View Full Version : home-made pea shooters, anyone?

07-11-2003, 08:34 AM
I was wondering how many of ya have tried to make your own speargun and how successful were you? Did you end up with a quality precision machined fish-fraggin' weapon-o'-death or did you end up with a spitball slingshot that couldn't hit a drop of water in the ocean?

07-11-2003, 10:53 AM
one half

07-11-2003, 10:54 AM
second half. I shoot 72" freeshaft

07-11-2003, 03:29 PM

But, I would expect nothing less from a good cabinet maker. Nice gun keys:cool:

07-11-2003, 03:58 PM
beautiful gun keys, great job. Making my own gun is on my "things to do" list

07-11-2003, 04:38 PM
It's just a matter of taking away everthing that doesn't look like a speargun.

07-11-2003, 05:56 PM
I'm working out some plans for one now that'll have a teak handle and padauk barrel stock but it's still in the formula stages....looks good on paper though.

07-11-2003, 07:35 PM
"It's just a matter of taking away everthing that doesn't look like a speargun." keyspearfisher

ha!!! remember my friend... two in the head to make sure they're dead!

07-11-2003, 08:48 PM
If only we all learned from others mistakes, Fishkilla. Make sure you try out new design ideas on some cheap wood before you go full guns. You would be surprised at how something as simple as the size of the roundover you choose makes it a bust.

07-12-2003, 06:57 AM
Originally posted by keyspearfisher
If only we all learned from others mistakes, Fishkilla. Make sure you try out new design ideas on some cheap wood before you go full guns. You would be surprised at how something as simple as the size of the roundover you choose makes it a bust. You would be surprised at how something as simple as the size of the roundover you choose makes it a bust

Those are wise words of experience! (from one woodworker to another!):D

07-13-2003, 02:35 PM
Thanks for the advice, and even though I get my teak at the Rockiest of all bottom prices (free that is), I'm still going to use your advice. That teak will eat up some router bits and they ain't so cheap!

07-15-2003, 07:17 AM
I've been toying with the idea of using some old Heart Pine I have tucked away (even some true 2x4's) to make one, I think it would make a beautiful gun, very strong, but I'm concerned about it's weight. Any comments?

07-16-2003, 09:17 AM
Weight shouldn't be an issue because you can always add weight since pine is positively bouyant, however, I would be wary of using pine simply based on it's properties. Pine has a loose grain pattern so it is very soft and will probably twist and cup under the strain of the bands...not to mention swell if the shaft marrs the finish allowing water intrusion. You'd be better off using the tighter, more dense grain patterns of the heavier hardwoods and finish it with about ten coats of tongue oil followed by a coat of wax and oil often.

07-16-2003, 06:40 PM
Regular pine, I agree.

Heart Pine (100 years old) is like a rock, I can sand it all day with 60 grit paper and hardly make a dent, it will split if your not careful. The tung oil does make a nice finish (darkens the wood slightly, and the bees wax coating seals it well).

I'll have to check it's bouyancy properties. A 6' 2x4 weighs over 10 lbs.

I do know, they pull it from river bottoms, 100 years +, and it's still great wood...

I'm sure I could always trade the Heart Pine for Teak.

Thanks for the input.


07-17-2003, 08:42 AM
I don't know much about heart pine...never used it...however I have what a local wood shop identified as EB or Ebee wood and it is tougher than any wood I've ever seen before, does anyone know anything about this hunk of blade destroying wood?

07-17-2003, 08:46 AM
As I understand it , the wood that Clarinets are made of is the hardest wood on the planet, FWTW. :)

07-22-2003, 09:08 PM
Okay I gotta ask....Is this a double shaft (ie. double barrel) gun, or is that just a spare shaft mounted under the muzzle? I am currently building my own gun. I've found a way to build a 5+ foot blue water gun into a 3 foot reef size gun!

Oh yeah, now I read about the pine. I found out the hard way when I tested the "rough wood" gun on land. I loaded 2 bands and watched as the gun splintered under the stress. Lucky for me it flew forward, and not back. Live and learn!

