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Do-It-Yourself Styrofoam Puncher Construction

Learn how to make a do-it-yourself styrofoam puncher with this comprehensive step-by-step guide.

Couple of completed DIY styrofoam punchers.

The SNAP Hydroponics system utilizes a grow box to contain the nutrient solution and hold the seedling plugs in place. One of the steps in making grow boxes is to add the holes on the upper half of the styrobox where the seedling plugs would fit. One of the ways to accomplish this is with the use of a do-it-yourself (DIY) tool made of empty tin cans.


Empty Tin Can#

An empty tin can with a three-inch diameter. These are pretty common since tin cans follow standard sizes. To verify if the holes made with a tin can will fit the styro cup, fit them to the can itself as demonstrated in the picture below.

Eight-ounce styrofoam cups fits well in 3" diameter tin cans

The use of tin cans with ribbing along the side is recommended. The ribbing adds lateral stiffness of the can and allows it to hold its circular structure even when the lip of the can has been cut off to sharpen the cutting edge.

Bamboo Sticks#

Pair of bamboo sticks or other materials strong enough to serve as handles for the tool. For bamboo sticks, it is recommend to make a pair of them by dividing a single half inch thick bamboo stick into a quarter inch pair by splitting the stick along the grain. It should be long enough to run along the diameter of the tin can and have around three inches protruding from the sides of the can. Make sure to smooth out the edges as well as the cut ends of the bamboo sticks to remove splinters and sharp edges.

Using a single piece of bamboo saves time and effort. However, the rocking motion this tool will experience during use will ruin it pretty fast. The handles will exert pressure on the holes where they go through the can. The sides of the can is very thin and soft. The pressure exerted by the bamboo stick will be enough to enlarge it and pretty soon it will be too large for the tool be useful. Sandwiching the lid with two pieces of bamboo lashed together will transfer the force to the lid which will be able to handle these forces.

Pair of bamboo sticks that will serve as handles for the puncher.

Rubber Band or Other Lashing Material#

Rubber band or other materials that can lash the pair of sticks together. A sturdy length of string or fishing line works too.


The lip at the open end of the tin can needs to be cut away in order to produce a sharp cutting edge. A pair of tin snips is required in order to do this.

Tin snips are required to make a sharp cutting edge for the puncher.

A piece of bamboo stick with a pointed end is also required. It will be used to add holes on the sides of the can where the handles will go through. It should be around 3–5 inches long with the same cross section as the material that will be used as handles.

Tool used to make holes for the handle.

A knife or a bolo to work with the bamboo and the tin can; and a can opener to completely open one end of the tin can are also required.


Start by using a can opener to completely open one end of the tin can.

Using a knife or bolo add β€œT” shaped cut on one side of the can near the closed end. This β€œT” shaped cut will make sure that the hole will be centered and even when enlarged using the pointed bamboo stick implement.

β€œT” shaped cut near the closed end of the tin can.

Using our bamboo tool, enlarge the β€œT” shaped cut to make a larger hole. Use any appropriately sized tool to hammer it through the can.

Enlarge the hole by hammering the bamboo tool through the cut.

The β€œT” shaped cut makes sure that the hole enlarges evenly and stays centered as shown in the picture below. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the can.

Bamboo tool centered well.

Push one of the bamboo sticks through the holes previously made. Make sure it is centered so that the length of the handles are even. Put the other half on top and so that the lid of the can is sandwiched between the pieces of bamboo. Then lash them together tightly with a rubber band or string.

Handles going through the side holes and along a diameter of the can.

Lastly, if preferred, the cutting edge of the tool can be sharpened by cutting off the lip of the open end of the can. Although this step can be performed before any other steps, it is recommend to do this last because the cut edge is indeed sharp. It is sharp enough to cut through skin. The other steps performed on the tin can will have a risk of giving someone a cut if they are performed with the lip of the can removed exposing a sharp edge.