Tools and Tips for the Amateur Pyrotechnician

Most hobbies require a fairly extensive set of special tools to support them. The hobby of pyrotechnics is certainly no exception. I have found that building tools has been almost as enjoyable as the creation of pleasing pyrotechnic displays. Most of the projects described on these pages involve the building of the essential tools of the trade. Some of the smaller pages fit better into the category of "tips". I hope you find these descriptions useful. If they help anyone become converted to the marvelous field of amateur display pyrotechnics, then they have served their intended purpose.

Easy Screens

The following description will let you build screen boxes that are light-weight, inexpensive, stackable and easily cleaned.

Improved Funnel Idea

Tired of making a mess when trying to load compositions into tubes? Try this idea.

Home-made Balance Scale

You can spend a hundred bucks on a triple-beam balance scale. A nice electronic scale can cost you much more, but this home-made balance scale is a very inexpensive alternative.

A Simple Hydraulic Press

Now this is a "real" man's tool!! It does the trick for pressing black powder cakes, rockets, whistles, comets...whatever. Here's a plan for even the modestly talented tool maker.

An Efficient Ball Mill

Do you really want to keep making black powder by the CIA method!! Make a ball mill and join the ranks of serious amateur pyrotechnicians. This one uses the leading edge techniques of the venerable Lloyd E. Sponenburgh.

A Charcoal Cooker

The best black powder requires the best charcoal. If you want to make your own, you can build this hi tech charcoal cooker and make a nice black mess to rival anything your kids can do.

Tips for Fountain Tooling

Whether you're an old hand at making fountains or are looking to make your first set of tooling, these tips might be helpful.

A Powder Die

If you want to make hard grained black powder that compares with commercial quality, you will need a powder die to make your press cake. This design comes from Lloyd Sponenburgh.

Jars for your Ball Mill

If you plan to make a ball mill, then you will probably want to make some milling jars to use with it (unless you only plan to use it to mix your margaritas).

Comet Tooling

So you're ready to try making comets. Professional comet tooling can be very expensive. This set of home-made comet tools might be a little easier on your budget and should yield similar results.

A Star Cutting Board

A good place for the beginner to start learning how to make stars is on a star cutting board . This page uses psychedelic star dough to demonstrate the tooling.

Perfect Sticky Match

It's not as hard as you might think to make sticky match as well as the professionals. Give it a try and see if you agree.

A Star Plate

If you have a little... no, make that a LOT of spare time, you can use it to make this beautifully artistic plexiglass star plate . Even if you never use it to make stars, it would make a great piece of techno pop art.

A Star Roller Adaptation

Here's an idea that borders on the bizarre. If you haven't built your ball mill yet, you might consider designing it to accommodate this adaptation which will allow it to also perform the function of a star roller machine. However, if the idea is a little too weird for your tastes, this implementation will at least illustrate the general concepts of how to build a machine that can create those most essential and marvelous little round stars.

A Black Powder Burn Rate Tester

For those of you who base your virility on the speed of your black powder, this burn rate tester design will help you tune your manufacturing process to achieve the optimum results. It has certainly helped me feel a little more masculine. My fastest black powder clocks in at over 170 cm/second!!

Links to other pyro tools sites on the web

Links to sites where pyro tools are sold

If you have ideas for common pyro tools that you would like to see added to the list below, let me know.

This page was composed by Dan Williams. If you have any questions or comments, then.... E-mail me!

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