(P.S. My wife still thinks some old lady hit her car with a shopping cart. Should I come clean?)

07-24-2003, 06:56 PM
stodelle, you should only come clean if you are a little old lady...other than that don't tell her.

07-24-2003, 09:57 PM
It's not a double barrel, it's just two extra shafts.

Fish Tale
07-29-2003, 01:52 AM
Hello Spearboard members!

A couple of months ago I found this site while looking for information about spearguns. I fish a lot and dive/freedive a little and had gotten frustrated while sight fishing for some nice sheepies that were playing hard to get.

Anyway to make a short story even shorter I built a mini gun that has added a new dimension to putting meat on the table. Yes, it sounds silly to build a gun when one of this size can be purchased so inexpensively. I did it for the entertainment value and that's the story I'm stickin to. ;)

Built for the low vis conditions on the nearshore/ inshore reefs where I fish. It sticks them just fine at close range.

Fish Tale
07-29-2003, 01:56 AM
More pics of mini gun.

07-29-2003, 05:41 AM
No bicycle innertube for a band? I think you may be missing out on a free power source.

07-29-2003, 08:55 AM
Cool killin' toy, Fish Tale.

Fish Tale
07-29-2003, 03:38 PM
Keyspearfisher- Yup. I, I cheated! Raised the cost of my gun by over 1/3.

Every once and a while I have to spend a little cash on something other than air fills and maintenance. :D

Design credit for the trigger goes to the Terry Mass video "Blue Water Hunters" (Local Tahitian's Gun)

Prodigal Son
07-29-2003, 07:57 PM
Originally posted by keyspearfisher
No bicycle innertube for a band? I think you may be missing out on a free power source.

ROFL! Seriously Fish Tale, that is a very slick piece of hardware for the price. Can you please post any more detailed explanations of how you did the trigger/handle assembly, including pictures? I want to make a back-up short gun based on your design.

Prodigal Son
07-29-2003, 09:10 PM
Fish Tale, one other question: Is your line assembly a simple 1-loop clip-on, or does it actually have a mechanical release? If the latter, how did you make it?

Fish Tale
07-30-2003, 05:35 AM
To make a short story long...

The line set-up is pretty crude. The shock cord end of the line is attached to a stainless screw eye on the front of the gun. The braided end of the line is attached to the spear shaft through a small hole drilled through the spear shaft towards the front. The total length of the line is 57 inches. It’s a single loop set-up. The line includes a “shock cord” made from a 1/8 inch diameter, 8 inch long bungie. There’s a heavy-duty snap-swivel between the bungie and the heavy braided line that makes up the other 49 inches of the line. The shock cord de-powers the spear if you miss the target. It works well. Since my line is so short I just let it hang when I’m ready to shoot. After spearing a fish the braided line is unclipped from the shock cord at the snap-swivel and the shaft and line is pulled the rest of the way through the fish. Attaching the line to the rear of the shaft was out of the question because of the close clearances between the muzzle tube and the shaft. Slide sleeves are designed to be used on hardened steel shafts and probably would not work on my aluminum shaft. Since the visibility where I dive is often not more than 5 to 7 feet the fish often come in really close to get a clear look at you. They tend to not spook from their crevices unless you reach out to touch them.

The gunstock/ barrel is made from two 28 inch long Douglass Fir 1x2s that were laminated together using a two part epoxy. I carefully selected the piece of Douglass Fir that I used. For the best strength I tried to select a relatively “tight grained” piece of wood

