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Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow.
Member Since: 20th May 2003
Total posts: 5276

How to make a Contact Staff.

See these sites also: [They have pictures]

This is a quick guide as to how to make a contact staff, generally according to the principles stated in:
br>and without pictures. If you want pictures, go check the links above but bear in mind there is some advice I would never EVER take in the above links.

1) Metal.

I don't make wooden sticks, I don't like them, I think they are too heavy in the center. I always use metal tube for my staffs. I generally use Aluminium or Titanium if it's available.

Ali is cheap light, but it's thermal conductivity is not as good as Ti. (It conducts heat better = bad thing)

Ti is a heavier metal on the periodic table than Ali, so it's lightly heavier if you get the same wall thickness. When I bought Titanium tube, the wall thickness was paper thin, maybe 1 mm. But it's still good tube because titanium is so strong. Ti is hard to get hold of thou. I paid a lot for it and I had to get it from America.

So get some Ali tube, from somewhere other than HomeBase / B&Q, their curtain rails are to cheap and bendy.

Mine is 23mm (7/8's inch) diameter with a wall thickness of about 2-3mm. If you get high grade Ali it won't bend. Ti won't bend in general. Obviously my staff is going to be 1.5m long, so that's how long I'll get the Ali.

Grades of Aluminium are a bit mind bending. There's just number but they must mean something to someone. Here's what I know: 6082 is generally good, 7075 is the super hardcore aerospace stuff, it's more expensive. There's another aerospace grade that's something like 2028 as well.

If you're talking to a metal stockist / metal supermarket (Check yellow pages, there might be one in your area.) have all the measurements you desire in both metric and imperial. I can't remember which they use right now. It's probably metric, but with Britain's crazy half metric half imperial system, you never know. There's also online stores and ebay where you can buy metal, but phoning someone is generally better and safer.

And yes, metal stockists are the best place to get tubing or rod.
2) Wick.

Get some Kevlar and Fibreglass Blend wick from an online fire equipment supplier or a local juggling shop or somesuch. I use a hella lot of wick, cos I like my staffs to be heavily end weighted. I used 1 metre of 120mm wick on EACH end on my last contact staff. More is obviously better thou.

Thick wick is better. If you want to do some crazy knotting shenanigan with rope, I can't help you.
3) Grip

I like neoprene grip the best, but other good options are leather, hockey grip tape and bicycle handlebar grip tape.

Tape Qualities:

Leather: Scratchy (painful) but very grippy. Hard to get.

Shammy Leather: (Sports grip) Looks exciting, might be fragile.

Hockey grip: Good, easy to get, long, but after it absorbs a lot of sweat/fuel/moisture, becomes less grippy.

Squash/Tennis/Racquet Grip: Shorter than hockey grip and of varying kinds. Thin over grips are long but designed for only a few uses before they become slippy. Fail.

Towel grip: a towel cut into strips. I think this will be more awesome than it sounds. Always grippy and probably hardwearing. Easy to get.

Bike Handlebar grip: Easy to get, very long. Moderately Grippy, and long lasting. Can be expensive.

Rubber housing insulation tape. P or E section: Sometimes easy to get. Fragile, but with more grip than hockey grip. Probably good for a cushiony undergrip. Expensive.

Carpet underlay / non slid matting. Weak rubber with silicon coating.: Okay to begin with, fragile and will shed. Not long lasting. Gets less grippy with more use. Can apparently be made grippy again with washing.

Pure Silicon Tubing (devilistick handstick style): Good, very grippy, but no geometric grippy ness. Can pull out hairs from your arms and such. Doesn't allow sliding very easily. Hard to get, hard to apply. Very very durable thou.

Fabric tape: Fail. Not grippy, occassionally painful.

Electrical Tape: SUPER FAIL.

Rubber Inner Tube from bikes: Grippyness changes over time. Application of water and heat to the rubber changes it's grippyness. Goes from slidy to so grippy it sticks to you. Free from bike shops so easy to get. No cushioning at all from inner tube. At the grippy end of the cycle it will mark you and your clothes with blackness. (Rubber coming off on you.)

