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Forums > Technical Discussion > How to stop staffs from bending...

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Aaaarrrggghhh!!!! Please please please (grovel grovel grovel), could someone help me to make some good firestaffs that don't bend?I had a performance last Saturday, got B to make me two new 1.4 metre aluminium staffs (my others are bent too much to do decent fireballs), with dowling right through the middle of them. This was an attempt to strengthen the metal and prevent major bending.After an hour of firedancing, (and only one drop), one of them is already bent badly.I don't want to stop doing my 10-15 metre throws (these and my fast benhind the back spin tend to be what does the worst bending), as they are a large part of my performance, especially when theres a big crowd and it's hard for people at the back to see. I'm even toying with the idea of a wooden staff with aluminium ends, although I destroyed a friends one in two weeks (he gave it to me, hadnt used it and wasn't planning to) doing fireballs and straight tosses which charcoaled the wood too much.Any suggestions would be great!------------------Charles Dolbel[This message has been edited by Charles (edited 02 July 2001).]

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SilverOny


member
Location: Calgary,Alberta,Canada

Total posts: 9
Posted:I find it helps if you catch them before they hit the ground... kidding. I've been thinking about the same question sometimes and I'm thinking a good fiberglass pole might work, I haven't tried it though but it would have some flex and still be light enough. To keep the ends from burning ( if they burn) A person can get a furnace tape. Its like sticky aluminum on a roll. And tape up the ends before applying the wicks. This tape might work good over wood as well. Its worth the experiment.

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Posted:hey
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the fire staves i've made outo f thin aluminium tend to bend, just as you described...however I've also had one made for me out of thicker metal - which seems to flex rather than bend. You might like to try something other than pure aluminium - pure aluminium isnt very good at flexing...only problem with thicker metal, or non-aluminium is the weight...tis ok for throwing...but catching can REALLY hurt (I once stuffed up a catch from a helicopter throw, and nearly broke my hand)...the height wont suffer....but your hands will!
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Also - smoothen out your technique?Josh


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FruMan


member
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA

Total posts: 2
Posted:I'm not exactly sure where to get it, but Ethan Gold of the Flambe group in Brooklyn has an aluminum staff, not too thick, hollow-bodied that he's had for a year and he and I have dropped it quite a bit and its still straight as a board, his staff is the best I've seen, altho there some very minor things I"d like to change... but I digress. He got the pole at a hardware store in Bklyn Heights. I realize that this means nothing to almost all of you. sorry. I'm gonna find out more on it soon. I'll get back to y'all.Greg------------------"On a Journey To Anywhere we can draw our own map."-Ugly Duckling

On a Journey To Anywhere we can draw our own map.-Ugly Duckling

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:I don't work with staves much (so maybe I should just shut up), but I've made a couple with wooden shafts. I wrapped the fire-affected zones with copper foil, and then wrapped the wicking over that. Some of my local staff-spinning friends prefer wood; one makes his out of aluminum tubes with wood cores.I've also made batons out of stainless steel. This is much sturdier stuff than aluminum. It's harder to work with, too. It does bend, but not badly, and if you are careful, you can bend it back--just find the bend, lay it across your leg, and gradually push it out. In a staff diameter, it probably wouldn't bend as much.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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pj


member
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Total posts: 277
Posted:Funny you should mention this -- I've spent the past month learning to build and twirl the single staff.My current staff is 5 ft. of 7/8 in. OD aluminium I picked up at a boating supply store. It wasn't cheap ($20 for 6 ft tube) but it is *much* stronger than the 1 in. OD AL tube I picked up at the local hardware store. It has taken quite a bit of abuse while several friends and I learned on it and it has only started to develop the slightest bend.I've been searching for some stronger, less expensive materials and I have found two very viable options. Aluminium electrical conduit (EMT) is very cheap and very strong. A 10 ft. tube of 1/2 in. ID Al tube goes for about $8, and 3/4 in ID goes for about $10. However, this stuff *may* be too heavy for some tastes. If you want something strong and lightweight, there is no substitute for a hardwood broom handle. These are about five bucks at any hardware store. You will, however, need to find some tubing that fits over the ends. This is necessary for two reasons: (1) the wood will burn otherwise and (2) the wood is far too light by itself.-p.

