How To Make Planes with Soda Cans

Cans of soda

Is your recycling bin overflowing with soda cans? Or are you just looking for a fun project on a Saturday afternoon? Consider putting those soda cans to good use and make some fun plans. Follow these short steps and you will have a colorful plane to enjoy.

Step 1

Gather necessary tools and materials:

  • 4 12 oz. cans (For a consistent look, use the same type of soda can for each plane.)
  • 1 long nail, 1 small nail
  • Paper and marker
  • Paperclip
  • Tools
  • Tin snips
  • Ball-peen hammer
  • Work gloves
  • Glue

Step 2

Draw the plane design on paper. Before getting started, decide what type of plane you want. Look at photos or design plans to get the shapes of the wings, fuselage, propeller and tailpiece. Sketch out the pattern for the various parts including propeller, 2 wings and tailpiece. Once you have the sketch cut out templates to use later.

 

Planes come in several styles so look online for the shapes you want to create. For a variety of plane styles and design plans check out the www.bcair.com.

Step 3

Prepare the cans. Wash them and let them air dry.

Step 4

Cut three cans. Once the cutting begins, the can edges will be sharp, so wear gloves and be careful not to cut yourself. Using the snips, cut the tops and bottoms off of the cans then cut a straight line along the side to open the can. Roll the cans flat. Using the paper design template, cut out the propeller and wings.

Step 5

Make the body of the plane. With a fourth can, make the body of the aircraft. Take the tab off the top. Then using your nail and ball-peen hammer put a hole in the center of the can top. Cut a 1-2” vertical slit in each side of can (for the wings) and a slit in the bottom for the tail. Puncture a hole in the can between the vertical slits in the can.

Step 6

Fit the pieces together. Place a dab of glue on the end of the wing pieces. Slide the wing pieces – one into each of the side slits – in the fourth can and hold until the glue dries. Repeat with the tailpiece.

Step 7

Set the propeller. Using the nail, put a hole in the center of the propeller. Using a small nail through the propeller, then secure it to the can top. Be sure to leave space between the propeller and can top, so the propeller can turn.

Step 8

Make the landing gear. Using the nail and hammer make a hole in the center of two can bottoms cut earlier. Bend the paper clip into a v-shape, then bend a ¼” of each end up. Secure the can bottoms one to each end of the paper clip. Put the paper clip into the hole in the can with the wheels facing down.

Step 9

Display the plane. Now that the plane is complete be sure to put it up on a shelf or hang it from the ceiling for display. The edges are still sharp so keep the plane out of reach of children and anyone walking underneath.


With just a few simple items and some time, you can make a great plane out of simple soda cans. Experiment with different soda can types for color variety and patterns. The more planning and trial-and-error you put into it, the happier you will be with the result.

 

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