Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction: Build Implements of Spitball Warfare

by John Austin


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Overview selection for one of The Best DIY and Home Improvement Books of 2009 

We’ve come a long way from the Peashooter Era: with the advent of modern household products and office supplies—binder clips, clothespins, rubber bands, ballpoint pens, toothpicks, paper clips, plastic utensils, and (of course) matches and barbeque lighters—troublemakers of all stripes have the components needed to build an impressive, if somewhat miniaturized, arsenal.
Toy designer John Austin provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for each project, including materials and ammo lists, clear diagrams, and construction tips, for mayhem-loving MacGyvers. The 35 devices include catapults, slingshots, minibombs, darts, and combustion shooters. Build a tiny trebuchet from paper clips and a D-cell battery. Wrap a penny in a string of paper caps to create a surprisingly impressive “bomb.” Several of the projects even include variations where combatants mount laser pointer sights to their shooters to increase their accuracy.
Finally, once you’ve built your armory, the author provides plans for a Top Secret Concealing Book to hide your stash, as well as targets for shooting practice. Never let your personal space go undefended again!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556529535
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Series: Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 122,511
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John Austin is a professional toy designer and author of Cubical Warfare and Prank University.

Read an Excerpt

Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction

Build Implements of Spitball Warfare

By John Austin

Chicago Review Press Incorporated

Copyright © 2009 John Austin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-56976-830-3




The BB Pencil is a small, pocket-sized rifle designed to elastically launch a single BB. Requiring limited supplies, this is a great mechanical gun with incredible accuracy. The pencil retains its original form, making it easy to conceal in plain sight — the perfect double-agent tool.

Step 1

Dissect your inexpensive mechanical pencil using brute strength. Pull out the innards and snap off the pencil tip. If you are unable to perform the decapitation by hand, use pliers. Once removed, the pencil tip can be discarded.

The outer housing of the pencil becomes the barrel of the BB Pencil. Make sure the housing pathway is unobstructed by any plastic fragments that might have broken off during disassembly.

Step 2

Carefully use scissors or a hobby knife to remove the tapered end of the plunger. This will make room for the BB to sit in the barrel, waiting to be launched, and will prevent it from falling out.

Next, securely fasten a wide rubber band to the eraser end of the plunger with tape. If the eraser is newer, cut a slit in the eraser head to slide the rubber band into for additional support.

Step 3

Once you've modified the plunger, slide it back into the pencil housing barrel.

Lay the rubber band on top of the pencil housing. Eliminate any slack in the rubber band and securely fasten it to the pencil housing with tape. Any malfunction during operation will be directly related to the taping of the rubber band, so make sure it's secure.

Step 4

Your BB Pencil is now fully operational. Load a single BB into the muzzle end of the barrel and choose your target carefully. Then pull back the plunger and let it rip!

This mechanical marvel is capable of firing BBs with incredible force and can cause damage. It is important to remember this MiniWeapon is homebuilt and not always accurate. If you wish to test your BB Pencil, basic targets are available in chapter 7.

Alternate Construction

With a few simple additions, you can modify your BB Pencil by incorporating an advanced laser targeting system with additional ammo rounds at your fingertips.

Using an emptied-out pen housing, cut a small BB-sized door at the open end. Then use a small piece of tape to cap the open end. The housing should hold about 30 BBs and can easily be dumped out for a quick reload.

Next, tape both the pen housing and a small, inexpensive laser pointer onto your BB Pencil. Turn on your pointer when you are ready to fire.


Everyone on the ground — the party's over! The Coin Shooter is an amazing, inexpensive elastic launcher with an incredible range. Because the gun housing is made from a recycled toilet paper tube and a balloon, you'll not only be firing pennies, you'll also be saving them.

Step 1

Using scissors, cut one standard-sized latex balloon in half as shown. Throw the mouth end off to one side; you will not be using it for this build.

Step 2

Now it's time to manufacture the barrel of your elastic cannon. Toilet paper tubes are ideal for this component. If toilet rolls are not available, you can find thick, sturdy tubes inside rolls of paper towels, aluminum foil, and wrapping paper.

Pull the balloon head over the end of the cardboard cylinder. Once in place, tape it securely into position without denting or crushing the tube. Once taped, pull the balloon back to test your adhesive restraint. Add more tape if needed. It is important that you do not alter the tube diameter when securing the tape. This will affect the efficiency of the launcher.