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:That's great, I wasn't expecting so many different suggestions. Maybe I'm using really cheap aluminium, I'll check the gradings and things next time i buy some. I do a continous behind the back move (you probably al know it) where i swap hands below my waist and above my head. I've got it fast enough to put out the just dunked 3 foot of wick in about five seconds. Looking at my second staff that wasn't bent at my gig on Saturday, it has got a slight curve to it, so that the ends are a few centimetres lower than the middle. The point is, I HAVENT DROPPED IT YET! Maybe my behind the back is stressing it som much it bends? It was definitely straight when i first got it on Saturday morning. What's going on???Also, anything flexible needs to be light for my moves and style, i used a thinnish piece of steel a while ago and it tended to flex while I was spinning it and whipped around unexpectedly, I stopped when it branded me on the neck during a simple move that I've had solid for a year now.Perhaps the biggest problem is that all of my peformances are on concrete or tiles. Grass might be a bit easier on the equipment.Thanks everyone for your great help and keep the answers coming...Cheers ------------------Charles Dolbel

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:Charles--If your staff is bent in a U shape, I doubt very strongly you could have induced that by twirling. For one thing, I doubt that even a flimsy Al tube would be permanently bent by twirling, and even if it could be, I'd expect it to be bent into an S shape--think about the forces on it.One minor trick you can try in building a staff is to have the wicking overhang the end by a couple cm--so the wicking acts as a bumper in case you drop it.I've played with conduit pipe. It's really heavy, and it is meant to be flexible. I don't think it's Al at all.A problem with Al in general is that it has excellent thermal conductivity. Meaning you could burn yourself if you grab the staff somewhat close to the fire--with short staves, there might be no safe place to hold it at all.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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pj


member
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Total posts: 277
Posted:Adam: Most of the EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing) you find is made from steel and not suitable as a staff material. 1/2 in. steel is light enough, but it will bend. I find this stuff to too narrow a diameter to twirl, but my friends seem to prefer this to my larger diameter Aluminium staff. 3/4 in. steel will not bend, but is too heavy.However, if you go to a dedicated electrical depot (and even then not all of them carry it) you can find the Aluminium stuff. Although it is several times more expensive than the steel stuff, it is still several times less expensive than high quality thin-walled aluminium tubing.Personally, I have not found thermal conductivity to be a problem with my current aluminium staff. One evening my staff got burned nearly continuously for about two hours (it was shared by three people) and heat was not a problem. I *do* have four layers of hockey tape (grip tape) that extend nearly the full length of the shaft, but that is really only necessary as insulation at the extreme ends near the wicks.-p.

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phuzzz


member
Location: saltspring island, bc , kanada

Total posts: 160
Posted:what about airplane aluminium? ive onle ever heard about it.. gee id love to get my hands on some! i got to play with a titanium coated staff a while ago. kinda lame actually nevermind.

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glowshow


member
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA

Total posts: 406
Posted:Don't know much about staff, but I do have a lot of experience with aluminum. I have absolutely no idea how much it would cost, or where you would look on that side of the lake, but heat-treating and stress relieving the aluminum will both kill the tubing's tendency to bend when heated, and make it extremely hard. I think the problem that you have is that milled aluminum is hot-formed through a press, and is not tempered, because, except for a rare collection of instances, it doesn't need to be. Aluminum isn't meant to be used in circumstances that have a lot of heat. It is usually a place holder or a cover, so to speak. Heat-treating and stress-relieving are both done at the same time. The stress relieving heats the aluminum up to a point where it relaxes the stress points (the places that are more likely to bend) and allows the molecules to settle into their most comfortable position. The heat-treating will harden the material and make it much more resilient to force induced bends and nicks. Might be worth a try.If you are curious, you might want to start with large metal fabrication shops and foundries. Call a welder's supply store and ask them if they have any customers that do it, and if they could point you in the right direction.Hope that helps. ------------------I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.~~~Dance as if noone is watching!~~~PLUR(RE) ---J---

FREE TIBET!!! (with the purchase of a 44 oz. drink)What do you want to be when you grow up?I want to be a kid again!I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.~~~J~~~

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glowshow


member
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA

Total posts: 406
Posted:Or, if that seems like too much work, hold the outside radius of the bend at the edge of a fire until it is fairly hot, and then quench it in water. It will relax the stretched side, and then make the molecules seize together and set quickly.------------------I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.~~~Dance as if noone is watching!~~~PLUR(RE) ---J---

FREE TIBET!!! (with the purchase of a 44 oz. drink)What do you want to be when you grow up?I want to be a kid again!I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.~~~J~~~