Prior to gluing the two 1x2s together I cut out the material (table saw) that creates the finished slot for the trigger. When the two halves of the stock are glued together the slot width should allow the trigger to pivot very freely (1/32 clearance works). After the two halves of the gunstock are laminated together a shallow groove (1/8 inch deep, 1/8 inch wide) is cut down the center of the gun barrel from muzzle to trigger slot. This groove guides the shaft down the barrel after release. I also cut a shallow but wider groove on the muzzle end of the gun barrel to allow the bore of the ½ inch PVC pipe muzzle to be flush with the surface of the gun barrel that the shaft rides on as it exits the gun. A hole to accept the Band must be drilled through the gunstock on the muzzle end. The edges of the hole are radiused with a roundover bit/ router. A slot from the end of the gun barrel through to this hole must be cut to allow the wishbone to pass through for installation of the band. The outside edges of the gun barrel were also rounded over and the whole thing sanded prior to saturating the finished gunstock with two-part epoxy. After the epoxy had cured the entire gunstock was wet sanded to remove any roughness in the finish (less wear on the band)

The PVC pipe muzzle needs to have a taper cut on the end closest to trigger because the momentum of the wishbone tends to cause it to continue its forward travel after the spear shaft leaves the gun. The Muzzle’s “ramp effect” keeps the wishbone from damaging the back end of the muzzle. The PVC pipe muzzle is bedded (glued) into its slot using Pl Polyurethane Premium Construction Adhesive (It’s really strong stuff and it’s waterproof). A small block of wood with its edges and corners rounded over is epoxied and screwed to the butt of the gun to make loading the band more comfortable.

The trigger mechanism can best be described as a simple lever that lifts the spear shaft off a fixed pin that holds the shaft in its cocked position. This gun has a crude safety that keeps the spear shaft from lifting off the pin unintentionally while the gun is loaded or being loaded. The “safety” is made from a modified “L Hook” (used for hanging things on the wall). A clearance hole was drilled through the gunstock for the safety and the shaft of the safety rotates freely in the hole. A plastic nut on the end of the safety’s shaft keeps the safety from falling out of the gunstock and acts as a stop which keeps the safety tight to the spear shaft. I feel this safety is an important feature and it makes loading the band much easier. In use the safety should be “on” until your ready to shoot. The safety on this gun tends to disengage by itself unless the spear shaft is lifted slightly on its pin after loading. Friction between pin and the spear shaft lock the spear in a position that retains the safety in safe position. This trigger mechanism has a “heavy “ touch when the band is loaded and the gun doesn’t easily discharge without the mechanical advantage created by the trigger.

The lever (trigger) and the pin that hold the spear shaft back are both made from a ¼ inch stainless U-bolt that I had laying around in the garage. To make the trigger I re-bent the u-bolt into sort of a wide “V” shape and then bent the business end over into a tight hook. (see photo). A hole is small hole is drilled through the side of the trigger at the bend. This hole is drilled to accept the nail that’s used to secure the trigger in the slot in the gunstock. I decided that a guide notch (for the spear shaft) ground in the business end of the trigger might improve the stability of the spear at the moment of release so I ground a small notch using the corner of the bench grinder-grinding wheel. Not sure if the guide notch in the trigger makes much difference though because the wishbone and the tension of the band in combination with the PVC muzzle does most of the work in keeping the spear shaft on course as it exits the gun.

The stainless pin that the spear shaft sits on can be made from the material leftover from the construction of the trigger. The pin is approximately one and a half inches long and is epoxied into a hole drilled on center of the gun barrel. The end of the stainless pin has been ground down to a smaller diameter (3/16 of an inch). To save having to grind the end of the pin down, a 3/16-inch stainless steel rod cut from the unthreaded portion of a bolt could be substituted. To grind the ¼ inch diameter stock down to make the pin I put the pin in the chuck of my power hand drill and spun it while holding the end of the pin against the rotating wheel of a bench grinder. The business end of the pin should be polished smooth to improve the release of the spear shaft. Spinning the pin with the drill while sanding it with fine sandpaper will polish it nicely. If you use ¼ inch stock to make the pin the finished pin can be glued into the front of the trigger slot using Pl Polyurethane Premium Construction Adhesive. If you use 3/16 inch stock to make the pin a hole should be drilled just in front of the trigger slot to epoxy the pin into.

