How To Make a Matchbox Rocket Launching Kit

These desktop rockets might be tiny, but they’re
impressively powerful, leave a cool trail of smoke, and shoot up to 40 feet away. Surprisingly,
they’re only powered by one single match head. In this project we’re using aluminum
foil and a box of matches, to make the ultimate in desktop weaponry. Homemade, Matchbox Rockets. All we need to start this project is a box
of matches, aluminum foil and a wooden skewer. I’m using these green “strike on box”
matches, but the red ones will work just as well. Ok it’s time to get to work, and the
first thing we need to do is grab a few of these matches and set them to the side, because
we’ll still need a bundle of those, for our kit when it’s finished. Now amazingly,
these rockets are only powered by one single match head. But they only work, if we get
rid of the stick first. Of course that’s not much of a challenge as long as you have
a pair of scissors. And if you try lining your container with something like a sock,
the match heads won’t bounce out. Instead they just collect conveniently at the bottom.
Here are all the match heads I got from this box, and to store them, why don’t we try
using one of these soda cap containers made in a previous project? These things have all
kinds of applications, so look for for how to make them in another project video. Alright,
to start making our assembly kit we’re going to need a single bamboo skewer, and this template
which I’m going to give you for free. Just look in the description for a link on where
to get that. Transfer the marks from the diagram onto the skewer, then carefully cut the ends
off, so when it’s modified, it looks like this. The next step is to tape the body template
to a piece of paperboard, like this one I got from a cereal box. Make sure to cut the
edges as cleanly as you can, because this is going to be our tracing template. The little
square I’m cutting out now is the guide for tracing the rocket’s fins. And for those,
I use aluminum foil tape I got at the hardware store. Each square will make one set of rocket
fins, so cut as many as you want, then fold them “point to point” from both directions.
Pinch them at the base and push your fingers together, so that when you crease them down
it looks like a little x-wing. When you snip off the point at the very tip, the rocket
fins are ready for application, and by now you should have an idea of how this is going
to work. Now I made a whole bunch more and loaded them into the other side, of the soda
cap container, so I have them on hand whenever I need one. Ok, let’s bust out the aluminum
foil, and tear off a sheet to start creating the rocket bodies. I’m laying a sheet of
paper towel overtop, then carefully folding the stack up 3 times, so it’s 4 layers deep
and just a bit larger than the cardboard template. You probably figured out already that we’re
going to trace around the edges, then cut the shape out of all the layers, at the same
time. Normally the edges would stick together after the foil’s been cut, but you can see
the paper towel solves that problem, and makes it super easy to separate. I tried making
13 pieces at the same time, and it actually worked, so you can see how quick and easy
it is to make a whole stack in no time flat. And check this out, the assembly station is
completely portable as well. I designed the patterns, and the template so they’d fit
perfectly inside the matchbox, and you can see there’s a little place for the skewer
in there as well. Now to finish our rocket factory the only thing left to do is make
a small hole in the top of the box, about half an inch from the end. Now if we bring
back any matches we saved from earlier, and add a candle, we’ve created a portable assembly
station, that you could take just about anywhere. Alright, let’s get to work and build some
rockets. Here you can see what the finished rocket will look like. It’s light as a feather,
but surprisingly stable in flight. You might have noticed there are two markings on the
template that indicate how to roll the body tube. With the skewer in position, place a
single match head on top, and make sure it’s pointing upward, without any gaps. Now slowly
and carefully roll the foil tube, as tightly and neatly as possible. When you get to the
end, pinch the tube right above the match head, then push the foil down flat. There
should be about half an inch of foil at the top, and this gets rolled toward the match
head. The most important part here is crimping the tip with something like a pair of pilers.
And you might want to crimp multiple times, and from different angles just to make sure
it’s completely sealed. At this point, let’s attach the rocket fins we made earlier, by
peeling off the sticky stuff on the back, then pushing the rocket body through the hole
in the center. Just work the fins around until they stick firmly in place near the bottom
of the rocket, and with that final step, you’re done. That’s how easy it is, to make a matchbox
rocket. So while you’re at it, why not make a few more? I just made 13 of them, in about
10 minutes, and you can see they fit perfectly into the kit as well. So now you have the
option of building rockets, on location, as you need them, or creating them all in advance
so you can just show up and start shooting within seconds. The rockets get loaded by
pushing the tapered end of the skewer into the nozzle, then twisting upward until it
touches the match head inside. Push the skewer through the hole in the matchbox, and now
if you push the box together, you can adjust the launch angle to whatever you need it to
be. Now if you light a candle and position the flame just under the tip of the rocket,
it will quickly warm the foil until the match head reaches its auto-ignition temperature.
Which, you can see, shoots it off with an impressive amount, of speed and power. These
rockets leave a satisfying trail of smoke when they blast off, but you do need to be
careful because they get hot enough to burn your fingers, and put scorch marks in your
carpet. Now of course the safer option is to launch your rockets outdoors. But you’ll
probably find the flame on the candle won’t hold still in the breeze. I use a wind resistant
BBQ ignitor to keep a steady flame, which you can see works pretty well. These rockets
shoot from the front porch all the way to the street, and in some cases up to 40 feet
away. So it’s important to use common sense, and avoid the temptation to point them at
people or property. Well now you know how to turn a box of matches and some aluminum
foil, into a fully portable rocket factory, so you can manufacture and launch, your very
own matchbox rockets. That’s it for now. If you liked this project, perhaps you’ll
like some of my others. Check them out at Man, I love playing with rockets. Hey guys
I’m really excited about this project. I’ve been playing with different prototypes for
matchbox rockets for over a year. So I’m really excited, and proud, to finally be able
to present this design. I’m also excited to give you the template I made, for free.
You can click right here to download the template right now, and if you try making some of these,
I would love to see you post pictures on my Facebook page at
The link for that’s in the description. Before you go I just want to tell you I think
you are awesome. I read your comments and I watch to see if you like my videos, because
it really means a lot to me when you do. Please have fun with this project, be safe, and keep
an eye out for my next project video. I’ll talk to you then.