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Thanks Glowshow, I might make the call and see where it leads me.Most bends that are at a single point I have a good chance of bending back anyway, what tends to happen is a drop from a really fast move or a high throw makes the staff bend along it's length, rather thanjust at one point.This makes it harder to wield, but also makes burnoffs almost inmpossible depending on the severity of the bend...I might call the welding shops after my honeymoon though...
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------------------Charles (AKA INFERNO)newdolbel@hotmail.comhttp://juggle.co.nz/fire/fire.html


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Cantus
SILVER Member since Jul 2001

Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road

Total posts: 15965
Posted:I was spinning a 10' steel staff today. It don't bend. In fact I can plant one end on the ground and climb up to the top with out too much worry.Number of tricks I can do are fairly limited though - but it was my first go with it.....

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
"...like a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean

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Bendy


member
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

Total posts: 750
Posted:"climb up to the top with out too much worry" - except that it may fall over while you are up there.
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Just wondering if anyone has tried a hard vulcanised rubber staff. Not bendy flexy rubber, but the hard stuff. Sure it may flex during use, but it would return to it's natural state after.


Courage is the man who can stop after only one peanut

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stickyfish


member
Location: Lingfield, Surrey, England

Total posts: 39
Posted:Would you be able to use fire with rubber?

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DJ Dantana
BRONZE Member since Aug 2001

veteran
Location: Stillwater, Ok. USA

Total posts: 1495
Posted:I use galvanized steel, 3/4 inch elecrical conduit. they seem to always aquire a slight u-shaped bend, but it is so small that you only notice it if you put a sraight edge up to it. And the bend actually helps for certain moves. It never seems to progress beyond this small amount of bending. I like the weight, it helps me twirl them fluidly, but it does make mistakes more dangerouse when twirling fast (ya wana see the scar?) My staves are medium lenght (3.5-4 feet?) , and after a long burn with fresh wicks and slow burning kerosine I need to set it down to cool off. And depending on the fuel and wick size, sometimes I can't make it through an entire burn, but that doesn't normaly happen. I think dangerboy uses the same staff that I do....

we eat and we drink and we smoke and we try!

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Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:Bendy, could you give me a bit more information on this, haven;t ehard of that stuff before (though I am usually quite ignorant of a lot of things...)
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------------------Charles (AKA INFERNO)newdolbel@hotmail.comhttp://juggle.co.nz/fire/fire.html


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Cantus
SILVER Member since Jul 2001

Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road

Total posts: 15965
Posted:No Bendy, it doesn't. I have this thing called balance. I thought you would be familier with the concept with all the daft things you do.....

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
"...like a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean

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Bendy


member
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

Total posts: 750
Posted:stickyfish how about 6" of metal at each end of the staff?Charles, vulcanised rubber is that hard black rubber used in things like car tyres. It is vulcanised because I think it is heat treated. It might rather heavy, and I have no idea where to get it.
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Just another really un-useful suggestion
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Courage is the man who can stop after only one peanut

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bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:As a Bending Unit, I can tells ya that there are two ways to combat bending!Design + Materials!Design - Make a slightly bendable handle! If the staff has a middle point of flexibilty, then the staff will bend where you've connected flexible material and not bust ya aluminium up!Materials - Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Aeronautical aluminium is frikin' awesome! my old staff is made of this and that's why i still prefer *it* to any other staff.The great advantage of metal/durable staves is that you don't have to adapt yourself to a slew of replacement staves alla time! you must be faithful to your staff!(looks behind me)...what's that? uh I'm sorry lil' staff! I wasn't touching those other staves!.. you know you'll always be the one!....argh.....make the voices stop!.....

Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:I was looking over my previous post to this thread, which in retrospect seems a bit arrogant. Anyhow. I've been practicing--and-dropping--the staff a lot lately. My staff is wood--1" diameter ash, to be exact, with a tung-oil finish and ends fireproofed in copper foil (I've seen people use aluminum tape, meant for radiators, instead). So far the wood still looks like new, despite a lot of abuse. Admittedly I'm not throwing as high as Charles, probably not spinning it nearly as fast, and haven't had my first burn yet, but is there a reason not to use wood?[This message has been edited by adamrice (edited 09 March 2002).]

