DIY Nosecone

This page describes a simple wooden nosecone. The design will work up to 4" diamater, or a little more. Wood is a good material because it is sturdy, easy to work, and transparent to RF.

The shoulder of the nosecone is intentionally small for two reasons. I like to friction fit the nosecone in the field. Second, most of my airframes are made from aluminum tube. Non-milled Aluminum tube is frequently out-of-round. The tape has some "give" and compensates for imperfect tubes.

This nosecone is 2.5" diameter.

Design Template

Rough Cuts

1" x 4" (3.5" nominal) high quality pine board was used. The board was cut into four pieces. A Dado cut was made in the center two boards. The Dado channel holds a 1/4 wave 70cm antenna. The four pieces of wood were glued together using West System epoxy. The glue cured overnight.

Pine works well for smaller rockets which fly to low supersonic speeds. For a sturdier nosecone, a fine-grain premium oak works well.

After gluing, the ends were squared using a disk sander. The sides don't don't need to be square.

Raw stock

Sanding the ends

Boring the Center Cavity

The cavity was bored using a spade bit.

A spade bit is not practical for larger nosecones. Intead cut-outs and/or Dado cuts are made when rough cutting the boards. The center cavity will not be round, but it doesn't matter.

Boring the cavity

View of the cavity and antenna channel


A sacrificial attachment is glued to the working piece. In this image, the sacrificial attachment is made from two squares of pine board.

A trick which permits the sacrifical attachment to cleave cleanly at the interface is gluing a piece of paper between the attachment and work piece. (red arrow below) When turning is finished, a hard smack with a sharp chisel at the paper interface will create a clean break. The paper is the weakest part of the assembly.

Setting up the lathe

Turning the shape

Aft closure

Four carpenter's squares were taped to the drill press. The carpenter's squares help ensure the six holes holding the aft closure are drilled straight. The four squares do not provide support for the work piece.

This aft closure was made from machined 3/16" aluminum. A plywood aft closure works fine as well.

Drilling holes to hold closure

Bottom view


I like a sharp, polished metal tip. This is optional.