Spear Shaft: Constructed from a 21 inch length of 5/16 inch diameter aluminum rod purchased at Home Depot or other hardware stores for less than $3. The shaft has a slot (knock) filed in one end to accept the wishbone of the band. A hole is drilled through the shaft approximately ¾ inch from the end with the slot (knock). The hole is drilled through the shaft- perpendicular to the slot for the wishbone (see photo). The hole is approximately 1/64 of an inch larger than the pin that it sits on. The edges of the hole should be “debured/ countersunk”. This hole should be drilled in the spear shaft after the trigger and the pin have been installed in the gun. Doing this will make it much easier to get the hole located in the best place on the shaft.

I made a tip for the spear shaft from a hardened screwdriver. I ground a sharp point on one end and epoxied the other end of the tip into a 1 inch deep hole drilled in the end of the aluminum spear shaft. For a barb I ground a smaller diameter on the screwdriver shaft and “wrapped” a barb made from 1/16 inch stainless wire around the smaller diameter then epoxied it in place. This took some serious effort to get this barb right. I would suggest buying a commercial tip and adapting it to your home made shaft. The hardened screwdriver shaft cannot be drilled for a flopper type barb without very special tooling.

Hope that helps! :)

Prodigal Son
07-30-2003, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the explanation Fish Tale! I appreciate it. I just copied and pasted your post to Word file so I can study it further. I think I'm going to use a standard Riffe shaft, then see if I can get a buddy to drill the hole for me. I see how the trigger assembly can be modified so the trigger pin drops, rather than lifting the end of the shaft off the pin. Now I'll have to find some time to work on this.

Fish Tale
07-30-2003, 04:10 PM
Prodigal Son- It's cool that you're going to build your own gun from scratch! Backyard engineering is fun!

Be sure to let us know how your final designs work. Post it here under the home made pea shooter thread and we'll have a great new section going!


Fish Tale
09-04-2003, 01:37 AM
After using the above home made spear gun for a while I decided I could improve the accuracy of the gun a little by lightening the trigger pull a bit. I made a new trigger from a 5/16 inch stainless u-bolt. The new trigger works the same as the old one I just lengthened the part of the trigger lever that gets depressed by the thumb. It's now 3-3/4 inches long. The extra leverage lightened the action substantially. I went to my favorite inshore snapper hole this afternoon and tried the lighter trigger out. Much easier to get the shot off and put it where I wanted it. We had snapper and sheephead for dinner.:)

The gun and its parts are holding up very well so far. Haven't had to repair or replace anything do to wear or damage. Amazing the stuff you can build with the crap you find in the garage. :D

09-05-2003, 07:21 AM
Marcus, actually clarinets are usually made from Ebony. Yes, it is pretty had, but far from the hardest wood on the planet. Damn near the most expensive though.

09-25-2003, 01:56 AM

I made my first gun this year, what a project! I used riffe parts, and teak. After 4 pine demo's There still were a couple of small screw ups, but the thing shoots true and powerfull(a hell of a lot better then my biller). The questions I have for anyone who knows are:

1) whats the deal with oil finnishes. My stock fades in about two days. Do you guys use wax or something to seal it?

2) What are the better trigger parts/hardware Co's out there? Riffe's trigger mech slot was a pain in the ass to rought out because of the flair in the shaft insert.

I am a beginner woodworker with a new found passion for making these guns. My next gun I would like to lamanate different woods for asthetic any tips would be great.

09-25-2003, 08:28 PM
Check out this site, pretty primitive but gives you a good idea of the steps. Plus that gun looks like a cave gun.http://www.geocities.com/unirdna/Speargun_Fabrication.html

09-25-2003, 09:40 PM
What a cool thread :)

09-26-2003, 10:32 AM
Hello all,

My first post here on this forum. I noticed that a few of my website hits were coming from here, and I came a-sniffin' to see what this is all about.

That little gun of mine can pluck the little guys out of the cracks, but it can still send a hawaiian clean through a 40 pound carp. It was made and ballasted for fresh water spearin. Vis is frequently less than 4 feet, and I need to be able to swing fast. The gun has the same dimensions as a MT#0, and was made with all Riffe hardware.

Thanks for lookin.