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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swiftythefireguy


member
Location: abbotsford , bc canada

Total posts: 61
Posted:HEY GUYS SWIFTY HERE HAS ANY OMNE TRYED SOLID ALUMINUM ?I HAD A 3 PIECE COLLAPSABLE STAFF MADE BY A MACHINE SHOP HERE IN TOWN THEY USED STEEL STUDS THAT THREAD IT TOGETHER IT HAS SOME SERIUOS WEIGHT TO IT AND I LOVE IT I CAN PULL MOVES THAT JUST CANT BE DONE WITH WOOD OR HOLLOW STAVES AND NO BENDING!!!!!!!!

dont ever ask me whta time it is ?where are we? or are we there yet? because the time is now!we here !and we wil never be there !

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Tempest


addict
Location: Sheffield

Total posts: 522
Posted:Charles,I sent you an e mail alittle while back regarding just this matter, did you get it?I have some solid (6061)I think, that are 20mm diameter. I have thinish grips that desperse the shock well. Check out www.nesbittcircus.com, they have stacked kevlar held on with a genourous alan key bolt that has never come loose during a burn.I trapped them in a car boot door and no damage at all. Only bad sides are if you drop from a height repeatedly, make sure you got an alan key.

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Tempest


addict
Location: Sheffield

Total posts: 522
Posted:Dead comfy for holding two staffs together too. Totally square dude.

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Tempest


addict
Location: Sheffield

Total posts: 522
Posted:...and they can't rollaway.ahem.

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maeon


member
Location: brisbane, queensland, australi...

Total posts: 40
Posted:okers,I've had two metre long single wick staffs for three years now (one rewicking) and they've never bent, not with throwing, concrete, beginners, sword fighting practice or afternoon javelin competitions. I think bending is to do with:a)thickness of the aluminium - the thin stuff will tear (like a drink can).b)the quality of aluminium - I know nothing about this, but several posts above seem to know what they're talking aboutc)length of staff ...the longer they are the more likely to bend. Several of our 1.2m staffs have bent, we just "calibrate" them by banging them on the ground to bend them back. None have ever broken.d)the size of the wick. The heavier the wick on the end, the more likely the staff will bendI've never noticed aluminium flexing, except in the three metre 'super staff' I use occasionally. Then I think it flexes more at the points its bolted together. Its never bent either, and its been banged into 44 gallon drums many times.A question: Adam, in an earlier post you said "A problem with Al in general is that it has excellent thermal conductivity. Meaning you could burn yourself if you grab the staff somewhat close to the fire--with short staves, there might be no safe place to hold it at all."Can you expand on this? Knowing that you're big on testing all your equipment and materials, I'd be interested to find out the vital facts. As far as I knew, aluminium was the worst conductor of heat as far as most staff metals go. I've been using my one metre aluminium staffs for ages, and I've caught them next to the wicks many times and never been burned, or found it overly hot. I've also found that they are cool enough to handle along the length within minutes of putting them out. By contrast, I was pretty sure that steel, and copper tubes heated up quickly and retained heat for a long time.Any info you have would be appreciated.maeon.

Where in the world is the island I'm on?

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Jedi


member
Location: New Zealand

Total posts: 11
Posted:i agree with the idea of the grade of aluminium. Also check the thickness of the poles walli have a 1600mm staff that is 19mm wide and 1.64 thick wallbut i do use your idea od dowelling down the middle.But i can swing my body on the staff around it like a pole. So i think it will be the thickness of your pole is the problemJedi~------------------May the force be with you

May the force be with you

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:Maeon--I noticed that aluminum conducted heat well (too well) when I was experimenting with different materials for fire-fingers. I discovered that anything under 10"/25 cm or so was too short with aluminum, as my fingers would burn on the metal. Brass, baling wire, stainless-steel wire all were ok at much shorter lengths.Your finding that aluminum cools off quickly is consistent with high thermal conductivity, I think. It would be nice if NYC could tell me if I'm full of it.Here's a web page giving the thermal-conductivity numbers for different materials:http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/tk/tks/tcon.htmlAnd here's the scientific definition:The thermal conductivity, lambda, is the quantity of heat transmitted, due to unit temperature gradient, in unit time under steady conditions in a direction normal to a surface of unit area, when the heat transfer is dependent only on the temperature gradient [Ref. 2].(from: here)[This message has been edited by adamrice (edited 11 March 2002).]

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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Tempest


addict
Location: Sheffield

Total posts: 522
Posted:Did you check em out Charles?Not sure what kind of carriage you would have to pay for them though.Sorry to go on but they are turned and industrially stretched so the core and the exterior are super strong.
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