Step 3

Now load your coin into the muzzle end of the shooter. With your fingers, locate the ammunition in the balloon. Holding the coin between your fingers, pull the balloon back and safely aim the muzzle away from spectators and anything breakable. Release your ammunition from your grip and let it go! The latex will catapult your coin through the barrel at high velocity.

Replacing the short barrel with a longer barrel will help with the accuracy of this firearm. Also, though the gun is designed to launch coins, other low-cost ammunition can be used instead — erasers, marshmallows, spitballs, paper clips, small binder clips, pen caps, peanuts, bouncy balls, and small candies.

Never operate the launcher if the balloon is showing signs of wear.


The Bean Shooter is the perfect pocket-sized latex launcher. Designed with an unbreakable plastic frame and commanding firepower, it's ideal for the on-the-go hobbyist sharpshooter.

Step 1

With over 20 billion water bottles sold each year, finding a suitable Bean Shooter frame shouldn't be a problem. How about recycling one of those billons into a musket marvel?

Using one of your various pocketknife blades, saw or cut off the threaded neck of a soft drink bottle. Once you have removed the neck, use your knife to trim off any sharp protrusions that may be left on the cut edge.

Step 2

Like the Coin Shooter, the Bean Shooter's power source is a standardsized latex balloon. Using scissors, cut the balloon in half as shown and discard the mouth end.

Balloons come in many shapes and sizes. A traditional round balloon is recommended for this type of launcher, but feel free to test other balloon shapes for varied results.

Step 3

Assembly of your Bean Shooter is quick and easy. Take the half section of the balloon and tape it tightly to the bottle top. It is important to be certain that you've cleaned up the cut edge of the bottle in step 1. Sharp edges will cut your balloon and cause a malfunction.

Now, load a bean, eraser, or peanut into the barrel and locate it with your fingers. Once you have a grip on it, pull it back and release. It is important that you pick a safe target to practice your marksmanship.


Yes, people still use wooden clothespins. You'll be using one to construct a menacing spear gun capable of firing flaming matches. Held like a gun and fired like a gun, this MiniWeapon will have wrongdoers reaching for the sky.

Step 1

First, disassemble a clothespin and lay the two wooden prongs and metal spring on a cutting surface.

Use one of the blades of a pocketknife to modify the two halves. First, cut a small notch into one of the wooden prongs, as shown. Take your time! Fingers cost more than clothespins. Then, cut the other prong in half at the location shown in the above illustration.

Step 2

Tightly slide the factory spring back onto the prong with the custom notch you cut out in step 1. Carefully examine the illustration above to make sure the spring is properly oriented. Continue to slide the spring until the bar snaps into the notch. If your notch does not seem deep enough, rework.

Step 3

Next, place the shorter wooden prong on top of the longer section. Use the factory notches as a point of reference before sandwiching the two prongs together. Once in place, secure the halves with a rubber band.

Wrap the rubber band just tight enough that you can still move the prongs. To get an idea of how much they should move, keep in mind that the top prong will ultimately slide forward to cock the spring into place.

Step 4

Now it's time to lock and load your clothespin launcher for its first test fire. Push the top prong forward until the spring arm is caught in the top factory notch. Once it is in place, slowly slide the prong back until the spring arm snaps into the bottom notch on the lower prong.

Step 5

"Reach for the sky, varmint!" Load your chosen projectile into your launcher by lifting the top prong. Wooden matches or standard paper clips are recommended for best results.

Once loaded, pull back the spring trigger to release the firing bar. If the launcher does not fire, but instead the spring arm in the locked bar pops out, rework the locked bar notch to make it deeper. Malfunctions commonly occur because the notch is too shallow.

You can adhere a matchbox striking pad to the prong barrel to light the match when it launches, giving you a flaming arrow. (For a strike anywhere match, a small piece of sandpaper can be used instead of the striking pad.) For this modification, it's best to reverse the match head. A simpler solution is to light the match before firing. Flaming ammunition is not recommended for indoor use. Remove all flammable materials from the area and always wear safety glasses.


This miniature, spring-powered Peg Shooter is ideal for launching a hailstorm of toothpick firepower. With its palm-sized proportions and quick reload, this shooter is designed for one honorable goal: hanging the laundry out to dry.

