How to Make a Foot Pump

Sometimes life is just more fun when you make your own tools. If you need to pump air or water, you can make your own foot pump with some simple tools and parts. You need to choose the parts carefully to fit the design, but if you put a little thought into it beforehand, you can design and build a useful pump.

Decide if you're going to be pumping air or water. The principles behind the design are the same in either case, but your choice of materials might be different if you're going to be pumping water instead of air (for example, you might avoid metal parts that can corrode). This procedure assumes that you want to pump air.

Take two pieces of wood, plastic or metal of reasonable size and put a spring or set of springs between them. You need to design this part so that the pump will withstand your foot pushing down on it repeatedly.

Build a valve assembly and connect it securely to one of the frame pieces from Step 2. You need two ports: one that allows air only to flow in and one that allows air only to flow out. A flap of moderately firm plastic on the inside of the first port that lays completely over the opening will allow air in when you release the foot pump, but will not allow air out through that port when you depress the pump. A similar valve on the outside of the other port only allows the pump to push air out through that port.

Attach a hose with any necessary adapters. Connect the hose to the second port from Step 3. The pump forces air through the hose when you use this port.

Encase the inside area between the frame pieces using flexible but strong plastic or airtight fabric. Make sure the air ports are accessible. The material that you choose for this step must be able to withstand repeated crumpling. Ensure that it doesn't get in the way of the springs.


  • The valve in Step 3 is a very simple design that illustrates the point. You can incorporate much better valve designs into your pump; you just need to do a little research.
  • Test each part as you build it and add it to the design to ensure that it functions properly and that it's able to handle you stepping on it again and again.

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