Picture of Fire Staff
Here's how to build a nice-quality fire staff for cheaper than most places sell them. Costs about 35GBP (for a huge staff) and takes 2-3 hours to construct.

Step 1: Safety first!

First off, I should point out that firespinning is a dangerous activity. You can painfully hit yourself in every single one of those squishy and easily-bruised bits that you never knew you had. You can trivially set long hair ablaze. You can set your clothes on fire. You can set your fuel dump on fire.

It goes without saying that safety is your number one priority. Don't spin lit up if you're not very confident in your own abilities, don't spin alone, don't spin when it's raining and slippery underfoot and NEVER EVER use petrol as a fuel. Personally I only use paraffin (kerosene in the USA) which is relatively safe both to burn and store. Make sure all long hair is tied back, fuel up well away from your performance area, spin off all excess fuel before lighting up, and wear only cotton clothing (or similar non-flammables: leather etc).

Simply put, I cannot stress enough quite how much of a danger the inexperienced firespinner can be to themselves and those around them. This is just a construction guide - while I'm happy to give pointers here and there I'm not going to take responsibility for your own stupidity.

That said, firespinning is a hell of a lot of fun. If you've been spinning glow-staves or broom handles and you're reasonably proficient then adding fire to your act may be just what you want to spice it up a little. Assuming you're still with me, I'm going to outline a fairly quick method of building a staff that will be safe and durable while not breaking the bank.
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Monkeyboy136 months ago

how much wick do you need on each end?

can you use bamboo with grip tape ?

aniii2 years ago
Can I replace wooden dowel with something like metal dowel ?
Rheece2 years ago

Thats an awesome step by step DIY and one of the best I have seen on this product.

By the way , I also use kerosene as fire fuel and I am just wondering, how often does the wick need to be changed? Actually I have used mine for 10 years and have not changed them but now i am noticing some frays on the edges.

Do i need to just cut the loose ends and maintain them with glue or does it eventually need to be replaced all together?

thanks in advance!
I know this is an old instructable, but since I made my own staff a couple years back, I feel I need to chime in on a couple points.

I never pre-drilled pilot holes for the screws. If you go to the hardware store and look for screws called "self-piercing sheet metal screws" you will find screws that are made for piercing thin walled metal, like the tubing on this staff. The tip of the screw is very sharp and hardened for this. You just line up the screw, work it through the wick slowly, and when it gets to the metal, press harder on the drill with a steady hand and in a few seconds it will pierce the wall giving just about the firmest grip you can imagine. On my staff, the screws look countersunk.

The second point is how in this instructable the wick is back about half an inch from the end of the tubing. DO NOT DO THIS. The staff will get away from you when you practice and hit stuff/people/you. You don't want a fast moving hard/sharp/hot edge hitting things/friends/your-hand-on-a-cold-day. If you take the wick all the way to the edge, it will soften things up a lot and give a better visual appearance.
I would say keep them flush for anything that you can pass on the inner planes, but for big staffs, an extra half inch of pipe and wood core will keep your wick from fraying out.

On baton sized staffs, it's worth covering the end in wick, then rolling it around the tube. Just make sure to round out the edges and maybe fill in with White Glue or other heat proof glue to keep the metal from catching the kevlar. Of course you'll want practice covers to protect the wicks then.
Stone (author)  caffine_loady4 years ago
Self-drilling screws: good point, I discovered them a little while back :-) This staff was mostly made out of what I had lying around.

You're quite right about the ends - I wasn't quite as precise as I could have been, and they will get hot. In practice, I haven't found it a problem, as:

a) nobody wants to get anywhere near you while it's on fire, and
b) when (not if) you hit yourself in the face with it, the metal bit in the middle is the least of your worries :-) It's almost always spinning such that the bit that hits you is the broad bit of the wick, and the energy of a couple of kilos of staff doing 50-100rpm is more than enough to give you a solid belt anyway!
ChroPro Stone3 years ago
About no one wanting to get near you...

I'm a fire knife performer and have several occasions every month where people walk up way too close that I've told them to step back, or even tried touching the fire! one guy once even ran and fell next to my feet while I was spinning!

When you perform on a daily basis for crowds, stuff can happen. You have to remember that some (most) people are idiots and don't understand that fire dancing is dangerous!
csloat Stone3 years ago
I recently clipped myself above the lip with a borrowed staff, practising. It was a dumb move - I was just passing from a back spin to a front, lost control of my planes, whatever.

Then I bled all over the place for an hour. Now I have a new facial scar.

It was probably only a mistake and a hit I'd take once every couple of years, but if the metal pokes out beyond the wick, it gets jagged over time as the staff's owner drops it practising and bashes it's ends up on the pavement.

Trust me. Bring the wick out slightly beyond the metal. Don't leave the metal hanging out the end. The next less-competent friend you let play with your staff will thank you.
is there a a ratio on of how much wick material goes in to burn time? how long does this burn for?
Stone (author)  excessive.insurgence4 years ago
Apologies for the long delay in replying, I don't sign in here much!

