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Picture of Practice Fire / Contact Staff - Cheap and Easy

Hello there.

So I wanted to learn how to spin a Fire Staff and/or do Contact manipulation of a staff. But I did not want to invest a lot of money until I knew I was going to like it.

Searching the internet and instructables yielded many results on making staff out of aluminum rods, shower curtain rods and wood dowels. But those items tend to be:

a) expensive
b) hard to come by
c) too heavy and
d) hurts a LOT when it hits you in the face.

So I went to my local H*** Despot and Wally-Market and picked up supplies to make a PVC Practice Fire / Contact Staff.

Total Cost: Less than $20.
End Result: Staff that does not hurt me (much) as I learn to spin.

Please Note: At NO point should this practice staff be set on fire!

Step 1: Parts List and Tools

Picture of Parts List and Tools

 1/2" - 1" Schedule 40 PVC pipe. 10 ft is $2.00
Foam exercise mat or camping mat - $6
Role of duct tape. $4
Really big nails: $1
Contact cement: $3
Tennis racket grip tape. $4

Hack saw

My son made his with 3/4" PVC, as many 3" nails that could be shoved into the end of the pipe, then sealed them in with duct tape. He used a bit of pipe wrap foam to pad the very ends and sealed that with more duct tape. Painters tape wrapped tight provides the grip.

The heavier ends allow him to practice slow spins with control.

MrTinkerer (author)  spoonietreasures3 years ago

That is wonderful. thank you for sharing. Does the painters tape wear out? the tennis racket tape wore out in about a year.

Thanks for this instructable! I finally made my contact staff today. I did a few things differently. My flow style with a hoop and wand is slower, so I went for a slower, heavier staff. I used a five foot PVC pipe 3/4 of an inch thick, with a four inch steel bolt on each end. Instead of using the rubber mat to simulate the wicks, I used layered fabric. I also covered the entire showing PVC pipe with black electrical tape, and used some of my hoop grip tape in place of the tennis racket grip tape. My result: A long, heavy staff! Thanks for this great instructable!!
MrTinkerer (author)  FlowerchildEm3 years ago

Thank you for the compliment. Also thank you for sharing a different build method. I found that the tennis racket grip tape wears out after about a year. Can you give link to hoop grip tape? does it last longer?

BurnerBrian4 years ago

I believe that professional contact staves are weighted different at each end. Real professional fire performers want 30% more weight on one end of the staff which is what allows for the flow of the contact staff during manipulation. Can anyone verify this?

Nope, the staff is always balanced in the very center with equal weights on either end.

Oooops, I see how my original comment could be confused with what I meant about how professional performers balance their Staves! What I meant is that BOTH of the counter weights EACH equally need to be 30-50% (Your Preference) of the weight of the entire staff body.

For example. Say the material body of the staff weighs one pound... You'd want each of the ends (wicks, oak plugs) to weigh up to half of that body weight. 30-50% counter weighted. Making the staff spin and feel like a staff 30-50% longer than it actually is.

Essentially, if you have too lightweight a staff body and very heavy rubber ends then the staff is going to be out of balance. A 2lb staff would want at least 1lb in the body and a half pound on each end. Good luck and safe burns my friends.

BurnerBrian Detroit

Sources: Jameson, Fire Technicians
hashesh5 years ago

foam can be used as KEVLAR wick ??

possible ?

how long it will last ?

n i have steel staff , tell me how to paste foam on staff ??

MrTinkerer (author)  hashesh4 years ago

Please Note: At NO point should this practice staff be set on fire! (in the intro page).

OscarR1 hashesh4 years ago

I would not use anything other than kevlar to use for burning. Foam is plastic with air bubbles in it, if you burn it'll stink and melt, and not be useable again.

Read the note at the top. Do NOT set this staff on fire

OscarR14 years ago

Personally I'd use bicycle inner tube as it's mega cheap (£/$ store) and simply wrap the inner tube to the ends of the staff. I have found that if you start the inner tube about a foot into the staff and spiral to the end, getting thicker as you go, the weight isn't completely at the ends, I prefer this feel for contact staff.

Be sure to wrap the rubber REALLY tight so it wont slip out of place over time. Once I taped the inner tube down with insulation tape that I had lying around, I wrapped it in foam tape. This is because when the rubber is pulled tight it's really hard can hurt alot. I wrapped the foam tape under the grip and over the rubber, then used gro gaff high vis tape to make it pretty. I'd recommend using clear heatshrink as the finish. the clear tape I sued as a finish over the high vis isn't very good and I've not found any clear tape that does the job... clear heatshink will add weight and make it easy to clean. the foam under the grip makes it nice and squishy....

tho these staffs are really heavy (in the right places) (great for contact) they are really forgiving due to all the foam.

ps, staff length should be anywhere between your nipple and chin. (standing obv)

MrTinkerer (author)  OscarR14 years ago

Hey Oscar,

Thank you for your contribution on this instructable. Your comment is very informative. I have used inner tube rubber as well to make these practice staff. I used it in place of foam on the ends.


Thanks you very much for this great instructable!

I want to learn staff contact but i was asking myself is this contact staff enought heavy? It seems very light...

(Sorry for the mistakes i may have made, i don't speek english very well! ^^)

MrTinkerer (author)  desdemone20134 years ago

i have made more of these staffs. Use really large galvanized nails (8-10 inch spikes). In addition, instead of foam, wrap the ends with inner tube rubber. It makes it really heavy.

Ok thank you!