Tuesday, January 05, 2010

How To make a Clam Gun

You will need the following tools and materials to make your clam gun:
A friend
Saw to cut pipe to length
Drill with 1/4", 3/4", and phillips head bits
PVC glue
duct tape
4"PVC Pipe 26" long
Cap to fit 4"PVC pipe
1" PVC Pipe 16" long
2 3" bolts
2 washers to fit bolts
2 nuts to fit bolts
2 1" screws

Cut down your pipe to the proper length. You can cut yours a little longer or shorter depending on your height. However, remember that the shorter it is the easier it is going to be to push into the sand and back out again. The longer it is the easier it will be on your back. So you are trying to find a happy medium with the length. We found 26" to be a pretty good length for the kids and the adults.

Cut your 1" pipe to length also. Grab your pipe cap and get ready to make a clam gun!

Place your cap, open side down, on a sturdy workbench (preferably with a little more room than what we've got here) and center your 1" PVC pipe--future handles--over the cap. Have a friend prepare a strip of duct tape.

While holding the handlebars in position have your friend duct tape them to the cap.

Should look something like this.

Using your 1/4" bit drill a pilot hole into your handle bars and through to the cap.

Change to your larger bit, 3/4" or whatever width you need to accomodate your bolt. Drill a hole through the handlebars and into the cap. Do this on each side of your duct tape.

Place the bolts into the holes using a mallet to secure the bolt down into position.

Turn the cap over and place a washer over each bolt and then . . .

Place the nut on each bolt and . . . .

Ratchet the nut securely down over each bolt.

Remove the duct tape from the handlebars.

Your handlebar and cap configuration should look something like this.

Wipe any shavings and oils out of the cap in preparation for the glue.

Smear a thin coat of PVC glue around the outside edges of the large PVC pipe.

Smear a thin coat of PVC glue around the inside edges of the PVC cap. Slide the cap over the pipe.

Secure the cap onto the pipe with a screw on each side of the cap. DO NOT place these screws directly under the handlebars--your fingers may rub up against them when you are using the gun and this would not feel very good.

You are almost done now but first you need to measure where you would like your thumb hole to be. When using the gun you place your thumb over the hole when pulling the gun out of the sand. This creates a vacuum in the gun that pulls a tube full of sand and CLAM out of the beach. This gun is for our son Kirkham who has little hands and a short reach with his thumb.

Move the thumb, drill the hole.

Depending on the thickness of your pipe you may want to use your grinder to thin the edges of the bottom of the gun. This will help it cut into the sand a little easier.

You're done! Now go out to the beach and enjoy using your new clam gun! (but you must wait until clam season check this Washington State Fish and Wildlife page to find out when the next one is).

My clam series: Clamcakes, Cleaning Clams, Make your own Clam Gun, The family goes Clamming


  1. Thanks for the instructions. We are heading to Pacific City next week... i need to make a couple of theses...

  2. You're welcome! I hope you enjoy them. My husband and boys had a blast putting them together and of course tons of fun putting them to use. Have fun at the beach!

  3. These written instructions are fairly accurate in themselves, but your 4" pipe and cap in the pictures appears to be ABS pipe, not PVC. ABS pipe requires a different type of glue and is not as foolproof to work with and get a reliable joint. To make a sturdy clam gun, you should probably use PVC pipe, which is usually white. Also, if you use PVC primer on the joint before the PVC cement you should end up with an extremely sturdy joint, and will not need to put any screws in it.

  4. mexicobengoodman, thank you for your clarifications and technical insight. I'm sure it will be very helpful.


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