* Hey Keyspearfisher, are you the same fella from DB?

09-26-2003, 11:27 AM
nice homemade guns guys.
i am a machinist and tool and die maker by trade.
so my gun is machined out of a 4 foot block of solid aluminium.
and uses a jbl handle most people laugh and thats fine
but im no cabinet maker so i do what i know.
i also make power heads and all kinds of techie geag for myself
or any other diver.
if anybody has any good ideas for anything i will be more than happy to make anything.

09-26-2003, 02:10 PM
What does Crap taste like?..........Carp.........I mean :p :D

09-26-2003, 04:29 PM

Carp are a very popular eating fish in eastern Europe and Asia. They were introduced to the States (by some of our short-sighted ancestors) as a food-fish, and quite a few were eaten in the good old days. But the trend faded, and now we're stuck with a bunch of invasive aquatic lawnmowers. They are not welcome, and destroy the water quality in many lakes (eat all the veg, stir up the sediments). Carp are good smoked, if they come from clean water. But they are frequently thought of as a trash fish, because if they exist in polluted waters, they store lots of bad 'stuff' in their fatty muscle. I've tasted really good carp and really really really bad carp. It's not a slam-dunk like pluggin a mahi ;).

I can't shoot em all, but I rarely let a prego female slip by me. Knockin her out kills 1-2 million little ones, and gives the raccoons a welcome feast. Seems wasteful because it really is.....but it's the lesser of the evils. They shouldn't be here to begin with. They extirpate native species and kill the diversity of our lakes.

Ted :)

09-26-2003, 05:02 PM
for me, the worst part of being stationed in Germany was the relatively poor quality of fish that was served there. Carp is considered a delicacy there and whenever my ex-mother-in-law (The nazi bitch who squeezed out my ex-wife screaming into this world) cooked it for Christmas, I remember having to choke it down and act like I enjoyed it. To this day, if I close my eyes and think real hard about all those wasted Christmas' I spent with the Nazi's the flavor of shit still comes to my tongue.

09-26-2003, 05:27 PM
Unirdna; yes, I have been on deeper blue, but it seems like alot to wade thru to get to spearing. I hope you are not upset I posted a link. But when I saw your site, it looked like you had put some time and effort into it and I knew people here would be interested. Is that a Rigid table saw? I'm not trying to bust your chops but a gun like that doesn't have a place in Florida. I used to live between the Platte and Mississippi and have eaten some good smoked Carp. We would canoe, and spear the spawning fish in the shallows. Not very sporting, but you could clean up.

Fish Tale
09-26-2003, 09:54 PM
Hi Unirdna!
That mid handle mini gun you made would be a very usefull tool here in Southwest Floridas inshore and nearshore habitats! We very often have vis on the nearshore reefs that's no more than 4 feet. If you swam up on a snapper or a sheephead they'd be dinner with that little steel slinger! The small amount of gun beyond your face is very important when the vis is that limited. Great job! I couldn't tell by the pictures what you have for a shooting line system. Are you freeshafting?

Hi Dagodiver!

how is your shooting line set up?Do you have any photo's of you gun? Can you post any here? I promise I won't laugh.:D We all know ..."It aint always what ya got. It's what ya can do with what ya got!"

Some of us can prove that!:D

09-28-2003, 04:52 PM
ill get out the digital camera and try to put some pics on here.
the line release is from the jbl handle and i machined
a nose piece on the front of the gun.

how do i put pictures on the page ? any help would be nice.

Fish Tale
09-28-2003, 09:03 PM

Save your photo's to your hard drive. When you do a reply to the thread use the "Browse" button in the "Attach File" box (below the message text box) to search for the photo on your hard drive when you find it just upload it to the message board. It should appear in your post.

09-29-2003, 05:49 AM
fish tale
thanks for the info ill get some pics on so you all can laugh.
but it shoots straight and its silent.

09-29-2003, 07:00 PM
well here goes first try at pictures.....

09-29-2003, 07:02 PM
maybe now ????

straight shaft
09-29-2003, 08:07 PM
Nice work, Dagodiver...looks like you've spent many sleepless nights!

