Giant Rocket

Side view of the giant rocket, assembled

These instructions are for the two foot giant rocket. For the original one foot high rocket, look here.


Rocket Construction

A bagged kit of laser-cut wooden parts

Your kit contains lots of parts:


Rocket stringers (for the small rocket)

Stringers (small rocket)

There may also be some spare disks cut from the centres of the frames. Ignore these, or build them into your own contraptions.

Circular frames (for the small rocket)

Circular frames (small rocket)

The kits are made from MDF, a man-made wood board. This can be glued with any of your favourite wood glues; PVA or cyanoacrylate superglue. If using a thin, watery glue like superglue, it's easiest to assemble the parts and hold them lightly in place by hand first, then place a small drop of glue on the edge of each joint. Capillary action draws the glue into the joint. If a joint isn't rock-solid, more glue can be added later.


Side view of the giant rocket, assembled

The parts are cut to be quite tight-fitting, so don't require a lot of glue. The rocket in the photos isn't even glued, just clipped together.

Please note, these are the instructions for the larger rocket, but they're quite similar to the original smaller rocket. The larger rocket has six stringers rather than three. Some of the photographs are still of the smaller rocket.

Start by identifying the circular frames. Those with four notches make the three engine pods. Those with six notches make the main fuselage. The fuselage frames are all numbered, from #1 at the tail to #12 (the tiny solid one in the nose with only three notches).


Fin Pods

Diagram showing the assembly of parts to make one of the fin pods

Fin pod assembly

Fin pod assembly

Fin pod assembly

Fin pods are assembled first. These frames have four notches: they aren't numbered but they're fitted in size order, smallest at the top.

Place the round frames into the notches at the end of the fin, then place the short stringers into them too (see illustration). The outer stringer should make a smooth curve – watch that they aren't installed upside-down! The side stringers should also butt against the fins, without a gap. Glue them and set aside to cure.


Fuselage

First assembly of the frames

First assembly of the frames

Assembly of the frames

Assembly of the frames

Begin assembly by gluing the frames into the stringers to make the fuselage. It's easiest to place all of the round frames, except #1 the stern frame, into the notches in one stringer (one stringer is numbered too). Then place the other two stringers across the other notches in the frames and hold them lightly in place. Now glue all of the frame joints. Once the other frames are in place, you can add the stern frame. A couple of elastic bands might be useful when drying, or superglue cures quickly enough to just hold them in place.

The three short stringers run from the nose of the rocket to join onto the three fins. The three long stringers run from just behind the nose, all the way to the tail. Note that the short stringers fit outside the fins, so the fins have to be glued in first!


Side view of the giant rocket, close-up

We suggest the following rough order of parts:

  1. Assemble the fin pods onto the fins.
  2. Assemble frames #2–#10 onto the single long stringer with the frame numbers on it. Check that the frames are in the right order!
  3. Add two other long stringers, in alternate slots. A rubber band will hold things nicely in place.
  4. If using superglue, glue the stringers now, rather than earlier. Other glues might appreciate some time to cure just about now.
  5. Attach the three fins.
  6. Fit frames #1 and #11. As these are at the ends of the stringers, it's easier to add them later and not have to deal with quite so many at the start.
  7. Attach one short stringer, with the scarf joint to the other stringer ahead of the fin.
  8. Fit frame #12 (the tiny one with no hole)
  9. Add the last two stringers to make the nose

You can also trial-assemble the lot without glue (steady hands and the rubbber band will help).


Once the glue is firmly dried, your rocket is ready for paint – if you wish. The MDF takes most paints, but spraying is usually easiest.

Painting

If painting, especially if spray painting, you might wish to paint some parts before assembly, although check the fit afterwards if your paint is thick. We spray the pre-assembled rocket in three stages: lay all the parts out flat on a sheet of scrap cardboard and paint them. When dry, turn them over and spray the other side. Now assemble the rocket. Finally a third coat catches the edges and any missed areas.