Step 1

Disassemble a clothespin so that you have two wooden prongs and a small metal spring.

You are going to make similar notches in both prongs. However, one notch will be slightly different than the other prong with a larger notched area. Examine the two illustrations carefully to see the difference. Take your time cutting the notches — craftsmanship is key.

Step 2

Using a pocketknife, carve a small groove into each prong using a blade that you feel comfortable with. Remember to be careful when handling the blade. Once the prongs are sandwiched together, the grooves should create a channel that is slightly larger than the diameter of a toothpick. This channel will become the Peg Shooter's barrel.

A straight barrel always helps with the accuracy of any gun, so it may help to draw your cut lines on the prongs using a ruler as a guide.

Step 3

Before sandwiching the prongs together back to back, you will need to remove more material. On the lower prong, at one end of the factory curve, slice the wood to create a 90-degree angle on the curve's back wall, as shown.

Step 4

Now it's time to assemble the Peg Shooter. Hold the two prongs with the flat sides pressed together. Once the prongs are aligned, wrap a rubber band around each set of factory curves, at the front and back of the wooden gun. Fine string can also be substituted. Do not obstruct the center of the prongs; this area is reserved for the spring assembly.

Next, wedge the clothespin spring into the wood assembly as shown. One spring arm should be wedged beneath the front rubber band support. (Fastening the front spring under the rubber band will help manage its position.) The other spring arm should be inserted in the middle notch.

Step 5

Before the fun and games, you must first prepare the arrow. Take a standard round toothpick and cut off one point (illustration #1). This modified toothpick is your ammunition.

It's now time to lock and load your Peg Shooter. Cock the spring back into its custom notch. Cocking the spring may be difficult and will require one hand to hold the peg gun while the other hand negotiates the stubborn spring into its locked position. Slide the blunt end of the modified toothpick into the muzzle end of the barrel. Safely point your Peg Shooter at a target and, using your finger, pull back the spring so it releases and propels the toothpick forward. If the toothpick does not fire, check your spring to see if your notch is too big. If this is the case, you will have to manufacture a new modified wooden prong with a slightly smaller notch.

Please remember: safety first. You are shooting a fine-tipped arrow out of a homemade launcher. Always wear safety glasses and never point the Peg Shooter at anyone.


The Tube Launcher is also known as the Rock Launcher. Its universal design makes it a great launcher for almost any ammunition.

Step 1

First, select a cork that fits easily inside your cardboard tube. You want to have some clearance on the walls, because you will be adding additional diameter to the cork.

Straighten a paper clip and then bend it into a U shape as shown in illustration #1, above. Next, slowly push both ends of the paper clip into the cork. Aim the ends of the paper clip so that they poke out of the sides of the cork around its midpoint. Bend the ends upward (illustration #2, above) to prevent the paper clip from coming out.

Finally, use tape to wrap up the ends of the paper clip so they do not scrape against the inside of the tube. Test your cork by sliding it through the tube before proceeding to the next step. Rework the paper clip's positioning if the cork jams in the tube.

Step 2

Now it's time to add the elastic firepower to this Tube Launcher. Using scissors, cut both wide rubber bands to create two pieces that are equal in length. Tape the rubber band pieces to the end of the cork opposite the paper clip. When taping the bands it is important to leave their ends sticking out a bit so you can fold them back and tape them a second time. This will help prevent the rubber bands from stretching out of their tape restraints. This is one area that is prone to malfunction, so do a thorough taping job here. For additional holding power, use heavy-duty staples.

Step 3

Cut a piece of string that is longer than the length of the cardboard tube. Tie one end of the string to the paper clip. This string will be subjected to tremendous force when you operate the Tube Launcher, so it is important that it has some pulling strength. Double-check your knot. You don't want it to give way while the cork is in the tube. Disassembling the launcher at that point would be a pain ... so triple check it.

Step 4

Now it's time to install the components into the cardboard tube. Slide the string and cork assembly into the tube — string and paper clip first. Tape both ends of the rubber bands parallel to each other on the outside of the tube, as shown. Then fold the rubber bands back toward themselves and put additional tape over them. These areas also experience tremendous pressure, so it is important to tape them well to avoid malfunction.