Neoprene: Hardish to get. Comes in bulk usually. (An entire wetsuit) some has good durability, other stuff is more fragile and will shed. Very grippy. My favourate.

Heatshrink: Can be hard to get in a large fire proof diameter. Check online stores. No cushioning. Don't know about durability, only moderate grippyness thou.

I use a lot of grip, usually the middle 60 -70cm of my staff is covered in grip. This is about three racquet grips, two hockey grips or approx, one handle bar grip. You may also need carpet tape if you use leather or handlebar tape as they are not normally sticky, and carpet tape is cunningly double sided.

Leather grip is harder to get, I wouldn't recommend cutting up a pair of old leather trousers but rather buying some long thin offcuts from a leather worker / shop.

Neoprene is harder still to get. Neoprene tape as sold for boating / house supplies is no good as it rips very easily. Old shark bitten wet suits from charity stores are the best. Cut them into long thin strips. Neoprene is stretchy and can grip a longer area than you expect.
4) Sundries.

Dowel: If you have an offcut of your tube, take it with you to a timber merchant / homebase / B&Q and get a bit of dowel that snugly fits your tube. Otherwise measure carefully, nobody likes sanding down dowel for yonks to make it fit. I put dowel just underneath the wicks of my staffs, to add to the end weighting. In that vein, hardwood dowel is best. It also gives the screws something to dig into. If you want you can add weight by using steel rod instead of dowel. Thou it would be best to still place dowel where the screws go in thou.

Screws: 40mm self tapping screws are good. (May need to be slightly longer / shorter depending on amount of wick) If you know stuff to do with bolts use them instead. I'm a simply country screw girl.

D-Cups: Like washers, but curvier. To help keep the wick in place. To fit the screws, and again from a hardware store. Washers are also good thou. Just less fancy.

Electrical Tape: For finishing grip. Black for the ends, and white for the center line.

Masking Tape: For attaching wick.

Pen: yay!

Tools: Measuring tape, scissors, (hacksaw for metal if not cut to size) saw for dowel, vice / clamp if you have one. Screw driver. Drill.

How to make your staff:

So you've got the above, well done!

1) Clamp the metal if you have a clamp. Close to one end. Get your pre cut bit of dowel, stick it in the tube, if it's loose, wrap a bit of masking tape around it till it's snug and won't move. If you're being fancy, you can tape metal ali flashing tape over the tend of the dowel, so the wood won't burn.

Tape one end of the kevlar onto the tube. Wrap the kevlar around the tube, and fold over the end, then tighten it as much as possible, with the aid of the clamp, (to keep the tube still) after much tightening, you'll feel the first bit of masking tape rip. You can't get it any tighter than this, so it's a good time to stop tightening. Keep the kevlar tight by putting masking tape around it, tightly, all over it's length. Have the kevlar overlap the metal ends slightly. This will mean that the not so hot kevlar will touch you if you hit yourself, rather than the extremely hot metal, which will give you a mild brand on contact.

Drill 3 / 4 holes in the kevlar and tube. This is a bit tricky, you need a very sharp drill bit, and to dig once gently into the kevlar with the drill, not going all the way through, just making a pilot hole. Clean the bit, then poke it back in and go all the way through. Put the screw and d-cup in that hole and screw it in a little before you do the next.

Be careful here. The kevlar will snag on the drill bit. It's very easy to break drillbits. And fishing drillbits out of kevlar with a pair of pliers is not fun. Some people use the drill in reverse on the pilot hole, some people create a pilot hole with a screwdriver first, to really avoid snagging the kevlar. There is definitely an art to drilling through kevlar.

Tighter rolling of the wick and tighter masking take will make drilling easier. (Thou it'll stop your wicks absorbing as much fuel and making big flames. Loose wicks = big flames and big burn offs.)

When you're done, screw in all screws as tightly as possible. REALLY TIGHT. This helps recess the metal in the kevlar, preventing the screw heads from branding you.

2) Do the other side in the same fashion. (I'll tell you a different method that doesn't require drilling kevlar at the end.)