Burn time is about 10-15 minutes. Doesn't sound like long but the pain is usually setting in by then ;-) (and everyone else has refuelled at least once)

You could probably work out a formula for it - the exposed area dictates how much flame you get at any one time and the amount of wick beneath it how much fuel it absorbs. Probably easiest to do it experimentally with a bunch of different wick lengths.
i only gety about 5-6 mins out of my burns, my wick is about 2in by 3 in and i get only 3-4 mins on pure colman campfire fuel, what do you use to get that laong of a burn

The poster is using Kerosene, which burns at a much slower rate, 5-6 is about right for White Gas. Which is way cleaner then kero, good choice

Doing some rough math, his wicks are 4" long and more than 5" across. There's your answer.
roosta8 years ago
why dont you just measure to the centre point??
It's better to find the center by weight than by length because when you're spinning this 4 pound object, the only center is the weighted center. If it's spinning, you can visually see where the center actually is. Besides, when you're doing contact moves, you need to know exactly where the weighted center is located.
Actually You shouldnt do the grip until after the wicks are on because the center of gravity could very well change when putting the wicks on and in a staff you really need perfect balance :P
Stone (author)  roosta8 years ago
Simply because I didn't have a tape measure handy :-)
Sgt.Waffles7 years ago
You forget that metal is a great conductor of heat, and a bit of tape on the handle isn't going to do a whole lot.
Aluminium is fine for the job of a fire staff. The tape is a grip and has nothing to do with stopping the heat from travelling to your hand
This is true, but in a fire staff, it's not the fire on metal that heats it up. It's the fuel vapor running back and forth in the tube randomly igniting which heats it up. Since the staff has the wooden dowels plugging the end, there is no ingnition of the vapors. I have both sectional, plugged, and an unplugged staff I use in performance. Also, since it is the fuel burning, not the wood, those plugs can last quite a long time. The tape really doesn't insulate you from the flame, nor is it meant to. All it is is a grip on an otherwise slick piee of aluminum. On my unplugged staff, I'm simply using gaffer's tape, and it has lasted eight years. Hope this clarifies things!
Steel is a heat sponge, besides that I don't know much more.
aluminum isn't a good conductor of heat steel copper or iron are but aluminum is a poor conductor of heat.
i beg to differ... aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. that's why they make heatsinks out of it. Copper is better, but aluminum is still great.
aluminum has a very low specific heat...therefore, it changes temperature very rapidly with its surroundings. That's why it is used as a heatsink because it can "extract" the heat from whatever it is applied to and dissipate it into the surrounding ambient air. Pick up a can of soda and it feels cold, even if the soda inside is warm. its because the aluminum draws the heat from your hand and makes it feel cold.
wow i got owned. lol.... it is a good conductor though, correct?
I am not entirely certain..I would presume that It is an okay conductor; however, because of its low specific heat, it quickly cools and would prevent one from getting burned. If you look at the periodic table, Al is on the "staircase" that separates the metals and the nonmetals.
true. from my experiance, aluminum is a good conductor, but how much is just subjective i guess (frome my experiance of course)
Aluminum is a decent enough conductor, In Australia our power cables are made from aluminium.

iamjawz codz305 years ago
Heat Conductor, not electrical conductor. I made a staff, used 19 mm round extruded alluminium 1mm wall thickness tube with 100mm kevlar wicks and even after use I find that only around 250mm at each end actually gets hot.

Wound cotton sash cord around alluminium for grip anyway.
Whole project cost me $50au
Kero $2.60au/L from a local servo (gas station)

Thermal Conductivity usually tracks electrical conductivity very closely.
j626no iamjawz5 years ago
 In my materials textbook I came across a table containing the conductivities of the top 4 most conductive metals: Silver, copper, gold, aluminum.  

The units are [(ohm-meters)^-1]
Silver               6.8 x 10^7
Copper           6.0 x 10^7
Gold                4.3 x 10^7
Aluminum      3.8 x 10^7

So yes, aluminum is a great electrical conductor.  My resource is "Materials Science and Engineering; an Introduction" seventh edition by William D. Callister, Jr. ISBN-13: 978-0-471-73696-7
iamjawz j626no5 years ago
Guys just so you know were not concerned about electrical conductivity only the thermal properties. For this project aluminum is well suited in the way that it does not maintain heat, it quickly gives it to the immediately  surrounding air in such a way that your hands do not singe.

My apologies if that makes no sense i am tired. Cheers guys
Yes, i know we are not concerned about the electrical conductivity.  In the first place, i was asking about thermal.  I believe i has good thermal conductivity, but as someone else put it, "it has low specific heat, and therefore changes temperature quickly with its surroundings."
Not if its DUCT TAPE!!
actually, to make a rather good handle, take some rope wrap it around, a coil passing over every 3 or so inches, and wrap that in hockey tape, it works well, air is one of the best insulators. We use this method for the handles on axes, hammers and halligan bars at the fire department
Really good idea, señor fireman. Im gonna have to use that on my woodcutting axe and boffer weapons!
where do you buy the wicking?
Stone (author)  tnicholson81captain kook4 years ago
I used Firetoys (http://www.firetoys.co.uk/juggling/fire_wick_fire_ropes.html) but any local juggling website should have some.
homeofpoi.com sells it, and they ship really fast.
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