Forums > Technical Discussion > fire fan construction, any suggestions?

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borganiqueborganiqueBRONZE Member
154 posts
Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom

i had a search through and the existing threads weren't helpful on the construction side so...
could anyone who has made or used fire fans please help me with ideas, problems they've encountered, plans they've used etc.
i'm on half term and i've got lots of off cut kevlar and no student loan but lots of bits and bobs in the workshop and lots of time, i've already made 2 staffs and a set of poi and its raining so i can't play frown
help me, please!!

2 posts
Location: Boston

Hmmm, well, my friend Chad (, but he hasn't been working on the site as much as he should) and I had long long long talks about this one.

Problems I have encountered and solutions:

1. They're heavy as [censored]. If you're female, people will tell you your big muscle poppin' arms are grossing them out. (These people are assholes.)

If you're human, the increased weight will lead to fatigue interrupting otherwise impressive sets


increased rate of inhaltation which causes you to take in more fumes-- which is not fun.

This is a good motivator to use lighter metals and smaller fans, which can be just as impressive if not moreso, since you're now able to do more tricks and don't wear yourself out spinning for 3 minutes.

2. They were poorly welded. I got the frames from Riz. I realize that I use them differently from many of the people who buy his product, but there's just no excuse for something that's mainly held together by shitty black paint. It's not like I was tossing the damn things on the ground, and literally half the welds have broken.

For goodness sake, make sure you weld these right. And weld short pieces of the same metal between spokes as supports. And make these things STRAIGHT. The fans I had originally came with a frame in which the supports were bent for a cool spiderweb effect. The end result was that under minor pressure, they would bend more, rather than supporting the structure at all.

And use higher quality materials. Something that breaks easily on or off of a weld and tempers easily every time you reweld it is a bad idea. (Tempering is the process whereby metal becomes more brittle when exposed to lots of heat and is why the area *surrounding* some welds can be weakened if you do the welds over and over.)

The design of fans makes them vulnerable to breakage anyways. Sharp metal edges suddenly becoming an issue and then hitting me as I spin are no fun.

3. The wicks were lame. They just didn't burn very bright or for very long when spun. Basically, they were a series of eating torches welded together. Eating torches don't usually get spun as aggressively, and they get redipped more often. You can't do this with your fans. Plan accordingly if you're designing the 5-spokes-welded-together variety.

4. The handles were painful. There was a one-size-fits-nobody metal grip for two fingers on it that I ceased to use within a week of picking the damn things up. (This is stupid. Don't use this.)

There was also a circular metal bit at the end, which is what I'd recommend doing for your own. It was not very smooth on the inside, as I think it was meant mostly to wrap the palm of your hand around, but it worked very well as a place to put my fingers, gripping the end of the metal circle facing me and then doing various manipulation and/or spinning the fans around my fingers. This still hurt somewhat, but

a) I'm convinced that's because I was working with a not-totally-smooth metal bit and that you could put some sort of padding in there and/or smooth it out.

b) Eventually I built up the proper callouses and finger muscles and nothing hurts now.

5. They were too big. If you want to do a lot of the same tricks with fans that work with poi, you need to make them about the same length you would your poi. Or even smaller. It's easy to make your fans do huge fire at any size, and I've seen some rather impressive fans that were about 9*9 inches. The lightness and maneouverability that came with that size made them uberfun to watch.

6. When I replaced the wicks the first time, there was far far far too much fire. If you are making your fans into a continuous arc of kevlar rather than 5 spokes, remember that

You're adding weight with the kevlar/fuel as well as increasing the amount of fuel you inhale.

These arcs will be very hard to put out, as one segment can go out and then be relit by another adjoining segment, and they're too big to dunk in anything and often too large for the same blankets that people will use on poi and staff heads.

They will make huge [censored] fire. You might burn yourself. The fans I have with the same material Chad uses on his snakes braided along the arcs burn me if I use them during the day. Or sometimes just because I used white gas. (Lamp oil lasts too long for something that heavy. Kero is ideal.) The sound of my whooshing fire drowns out anything but the loudest music.

That said, I'm someone who thinks the continuous arc is prettier.

7. The wicks slipped downwards along the torches. This problem can be solved by making a metal hook out of each spoke with the loop of the hook facing outwards, putting on the wick, and then welding the hook shut.

8. I've also heard some talk of making an independently turning thingy in the middle of the loop to grab so that the fans would spin around your hand while it stayed still. I'm not up on the mechanics of all this, but it seems to me that it would be hard to do that without making fans that turned all over the place all willy-nilly and in doing so became unpredictable and dangerous. Also, a friend of mine insists that doing this would pinch your flesh something terrible.

I'd also recommend getting in touch with me or with Chad (who has been making some really excellent fans since seeing everything that's gone wrong with mine.)

Le Princesse Et Son Feu

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