3) Grip the staff. Find the center point of the staff. Measure out however much you grip you want on either side of that point and mark it with the pen. Do a test run without glue / carpet tape to see if your grip will go the distance. If not, mark your grip as being shorter.

Apply carpet tape and then grip as you would a squash racquet or any other racquet. Don't know how to do this? Tape it diagonally, and overlap the grip by about 5mm. If you aren't sticking the grip on, wrap it as tightly as possible and use a larger overlap. If you are sticking the grip on, you can use a smaller overlap, cos you can be assured the grip tape won't move.

Use the black electrical tape to secure the end of the grip, and put some more on the start to make it symmetric.

Balance the staff and mark the center point with white electrical tape.

4) Remove masking tape from wicks. (just rip it off)

and voila! You have a staff! Yay!

You can decorate it more if you like! Won't that be fun!

Non-drilling method:

Well, pre drill your holes very carefully, with measured exact spacing. Write it down, or make a template or something.

Put the kevlar on as above. Take your template and a poking device and poke holes through the kevlar to the pre drilled holes. This is hard work, and a bitch to find the holes. What does help however, is not putting the dowel in yet, so you can look down the tube and see if your poking device and found the drilled hole.

So half screw in all your screws using this method, then pop the dowel in and screw the screws finally into the wood. grin

Wood staffs: Why would you do such a thing?

Get a fat bit of wood from a timber merchant, cover the ends in metal tape, either aluminium flashing tape (many layers) or cut up soda cans. This stops the wood burning. Then Proceed as normal with adding the kevlar. Some people use high powered staple guns to attach their wick on wooden staffs.

Fancy things you can do:

Screw the screws / fastening mechanism in before the end of the kevlar, then cover the exposed metal and sew the kevlar over. With kevlar thread and a big curvy needle. You can also cover the end of the tube in this fashion.

Use rod instead of tube. I love metal rod now, but it has many complications to making a firestaff out of it.

Add steel to the ends to add weight. Steel or lead rod in the ends of the staffs can add a lot of weight. This is really useful for contact. Figuring out where to put it can be tricky cos it wants to be as close to the end as possibly. Unless you don't mind drilling through steel, then just go for it. Self tapping screws don't work so well in steel thou, I think.

Use a different wick attachment mechanism. Some use bolts from both sides, some people use rivets. Screws are easy to get and use, but they do have to be checked and re-tightened regularly.

"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.


Golf buggie driving instructor
Location: Brisvegas
Member Since: 21st Jun 2005
Total posts: 156
Posted:nice! grin

I also saw at UberOZ that your staff was thinner than many contact staffs I have seen.

Most being thicker than normal staffs at around 1 inch in diameter, where as yours looked to be 0.75 or thinner.

I was wondering why?


#1 Bender Fan :D
Location: Somewheres i tell ya!
Member Since: 12th Oct 2008
Total posts: 133
Posted:Shweet grin and i was looking how to make a contact staff just yesterday.

ANGER IS A GIFT.You have the right to demand better!

Originally Posted By: Mr Majestikhear the news about the guy in adelaide on the weekend who walked stilts 20m high? broke the world record by taking four steps.


Flying Water Muppet
Location: Edin-borrow.
Member Since: 20th May 2003
Total posts: 5276
Posted:thinner staffs have more personality.

It's like Stephen Fry versus David Beckham. No contest.

"the now legendary" - Kaskade
"the still legendary" - Kaskade

I spunked in my friend's aquarium and the fish ate it. I love all fish. Especially the pink ones. They are my bitches. - Anon.


Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Member Since: 2nd May 2007
Total posts: 3597
Posted:I get my aluminum tube from http://www.mcmaster.com/
It's hard to find locally and at that site you can pick whatever diameter, wall thickness, and alloy that you want...should take about 3 staffs before you really get an idea of what you like.


Owned by Mynci!


Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...
Member Since: 27th Apr 2005
Total posts: 8735
Posted:Originally Posted By: mcpthinner staffs have more personality.

It's like Stephen Fry versus David Beckham. No contest.

Meg it's unlike you to use a flawed analogy,
Stephen Fry is clearly not thinner than Beckham rolleyes

wink kwcn

A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.