Step 5

Now that the entrance assembly is finished, it's time to work on the other end.

First, locate two large plastic milk jug caps. Using a pocketknife, cut a small hole in the center of each. Mirroring one another, back-to-back, run the string through the center of the caps. Fasten the cap closest to the tube with tape.

Now, slowly pull the string until you feel some tension from the rubber bands. Tie a few knots at the end so the string can't pass through the hole in the cap. Depending on the hole size, you may want to add a large paper clip to the end of the string as well.

Load your ammunition and pull back on the outermost jug cap. Release the cap and watch your ammo fly!


The Maul Gun is a feared and dominating piece of hardware. Its raw power can pierce a defenseless aluminum can with ease. But because it's so powerful, it is also very dangerous and should be operated with care. The Maul Gun is not exceptionally accurate because of the somewhat random directions its pencil arrow exits the barrel. For this reason, the Maul Gun is great for either short-distance accuracy tests or long-distance range contests. Never place your intended target in front of a backdrop made of breakable materials such as glass, thin wood, or ceramic.

Step 1

Remove the metal handles from three medium binder clips (32 mm) by squeezing the handles from the sides, then pulling them out. These metal handles can be discarded or recycled, for they are not used in the Maul Gun. Arrange the three binder clips in a line, facing upward.

Step 2

Next, clip two large binder clips (51 mm) onto the row of medium binder clips. Once hooked together, the assembly should be completely attached so you can easily lift it as one piece.

Remove the metal handles from the large binder clips only after you've clipped them securely in place.

Step 3

Rotate the assembly so the medium binder clips are now on top.

Loop one end of a wide and durable rubber band onto the assembly so it does not obstruct your entrance; the other end of the rubber band should cover the medium binder hole in the rear.

Step 4

Next, clip two more large binder clips (51 mm) onto the row of medium binder clips, as shown. Once clamped on, the large binder clips should hold the rubber band in place.

Remove the metal handles from the large binder clips after you've secured them in place.

Step 5

Only one more step left. Place an additional wide rubber band around the newly placed large binder clips. This will add some additional support for the Maul Gun and prevent the binder clips from sliding off.

Step 6

Time to fire the Maul Gun! Load a pencil or pen into the muzzle end (entrance) of the barrel. Pull the pencil and rubber band back, and once you've determined a safe target, release the rubber band.

A sharpened pencil is not necessary unless you are hunting aluminum cans. Unsharpened pencils, markers, highlighters, and capped pens can all be used for ammo. For safe target suggestions, visit chapter 7.


Excerpted from Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction by John Austin. Copyright © 2009 John Austin. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Play It Safe,
1 Small Launchers,
2 Bows and Slingshots,
3 Darts,
4 Catapults,
5 Combustion Shooters,
6 Minibombs and Claymore Mine,
7 Concealing Book and Targets,

What People are Saying About This

William Gurstelle

One must assert dominion over their desktop. Between the instructions provided in John Austin's book and access to your company's office supplies cabinet, you need tolerate no threat to the security of your cubicle. (William Gurstelle, author, Absinthe & Flamethrowers and Backyard Ballistics)

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Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
gcoller More than 1 year ago
I bought this book and a bunch of required materials for a birthday party I threw for my 8 year old boy. I also bought some cheap $3 safety glasses (science goggles) for each boy at Home Depot. We picked three projects that were easy enough for the age (with my help) and at the party had a blast assembling and test firing coffee beans down the driveway. The book makes it really clear how to create these fun toys and I think would be even more fun for pre-teen kids. In the end the boys were so into it that they were patient enough for me to help them build the launcher on the cover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book but sometimes the pages freeze so you cant always turn the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got it at the international spy museum and have made almost every one of them. I can't wait to get the second book for christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was great it had every thing but it was alittle dangerous. Like the plng pong zooka uses a lighter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this if you like weapons
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally epic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book !!! Its funny how you can turn a pencil into a BB gun
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just get the sample and look the rest up online. But I totally reccomend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most awsome book I have ever read, and I read alot . You need to get this book. Just be careful, some of the weapons are dangerous, but for a tweleve year old with common sense,this book is perfect.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best build it yourself book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for defending your room from annoying little brothers. It inspired me to rig a nerf machine gun to my door.
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