your rocket. Your engine will come with manufacturers recommendations for this. They can be purchased at the same retailer you purchased the engine from.


    • Never try to make your own rocket fuel. You can be killed.

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  • Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images