Fish Tale
09-30-2003, 12:10 AM
Very Nice Dagodiver! Got any pictures of the whole gun?

Looks like it could become a family heirloom someday!

Are you a CNC machinest or good old fashioned manual machinest?

09-30-2003, 05:37 AM
good old fashion manual machinist with
2 brand new haas VF-3 4 axis CNC machines.
anything is possible with these.
will put more photos up soon.

09-30-2003, 05:06 PM
Keyspearfisherman I'm wondering how you made your handle/trigger assembly? This is the one item I don't feel can be made well in the garage zeN

09-30-2003, 07:32 PM
Fish Tale

Until i learn more about the picture thing i will have
to do them 1 at a time.
the shaft runner is made from UHMW material
which is very tuff and easy to machine. other parts
are from delrin. the barrel is 6061-t6 alum.
when i started it was 10 pounds when i finished
it was 2.7 pounds.

09-30-2003, 07:34 PM

09-30-2003, 07:39 PM
while im here, the store bought reels sometimes
arent worth the money. so lets make are own.
broke a store bought one shooting a lift bag
for a drift deco, i know it was my fault but for
100 dollars i dont think they should be that easy
to break.

09-30-2003, 07:49 PM
Originally posted by Fish Tale
I couldn't tell by the pictures what you have for a shooting line system. Are you freeshafting?

Hehe, heck no! I have it rigged with 1,2, or 3 wraps of 300# mono (and a shock cord). I almost always use two wraps. Easily exchangable using snap swivels. I load 3 9/16 bands regardless of the length of the mono; even if the fish is at close range. More power = a smaller entry/exit hole.

Fish Tale
10-02-2003, 03:30 AM
Dagodiver- Family heirloom gun for sure provided a grey suit never runs off with it! If you decide to name your gun, "The Terminator" would be fitting.

Unirdna- That underwater forest you're diving in the picture under your name looks very familiar. Before I parked it here on the Gulf Coast I lived and worked in the "Mad City". Mrs Fish Tale and I were constantly trading our paychecks for trips to warmer dive spots so we decided to move and make our vacations our life. I sure miss the beer though! When I was a kid I freeshafted a carp once in the waters off of Govenors Island on Lake Mendota. What a dumb arse thing to do. Never saw that shaft again.

ZeN- I think the trigger mechanism on that beautiful gun that Keyspearfisherman built is commercialy made. The commercial trigger mechanisms they have these days are well designed to operate under and withstand the heavy loads of multiple bands. Our local dive shops sell the individual components for repairing/ building your own gun. Building a gun from commercial components does get expensive but you get the features you want all in one gun and you also get the added entertainment value of an education in speargun design.


10-02-2003, 10:43 PM
Does anyone know of a good source for teak?


10-02-2003, 11:55 PM

Haha. Nice work freeshafting the carp. They are one tough fish to stone, and certainly would have no prob swimming off with a spear in their head. I'll keep my eyes peeled for your spear when I'm diving near Governors ;). I got a 42 pounder out of Lake Monona last week. 10 more pounds and I'll have the state record.

My avatar photo was taken in Lake Wazee (350 ft quarry) in Black River Falls, WI.....probably my favorite dive site (but not much of a hunting site) in Wisconsin.

I really envy you for making the bold move outta here. There is a lot to love about the midwest, but quality spearfishing is not one of the merits. My sweetie and I shell out the cash at least twice a year to get to the warm, clear, salty stuff. In Dec, Cozumel is on the menu.

I've been to Florida a couple times. Both times I went diving at Blue Springs, north of Orlando. Honestly the best diving site I've ever been to. Since I'm a freshy by geography, I am most comfortable in salt-free waters. Blue springs goes down to 80 feet, then hangs a louie for another 40. Nothin is more fun than pulling myself towards the spring outlet, then jumpin in front of the hole and let it launch me up the cavern. I'm quite confident that everyone in Heaven has one of these in their back yards :).