How to make rockets that shoot over 40 feet, with aluminum foil and a match.

Some quick links to a few of the materials I used:

[✓] Safety Matches:
[✓] Aluminum Foil:
[✓] Tea Light Candles:
[✓] Bamboo Skewers:

Because of the popularity of this project, I’ve put together a detailed 28 page PDF ( with step-by-step instructions, Fun Facts, Helpful Hints, and loaded with pictures. I’m selling them to help compensate for my time. You can get the Project PDF here if you’re interested:

Free template:

Endcard Links:

Paper Plate Speaker:
Fire Piston:
Smoke Flares:
Water Pump:

See What Else I’m Up To:


Business Inquiries: For business and sponsorship inquiries please contact us directly:


Although these rockets are only fueled by one match head, they do get hot enough to burn fingers, and leave scorch marks in carpets. This project should not be attempted without adult supervision, and if done indoors, safety precautions should be in place to mitigate any fire hazards. Misuse, or careless use, may result in property damage. Use of this video content is at your own risk.

Music By: Scott & Brendo (“Fire” – Instrumental)

Project Inspired By:

A video by Marek Hayward I saw over a year ago. ( If you check out the link, please share the love and let Marek know that Grant Thompson sent you. 🙂 Thank you!

Project History & More Info:

After seeing the video by Marek Hayward (which had 10,000 views at the time, and is now over 1,000,000!) I dropped everything I was doing to try this experiment.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get much success with it. The rockets only seemed to work about half the time, and the needle they were launching from would get coated in carbon and tar residues after only a couple of launches, which seriously affected the performance.

In addition, the rockets weren’t balanced, so once they fired, they wouldn’t shoot very straight.

It’s taken me over a year of prototyping and testing, and playing with different ideas to get the result you see in this video. I developed the idea into a full-on matchbox rocket launching kit, which I’m super proud of, and excited to share in the project video.

These rockets shoot consistently between 20-40 feet, and one of the biggest factors to whether the rockets work or fail, depends on how tight the crimp is on the rockets nose. Any rocket that has failed on me has almost always been because the crimp wasn’t done right, or wasn’t tight enough.

The rockets will propel the furthest if they’re launched from a stable base that has little to no give. If there is any give on the launchpad, that will absorb some of the energy and the rocket won’t go as far.

Multiple tests in my house confirmed that if the rockets land on the carpet, they need to be moved within 1-2 seconds, or they will begin to melt into the fabric. The aluminum casings are heated in a flame until they reach the auto-ignition temperature of the match head, so you can expect them to be very hot, and may want to be wearing gloves when you recover the spent rocket casings as well 🙂

This is an awesome and exciting project whether you’re a kid or and adult. It’s impressive to fire a rocket with one match head and see such power, and the smoke trail it leaves in it’s wake is extremely satisfying as well.

I’m giving away the template I made for free, all I ask in return is that you please share this video 🙂 You can get it here:

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